There was the usual residue a bad loss left behind, but Red Mountain won't panic, re-invent its wheels or other extremes.
In the wake of last week’s 31-8 loss to Desert Ridge, the Lions fell from the undefeated ranks. Despite allowing nearly 400 yards rushing and committing three turnovers in Desert Ridge territory, that may not be the worst thing in the world. There could be some personnel or schematic tweaks up the Lions’ sleeve, but Lions coach Ron Wisniewski didn’t plan on taking any extreme measures because of one rough week.
“It’s a bad sign to send to your team and the kids if you overhaul everything,” he said. “Then you wonder why we were doing it in the first place, but you’re always tweaking stuff.”
There was, however, no down-playing this week’s battle of Brown Road.
“I said this last week after (the Desert Ridge loss), the biggest game of the year is Mountain View,” Wisniewski said. “We played Brophy, Westview, Desert Ridge, but the biggest game is Mountain View, period. It always will be at this school.”
Keenly aware of Mountain View’s four-game winning streak, Wisniewski noted an improved, confident-looking bunch of Toros on film.
He also believes in his team and its ability to bounce back. After all, not re-inventing the wheel means Mountain View is going to have to deal with Red Mountain’s vaunted passing game of Mason Thorman, Drake Pierre and Aeron Carr, a trio which lit up the Friday night skies all season until last week.
“I have older brothers who played here, and ever since I was a kid, it’s always been Red Mountain,” Mountain View running back Weston Birtcher said. “The battle of Brown Road. This game is what everyone looks forward to because a lot of the players know each other.”
In pursuit of a playoff spot, Mountain View’s schedule gets significantly more difficult from this point forward, with Highland and Mountain Pointe upcoming, followed by Mesa to end the regular season. Red Mountain, however, has Westwood (1-5) and Skyline (3-3) before ending the regular season against Highland.
That aspect of the present and future potentially makes this week more paramount for Mountain View. Then again, the Toros are facing a “wounded” group of Lions from last week, in a rivalry game which has spoken for itself for the past 20 years.
“They were disappointed and embarrassed and all that, but our approach is when we hit Monday it’s over, win by 20 or lose by 20,” Wisniewski said. “You can’t let that game carry into the next win or lose. You have to keep a very even keel.”
Mark Heller is the East Valley Tribune sports editor. He can be reached at email@example.com or (480) 898-6576.