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Mustang pride: Isabella completes undefeated regular season

By J.R. TIDWELL / Editor

All that was standing in the way of the Isabella Mustangs completing a 10-0 regular season were the Verbena Red Devils.

IHS scored early and often to put the game away before halftime, and with the 53-6 victory on Nov. 1, Isabella earned its first undefeated regular season since 2002.

This also marks only the second time the Mustangs have notched a 10-0 record in school history going back to 1927.

“It feels great,” said Isabella head football coach Tate Leonard. “It is a very big deal for any team, and it’s certainly a big deal for us. I am very thankful and blessed.”

It took less than a minute for the Mustangs to get on the board. Quarterback Cole Atchison connected with wide receiver Kendall Reeves for a 36-yard touchdown pass. Three minutes later Atchison made a 45-yard run for a score to put Isabella up 13-0.

Verbena lost a fumble on its first offensive play of the next drive, but Isabella gave it right back with a fumble at the start of its possession.

Lance Price rumbled into the end zone from 37 yards out to make it 20-0 Mustangs with four minutes left in the opening quarter.

A 23-yard run by Dalton Mims set up a 2-yard touchdown plunge by the senior to make it 26-0 IHS by the end of the first.

Braxden Giles had a hand in each of Isabella’s next two scores. He ran in a touchdown from 9 yards out and connected with Atchison on what turned into a 42-yard catch and score after Giles weaved through Verbena traffic.

A 68-yard pick-six by Ben Martin made it 46-0 Mustangs and marked the first of two interceptions returned for touchdowns by Isabella on the night.

The next came a little over three minutes later when Zack Chapman hawked a pass and brought it back 57 yards for a score.

IHS led 53-0 at the break, and the second half was shortened to two six-minute quarters with a running clock.

Neither team scored in the third quarter, but Verbena finally found the end zone with about four minutes remaining in the contest when Nathaniel Morris capped a drive with a 4-yard touchdown run.

Verbena finishes the 2019 season 2-8 with a win over Ellwood Christian and a forfeit victory over Highland Home, who played an ineligible player.

Isabella earned the Class 1A, Region 3 title and will host in the first round of the state playoffs.

“We are going to enjoy (going 10-0) until about midday (Saturday), and then it’s a new season,” Leonard said. “All of this will be looked back at later, and it was great fun, but it is a brand new season. We are looking to try and be 1-0 next week.”

The Mustangs’ opponent will come down to a tiebreaker between Notasulga, Billingsley and Wadley.

“We have got to be focused and hungry,” Leonard said of the upcoming playoffs. “We have to give everybody our best shot to have a chance. Everybody (Isabella players) has got to be all in. If they do that, good things are going to happen.”