DENVER – The Mullen Mustangs wanted to send a message early on Friday night.
It was heard loud and clear.
This year’s team is determined to remain a tough competitor in the Class 5A field, and eager to prove they can run with the best. The Mustangs put that on display at Brother Bernard Kinneavy de La Salle Stadium, dominating defending champion Valor Christian in every aspect en route to a 41-10 victory in front of their home crowd.
“I loved the way my team played tonight,” coach Tom Thenell said. “Loved the passion they played with – we’re talking about a Valor program that has set the bar – and we knew that we had to come ready tonight.”
Their readiness was apparent as the Mustangs (1-1) wasted no time getting to work against the top-ranked team in the CHSAANow.com preseason poll.
Mullen struck on the first play from scrimmage on a bold play Thenell and his players had been scheming all week heading into the marquee matchup. The end result was a 72-yard bomb from quarterback Dominic Depizzol to running back Shamond Hamilton that put Valor (0-2) on its heels.
From there, the tone was set.
The Mustangs continued on to reach the end zone four times on their first five possessions. Their offense was fueled by Depizzol and Hamilton, as well as an impressive receiving performance from A’Jon Vivens.
Depizzol was a nightmare for the Eagles’ secondary, finding open targets that led him to four touchdowns and 305 yards through the air. More than half of those were reeled in by Vivens, who finished with 176 yards on 12 receptions.
The mix between Mullen’s air and ground attack kept Valor struggling, racking up 213 yard yards, 165 of which were from Hamilton.
“Right from that first play, I told (Depizzol) if he got it to me I’d score,” said Hamilton, who finished with a pair of rushing touchdowns and one receiving. “We were ready to bring it. This is our year and we’re here to show it.”
Valor Christian wasn’t able to do much while facing the stout Mullen defense. The Eagles did, however, finally break through in the second quarter to provide a bit of life before entering halftime down 32-10.
The highlight of their offensive performance was a first-half touchdown drive led by quarterback Dylan McCaffrey that was capped with a 5-yard toss to Joshia Davis.
The Eagles were then unable to put anything together in the second half, not scoring again after halftime.
McCaffrey finished with 129 yards, completing 14 of his 26 pass attempts. He was also the team’s leading rusher with 31 yards.
“They dominated us in all facets of the game,” Valor coach Rod Sherman said. “We’ve been on the other side of a lot of these types of games. But all kudos to Mullen, they just kicked our tails up and down the field tonight.”