High School Football

More confident and deep with talent, Taylor eases way to opening win over Cy-Springs

By Dennis Silva II | Sports Editor
Posted 9/24/20

Overjoyed to simply be playing football, Taylor celebrated early and often during its season opener against Cy-Springs on Thursday night.

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High School Football

More confident and deep with talent, Taylor eases way to opening win over Cy-Springs

Posted

Overjoyed to simply be playing football, Taylor celebrated early and often during its season opener against Cy-Springs on Thursday night.

And the Mustangs were adamant that the Panthers not join their party. Taylor dominated Cy-Springs 37-0 in a start-to-finish laugher at Legacy Stadium, eager to justify high expectations following a state semifinalist appearance last season.

“We’ve been waiting for this season to start,” senior defensive tackle VJ Bronson said. “We’ve been getting right, been working hard to keep the momentum up from the big run last year. We’ve got to keep it going.”

The Mustangs outgained the Panthers 332-107 in total yardage in kicking off a season, delayed and uncertain in nature due to the novel coronavirus COVID-19, that is full of great potential.

“It’s really exciting, especially after all the stuff we’ve been through in the summer,” senior offensive lineman Bryce Foster said. “All the crazy schedules and even the question of whether we’d even be able to play or not. Especially it being my senior year, I’m really blessed to be out here and playing with my brothers.”

And the Mustangs played quite admirably. Offensively, Taylor was methodical in averaging 5.9 yards per play. Its lone hiccup was on special teams on a fumble of a punt. Defensively, the Mustangs forced three turnovers and held Cy-Springs to 2.2 yards per play.

“We’ve got some things we’ve got to clean up like we will in any first game, typically, but overall our kids got after it and played hard,” coach Chad Simmons said. “Cy-Springs’ kids played hard, but they just don’t have many; the big thing with them is numbers. We were pleased. We had guys step in from backup roles at several spots. Our offensive line dominated the line of scrimmage. The defense tackled pretty well and kept them out of the end zone.”

Taylor did not even have to utilize its stars. Senior running back Casey Shorter, an Army commit, only rushed four times for 21 yards. Senior quarterback J Jensen III only attempted 14 passes, connecting on nine for 140 yards and a touchdown.

What the Mustangs did show off was their depth. Junior Michael Whitaker III was impressive in his varsity debut, playing running back and receiver. The 5-foot-10, 165-pounder caught five passes for 79 yards and a touchdown and carried the ball 12 times for 44 yards and another score.

“He’s an explosive kid,” Simmons said. “Great vision. He sees things well. He makes good cuts. His success was not unexpected at all. He’ll be one of our top backs.”

Whitaker was anything but nervous, crediting his work during the offseason on becoming better at seeing holes created by the offensive line and improving as a receiver.

“We have a good O-line and I can find holes easily,” Whitaker said. “I got two touchdowns, made me feel good. I haven’t had an offensive line like that in my whole life. They make the game very easy.”

Whitaker said he needs to work more on running harder to break more tackles. For now, however, it was not a bad start.

“Mike is a guy who will get the ball, find where the holes are and do his jump cuts,” Foster said. “His speed and quickness is special.”

Aside from Whitaker, Simmons acknowledged the play of many other talented, inexperienced youngsters. Players like sophomore safety Joe Jefferson Jr., who was responsible for one of the takeaways with a nice interception in the first half; sophomore safety Andrew Meza, who also rushed for 26 yards on 10 carries; and sophomore defensive end Dylan Spencer and freshman tight end Ian Flynt.

Freshman Ashton Coker, brother of former Mustangs star and current TCU offensive lineman Andrew, also played well at defensive tackle. If Taylor proved anything in its opener, it’s that it has quality depth on both sides of the ball.

“We’re coming in with more confidence after last year,” Foster said. “I think last year we were very timid at the beginning of the season. We were playing some big-name teams and it kind of spooked us a bit. That second of thought or doubt is a second too late on the field.

“The big difference this year is we walk onto the field with our heads high and we know what we’re capable of doing.”

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