DENVER — Could Mullen football possibly get a bigger win than last week's 31-point victory over defending state champ Valor Christian?
Um, yeah. It's called "Rivalry week."
This week's Class 5A No. 2-ranked Mullen was all business preparing for parochial school rival No. 4 Regis Jesuit on Friday night. And in a defensive showdown at Brother Bernard Kinneavey de La Salle Stadium, the Mustangs shutout the Raiders 17-0.
"It’s always been, 'Beat Regis' since we came into Mullen," Mustangs wide receiver/defensive back Isaiah Banks said. "This is the biggest game to us out of all the games we can play. Winning this game means everything to us."
The first quarter of the game was the only real offense the entire game had. A very early touchdown pass from Mustangs quarterback Dominic DePizzol to wide receiver/defensive back A'Jon Vivens put Mullen up 6-0 in the first two minutes. Then Regis fumbled the ball in its own end zone, Mullen was also gifted a safety
After running a fake punt, the Mustangs capitalized and running back Shamond Hamilton ran into the end zone to put Mullen up 14-0.
"We were focused and we planned and executed," Banks said. "Therefore, Regis scored zero points. They really did hold our offense pretty good though, and have a very fast and strong defense."
Mullen was also missing some of its key players, including a few receivers and all-state running back Marcus McElroy, who strained his hamstring in the game against Valor Christian.
"You go play the schedule we jut did – Pomona, Valor, Regis – three weeks in a row and we’re pretty banged up on offense," Mullen coach Tom Thenell said. "We’re beat up pretty heavy and when our defense goes out and wins games like they did the last two weeks, makes it a lot easier on us on offense. I put my kids through the gauntlet, and they responded."
Penalty flags flew across the field the entire game, including even one accidental flag. Combined with such a defensive battle, the pace of the game was very slow and seemed even a little disjointed at certain times.
Despite being left on the field a lot, the Raiders defense hung tough. Regis cornerback Patrick Roe snatched two interceptions in the second quarter, but RJ still failed to score.
"Mullen did a good job grinding it out – they ran ball effectively and played good defensive and we couldn’t get it going with offense," Raiders coach Danny Filleman said. "Our D played well for being out there as much as they were and stepped up and didn’t give Mullen good field position with offense."
The final points of the game came on a 31-yard field goal from Mullen junior Zane Freeman with just under 10 minutes left in regulation.
Both teams play again next Friday night – Regis (1-1) plays Rangeview and Mullen will take on Westminster.