MARANA — As the clock wound down on coach Matt Johnson’s first Mountain View win, he shouted to his offense, “That’s not victory.”
It was a new formation for quarterback Hayden Parson, who was mistakenly five yards behind center, about to take a shotgun snap before kneeling instead to end Friday’s 12-0 home win over Tucson High.
The play served as a final reminder that Johnson’s group, though talented, is still learning how to win.
“Absolutely,” Johnson said with a wide grin. “There are moments where we’re like, ‘Hey, we’re going to end this thing right now.’ Then penalties, turnovers, or a personal foul or something. We just have to keep growing.”
The first three weeks hadn’t gone as planned.
Mountain View (1-3) began with a 21-7 loss to Johnson’s former program, Ironwood Ridge. After a bye week, it lost back-to-back games against Gilbert Higley and Queen Creek Casteel, which finished a combined 18-7 last season.
“We were down by one point at half versus Higley,” Johnson said. “We had a lead in the third quarter against Casteel. To finally play well enough to finish was good.”
There were more than a few miscues.
Besides 11 penalties for 89 yards, Mountain View bungled its final possession before half. After forcing Tucson (3-2) to punt from its own 23-yard line, receiver Varney Larson muffed the kick, recovering but giving up valuable field position. Running back Kollins Opoku-Appoh answered the call, rushing 39 yards to the Tucson 18.
With 12 seconds, Parson sailed a pass over the head of Larson. Five seconds left, Parson stayed out there, tossing another pass through the end zone as the clock struck zero. It was a missed opportunity to lead 15-0 with a field goal from Nghishawn Nguyen, who was 2 for 2 from 36 and 37 yards.
“It’s funny, as football coaches we spend so much time on things, and then, there are just situations we miss,” Johnson said.
The missteps continued in the second half, when Mountain View marched up and down the artificial turf but came away with no points. Tucson’s defense deserved some credit for repeatedly turning the Mountain Lions back, giving its offense a chance until a fourth-down miss with 5:35 left at Mountain View’s 14-yard line.
“Defensively, we played pretty darn good,” Tucson coach Justin Argraves said. “We pitched a shutout in the second half. It just wasn’t enough to get the game won.”
Tucson’s top back, Gary Love, suffered an ankle injury in the first quarter and didn’t return. Without him, Mountain View focused mostly on quarterback Ayden Ortiz, who was brought down 10 times at or behind the line of scrimmage. While receiver Juron Carlos caught seven passes for 67 yards, Mountain View kept him and the Badgers contained, limiting them to just 147 yards on 49 plays.
“Our defensive ends kept [Ortiz] contained and me and Aaron [Logsdon] did the rest,” linebacker Daylin Smith said. “We did what we had to do. We had a lot of pressure. We felt like we had something to prove.”
Offensively, Parson led Mountain View, which travels to Cienega next week, with 81 yards on 16 carries, scoring the game’s only touchdown, but he was one of six Mountain Lions with 25 or more rushing yards.
The Badgers return home to face Salpointe Catholic next week.