By Michael BRUER
Led by their spirited coach James Mustain, the Rosemont Middle School flag football team secured its second win of the season last week with a 12-6 victory at Toll Middle School in Glendale. The win gave the Spartans a 2-1 record on the season and renewed confidence to build off of, heading into the second half of the season.
“It’s a good group of kids; they come and put in the time, and work hard. They’re willing to learn the game of football,” Mustain said. The Spartans have two home games to look forward to before closing out the season with a rematch when the Toll Titans visit Rosemont on Feb. 13.
The first quarter would best be described as a stalemate between the squads. Neither team managed to get into a regular flow offensively, with both teams turning the ball over on downs. Eighth grader and quarterback Brian Erikson was intercepted in each of the first two quarters for the Spartans, the second of which was picked off by Titans defensive back James Chang. The second quarter featured the only score by either team when James Chang rattled off a 20-plus-yard run to put the Titans ahead 6-0 with 2:25 to play.
“Our defense is phenomenal,” Mustain said. “Coach Steve Holmoe is a staple in this area and just does a great job with our defense – getting our guys prepared and playing hard, just executing well. Our defense does a great job and gives our offense a lot of opportunities.”
Rosemont had a number of those opportunities on offense, with the ball in the final third of the 60 yard playing field, but the Spartans were unable to convert – leaving them with the six point deficit heading into halftime.
Rosemont began the second half with the ball; and after a first down, tallied a few consecutive incomplete passes and turned the ball over on downs. Toll quarterback Jonte Pendleton threw an interception on the very next play, right into the hands of Spartans captain Joe Suh. Two plays later and the Spartans had tied the game on a 30-yard run by running back Louie Pintado.
Like their Toll counterparts, Rosemont was unable to convert the extra point, leaving the score at 6-6 with 4:44 remaining in the third quarter.
The Spartans scoring continued in the fourth quarter with their opening drive. An apparent interception by the Titans was overturned by a pass interference penalty, allowing Rosemont another play. Erikson took full advantage on the play, scrambling away from oncoming defenders and finding the end zone with a series of moves.
“I didn’t see any receivers open, so I scrambled left and then went right and I saw a wide open space of field and tried to get through to the end zone,” Erikson said.
Once again the Spartans were unable to add the extra point, resulting in a 12-6 differential with 4:45 to play in the game.
The Rosemont defense pulled through the rest of the way, forcing a sack, two incompletions, and finally holding the Titans short of the first down to secure their second victory. Mustain was undoubtedly proud of his team on the day, but is well aware of the constant desire to be better.
“There’s always room for improvement, doesn’t matter what you’re doing,” he said. “We need to execute better on offense. Offense is the hardest thing to play, because of the execution it takes. As our kids grow and they learn, they’ve gotten better. They put up 34 [points] last week against Wilson – the most we’ve put up ever. They’ll continue to grow, and continue to execute better.”
Rosemont is set to play Wilson today, a task that Coach Mustain is more than up to. What his program teaches prepares kids for football as they enter high school.
“As we prep for Wilson, we will study film, break down the game film to go over the ‘x’s’ and ‘o’s,’ technique and footwork, and a lot of things they need to do to be successful,” he said. “We teach it really like a class. It’s a grooming process for them. They have lunchtime meetings, after-school chalk talk, they study film, and they put in the time … they are learning how to be successful.”