Mountain View QB Will Howell impeccable in 26-7 win over Sahuaro

Mountain View QB Will Howell takes pointers from senior Deven Sanchez (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Mountain View sophomore Will Howell played in only his second varsity game in the Mountain Lions’ 26-7 win at Sahuaro, yet it seemed as if playing on Friday nights was nothing new to the 6-foot and 165-pound yet-to-be-developed quarterback.

By the time Howell threw his first incompletion in his 15th pass, late in the the third quarter, he already had amassed more than 200 yards threw the air.

“I’m just getting started,” Howell said as if warning all the defensive coordinators out there the next two to three years.

The Cougars, beset by COVID-19 protocol keeping nine players out of the game, were at 59 total yards overall and trailing 16-0 at the time of Howell’s first incompletion with 4:37 left in the third quarter.


Indicative of Mountain View coach Matt Johnson having more talent to choose from in the Mountain Lions’ 26-7 win, Howell’s 14 straight completions to start the game included connecting with four different receivers at least three times.

Sahuaro (0-2) designed plays for only five players all game, and two of them (fullbacks Izaiah Perez and Logan Stell) each had only one run for no gain.

Sahuaro’s Javez Blair gained 127 yards on 18 carries and Angel Hightower completed 4 of 14 pass attempts for 92 yards. Wideout Alexander Vales had all four receptions for 92 yards.

Nobody else touched the ball.

Howell finished 17 of 20 for 259 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. He also rushed for a touchdown.

“We had two things going for us — we’re getting better, our seniors are becoming seniors … and I know a couple of guys were out for Sahuaro because of COVID,” said Johnson, whose team lost 13-12 at rival Marana two weeks ago. “My kids did a great job and we also caught some breaks.”

Five Mountain View receivers made at least three receptions: Dillon Arvayo four for 96 yards, David Parrin four for 74 yards, Reid Ryan three for 35 yards, Deven Sanchez three for 29 yards and Dillon Johnson three for 15 yards.

Arvayo and Ryan, both seniors, had touchdown receptions late in the second quarter.

“He’s growing rapidly,” Johnson said of Howell’s performance. “He was throwing some pretty great footballs there. … He’s growing up and we’re excited about his future.”

Howell, whose 5-yard touchdown run put Mountain View on the board in its first possession, completed a 3-yard scoring strike to Ryan with 1:12 left in the half. After a Sahuaro fumble, Howell connected with Arvayo on a 32-yard touchdown to increase the lead to 19-0 with 21.8 seconds left before halftime.

“We were executing well and everything went well for us, that’s all I can really say,” Howell said. “I just love spreading the ball and everybody was getting open for me. Everybody was doing their job so it makes my job easy when they get open for me.”

Mountain View junior Tairiq Booker had only one carry in the game before becoming the Mountain Lions’ featured back in their third possession of the second half.

He rushed five times for 31 yards, including a 3-yard scoring run, on that drive to put Mountain View ahead 26-0 with 6:26 left in the game.

Eight different Mountain Lions rushed the ball, again displaying their wealth of resources compared to what was at Sahuaro coach Scott McKee’s disposal.

Booker led Mountain View with 50 yards on six carries, Dominic Roebuck had eight rushes for 38 yards and Lloyd Johnson amassed 29 yards on seven carries.

“We’ll gain guys back from the COVID protocol next week,” said McKee, whose team will play at unbeaten Desert View (2-0) next week. “We should have eight or nine guys back, which will help us. Obviously, that’s not the reason we lost this ballgame.

“We have to execute better offensively and defensively. We had a lot of young guys that had to step in and play and it showed. When you go senior vs. young guy, we just got to make it simpler for them and just keep building those guys up. Adding those couple of senior pieces and a couple of juniors in there will help us a bunch.”

Hightower, a junior, was resilient despite feeling pressured most of the night. His 50-yard touchdown to Vales — who broke a couple on tackles en route to the end zone — cut the lead to 26-7 with 4:37 left.

Sanchez’s interception stopped Sahuaro on its last possession, putting an exclamation point on the end of how Mountain View responded after losing “The Boot” against Marana two weeks ago.

“That was a tough loss; it took a couple of days because that still stung,” Sanchez said. “We came back and we had a great week of practice. We knew that we have a tough stretch coming up. So this game, we really needed it.

“We’ll use some of the momentum going into the game against Millennium next week.”

Mountain View will travel to face the Tigers (2-1) on Friday as part of Johnson’s plan to play tough competition to better prepare his team for the stretch run of the regional playoff race.

“Halleluiah, because we know Millennium is going to be a monster,” said Johnson when asked how important it was to beat Sahuaro for momentum heading into that game.

“They’re a great program, great talent. That will be a huge challenge, but at this point, the kids are getting to play football, win or lose, be a family win or lose, and that’s all we really care about.”


ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District

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