By Caleb Curtis
This season really showed how much can change in just one season. The McDonald County football team couldn’t produce a single win in their 2016 season. Then this season, the Mustangs won 5 games for the first time since 2003. Seven players were recognized as first or second-team All-Big 8. The Mustangs shut out an opponent for the first time since 2004. Losing streaks of 18 years, 15 years, and 4 years all came to an end this season. It’s pretty safe to say that it was quite a season for the McDonald County Mustangs.
The season began a with an away game in Salem, Missouri. The Salem Tigers had bested the Mustangs in 2016 by a score of 26-6. Salem was projected by OzarksSportsZone.com to win this game and claim the home-and-home series 2-0. The Mustangs had other plans. McDonald County was looking for their first season-opening win since 2007. The Mustangs did just that. The defense came to play in this one and held the Salem offense to just 6 points. The Mustang defense recovered 5 Tiger fumbles. Oakley Roessler led with 15 tackles, as well as having a fumble recovery. Roessler also added on the first score of the season with an 8-yard run. Isrrael DeSantiago and Peyton Barton both added on touchdown runs in the 19-6 win. The win ended a 16-game losing streak dating back to September 11, 2015.
The lock-down defense continued in game two. The defense shut down the Marshfield defense for just 7 points. David Roark recorded the first interception of the season for the Mustangs late in the second quarter. Isrrael DeSantiago ran for Mac County’s only 2 touchdowns, one from 4 yards out, and the other from 8 yards out. With the 14-7 win over Marshfield, the Mustangs were 2-0 for the first time since 1970.
McDonald County faced the Seneca Indians for their first conference game of the 2017 season in week three. The Mustangs suffered a hard loss in this one by a score of 41-13. The Indians heavily relied upon Trey Wilson, who had 3 touchdowns, 2 forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery. Isrrael DeSantiago added his fourth rushing touchdown of the season, and Peyton Barton threw for his first touchdown of the season to Oakley Roessler from 29 yards out. The loss knocked the Mustangs down to 2-1 on the season.
The McDonald County football team came into week four hungry for a win against Cassville. The last time Mustangs had beaten the Wildcats was in 2002. The Mustangs trailed 14-7 heading into halftime, Isrrael DeSantiago put up the only Mac County score in the first half on a 27-yard touchdown run, his fifth of the season. The second half entirely belonged to the Mustangs. Peyton Barton threw a six-yard touchdown pass to Kennedy Hodson after the defense forced a turnover on downs at the Cassville 5-yard line. The final touchdown of the game came on a Timber Teague 2-yard score. The Mustang defense then shut down the Wildcats for the remainder of the game to pick up the 21-14 win.
The Mustangs suffered its second loss of the season at the hands of the Mount Vernon Mountaineers by a score of 43-21 in week five. Peyton Barton got the Mustang offense on the board with a 10-yard scramble for a touchdown near the end of the first half to make it 14-7 at the break. Barton then scampered for another 10-yard touchdown on a successful read-option play that made it 21-14 early in the 3rd quarter with Mount Vernon on top. Barton finished off the McDonald County scoring with another successful read-option play, this time from 8 yards out. Barton’s third rushing touchdown of the night made the score 27-21 in favor of Mount Vernon. The Mountaineers put up the final 16 points of the game on two Andrew Montemayor touchdowns and a Jayden Buttram 37-yard field goal. The loss knocked the Mustangs down to 3-2 on the season, and 1-2 in Big 8 Conference play.
Week six pitted the Mustangs playing against the Lamar Tigers. Lamar hadn’t lost a game since October 17, 2014, when they fell to the Carl Junction Bulldogs 29-28. The Tigers ended up extending their winning streak to 40 games with a 50-8 win over the Mustangs. The Mustang defense forced the first safety on Lamar in almost 3 years when sophomore defensive back, Michael Williams, tackled Lamar’s Cooper Lucas in their own endzone with just under 8 minutes left in the first half. Peyton Barton then scored on the Mustangs following possession on a 16-yard run with 6:25 left in the first half. The Mustangs went into halftime trailing by a score of 35-8. The McDonald County offense nearly managed to punch in their second touchdown of the game with just seconds remaining, but couldn’t quite get into the endzone. The 8 points that the Mustangs put on Tigers is the most they’ve scored against them since 2012 when they managed to score 21 points.
