THORNDIKE — In the end zone of a drenched field Friday evening, a socially distanced Mount View football team savored its moment.
It didn’t matter that the game was two-hand touch, instead of what would have been an eight-man gridiron matchup. The Mustangs had just pulled off a 15-8 victory over Maranacook, which went undefeated in the regular season last year and finished 9-1. The Mustangs had pulled out a victory, and they were going to enjoy it.
“We made some mistakes, but we’re all starting to know each other and we’re starting to succeed,” said Taylor Turner, who had four interceptions on defense and made the game-winning touchdown, catching a 10-yard pass from Sam Valleau with three minutes remaining. He also caught a scoring pass from Valleau on the 2-point conversion try to put the Mustangs up by the final 15-8 score.
“It was a terrific win for us, honestly” head coach Rick Leary said. “It’s been a scattered season. We lost some kids (to the soccer team), some kids have gone to work. We’ve got half the group that’s been working all summer. We came back together today and really stepped up on both sides of the ball. I can’t be any prouder of the kids or the coaching staff. They really stepped up and went into a zone today. When the dust settles and you win on your home field, you can’t beat that. I’m thankful for that.”
The Mustangs finished last season 1-7 in Class D, and decided in the offseason to make the switch to eight-man. But then the coronavirus pandemic brought an end to tackle football. Leary decided to move forward with 7-on-7 football, but pulling together a roster wasn’t easy.
“It’s started to come slowly,” Leary said. “When we first started, I had to almost pull the kids out to come out to play. A lot of them have gone to work, it’s a poor community. A lot of them want to work. Every week, we’ve done better getting them back to practice. This was our third game, but it’s been a challenge, because everything has been so crazy. But I had the best crew of kids this summer working their tails off. If we had gone into tackle football, we would have been tough.”
Mount View had 13 players Friday night, with half the team being celebrated for Senior Day. According to the pre-game announcements, many of the senior group will be entering the job force immediately upon graduating, leaving any moment they have on the field, and any victory that comes their way, all the more sweeter for a last hurrah.
“(It means) quite a bit,” said Mount View senior Kayden Doughty. “We’re incredibly lucky, because with COVID, we just didn’t know what was going to happen (with the season). We feel blessed to have this moment.”
Dave Dyer — 621-5610