HUNTINGTON BEACH – Both Fountain Valley and Trabuco Hills hobbled into Friday's nonleague football game missing key components to their respective offenses.
Each team has been without its starting senior quarterback the last two weeks, the Barons missing Kai Fernandez and the Mustangs, Jonathan Newsom. To compensate, the Mustangs relied heavily on the legs of senior running back Mitchell Simonsen.
The word "workhorse" certainly applied to Simonsen at Huntington Beach High's Sheue Stadium. He was the Trabuco Hills offense most of the way and his steady ground game helped the Mustangs power their way to a 28-7 victory in Fountain Valley/s homecoming game. Simonsen rolled up 221 yards as the Mustangs concluded nonleague play with a 4-1 record.
"We knew they'd come out running and he's a great back," Fountain Valley Coach John Shipp said of Simonsen. "He had some big runs and really helped them control the ball.
"We got off to a good start but we couldn't do much after that."
Fountain Valley, which wrapped up its nonleague schedule at 3-2 and had a two-game win streak snapped, had great field position after Trabuco Hills went three and out on its first possession and Tobias Dates' punt sailed off the side of his foot and out of bounds for a paltry, four-yard net at the Mustangs 33-yard line.
The Barons made quick work of the short field when running back Chris Calvillo slipped out of the backfield and caught a 13-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Chris d'Entremont in the corner of the end zone. Derek Huynen's conversion put the Barons up, 7-0, at 7:24 of the first quarter.
After that, Fountain Valley never sustained a serious offensive drive. The closest the Barons came to scoring came late in the game when Huynen was just short on a 57-yard field goal attempt with 7:53 to play. Trabuco Hills, namely Simonsen, took control after falling behind.
"We didn't start off well but I give our guys credit because we held them in check after giving up that early score," Trabuco Hills Coach Scott Orloff said. "Last year, we couldn't beat a Pac-5 (Division) team. This year, we've won three of four against those teams. This was a real good win for us and our guys are ready for South Coast League play."
Simonsen went to work right after what turned out to be Fountain Valley's only score of the night. Trabuco Hills put together a 10-play drive that consumed 80 yards and Simonsen's number, No. 3, was called upon all 10 times. He capped the drive by taking a direct snap from center and weaving his way through the left side for a 12-yard scoring run with 3:01 left in the quarter. After forcing a three-and-out on the Barons, Simonsen strung together three straight runs to take the Mustangs from their own 46, out to the Fountain Valley 36. His fourth carry of the drive was a 30-yard touchdown run that put the Mustangs in front for good, 14-7.
Fountain Valley's offense again stalled on its ensuing possession and Trabuco Hills went to another source in its run game to go in front, 21-7. This time, senior running back Garret Hartman found the end zone on a 15-yard run around left end with 7:49 left in the half. The Mustangs tried to pad the lead at intermission but Kyle Nguyen's 44-yard field goal attempt at the gun was wide left.
"The main thing we learned from this is that we just need to play better," Shipp said. "That sounds simple, but it's true. Our guys played their butts off and hustled but we just couldn't get anything going. Our guys never gave up. Trabuco's a good football team and they're 4-1 for a reason."
Trabuco Hills put the game away by scoring on its first possession of the second half. Simonsen (who else?) scored on a one-yard run off a direct snap to make it 28-7 with 3:25 left in the third quarter.
Fountain Valley, already playing without Fernandez who suffered a collarbone injury Sept. 8 against San Clemente, and all-league multi-purpose player Wyatt Christensen, was down to its third-string quarterback, John Chung, after d'Entremont rolled his left ankle early in the fourth quarter. Shipp said that d'Entremont will be ready when the Barons open Sunset League play Oct. 14 at Newport Harbor.
The Barons need time to mend, Shipp said, and a bye week next week gives them that opportunity.
"These next two weeks are very important and will allow us to heal and shore up areas that we need to work on," he said. "Hopefully, we'll be all but healed when we play Newport. It's the start of a new season and we're excited for it."
Shipp said that Fernandez could return to action by the midway point in league play.