The Mica Mountain Thunderbolts (1-1) in their first full varsity season under head coach Pat Nugent were overpowered Friday night by a bigger, more experienced Bob Young-led Prescott Valley Bradshaw Mountain Bears team (1-0).
Coming off a 28-0 win over Ironwood Ridge last week, Mica Mountain knew this week’s contest against Bradshaw Mountain would be a tough matchup. Last year, the Bears beat the Thunderbolts 36-7 at home in the last regular-season game, effectively knocking out Mica Mountain from the 4A state-playoff picture.
Mica Mountain, building its football program in the school’s third year of existence, has seven seniors and the starting lineup consists of mostly sophomores.
Nugent had this to say about the experience of the team, “We are a young team, very thin. We were missing a couple of players tonight but that’s no excuse. That’s a great football team. We want to get better. We are a brand-new program playing our first varsity schedule. It’s a learning lesson each week for us.”
The lesson learned Friday night: The Bears’ running game was Mica Mountains kryptonite.
Behind the size and strength of junior running back Gabriel Ricketts and senior quarterback Grady Rose, Bradshaw Mountain had five rushing touchdowns. In the second quarter, Ricketts and Rose hooked up for a 27-yard touchdown pass — the only passing touchdown of the game for the Bears.
Mica Mountain’s special teams notched the first touchdown of the game for the Thunderbolts when junior Devin Hayward ran a Bradshaw Mountain kickoff back 92 yards to tie the game 7-7 in the first quarter.
Nugent spoke highly of Heyward after the game: “Devin, he is just a superstar. We’ve got a couple of kids who can return kicks for us. You know, he’s a kid that doesn’t leave the field for us and can make plays all over the field so it’s great having No. 4 on our team.”
The only score by the Thunderbolts’ offense came off a 23-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Jayden Thoreson to junior wide receiver Jonah Garcia.
Mica Mountain caught the turnover bug in the second quarter and the offense couldn’t put together another scoring drive. Two fumbles and one interception stopped drives by the offense the final three quarters.
Mica Mountain next heads Friday to Florence to play Posten Butte, the state runner-up in 4A last year.
Nugent on next week’s challenge: “We know that is going to be a big-time challenge for us, but we wanted that. We want our kids to play high-level football, and if we ever do make it to the playoffs, they know what it is.”
*Overheard on the sidelines, “Penalty, 15 yards for excessive use of a flag” after one holding call brought out every flag available on the field.
*The student section tailgates together prior to home games. They are announced by the Mica Mountain PA announcer as they walk in as a group prior to the start of the game.
*Vail School District did a fabulous job designing the Thunderbolt football field. One of the nicest fields in the state.