WARDEN - Always a tough 1A football school, host Warden proved too much for Mabton in a 30-6 Vikings' loss in non-league action last Friday.
Despite fumbles on its first two possessions, Mabton kept it close for a quarter as it trailed just 6-0 heading into the second.
That's when Warden all but put the game away, with three touchdowns in the second quarter to lead 24-0 at half.
Warden built its lead to 30-0 before Mabton found paydirt midway through the fourth on a 15-yard scamper by Eli Perez.
"They were very well coached, a very physical team," Mabton Coach John Durham said of the Cougars.
Durham also noted his team is still learning to work together on offense. "We need to execute plays better," he said.
In addition to the early fumbles, Mabton found it difficult to rally because of poor field for most of the evening.
"We had very tough field position," Durham said. "It seemed like we were on our own end of the field most of the game."
Still, there were positives to take from the contest.
The Mabton offensive line sprung Perez for 120 yards rushing on just 19 attempts, including the 15-yard touchdown run.
Also for the first time this season the Vikes found a passing game as quarterback Luis Quintero connected on four of 10 pass attempts for 42 yards.
Durham said Mabton installed an option offense about three years ago, but until now has relied primarily on a ground game. He added that the goal this year is to install a truer option which incorporates some passing. The Warden game, then, offers hope for a versatile Mabton offensive attack.
Durham also viewed the non-league loss as a learning experience for his team.
"We learned why we do the different drills every day (in practice)," he said.
Mabton (0-0, 0-2) will have an opportunity this Friday to apply what it has learned when 2A Kiona-Benton visits the 1A Vikes for another non-league tilt.
"We've learned the areas we need to work on, now we're going to work hard at improving," Durham said.