Friday’s football game between No. 9 Mesquite (Div. II) and Corona del Sol (Div. I) featured two teams on opposite ends of the spectrum.
On one side were the Wildcats on a steady march toward the playoffs. On the other side were the Aztecs, a team in a state of upheaval after the school removed Tom Joseph as coach on Thursday.
The gap showed up in the scoreboard, as well as Mesquite shut out Corona, 21-0, on the Wildcats’ homecoming night.
“I was shocked,” Corona quarterback RJ Rhiner said of the coaching change. “I wasn’t thinking straight for a little while.”
The Aztecs (0-5) did not name an interim coach before Friday’s game. Tim Kelly was named acting coach for the game, and an interim is expected to be named early next week.
Despite the turmoil, Corona’s defense put in a solid effort for the second straight week, giving up just 14 points.
“Since the first game, they’ve been doing way better,” Rhiner said. “Doing better with the run, better with the pass; just overall doing much better.”
Right now, with the offense struggling to score points and the uncertainty of the coaching situation, the defensive improvement might be the only bright spot for the Aztecs, and this upheaval makes for a murky picture looking forward.
“I don’t know who the coach will be,” Rhiner said. “I’m expecting it’ll be Kelly, but I mean we just have to get back out on the field and working hard.”
Mesquite, meanwhile, ground out a win on a night its offense couldn’t get much going until the second half.
“We were our worst enemies the first half; the penalties and turnovers,” Mesquite coach Jim Jones said. “I’ve got to give credit to the coaches. They made some pretty doggone good adjustments at halftime.”
Paul Perry got the offense going in the second half with his running game. Perry rushed for 131 yards and one touchdown.
“He’s a stallion, he’s getting better each game,” Jones said. “He’s a powerful runner.”
The win improved the Wildcats’ record to 4-1, a pretty good spot to be at the halfway mark of the season.
“I’m so happy for Mesquite High School,” Jones said. “These kids, they’ve had a tough couple of years so they deserve all of this.
Mesquite 21, Corona del Sol 0
First Downs: Mesq. 16, CDS 7
Rushing: Mesq. 40-172, CDS 35-3
Passing (comp.-att.-TD-INT): Mesq. 10-22-103-1-2, CDS 7-19-106-0-1
Fumbles-lost: Mesq. 0-0, CDS 1-0
Penalties-yards: MV 8-75, CDS 7-65
Mesq: Tondreau 8 pass from Haslam (James kick)
Mesq: Perry 1 run (James kick)
Mesq: Murphy 30 INT return (James kick)