The Mustang football team is 1-5 going into homecoming week this week. Davis County suffered a 14-7 loss to Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont last Friday night in one of the better games the team has played from an offensive and defensive line perspective.

Coach Kent Anderson praised the line for its efforts offensively. Davis County rushed for 142 yards on 31 carries and was led by Gavin McCall who accumulated 81 yards on 16 of those carries last Friday night.

Part of the success was a change in personnel and the unselfish play of Caden Hill who has gone from playing quarterback early this season to shoring up the offensive line by playing left guard last Friday night. Hill is also one of the Mustang defensive leaders as a middle linebacker.

“I felt that this was one of the more complete games we played all season. The score would not indicate that. I thought there were some positives that will help us get better. One thing we did was move the football on the ground in a consistent manner,” said Anderson of his offense.

“I thought we had some push at the line of scrimmage and our running backs ran very hard. I was pleased with the offensive line performance this week. Caden Hill lined up and played the entire game at the left guard position including his normal duties as a middle linebacker and kicker,” said Anderson. “What he’s done for the football team has been remarkable. That is the example of what putting the team first means. At the other guard spot, Tristen Marks played his first-ever high school football game and gave us a boost in depth. He will help us in the future I’m sure. I was very pleased with his first-ever football game.

“Spencer Boas, Kolton Stremler and Clayton Garmon all did a very fine job and also put in their best performances of the season in the trenches,” said Anderson.

Unfortunately, the line play wasn’t enough. Anderson expressed some concern with the play from those in the skill positions.

“We definitely need to improve and took a little bit of a setback at the skill positions. This has been a staple of our team the entire season, but Friday we took a step backwards. We missed scoring and game-changing opportunities on routine situations. In addition, we were very passive in blocking down field. This will get immediate attention this week,” he said.

Davis County came out strong unlike previous weeks. The Mustangs kicked the ball away to start the game, but the defense showed it was ready to play by forcing a fumble against the Rockets on their first play from scrimmage. Clayton Smith and Tyler Ball helped get that turnover.

That gave the Mustangs a short field as they started their first drive on the EBF 44-yard line. A couple of Carson Maeder passes hit their mark as Carson Zeitler gained 15 yards in two plays. Ball added another eight on his first pass reception and the Mustangs were in business.

The Mustang passing game got Davis County down to the EBF six before McCall got his first carry of the night. McCall got a nice block from the line and waltzed into the end zone for a six-yard score. Davis County took a 7-0 lead on a point after kick from Hill.

The Mustang defense maintained its intensity by forcing EBF to give up the ball after just three plays. A 37-yard punt put Davis County’s offense back in businesss.

Starting from its own 18-yard line, the Mustangs started their second drive with a pitch play to Clayton Smith around the right side. A pass to Ball added five and a scramble by Maeder went for four yards and a first down. Maeder was forced from the pocket again securing 15 as he helped Davis County move the ball. McCall picked up 14 more on two rushing plays and Davis County seemed to move the ball with ease.

The drive eventually stalled deep in EBF territory after several Maeder passes fell incomplete.

An interception from Hill shut down EBF’s next drive. After the Rockets had moved the ball to within 30 yards of their goal line, the Mustang passing game began to struggle and the Mustangs ran just three plays before having to punt.

EBF scored after a 69-yard drive late in the second quarter. That tied the game at 7-7. The Rockets added another score with just nine seconds left in the first half after shutting down the Mustang offense. The Rockets used a 52-yard pass play to take that lead. The pass ended up being the game-winning play.

The Mustangs managed to put together some sustained offensive drives in the second half behind the running of McCall and Smith. The only problem was the Mustangs couldn’t punch the ball across the goal line after getting deep into EBF territory.

A late fumble turnover killed a possible scoring drive for the Mustangs in the fourth quarter. Defensively, the Mustangs were doing well by shutting down the EBF offense and forcing them to punt. Davis County just couldn’t get the offensive spark it needed to take advantage of the opportunities the defense was giving them.

Maeder ended up throwing for just 63 yards after an 11 of 26 night throwing the ball. Zeitler led the receivers with two catches for 15 yards. Dalton Reeves had one for 14 yards and Ball had three catches for 12 yards. Along with McCall’s 81-yards on the ground, Smith finished with 48 yards on 10 carries. Maeder had 13 yards rushing.

“Defensively it was our best output this year. The tackling was better and the physicality with which we played was very noticeable. The pads were definitely cracking when our defense was playing,” said Anderson. “Brett Doxtater rose to the occasion this week and put in his best performance. We need to build on that as a defense for the rest of the season. I believe everyone on defense picked up their game a level but I know there is a lot more potential in them.

“We definitely took a little bit of a setback at the skill positions. This has been a staple of our team the entire season. We missed scoring and game-changing opportunities on routine situations. We were very passive in blocking down field. This will get immediate attention this week,” said Anderson.

“All in all it was it another step forward. I reminded the team that we should be getting tired of ‘atta boys’ and pats on the back for coming close. We quite simply need to win,” said Anderson.

“This program needs to win games not just come close. We were playing to protect the lead or to stay in the game rather than play to win the game. The only time I saw us really try to dominate was the very first drive and quarter. After that, we were in a different mode. That mentality has to change,” he said.

Davis County will host Albia Friday night for the annual homecoming game. Both teams are 1-5 coming into the game. Davis County is still looking for its first win in Class 2A District 6 play. The Blue Demons are coming off their one and only victory last week following a 49-18 win over Central Lee.

The Blue Demons will be riding the arm of Blake Chance who threw for 380 yards last week against a struggling 0-6 Central Lee team. Senior Luke Bossard will get the bulk of the calls at running back. Bossard ran for just 50 yards last week, but also caught two Chance passes for 35 yards in the win over the Golden Hawks.

Friday night’s homecoming game begins at 7 p.m. at Mustang Stadium.