Pusch Ridge head coach Kent Middleton had nothing but good things to say about senior linebacker Tyler Mustain and his brother, junior quarterback Bubba Mustain, after the Lions defeated ALA-West Foothills 37-7 in its home opener on Saturday.
“They’re fun to coach, they’re a blast to coach,” he said. “Number one, they’re great people, they’re great young men, and number two, they’re good football players, very good football players. People follow them, and people want to be like them, and it’s easy to want to be around them because they don’t got large egos or anything like that.
“They just come to play the game of football.”
Tyler already has a D-1 scholarship offer from NAU, and his younger brother Bubba, a star wide receiver for the Lions last season, seems to have seamlessly transitioned to playing quarterback.
Middleton understands what the brothers bring to the team on and off the field, and the way they play only magnifies the leadership qualities they lend to the team at practice and on the sidelines.
He is especially impressed with Tyler as he embarks on his senior season.
“I’ve been coaching 32 years, and Tyler Mustain is one of the best football players I’ve ever coached,” Middleton said. “He’s in the top three, and he’s a better person. He’s a great young man. He gets it. He just understands it. He’s a throwback to the old days. Kind of like a throwback guy, and he does a great job.
“He’s the heart and soul of our football team.”
If Tyler is the engine that pushes the team forward, Bubba, who completed 12 of 18 pass attempts for 157 yards and three touchdowns on Saturday, is the steady driver of the offense.
“Very solid, very solid,” Middleton said. “Bubba’s a great competitor. He throws the ball well. He didn’t have a lot of time to throw sometimes tonight. Theres a lot of things that we gotta clean up. We had a couple dropped passes, and we had some leakage on our pass protection, so there’s some stuff that we definitely have to clean up, but Bubba was solid, very solid. Good night for him.”
Tyler even played some offense on Saturday night, catching a 29-yard touchdown pass from Bubba in the third quarter that ended up being the game’s turning point.
“It was pretty sweet,” he said. “We also talked about that at halftime, because we noticed that the safety was playing up, and there was no one back deep, so we figured out that we could exploit that. I did drop the second one, so that was poor. I know I’m going to be hearing about that from him later.”
After the game, Tyler reflected on what it’s been like playing alongside his younger brother at Pusch Ridge.
“It’s been pretty fun,” he said. “In practice, we’re pretty competitive, so we always trash talk each other, and that’s always enjoyable, so I like doing that with him.”
While next season won’t be the same for Bubba at Pusch Ridge after his older brother graduates, he sees a bright future ahead for Tyler.
“No doubt I’m gonna miss him. You know, great player, probably better, but that’s okay, no big deal,” he said. “For sure, he’s a leader on this team. He leads well. He’s gonna go places, he’s a great player. He’s gonna go to the next level and perform somewhere and be a captain eventually, so I just hope the best for him.”
Middleton, who gained popularity in Tucson with the Icecats as a wing under coach Leo Golembieski in the 80’s, isn’t taking the Mustain brothers’ final season together at Pusch Ridge for granted.
He knows how special they are.
“All business, a lot like hockey players,” he said. “Not a lot of trash talking. They’ll joke around and stuff. They’ve got great senses of humor. We’ve been blessed to have them, there’s no doubt about it.”
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com writing intern Kevin Murphy was born and raised in Tucson, and has followed Arizona Wildcats athletics since childhood. Murphy is a journalist product manager with the Green Valley News & the Sahuarita Sun. He is currently attending the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at ASU where he is working towards a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication and Media Studies.