With a blue moon rising above the Kiowa County gridiron on Friday, the Mavericks were determined to start their season with a win. But Kiowa County linemen, still trying to shake out the off-season dust, were overmatched by Minneola football legacy #3 Matt McClaren and a strong Wildcats defense.
The field bleachers, overflowing with excited fans donning outfits exclusively coordinated in team colors, were raucous and loud. The school band tooted through the typical playlist of fight songs, nostalgic anthems and the occasional pop favorite (I wonder if the grandparents realize they are tapping their toes to Tommy Tutone's "867-5309/Jenny?").
The smell of salted pretzels and popcorn negotiated its way out of the snack bar to every nose within a quarter mile radius.
Between bites of ketchup-laden hot links, fans were overheard asking the questions that many in Maverick Nation have asked each other over the dinner table in the past few weeks, 'what will the Mavericks offense look like this year?'
The Mavericks came out strong in the first quarter but were unable to capitalize on a fumble recovery inside the Minneola red zone that ended the Wildcats' opening drive.
A Maverick turnover-on-downs and a facemask penalty by #8 Trever Powell put the Wildcats within striking distance.
Wildcats QB McClaren broke a grip of Maverick tackle attempts to run in the games first TD. McClaren added a 2-point conversion with a bullet to the end zone, putting the Wildcats up 8-0.
The Mavericks would never overcome the deficit, though Powell ran in two TD's and #22 Keenan Behee impressed with a 68-yard scoring gainer in the third quarter, the Wildcats and McClaren continued their offensive onslaught en route to a 40-20 win over the Mavs.
McClaren, the younger brother of former Minneola QB Jason McClaren (who rushed for 1,330 yards and passed for 750 yards in his senior year), is expected to helm the Wildcats through the 2012-2013 season and may match or exceed the season stats set by his older brother.
The Mavericks on the other hand seem to be searching for their identity.
As predicted Powell, Behee and #18 Trevor Tyree all contributed to the offense, though the running game seemed stilted. Aside from Behee's 68-yard sprint, significant rushing yardage was hard to come by and the passing game was almost non-existent.
The Mavs defense never seemed to get its feet set and allowed the Wildcats to push past the line on a number of key plays.
Mavericks Head Coach Clint Young said last week that the team would be focused on the defensive side of the game. On Friday night there were glimpses of what could be.
If the defense can settle in and hold the line, box scores will be better as many agree that there is no lack of talent on the field.
Page 2 of 2 - The Mavericks will travel to Montezuma on Friday Sept. 7 to face The South Gray Rebels in league play. Read a preview of that game in this week's Game Night Magazine.