CANOGA PARK — The Mojave High School football team showed on Saturday afternoon why it’s ranked No. 1 among Division 1 8-man teams on the CIF Southern Section coaches’ poll.
The Mustangs (7-0) put a hurting on the No. 2-ranked Faith Baptist Contenders (5-2) with a 49-20 win on the road.
Senior running back Cameron Hill and junior Tyree Hendrix each scored three touchdowns, while junior quarterback Tim Whitfield scored one.
“What’s nice is when you have a group of athletes like that you can spread the carries around, it makes it a lot easier on everyone,” Mustangs head coach Cash Achziger said. “It keeps everybody fresh.”
But even though Mojave scored on almost every drive, it was its defense that shined. It forced Faith Baptist into seven punts, and Hendrix returned an interception for a touchdown, a pick-six, early in the second quarter.
“We are fast on defense, and that makes it really hard for people,” Achziger said. “And we’re getting better-disciplined.”
The Mustangs used its defense to give them plenty of opportunities to get into the end zone. Mojave’s first three TDs came after Faith Baptist punts.
Mojave senior running back Cameron Hill said his team’s strong defensive performance was the result of the coaching staff’s preparation and guidance.
“(Faith Baptist has) a lot of trick plays, so we just stayed on our toes,” Hill said. “We (have) responsibilities coach told us, so we just did our responsibilities.”
While three different Mustangs scored touchdowns, it was Hill and Hendrix who set up camp in Faith Baptist’s end zone. Less than two minutes before his pick-six, Hendrix rushed 30 yards for a touchdown seven seconds into the second quarter.
Late in the first half with Mojave at their own 27-yard line, Hill broke free from the Contenders’ defense and ran 53 yards for a touchdown that gave the Mustangs a 42-12 lead.
“I just run hard every time I get the ball,” Hill said. “Every time I get the ball, I feel like I want to score. That’s how I feel.”
Mojave scored six of its seven touchdowns in the first half.
Achziger credited the players for their focus leading up to the game against the Contenders.
“The boys knew that this was an important week and they did everything that we needed to do this week to get ready,” Achziger said.
The Mustangs are one win away from a perfect regular season. Whitfield attributed the team’s record to how last year ended for Mojave, which lost to the Avalon Lancers in the 8-man Division 1 championship.
“That kind of sparked us to want to come out this year and show that we still have a team,” Whitfield said.
Hill said the team should have won last year, but he and some other players did not play due to injury. He added that the team feels ready this year.
“Everybody (has) that in their head,” Hill said. “Last year’s game, we hate it. We don’t want to watch film, we don’t want to even talk about it. We just want to get back to the championship (and) show what we can do.”
The Mustangs have a bye week and will then face the Lancaster Baptist Eagles on Oct. 29 at home in their regular-season finale.