Any teams eyeing open real estate in the upper crust of the local high school football scene as a certain perennial power enters uncharted territory this season must be discouraged after what happened Friday night at Don Taylor Stadium.
Despite playing without retired coach Dan Barnson for the first time in 12 years and losing several key players from last year’s regional championship team, Arbor View conquered Basic on the road with ease. The Aggies shut out the Wolves 42-0.
“We came out to show that we’re still just as dominant,” senior running back Daniel Mitchell said. “We’ve still got the talent to do it.”
Mitchell may actually be underselling his team if their season-opening performance was any indication. Arbor View didn’t look as dominant in years past; it may have looked more dominant.
The Aggies piled on nearly 400 rushing yards and averaged 11 yards per play. Mitchell along with fellow seniors Jaedyn Jackson and Justin Hausner each had a pair of touchdown runs as the Aggies rotated in one running back after the next.
They were all successful as sophomore D’Andre Washington and senior Darius Williams also broke long runs despite never getting into the end zone.
“I don’t think a lot of people understood about the backs we had,” new Arbor View coach Matt Gerber said. “We lost Bubba Graham, the second-leading rusher in the state, so you think there’s going to be a drop-off, but we’ve got a stable of guys and we showed a few of them tonight.”
One game isn’t enough to draw any definitive conclusions, but the whispers regarding Arbor View falling off already seem mistaken. Basic is not supposed to be a basement-dweller this season, but that’s how Arbor View made it look.
The Aggies scored on each of their first four possessions, in averages of three minutes and less than five plays per drive. First, Mitchell broke loose for a 29-yard score followed by 22- and 17-yard runs from Jackson and Hausner, respectively.
After Hausner’s score, Arbor View recovered an onside kick and scored on the first play as Jackson exploded through a hole and shed three tacklers en route to a 47-yard score.
“These are returning backs that played last year too,” Mitchell said. “We all build off each other. We’ve got enough talent to make this work.”
Defensively, Arbor View was arguably even more imposing. Basic managed only 60 total yards, including finishing with a negative rushing total.
UNLV commit Tai Tuinei blew up plays in the backfield on almost every possession, including recording two sacks. Other members of the Arbor View front seven — including Zavier Alston, Corey Hall and Rickey Jones — looked similarly unblockable at times.
“(Basic) didn’t have a whole lot of time to do much stuff,” Gerber said. “There will be games where people move it more on us, but we know that defense is always going to be there.”
Gerber took over in April with an eye on maintaining the dynasty Barnson had built in taking Arbor View from a new, independent program to one of the best teams in the town. He’s confident he has the talent to do so, even if some doubters persist.
“We’ve been at it for a long time now,” Gerber said, “and we knew what we had.”