MABTON – If you’re a Lower Yakima Valley prep football fan, one of those “can’t miss” games pops up on the schedule this coming Friday.
That’s the night the Granger Spartans will be seeking to avenge last year’s double overtime loss to the Mabton Vikings.
And, if that wasn’t enough motivation for the Spartans to roll into Mabton loaded for bear, Granger also will be looking to rebound from a somewhat humbling 41-12 loss to Toppenish last Friday.
Mabton, on the other hand, enters week two on the 2015 schedule with a rock solid 65-10 victory against the Highland Scotties on its resume.
Viking Coach Trevor Curtis is quick to warn his players, though, to disregard last week’s season-opening scores. He readily acknowledges Highland isn’t in the same class as the Spartans.
“No doubt about it, Granger is going to be a much stiffer test for us than Highland was last Friday,” says Curtis.
Highland, he explains, is rebuilding its football program after playing only a JV schedule last season.
The Spartans, on the other hand, pose a much tougher challenge.
“In taking on Granger, our kids this week will be going up against bigger and stronger players than they faced in the Highland game,” said Curtis.
“We’re expecting a lot different kind of game than last Friday’s,” he added.
Still, to get the job done against visiting Granger later this week, the Vikings are going to have to perform in much the same manner they did last Friday against the Scotties.
For Mabton, that means using all its weapons – starting with field general and star QB Roy Zavala. Although diminutive in size, standing only 5 feet, 8 inches tall and weighing in at less than a buck-sixty, Zavala is the key cog in the machine that routinely marches up and down the field for the Vikings.
Case in point – in last Friday’s season opening 65-10 win the standout senior scrambled for 108 yards on only 11 totes, and tallied a hair more than 200 yards through the air on 8-of-12 passing.
He also accounted for five of Mabton’s nine touchdowns. One of Zavala’s TDs came on a 6-yard run. The four others he threw for.
The Mabton coach said as exceptional as Zavala is at being a playmaker, he might excel even more at being the team’s field manager.
“Roy’s in pretty good control when he’s out there running our offense,” said Curtis. “He sees all the field, sees things as they unfold…does a great job in distributing the ball.”
Two of Zavala’s touchdown passes went to sophomore Christian Mendoza, on throws of 10 and 28 yards, respectively.
Mendoza scored a third touchdown on the night on a pick-six - when he leaped in front of a Scottie receiver and snagged a pass off the fingertips of Highland quarterback Brett Barnes. The sophomore linebacker returned it 54 yards to pay dirt.
Besides the exceptional play of Mendoza, Mabton also received stellar efforts last Friday from two other sophomores – Max Ruiz and Diego Garza. Each caught a touchdown pass from Zavala, and together hauled in four passes for 65 yards total.
Also excelling against the Scotties was senior running back Albert Sanchez. Enroute to rushing for a game-high 124 yards on 11 carries, the 150-lb. bruiser scored TDs on runs of 8 and 24 yards.
The Vikings also got a touchdown last Friday from senior Salvador Urbina, on a 23-yard interception return.
In looking ahead, the Mabton coach said his club will be seeing stronger tests as the season progresses…starting this Friday with the prideful Spartans.
“Our non-league schedule doesn’t get any easier, not with taking on Tri-Cities Prep and DeSales the following two weeks,” said Curtis.
He noted that the number of Vikings he’ll have at his disposal this week grows from the 17 who suited up for last Friday’s game against Highland to 25 for the Granger game.
“Eight more of our kids become eligible to play this week,” Curtis said.