Mountain View rallies to upset rival Marana and earn The Boot trophy

Mountain View’s Justin Holguin holds The Boot trophy aloft with injured teammate Will Howell beside him after the Mountain Lions’ 42-35 upset win over Marana (Lexie Fegan/Special to AllSportsTucson.com)

Mountain View was down to its third-string quarterback to start Friday night’s rivalry game against visiting Marana.

By the end of the game, coach Matt Johnson used his fourth and fifth options at quarterback.

Mountain View also trailed 28-14 until late in the third quarter before miraculously doing the unthinkable — winning 42-35 in front of a stunned crowd for both sides.

“I have never had a big win with so many injuries,” Johnson mentioned. “The kids could have hung their heads, but they kept the faith.”

Mountain View takes back The Boot from Marana for the first since since before their 2021 matchup (Lexie Fegan/Special to AllSportsTucson.com)

The win amounts to one of the most significant upsets of the season statewide.

The Mountain Lions were winless in in their previous three games, including a 52-0 loss to Scottsdale Horizon and 53-14 setback to Peoria Sunrise Mountain.

In the loss at Sunrise Mountain, second-string quarterback Julian Palmieri suffered a leg injury and was ruled out for at least this week. He replaced No. 1 quarterback Will Howell, who was lost for the season with an ACL tear in the opening loss at Gilbert.

Justin Holguin, primarily a receiver and safety, was thrust into the starting role.

Marana was 1-2 entering the game, but the two losses were against Salpointe and Gilbert Higley on the road. The Tigers blew a late lead against Higley last week in a 29-24 loss.

Mountain View defied the odds, playing with its fifth-string quarterback in the end and emerged with the victory over the Tigers.

The Boot, a symbol of the rivalry game with Marana, returns to Mountain View after the Mountain Lions lost in consecutive years against the Tigers.

Mountain View held The Boot from 2014 (when it beat Marana) until 2021, when the series resumed. Marana won 13-12 that year. The Tigers beat the Mountain Lions 37-21 last season.

“All week, we preached to the kids that you have to believe in each other and never give up hope,” Johnson stated. “When Jeremy Ayres got hurt, we were down to our fourth- and fifth-string quarterbacks, Justin Holguin and Damian Wallace.

“Our first two quarterbacks, Will Howell and Julian Palmieri helped our team keeping our chins up.”

Battering-ram running back Nicholas Horrocks scored on an 18-yard run to cut Marana’s lead to 28-21 with close to 2 minutes left in the third quarter.

Wallace scored on a 7-yard run with 11 minutes remaining to cut the lead to 28-27. The PAT was blocked.

Both teams traded touchdowns before Horrocks scored on a 15-yard run in the waning seconds to give Mountain View the unfathomable victory.

“Our kids kept believing and we were able to make some plays,” Johnson said. “Marana is a great team with great coaches, so it makes the win even sweeter.”

– Mountain View attempted only two passes all game (1 of 2 for 22 yards).

– Holguin did his best Khalil Tate impression and rushed eight times for 215 yards and three touchdowns. He had runs of 70, 75, 44 and 25 yards.

– Mountain Lions rushed for 387 yards.

Mountain View (1-3) hosts Walden Grove (1-2) next week after having this Friday off..

Marana (1-3) is slated to host CDO (4-0) this Friday. The new turf that is being installed on Marana’s field is reportedly near completion.


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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