On a strikingly pleasant early fall evening that was all Colorado, the start to the second part of 2021’s regular season for Mullen contained a striking resemblance to much of what occurred in the first half.
Big plays continued to hurt the Mustangs as did blown assignments and penalties.
In the opening to the Class 5A Jefferson County League, the Mustangs were easily handled by Ralston Valley 40-14 at Brother Bernard Kinneavy Field at De La Salle Stadium.
Mullen missed a chance to level its record, falling to 2-4 overall. Ralston Valley, ranked No. 5, remained undefeated at 6-0.
“Big plays,” head coach Jeremy Bennett said, shaking his head. “We didn’t make the plays we should have … big plays keep killing us and we have to eliminate the big plays … we have to stop shooting ourselves in the foot.”
Ralston Valley grabbed control early and held it, scoring on its first three possessions for a 23-0 bulge. Included were a 33-yard scoring pass, a 34-yard completion that led to a second touchdown and a 61-yard touchdown pass between two Mullen defenders one play after the hosts failed to convert on fourth-and-2 at the RV 40-yard line.
“It’s frustrating,” Bennett said. “Here’s the thing – it’s not because the kids aren’t playing hard. We just can’t keep making the mistakes here and there. And the problem is, the mistakes we make are catastrophic.”
Overall, Mullen had four drives end in turning it over on downs, suffered an interception and couldn’t get inside the Ralston Valley red zone until two late Blake Palladino-to-Nick Carje scoring passes.
Despite trailing by three scores entering the third quarter, Mullen’s defense played well enough to give its offense a chance before being hit for a field goal and two late scores by reserve players.
Ishmael Aceves, Jaxon Heil and Connor Warren each had assorted moments on defense and Kyle Krebs and Michael Brouillette also added to the offense, but Ralston Valley beat Mullen for the seventh consecutive time since 2013.
“When we don’t read our keys and do the things that will take us to the ball; when we freelance …” Bennett said in not finishing the sentence. “I told the kids, when we play and do the little things we’re as good as anybody in the state. I believe that. When we don’t, we’re as bad as anybody.”
Bottom line, he said, “this one was frustrating.”
Mullen will resume play in a week, Friday, Oct. 8, at home against Arvada West, which has greatly improved from its combined 2-15 mark the past two seasons. The Wildcats moved to 5-1 overall, 1-0 league, after Friday’s 24-21 thriller over always good Columbine.
RALSTON VALLEY 40, MULLEN 14
Ralston Valley 16 7 0 17 -- 40
Mullen 0 0 0 14 -- 14
RV – Bubba Harr 33 pass from Zach Friedman (Bubba Harr pass from Zach Friedman), 8:13.
RV – Marquel Collins 11 run (Bubba Harr pass from Zach Friedman), 3:35.
RV – Jackson Hansen 61 pass from Zach Friedman (Steele Fredricks kick), 11:26.
RV – FG Steele Fredricks 29, 8:31.
RV – Diano Benallo 29 run (Steele Fredricks kick), 5:33.
M – Nick Carje 41 pass from Blake Palladino (Bryce Sohayda kick), 4:30.
RV – Diano Benallo 26 pass from Logan Madden (Steele Fredricks kick), 1:20.
M – Nick Carje 30 pass from Blake Palladino (Bryce Sohayda kick), 0:00.