Not all Mustangs are created equal.
Middletown’s host football Mustangs proved better than St. Vincent’s visiting Mustangs in the first round of the North Coast Section Division 5 football playoffs, galloping by the challengers from Sonoma County, 48-0, on Saturday night.
Middletown scored three times in the opening quarter and led at halftime, 41-0, to earn advancement to the quarterfinals, where it will play at Fort Bragg on Saturday.
St. Vincent ends its first season under the guidance of coach Trent Herzog with a 6-5 record.
“Our players gave a good effort,” said Herzog. “They were faster and more athletic than us, and they had a lot of depth. Middletown is perennially a small-school power.”
Although St. Vincent’s version of the Mustangs didn’t score, they had their opportunities. Three times they pushed inside the Middletown 20-yard line, only to come up empty-handed on each occasion.
“We couldn’t sustain our offense,” Herzog said.
“They were definitely the best team we played all season. They are good in all three aspects of the game, and they had the best coaching we’ve seen all year.”
Despite the loss, St. Vincent accomplished its main goal for the season, which was to make the playoffs.
“We’re happy with where we’re at,” said Herzog.
Middletown scored in its first possession when Drake Harbison capped a four-play, 49-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run and came right back for another score on a 26-yard run by Harbison.
The St. Vincent Mustangs had a chance to get back in the game when they drove to the Middletown 12-yard line, but they couldn’t close the deal, turning the ball over on downs.
R.H. Hess and Nico Barrio almost immediately combined on a 73-yard touchdown bomb and St. Vincent never recovered.
Despite the score, St. Vincent did have some strong efforts on defense.
Junior Gio Antonini solidified his reputation as one of the best two-way players in the Redwood Empire with 12 tackles. On one play, he tackled a Middletown punt returner, causing a fumble that he recovered.
Seniors A.J. Fetter and Marcus Mathias ended their high school football with outstanding games, Fetter making 12 tackles and Mathias 10.
End Diego Reyes and back Daniel Burleson also played well on defense.