Shoal River Mustangs take Destin Marlins for a ride

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

A bigger, quicker Shoal River Mustang team overpowered the Destin Marlins for a 46-19 loss in middle school football action in Crestview Thursday evening.

"We're just really, really young as far as competing on this level," said Destin Coach Mark Hinterthan as he walked off the Mustang field.

"This was a big physical team ... but it was a good challenge for our first game," Hinterthan said.

The Mustangs scored often and quickly, scoring five out of six possessions in the first half alone.

Destin quarterback Wyatt Wainwright tries to break away from Shoal River's Malachi Saul. Wainwright completed seven of 15 passes for 81 yards in the 46-19 loss.

As a matter of fact, Shoal River's Zi Morris broke loose for a 78-yard dash to the end zone on the first play from scrimmage. The two-point conversion was good and Shoal River was on the board.

Destin sputtered on their first possession and was forced to punt. But with a bad snap over the punter's head, Shoal River was left with good field position.

Again on the first play, Braylen Phillips took it in from 15-yards out for the TD and Julian Rover scored on the conversion and the Mustangs were on top 16-0 in less than 2 minutes.

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Destin finally put together a scoring drive covering  55 yards in 11 plays for the score. Maddox Fayard and Andrew Atkins both carried the ball for the Marlins on the drive with quarterback Wyatt Wainwright taking it in on a 1-yard keeper. The extra-point attempt failed. Destin trailed 16-6 with 1:59 to go in the first quarter.

Destin's Andrew Atkins rushed for 46 yards and two touchdowns for the Marlins in their 46-19 loss to Shoal River in middle school football action.

The Mustangs came right back with another quick score. Morris broke away on the first play from scrimmage for a 54-yard scamper to the end zone. Aiden Stern was good for the 2-point conversion and Shoal was up 24-6.

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On Destin's next possession, the Marlins picked up a 33-yard gain on a connection between Wainwright and Tracen Trahan. However, Destin lost yardage on a bad snap, but got some of it back on a 14-yard run by Jordan Figueroa. The Marlins turned it over on downs.

Shoal River sputtered on their next possession with Destin forcing the ball loose and Michael Martin coming up with the ball for the Marlins.

Destin struggled with a couple of bad snaps ultimately giving the Mustangs good field position again.

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Three plays later Shoal hit pay dirt again. Julian Rover scored on a 1-yard run and Malachi Saul scored the 2-point conversion for a 32-6 game.

Both teams scored once more to finish off the first half.

Destin's Wainwright connected with Figueroa for a gain of 10 and then a couple of plays later hit Atkins on a route for a pick up of another 10 yards. With the ball on the 36-yard line, Wainwright picked up 14 on the ground. On the next play, Atkins went right up the middle for a 22-yard score. The extra point attempt was no good. 

Destin's Jordan Figueroa picks up 14 yards on the ground against the Shoal River Mustangs.

Shoal scored on a 27-yard pass play from Saul to Jay Tassin for a 38-12 game at the break.

In the second half, each team scored once.

Shoal scored on a pass play from Saul to Tassin again, this time for a 34-yard strike in the last four minutes of the third quarter.

Destin scored its final TD in the last three minutes of the fourth. The Marlins capped off an eight-play drive on a 2-yard run by Atkins. Figueroa kicked in the extra point for a 46-19 finish.

"We're young and we hurt ourselves," Hinterthan said.

"We had a couple of drives going ... then had bad snaps from center ... bad snaps over the head. We've got a lot of things we've got to clean up," he said.

As for the defense, Hinterthan said, "the defense doesn't understand the physicality yet ... so we've got to work on that. But with the lack of practice and just getting in pads five days ago, we're behind the curve. But we'll get better."

Up next, Destin will host Bruner Middle School on Oct. 1 while the Mustangs will travel to Fort Walton Beach to play the Pryor Pirates at Joe Etheredge Stadium at Choctaw High School. Both games begin at 6:30 p.m.