When Travis Foster took over as Shadow Ridge’s football coach last year, the frustration progressively grew with a group that never seemed to be on the same page. The Mustangs were 1-9 and were outscored by an average final of 43-19.
But through five games this season, Foster has the Mustangs looking like an entirely different football team.
After a 21-10 win over visiting Cimarron-Memorial on Friday night, Shadow Ridge (4-1 overall, 1-1 Northwest League) is outscoring foes by an average of 34-18.
“The coaches are more comfortable, the kids are more comfortable, they understand the expectations, and they’ve accepted the grind,” Foster said. “The kids were anxious to get back on the field after last week’s loss. Anytime you play Arbor (View), it’s a big game for us. For it to end the way it did, it was disappointing. But the kids got after it this week and came out with the ‘W.’ ”
Senior Malik Lindsey led the Mustangs with 153 total yards, including 113 bruising rushing yards and a touchdown on 15 attempts. Lindsey did most of his damage in the first half, plowing through the Spartans’ defensive line for 84 yards.
“We knew they were going to come into our home and try to beat us, and we knew we had to keep pushing, and I had to fight for my team,” said Lindsey, who leads the leads the Mustangs with 627 yards and five TDs on 77 attempts. “This week there was high intensity, we knew we couldn’t lose two straight. This couldn’t be the old Shadow Ridge. We had to show people we’re going to bounce back after any loss.”
Quarterback Kody Presser completed 3 of 4 passes for 85 yards, including a 45-yard scoring strike to Travis Boston late in the third quarter to put Shadow Ridge ahead 21-3.
The Spartans (1-4, 0-2) were led by Tyree Riley, who rumbled for 173 yards on 27 carries. Behind Riley, Cimarron’s 282 yards of offense kept pace with Shadow Ridge, which tallied 299. But every time it seemed the Spartans were going to gain some momentum, junior defensive back Elisha Young came up big defensively.
Early in the second quarter, with the Spartans at Shadow Ridge’s 29-yard line, Young drilled Cimarron’s Gunner Stevenson on a fourth-down pass play, resulting in a turnover on downs. On the final drive of the first half, Young tripped up Riley on a long run that appeared headed deep into Shadow Ridge territory, and Cimarron eventually settled for a field goal as time expired.
On Cimarron’s first drive of the second half, Young put pressure on intended receiver Marcus Phillips on what could have resulted in a long pass play, and later in the third quarter he broke up another pass intended for Eric Wade.
Finally, midway through the fourth quarter, it was Young’s hustle that led to his touchdown-saving tackle on Riley. The Spartans ended up turning the ball over on downs on that possession following a botched punt attempt.
“It was mostly last week’s loss; nobody likes losing by that much, so that was the determination and fire that we had for this game,” said Young, who also had a 59-yard kickoff return. “I just want to help my team. I can’t really explain what clicks, but when it’s a tight game, I just come up with the plays at the right time.”
The Mustangs scored on their first possession of the game when Kaejin Smith-Bejgrowicz rushed off left tackle and raced 13 yards untouched. He plowed in for the 2-point conversion to give the Mustangs an 8-0 lead. On Shadow Ridge’s next possession, Lindsey accounted for 74 yards during a six-play drive, culminated by his 1-yard TD plunge up the middle.
The Mustangs now have tallied 1,737 yards of offense over their first five games, led by a rushing game that has gained more than 1,500 yards.
Cimarron-Memorial hosts Faith Lutheran next week, while the Mustangs host Centennial.