KELSO — Team 41 got Adam Mathieson win No. 100, and it was a battle to the very end.
Mountain View withstood a last-minute drive by Kelso and beat the Hilanders when a 31-yard field goal was off the mark, giving the Thunder a 20-17 victory on Friday night.
“Every coach will say this and every coach will mean this, but it’s not about me,” Mathieson said. “It’s about the players, assistant coaches, boosters, administrators. It’s a wonderful program to be a part of. I think back to the guys who helped us turn it around in 2008, 2009, 2010. … This is really a reflection of those guys.”
Mathieson loves to preach legacy to his players. That’s why this year’s team is Team 41, or the 41st team in Mountain View school history.
And Friday’s contest was one of the most memorable in school history.
Friday’s contest started out as an offensive showcase with both teams driving up and down the field. Mountain View (4-1) scored touchdowns on all three of its first-half possessions to take a 20-10 lead into halftime.
But the second half turned into a defensive battle.
“Honestly in the first half, we were just kind of running around wild (on defense),” said Kyle Chen, who had a second-half interception. “We just had to really put it together and lock it in on defense. Just focus on our jobs and not any one else’s.”
As the offense struggled in the second half, the Thunder defense was called on to make stops.
The Thunder stopped Kelso on fourth-and-1 at the Mountain View 20 with 4:48 left. But Kelso got the ball back.
Chen had his interception at midfield with 2:19 to go. But the Hilanders (4-1) still got one last chance with 1:08 left.
“I just got too conservative with the play calls,” Mathieson said. “You start worrying about eating the clock, and maybe we just should have stuck to playing football.”
With no timeouts, the Hilanders drove 66 yards to the Thunder 9 with six seconds left. A penalty moved the ball back to the 14, and Kelso coach Steve Amrine brought in the field goal unit for a potential game-tying field goal.
Mathieson said he was already thinking about overtime.
“You start thinking ‘OK we haven’t had a great fourth quarter of offense. What are we gong to do? What’s about best take-a-shot play, swing our sword and see what happens,” he said. “Then it missed, and I don’t know what I thought after that.”
The Thunder were thinking they just got their coach a milestone win against a key league rival.
“I’ve been watching him since I was a little kid,” said quarterback Mitch Johnson of Mathieson. Johnson scored two touchdowns on Friday and threw for a third. “It means a lot for me to be under his belt, learning from him. He’s a great guy. I love him. He’s a great coach.”
Chen added: “It’s amazing. This is our second time this year coming to Kelso with us playing them in the spring season. It’s amazing coming in and playing a great team, getting this win and being a part of Coach Math’s 100th win is a feeling I can’t express.”
MOUNTAIN VIEW 20, KELSO 17
Mt. View 7 13 0 0—20
Kelso 0 10 7 0—17
MV — Mitch Johnson 1 run (Eli Warne kick)
K — Zeke Smith 5 pass from Hunter Letteer (Mason Smith kick)
MV — Aiden Nicholson 44 pass from Johnson (kick failed)
K — M. Smith FG 23
MV — Johnson 1 run (Warne kick)
K — Colby Cooper 13 run (M. Smith kick)
RUSHING — Mountain View: CJ Hamblin 10-59, Akili Kamau 8-(-2), Walker Richards 7-39, Mitch Johnson 8-0, JJ Thompson 2-5. Kelso: Conner Noah 23-83, Letteer 7-26, Judah Calixte 3-7, Cooper 3-40.
PASSING — Mountain View: Johnson 10-16-1-154. Kelso: Letteer 19-33-2-231.
RECEIVING — Mountain View: Kamau 3-31, Kyle Chen 1-17, JJ Thompson 3-34, Nicholson 3-63. Kelso: Cale Franzen 2-25, Cooper 7-88, Z. Smith 4-58, Noah 2-20, Tyler Hayes 2-19, Trey Hoover 1-13.