In this era of COVID-19, Mustang High School’s football team will be facing a Yukon defensive unit in the season opener that even sounds like it makes opponents ill.
When MHS and Yukon kick off their schedules in Canadien County’s version of Bedlam football at 6 p.m. Saturday at Miller Stadium, the Broncos will be faced by Yukon’s “amoeba defense.”
In biology, an amoeba refers to a cellular organism that has the ability to alter its form.
That describes Yukon’s defensive alignment, according to Mustang head coach Lee Blankenship.
“They run the amoeba defense, which is basically a look with their defensive linemen standing up and moving around before the snap of the ball,” Blankenship said. “Our offense will have to adjust to that as it impacts our run-game rules.
“If our players can play hard and not get confused by the strange look, we will give ourselves an opportunity.”
Senior offensive linemen Wyatt King and Micah Davis, who both started last season, plan to lead the charge in opening holes for MHS’ multiple offense.
Mustang junior quarterback Ethan Young will call the signals for a deep stable of tailbacks that includes seniors Devyn Martin and Elijah Young, junior Brett Phillips and sophomore Jay Bedford.
Offensive coordinator Cody McDaniel feels the Broncos played well last Thursday in MHS’ home scrimmage against Del City, which annually fields one of Class 5A’s better programs.
“We executed well against Del City. We started to make the routine plays,” McDaniel said. “As an offense, we rely on the routine plays to sustain our success.”
McDaniel said Bedford, Martin and Phillips ran for touchdowns against Del City, and sophomore receiver/cornerback Jacobe Johnson made an explosive play. Senior receivers Dylan Bohuslavicky and Rylan Poteet had receptions, too.
McDaniel said the Bronco offense doesn’t need to make dramatic plays, just be solid and mistake-free.
“Make the routine plays, blocks and catches,” McDaniel explained. “We find success if our kids go out and execute. They don’t need to make the spectacular catch, throw or block if they put themselves in the right spots and play with great effort or technique.”
Blankenship said MHS surrendered some big plays in its pass defense versus Del City.
“We gave up some big plays on the defensive side,” said Blankenship, whose staff begins its second season at Mustang. “But we will get that worked out.
“Our focus is never to try to win a scrimmage. Our goal is to use scrimmages to pin-point where we need to improve.”
MHS defensive coordinator Sam Dollar continues to evaluate his players and try to develop depth. He said first-stringers only played 14 snaps in the Del City scrimmage.
“We’re trying to give everyone a chance to show what they have on the field,” Dollar said.
He praised the efforts of end Koreion Hayden, tackles Anthony Gsheidle and Christian Rowland, safety Karston Keene and linebackers Cale White and Adam Brotherton.
The defenders in Mustang’s base 4-3 scheme will be confronted by a Yukon unit that last year ranked as one of Class 6A’s top rushing offenses.
MHS defeated Yukon, 38-0, last season in a game that turned into a rout on a critical series of plays late in the first quarter.
Mustang’s defense, spurred on by a goal-line stand and tackle by cornerback Wesley Haddox at the Yukon 1-yard line, grabbed the momentum on the next play when graduated tailback Khary Brown broke a 99-yard touchdown run.
The TD gave the Broncos a 14-0 lead with 36 seconds left in the first period.
Mustang had opened a 21-0 lead by halftime, capitalizing as Yukon lost three fumbles. It was MHS’ fifth win in six games in the schools’ series.
The Broncos went on to log a 7-4 record and playoff appearance. Yukon finished 4-6.