COLTON — The Tri-Valley football team had whacked Beresford 41-0 when the Mustangs faced the Watchdogs on Oct. 2, but in the first half of Tuesday night’s Class 11B first round playoff game, that blowout seemed like a distant memory.
The half ended 7-7. The Mustangs’ potent combo of running back Brenton Hanisch and receiver Landon Freeman looked lifeless. Tri-Valley’s only touchdown was a defensive one, a fumble recovered in the end zone.
“I think our kids thought for a little bit (that) Beresford was just going to show up and be intimidated and roll over,” Mustangs head coach Steve Bazata said. “We try to preach to them that that’s not the case, but we thought it would be easy.:
There were no halftime adjustments to be made in anything but mentality and intensity, in making sure the Mustangs got off blocks and hit the holes.
So when Tri-Valley got the ball, the Mustangs gave it to Hanisch. Then they gave it to Hanisch again. After a screen pass to switch things up, they gave it to Hanisch again. After four plays of the nearly the exact same variety later, Hanisch was in the end zone and Tri-Valley was on top, kicking off the Mustangs’ second-half romp that ended in a 34-13 win.
“We just put our hearts into it,” Hanisch said. “We put our whole effort into it, we put our minds into it. When we have a goal, we’re determined and we reach it.”
Hanisch got the ball five more times on the next drive to put in his second touchdown of the game, and after a quick Beresford three-and-out, Mustangs quarterback Noah Jewett hit Freeman down the sideline for a 58-yard touchdown pass. Freeman scored Tri-Valley’s final touchdown on the next drive on an eight-yard sweep to the right.
The Mustangs (5-4) looked utterly dominant in the second half, smothering the Watchdogs’ (4-5) offensive attack and scoring at will when they had the ball. The only thing keeping them from expanding the lead even more was their deliberate, run-heavy offensive attack.
With the win, Tri-Valley advances to face Aberdeen Roncalli on Monday. The Cavaliers drubbed Red Cloud 50-0 on Tuesday.