CAREY — In each of its past three trips to the state football playoffs, Mackay has run into Carey — and been eliminated.
Thursday night was no different, and a 48-0 loss to the Panthers closed the 2018 Miners’ season at 4-5.
Dubbed the “15 Strong” by first-year coach, and Mackay football alum, Travis “T.D.” Drussel, the Miners ended with 13 healthy players and a season to remember.
“I am just glad to have had that many (players), after the last couple years,” senior team captain Caleb Green said. “And you know, I wouldn’t have picked any other 15 anywhere at any time.”
This season’s Carey Panthers were a particular challenge for the visiting Miners.
Not only were the Panthers unbeaten and unchallenged through their first nine games, they were also the defending state champions with a 30-13 roster advantage. Coming into Thursday’s matchup, Carey had outscored opponents, on average, 57-12 through nine games played and were coming off a bye via forfeit.
All that, plus home field advantage, translated into a dominant showing over Mackay — particularly when the Carey defense was on the field.
Mackay managed six first downs in the game, three of which came in a two-minute drill at the end of the first half.
In all, Mackay had just 92 total yards from scrimmage, including a vaunted rushing attack that was limited to just 14 yards.
“They were quick and they found our weakness early,” senior team captain and quarterback Dallin “Red” Green said. “They were rushing four and five and that was tough to do anything with.”
After a relatively quiet first quarter, the Panthers scored 22 in the second quarter and entered halftime up 28-0.
Carey added three more scores in the second half and finished the game with a running mercy-rule clock.
Carey (10-0) moves on to face the winner of tonight’s Kendrick-Garden Valley game in the semifinals.
For the “15 Strong” in Mackay, it’s on to the basketball season for some, and the winter chores season for all.
For the team’s other captain, senior Riley Johnson, it will be quite a transition into a permanent football offseason.
“I met people playing this game I would have never met, and learned life lessons that will always be with me,” Johnson said, voice cracking. “It’s going to be hard to leave it all behind, but I am proud to have been a part of this family. This brotherhood.”