Mariner sinks Oasis in spring football match-up
For a spring football game, Mariner High School looked in mid-season form as it trounced Oasis 42-7 Thursday night at home.
The Tritons were dominant on both sides of the ball, finding the end zone six times and holding the Sharks’ offense at bay for the majority of the contest.
“Our defense played hard all night and our offense did a good job executing,” said Mariner head coach Josh Nicholson. “We had a few errors, but we really opened things up and started clicking on all cylinders once the line got a hold of themselves.”
After an Oasis three-and-out, Mariner worked its way down the field on its opening drive that included a 50-plus-yard run from Cameron Bennett and was capped by a 5-yard score from Noah Tolbert.
A few series later, Mariner’s Guil Mora, who was all over the field the entire game, produced a sack-fumble of Oasis quarterback Kaiden Stengel that was recovered by the defense. A few plays later, Jacob Manning reached across the goal line from a yard out, extending the Triton lead to 14-0.
Before the first quarter officially came to an end, Stengel lofted a beautiful pass to wide out Isaiah Lozada, who continued untouched into the end zone for a 43-yard score.
“He’s a serious competitor,” first-year Oasis head coach Jason Grain said of Lozada, who was exceptional on both sides of the ball Thursday night. “He wants the ball. He’s our No. 1 receiver and was very competitive tonight. He’s got a lot of toughness and is a really hard worker. I was impressed with him tonight and have been. He’s a kid that loves the game, and when you have kids that love the game, it really stands out.”
Before the half came to an end, Bennett cashed in from 1-yard out to give Mariner a 21-7 lead heading into the break. Oasis’ Christopher Moorhead did intercept Bennett before the break, but the Sharks were unable to convert the turnover into points.
Mariner wasted no time adding to its lead in the third quarter, as Ashton Devitt supplied all of the offense on the ground, capped off by a 7-yard touchdown run.
Towards the end of the third quarter, Tolbert notched his second score of the night, this time weaving his way through Oasis defenders from 45 yards out.
The final touchdown came in the fourth quarter when Dylan Garner and Justin Lewis connected for a 39-yard completion.
“It’s really a testament to the kids in the weight room,” Nicholson said of the victory. “They’ve been busting their tails since the season ended last year, and it showed in the second half. They were ready to roll. They’re in great shape and stronger than they’ve ever been.
“There’s been a big culture shift here, which is what we want. Things are heading into the right direction. They have tenacity. We’re up 35 points, and they’re still playing hard.”
Tolbert and Lewis, both heading into their sophomore seasons this fall and combining for three touchdowns on the night, are young, dynamic players that Nicholson gave a lot of praise.
“Two very special athletes,” he said. “Justin is still growing in the game and learning. He does some stuff at practice where I’m like, ‘That’s a high-level play, and you don’t even know what you just did.’
“And Noah is just a football player. He’s got that edge to him, and that’s something we’ve been missing these past few years.”
The Tritons finished their 2020 season strong, winning their last three games and seemed to have carried that momentum into the spring and hopefully beyond.
“A good team wins a spring football game, a great team is going to take this energy and ride that wave all summer,” Nicholson said. “We’ve been through a lot this spring. We started with 62 kids, and we’re down to 29 — a lot of that was these guys holding their teammates accountable.”
Grain said he was pleased with the way his players fought despite the scoreboard and was especially impressed with the play of Stengel at quarterback. He’s looking forward to continuing to build on what is a young roster.
“(We had) some aggressive penalties jumping offside because we were looking to make some plays, those things happen,” Grain said. “Our guys gave a lot of effort, we have heart. The kids did an outstanding job of preparation and working. When we start our summer workouts, we can really work on the fine details of the operation, and we’ll be ready to play during the season.”
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