The fact people have been domesticating wild horses for hundreds of years means nothing if your trapped alone with one and you don't know what to do.
Last Friday the Mexico varsity football team did find itself locked on the gridiron at the California Pintos with nowhere to go, but since it knew how to respond it was the home team that looked to be in for a wild ride. When the Bulldogs then started the game by taking a 15-0 lead, it looked like it was going to be a long night. Instead, California stemmed the tide that was rising against it, dug in its heels and made the decision that it wasn't going out without a fight.
When the Bulldogs did the same, what followed was a whole lot of smash mouth football that ended with the Pintos losing 22-15.
"Our first score was a safety. On our first possession we threw an interception on the one-yard line. When we then pressured their quarterback, he was called for grounding in the endzone," said coach Steve Haag. "When they kicked off to us again, I beleive it was the second possession, we drove down and scored on a dive play to the right from about four yards out by Dillon Nichols."
This now puts Mexico in position to head to Marshall on Friday for a league contest at 1-1 overall, 1-0 North Central Missouri Conference. Last year the Owls went 0-10 overall and the Bulldogs beat them 55-14 in week three.
"Marshall is going to be a bit different. They are 1-1, just like us. I think they got their first win in week one and that ended a 16-game losing streak or something like that (21)," Haag said. "They played a tough Warrensburg team last Friday. They've got some veteran guys at the skill positions. I know they start a sophomore quarterback like us, so we're going to have to have a total different mentality of how we play defense this week because they're going to throw the ball as much as California ran it."
One individual who Haag and his staff who will be looking to come up big against the Owls is defensive back Jasean White. Against the Pintos he scored the Bulldogs second touchdown on a 47-yard run play and it's that speed and instinct the coaches want to see in action at Marshall.
"(Jasean) helps us so much because he's tall at that cornerback position. Having a 6-foot-2 cornerback is rare, plus he can run. The thing with Jasean is, if he's locked in and he's mentally into it, he's a heck of a football player," said Haag. "Sometimes he allows his emotions to get in the way, and that gets him off track. But, if he's on point and running well, he can cover a lot of people. It just helps on that side of the field. "
This upcoming contest will be the Bulldogs, 1-1 overall, 1-0 North Central Missouri Conference, third in-a-row on the road. The squads home opener won't be until it hosts Hannibal for a league matchup on Sept. 17.
"We're going to have to be really good on our assignments in the pass game and still play physical and tackle well (against Marshall). (White) still has some growing to do. I feel he needs to be a little more physical, both in running and tackling, but that is not his gift. His gift is speed," Haag said. "He showed that last night when he scored his touchdown. He also shows it when he covers people. White is going to be important us going down the road, as many other are."
Even though California went 1-9 overall in 2017-18, the Bulldogs recent games against them have been close. This includes 2017 when Mexico came out ahead 28-14, but prior to that the Pintos fell 39-10 in 2016, 35-0 in 2015 and 21-0 in 2014.
"California is a physical football team and has traditionally been a physical football team. Last year I thought they were a little younger and played us a little bit above what they were. We were a little lax that game," Haag said. "This year they put in a new offense and had some veterans come back. It's more of a running style offense and they got after us. Early on we were probably the physical team. They kind of took that role over in the second and part of the third before we got it back."