The Mountain Ridge Sentinels knew they had a daunting task ahead of them in their first football game of the season facing off against the mighty Olympus Titans.
The Sentinels, however, were more than ready to get their season started, shocking the Titans and defeating them in somewhat comfortable fashion by a 37-19 scoreline.
In front of a packed home crowd, Mountain Ridge couldn’t have asked for a better start when standout Cade Uluave returned the opening kickoff to the end zone, giving the home team a quick lead and one it would never relinquish.
That opening kickoff set the tone, and Mountain Ridge rode the momentum for the entirety of the game.
“I have to give credit to my team on that one,” Uluave said. “They were blocking great on that kickoff. I found myself one-on-one, made a cut and I was gone. I just overall have to give credit to the team for the job they did.”
Said Sentinels head coach Mike Meifu: “I thought our team played fantastic. They managed the ups and downs, turnovers and everything. They really set the tone from the opening kickoff and I thought that was huge. Credit to our guys for coming out motivated and ready to go.”
The Titans instantly answered Mountain Ridge’s score with a touchdown of their own on a run from Ryan Reynard, but a 25-yard field goal by kicker Brody Laga and a 30-yard fumble return for a touchdown by the defense gave the Sentinels some much-desired and welcomed breathing room with a 17-7 advantage.
A major bright spot for Mountain Ridge was the play of Laga, who had never kicked a football prior to this game, according to Meifu. Laga converted every extra point and succeeded on three field goal attempts, including splitting the uprights on an attempt from 45 yards out as time expired in the first half.
While the offense and special teams did their respective jobs by putting up more than enough points to secure the victory, the thing Meifu was most pleased about was the discipline and play from his defense and its ability to respond to the challenges that Olympus threw its way.
“Our defense has been solid,” Meifu said. “They gave up a couple of big plays that really hurt us, but they just stuck together and trusted the game plan. We made our adjustments and got some turnovers early, which was huge and something that we preach about all the time.”
For Mountain Ridge to have a successful season, Meifu knows it’s going to take a complete effort from every player on the team game in and game out.
“We just have to play discipline on both sides of the ball and take advantage of our opportunities when they’re there,” he said. “A lot of it is the guys buying into the game plan that we prepare. We have plenty of challenges ahead of us and they just have to keep playing together as a unit.”