Mill Valley football avenges Manhattan in season opener
Anyone considered an athlete will play for Mill Valley. It might not be at the listed position, but coach Joel Applebee made sure his best players were on the field in Friday night’s season-opening victory against Manhattan.
Despite all the early misfortunes, the Jaguars assembled their make-do pieces into a team capable of toppling the 6A Indians, 26-21.
“It ended up exactly how we wanted it to end up,” junior Ty Bruce, who started at quarterback, said. “Perfectly.”
The Jaguars were down a touchdown less than a minute into the game after an interception set up an Indian score. Mill Valley responded with a touchdown but missed the extra point.
Still in the first quarter, senior running back Nick Wilson went down with a knee sprain, prompting Mill Valley to put Bruce at tailback. He had only two or three reps at the position all week yet ran and blocked admirably.
That left Logan Koch to handle the quarterbacking duties, and the Jaguars may have found the answer at that position. Koch scurried all over the field, causing mayhem for Manhattan defenders and accounting for almost all of the Jaguar’s offense. He finished the night with 192 yards on a staggering 41 carries with two touchdowns. In the air, he added another two scores while completing four out of five passes for 78 yards.
As effective as Koch’s legs were, this wasn’t the gun-slinging Mill Valley team of years past. And he’s ready for this kind of workload.
“Whatever it takes to win,” Koch said. “I’ll be fine Saturday, just when I wake up it will hurt.”
Whether or not the coaching staff decides on making a permanent starter remains to be seen.
Applebee has said over the past couple months that all three quarterbacks — Koch, Bruce and senior Dylan Cole — will be on the field this season. He didn’t mention it would be at the same time.
“We have to because they are that good,” Applebee said. “We’ve got to find a spot for them for us to be successful and we will.”
Several packages included the three athletes at different positions, with Cole catching a touchdown as a receiver. It did, as Bruce said, work to perfection.
Along with finding an offensive identity, the Jaguars are riding a sky-high confidence level. This same Indian team beat the Jaguars 43-21 on opening night a year ago. As a 6A powerhouse and a model program for Mill Valley, this victory might be a turning point.
“Let’s get one thing straight: We came in expecting to win,” senior Micah Clarke said. “I know odds were against us, but we came in expecting it.”
Mill Valley lost in the 5A state tournament to eventual runner-up Bishop Miege last season after an explosive regular season run. There may be a lot of new faces in key positions, but after Friday night, it’s obvious these Jaguars want it all.
“Since that playoff loss, they’ve decided that they want victories like this,” Applebee said. “The work that they put in, I couldn’t ask for more. This is the payday, right here.”
Stay tuned for more from Friday's game.