After missing the playoffs last year for the first time since 2004, The Meadows football team learned a lot about itself.
According to Mustang players, Bryson Navallo and Mark Woodson, there’s now a positive and selfless mentality within the The Meadows’ locker room.
The change has paid off for The Meadows (8-2), as it travels north to face host Yerington (9-0) in a Division III state semifinal at 1 p.m. Saturday.
The winner will face either Mountain View (9-1) or Battle Mountain (5-5) for the state championship.
“Last year people cared more about themselves,” said Navallo, who has rushed for 1,401 yards and 18 touchdowns this season. “We’re as happy this year if someone else makes a sack, if someone else makes a touchdown. Everyone is doing their job this year, it’s different.”
Navallo isn’t the only Mustang to notice the difference.
“The problem we had last year was that there was no one to look up to, therefore, they fought for no one,” said Woodson, who is The Meadows’ top lineman. “Now that they have someone to follow, it gives them more courage.”
Woodson, who sat out last year following foot surgery, has filled in one of the team’s leadership roles opposite Navallo.
“If everybody does their job, I think we’ll be able to beat (Yerington),” Woodson said.
Navallo added: “We’ve watched a lot of film, (and) we’re really prepared. I’m confident. They’re not as big as the last team we played.”
Mustangs coach Frank DeSantis, took a more conservative approach.
“We’re going to give them our best shot,” DeSantis said. “I feel good, the team feels good. I always feel confident in every game and this game’s no different. Our team is playing hard, but we’re going against a good team.
“They’re a very-well coached team, great athletes, great intensity, very efficient.”
Since losing 27-21 to Mountain View on Sept. 27, the Mustangs have won their last five games, outscoring opponents 141-44.
“We’re hoping our momentum carries on,” DeSantis said. “I think special teams will be huge. Field position will be huge.”
The team appears to be clicking at the right time and hopes the run will last another two weeks.
“I’m excited just for the whole experience,” Navallo said. “This is for all of our summers, practices, all that.”