McDonald County needed to get back on track in a week seven matchup against the Monett Cubs. And for the first time all season, OzarksSportsZone.com favored a McDonald County win. Isrrael DeSantiago put up the first score of the game on a 1-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter. Peyton Barton then connected with Kennedy Hodson on a 74-yard touchdown pass early in the second quarter to make it a 14-0 ballgame. The Cubs managed their first score with just under a minute left in the first half on 9-yard screen pass for a touchdown. The Stangs got things going again on their very next offensive play when Barton connected with Hodson again, this time for 39 yards. Barton then hit Cole DelosSantos on the next play from 11 yards out for the touchdown. That made the game 21-6 going into halftime. The second half went more in favor of the Cubs. The defense shutout the Mustang offense that troubled them in the first half. Monett managed to score about midway through the third quarter, and the failed two-point conversion made it a 21-12 game. Monett then scored just 9 plays into the fourth quarter, and missed on the point after making it a 21-18 game. Both teams relied on their defenses to decide the rest of the game’s outcome. Timber Teague’s sack on fourth down with just under three minutes left in the contest sealed it up the Mustangs’ fourth win of the season. The win snapped an 11-game losing streak to the Cubs dating back to 2002. The win lifted McDonald County to 4-3 overall, and 2-3 in Big 8 Conference play.
McDonald County’s senior night ceremony took place before their week eight matchup against the winless East Newton Patriots. The Mustangs set the tone early, as Isrrael DeSantiago had the first of his five touchdown runs just 100 seconds into the game on a 9-yard score. Izzy walked into the endzone from 7 yards out for his second score with 3:39 left in the first quarter. He then scored his third touchdown with 2:06 left in the first quarter from 5 yard out. Isrrael continued his great game with his fourth touchdown of the first quarter with just under 30 seconds left in the first. Peyton Barton kept the scoring going in the second quarter, as he scored just five plays into the second on a 20-yard touchdown run. DeSantiago finished off his great day on the ground with a 20-yard touchdown, making the score 40-0. Timber Teague added another touchdown when he scored on a 3-yard run right up the gut. The halftime score favored the Mustangs 47-0 over the Patriots. Oakley Roessler put up the only score of the second half on a 5-yard touchdown that capped off the Mustangs first offensive possession after the break. The running clock made the remainder of the game go by in a heart beat, and just like that, the Mustangs had their first shutout win in more than 13 years with a 54-0 victory. The win moved the Mustangs to 5-3 overall, and 3-3 in Big 8 play.
The final regular season matchup for the Mustangs had them playing against the Aurora Houn Dawgs. The game featured a lot of scoring from both teams, but the Houn Dawgs came out on top of this one by a score of 42-32. Timber Teague scored on a 1-yard touchdown run and a 9-yard touchdown reception. Peyton Barton scored on touchdown runs of 2 yards and 9 yards. Barton also threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Reece Cooper. Oakley Roessler recorded the Mustangs second interception of the season. The loss knocked the Mustangs down to 5-4 overall, and 3-4 in Big 8 play.
The Mustangs were seeded seventh in the District 4, Class 5 playoffs, which set up another edition of the McDonald County Mustangs versus the Carl Junction Bulldogs. The Mustangs hadn’t defeated the Bulldogs since 2010. The Bulldogs scored 49 first-half points and managed to shut the Mustangs out before the break. Marshall Foreman caught the Mustangs’ first touchdown of the game on a 6-yard score from Peyton Barton in the closing seconds of the third quarter. Isrrael DeSantiago scored the final touchdown of his Mustang career on a 17-yard run with five minutes remaining in the game. Those 17 yards also put DeSantiago over 1,000 rushing yards on the season. The final game of McDonald County’s season ended with a 49-13 loss.
Peyton Barton accounted for 13 of the Mustangs’ 30 touchdowns on the season, with 7 passing scores and 6 rushing. DeSantiago accounted for 12 rushing touchdowns on the season, Timber Teague added 3 more rushing scores, and Oakley Roessler had 2 rushing touchdowns of his own. The seven passing touchdowns on the season were hauled in by six different receivers. Kennedy Hodson had scoring grabs, and Cole DelosSantos, Oakley Roessler, Timber Teague, Reece Cooper, and Marshall Foreman all had one each. DeSantiago also eclipsed 2,000 career rushing yards after his incredible season, he finished with 2,141 rushing yards in his four years.
Ten Mustangs earned All-Conference honors following the season. Isrrael DeSantiago(Runningback), Peyton Barton(Punter), and Elliott Wolfe(Offensive Guard) were all named first team All-Big 8. Kennedy Hodson(Wide Receiver), Cole DelosSantos(Linebacker), Isrrael DeSantiago(Linebacker), and Oakley Roessler(Defensive Back) earned second team. Then Dylan Allison(Kicker), Trey Black(Defensive Line), and David Roark(Linebacker) all got honorable mention.
There were a lot of things that we learned this season. Just about every school in southwest Missouri knows that the Mustang student section is not one to be messed with. They also learned that you can bet on those boys from the County to not go out without a fight. It was a season of many emotions: some happy, some sad, some occasionally mad. But in the end, it’s always sad when it’s over, but let’s be glad that it all happened. Thank you to all the students, players, coaches, and everyone in the community who supported us throughout the season. The countless unforgettable memories made throughout the season would have never happened without all of you.