Despite the final tally on the scoreboard, the Mitchell High School football team exuded plenty of confidence.
The Marauders lost their season opener 48-14 to Class 3A’s No. 4-ranked Discovery Canyon on Thursday night at Garry Berry Stadium.
Mitchell ventured off the field, huddled up and awaited coach Jerimi Calip’s arrival. Before he made it to the Marauders, senior Demetrius Biglow said, “They didn’t feel like they were No. 4,” referring to Discovery Canyon.
“I feel like we can build from this,” Biglow said. “We have young players and I feel like we can expand to the next level.”
Biglow said that next level includes execution, which the Marauders (0-1) did after building a 6-0 lead over the DC’s Thunder (1-0) in the first quarter.
Mitchell forced a fumble on the Thunder’s first drive, which stopped at the Marauders 22, but Mitchell went three-and-out on the ensuing possession and punted.
During Mitchell’s punt, though, a Discovery Canyon player’s left leg clipped the ball and the Marauders recovered it and took over at the Thunder 23 with 9:28 on the clock.
After Discovery Canyon dropped Mitchell back to the 37 and forced a 4th and 27 with 6:09 left in the first, the Marauders made a gutsy call.
“We’re in the red zone and we couldn’t punt and we don’t have a kicker, so we said we may as well go get it,” said Macy Davenport, Mitchell quarterback. “I looked over and saw there was just a single corner on [Ralph Cushon]. The corner didn’t look like he knew what he was doing, so I put it out there and told [Cushon] to go get it. He definitely got it.”
The 37-yard touchdown reception gave Mitchell its only lead of the game and served as the highlight for the team through majority of the contest.
Discovery Canyon scored on four of its next five first-half drives and forced the running clock rule after taking a 48-6 lead with 7:47 remaining in the third quarter.
The Marauders’ final score of the game came on the final drive of the contest after they marched downfield and into Discovery Canyon territory.
Davenport kept the ball on a read-option, took it to the weak side, past a pair of Thunder defenders, and wrestled his way to the end zone for a 4-yard score with 14.4 seconds left in the game.
When Davenport reached the end zone, however, he immediately clutched his right leg.
“As I was running, I could feel cramps,” Davenport said. “I felt two cramps in my leg and once I got into the end zone I fell down.”
The effort and grit displayed by the Marauders made Calip proud of his team. During his speech following the game, he asked how many players suited up varsity for the first time.
Half the Marauders hands shot into the air, which Calip explained how it shows their upside to force numerous errors on a team the caliber of Discovery Canyon and highlights an opportunity for growth of young athletes.
“We’re battling more than just a game – we’re trying to get our mindset right,” Calip said. “This is a process and it isn’t going to happen overnight. You can’t cheat the process. After the first half, I told our guys we couldn’t do anything about that. In the second half, we wanted them to go out and win the second half. It’s about creating small victories so they can feel that sense of winning. That will hopefully translate to the big win.”
The gauntlet continues for the Marauders as they’re home next week against No. 3-ranked Durango at 1 p.m. Saturday.
It will be the Demons’ first game of the year after their season opener against Pueblo South was canceled after one person for the Colts tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday.