It took nearly the entire season for Tyson McDaniel to find his stride for Mountain View. He found it in the season finale of a disappointing transitional year for the traditionally powerful Toros.
McDaniel ran for two touchdowns, caught a TD pass and threw for another in Mountain View's 30-14 Division I win over Mesa on Friday night in the teams' 2011 season ender.
"Everyone is looking at you no matter what your record is," McDaniel said. "They expect the same thing out of you. They don't expect you to lose. They expect you to win. That's what we had to do and that's what we did. Playoffs or not, we came to play and that's what we did."
At 4-6, Mountain View finished its first year under near coach Chad DeGrenier with the worst record in school history. The Toros had never finished below .500 until last year's 5-6 campaign that got coach Tom Joseph fired.
"I think we handled it well," McDaniel said. "It was hard with the coaching change but I'm excited for these years to come and I'm glad we could go out with a win."
This year figured to be rough with DeGrenier trying to install a more wide open offense at perennially run-first Mountain View. That transition was even more difficult with a sophomore, Chase Funk, at quarterback.
"It's been a challenging year," DeGrenier said. "We've had a lot of adversity. We fought through it."
He added, "I'm real excited about the future here. We are going to get better as a coaching staff and we are going to get these kids better prepared for next year."
By week nine, DeGrenier decided to bring in senior wide receiver McDaniel in at quarterback to switch off with Funk. It found some success last week in a loss to Mountain Pointe.
But on Friday it really clicked. Funk and McDaniel switched off at quarterback until the second half when DeGrenier let the senior takes the reins. McDaniel led the Toros on an 85-yard drive, capping it with a 3-yard run and then mixed run and pass on another scoring drive to secure the win. He finished with 164 yards rushing and 120 passing for Mountain View.
Funk drove the Toros down the field on its first possession and late in the first, connected twice on long plays with A.J. Montalvo to set up a 7-yard TD pass to McDaniel. On the next possession, McDaniel led the team, running the ball on six of 10 plays, lofting a pretty 34-yard pass to sophomore Clark Brown and give Mountain View a 12-0 lead with five minutes left in the half.
But Mesa quarterback Jeremy Noble made the most of his final high school game, running for 92 yards and two scores. After Donovan Trice blocked a Mountain View punt, Noble drove his team for a score with just 9.9 seconds left before halftime.
Then, in the third quarter, he broke off two long runs - a 25-yarder that put the Jackrabbits on the 50. One play later, he took the snap, went left with his blockers, cut back, stayed on his feet after being hit twice and went 45 yards to give Mesa a 14-12 lead.
But that was Mesa's only positive on Friday. Outside of Noble, the Jackrabbits (3-7) were held to 23 total yards.
"For us, our 2012 season starts tomorrow (Saturday)," an obviously disappointed Mesa coach Kelley Moore said. "(Tonight was) pretty indicative of what's happened. The difference between being a good team and an average team. Good teams don't do what we did."