CLE ELUM - The Mabton football team gave undefeated Cle Elum a scare for a quarter before falling 33-0 last night in SCAC West play.
"It was a really exciting first quarter," Viking Coach John Durham said of the scoreless opening stanza. "We stopped their run and some of their passes. We felt confident that maybe we could take the game."
But those hopes came undone in just a matter of a few minutes as the Warriors reeled off a pair of touchdowns in the second quarter. Things went from bad to worse when Cle Elum struck for two additional quick scores to go up 27-0 at halftime.
Durham praised the Warrior passing attack, led by quarterback Josh Johnson, "They threw some pinpoint passes that picked us apart."
At the same time, Cle Elum had some help with their 27-point outburst in the second quarter as Durham said two of the scores followed Mabton turnovers.
"They had great field position on two of their scores," Durham noted.
Other than the second quarter, Mabton surrendered just one other touchdown for the game and that came on a third quarter 11-yard scoring pass by Johnson.
Durham said that Cle Elum attempted two-point conversions following their scores and that Mabton was able to stop most of those. "That's a credit to our kids," he said.
Mabton had a few scoring threats, reaching the Cle Elum-30 on two occasions only to be turned back through penalty or turnover.
Durham added that Viking defenders also had opportunities to pin Cle Elum deep in its territory but gave the Warriors new life with penalties.
In some ways, the contest was an abbreviated version of Mabton's season, as the Vikes played toe-to-toe against an opponent for three quarters before seeing the contest get away.
Only last night the breakaway quarter came in the second.
"Our theme this year has been when you have a setback you come back," Durham said, noting that his players rallied around each other in the second half.
"The kids came out and played hard and played together as a team," he said.
Though the season ended with a loss and the Vikings (2-5, 2-8) out of the playoff picture, Durham found some positives to take into the postseason in looking forward to next season.
"On the upside, football's so much like life, when there's a setback you come back," he noted in repeating the team's theme. "They worked hard and pulled together through thick and thin."
In other positives, Mabton was surprised to have junior running back Eli Perez healthy for last night's game following an arm injury the week before. Perez ran for 83 yards against Cle Elum. Perez finished the season second in scoring for the SCAC West.
The season finale also gave Mabton a chance to look at a returning quarterback contender for next season as sophomore Sal Lopez took the snaps for about half of the game. Season-long starter Luis Quintero, a senior, also saw action at quarterback last night.
"We've had Sal in the wings all year," Durham said of the sophomore's varsity action the past two weeks. "He played eight JV games this year and we thought it was time for him to have some varsity experience."