By Aaron Nicholson
The Mountain Ridge Mountain Lions had a tough go of it Friday night, suffering a blistering 59-0 loss to the Chandler Wolves at home. Friday night’s loss has extended Mountain Ridge’s losing streak at home to three. In contrast, this was a bounce-back win [on the road] for Chandler after losing their last away game in a 52-7 rout against Mountain Pointe.
Chandler had no problem running the ball all night, a strength of theirs since the start of the season. In the first half, the Wolves had amassed four rushing touchdowns, three of them from 20 yards and further. Most of their runs came right up the middle and when Ridge had closed the gaps, Chandler’s running backs, Ryan Johnson and TJ Green, managed to bounce to the outside for first downs and big gains.
Chandler Head Coach Shaun Aguano explained that his team is getting back into stride as regional play approaches.
“I think our guys were, not only mentally but, physically tired after those first four games. But I think they’re getting their legs back,” Aguano said. “Going into region play, I’m happy where they’re at.”
Along with pounding the rock, Chandler played well on defense, forcing Mountain Ridge to punt seven times on the night, keeping Mountain Ridge in their own territory. Their defensive effort was highlighted by an interception returned 20 yards for a touchdown.
Coach Aguano expressed his team’s need to play defense in order to win games while praising his running backs’ efforts.
“We got to get back to playing defense; defense wins championships,” Aguano said. “[Running the football], we do have explosive guys outside. With TJ and Ryan Johnson in there, we want to get them the ball a lot.”
As for Mountain Ridge, there were still some positive take-aways from Friday’s game. Though they were met with a stingy defense from Chandler, Mountain Ridge was able to fake punt twice, resulting in two fourth-down conversions. With Mountain Ridge’s starting quarterback and two starting wide receivers in street clothes on the sidelines, other players have needed to step up.
Trent Turner, starting outside linebacker and senior at Mountain Ridge, explained how the team has responded to their fight with the injury bug.
“Next-man-up mentality,” Turner said. “Next person needs to step up and do their job and we need to just prepare for the next game and keep on moving on.”
Mountain Ridge Head Coach Bobby Green also touched on the need for players to step up and the progression of new players being inserted in more prevalent roles.
“Everyone is prepared like they are one play from being in there,” Green said. “I think guys have really embraced that role and stepped up in key situations. I think we’re getting better each week, and that’s what we’re looking for.”
Mountain Ridge will be in Horizon next week and Green plans on sticking to their game plan, though they will be matching up with a different play style.
“It’s a very talented team,” Green said. “They run a different type of defense that we are not used to. But we just go in with the mentality of just taking care of what we can control: our game plan, our execution and moving the ball down the field.”
Mountain Ridge is now 2-3 on the year; Chandler has now moved to 4-2.