Resilient Mustangs close out perfect season with AA championship

Submitted photo – The Ferndale AA Mustangs celebrate their conference championship on Sunday.

All the hard work this season paid off for the Ferndale AA youth football team on Sunday.

The Mustangs closed out a perfect season with a hard-fought 12-0 win over Eel River Valley in the Six Rivers Conference championship game in Crescent City.

And they succeeded this season with several first-year players.

“We had a bunch of starters in their first year playing,” co-head coach Blake Miranda said. “They’re athletes, but they’ve never played football before, and they came out and they worked their tails off.”

With the win, they closed out the season 9-0, but they had to battle all the way in Sunday’s game, with just six points separating the two teams until late in the game.

But with the outcome still in the balance, Ferndale’s Jake Christiansen made what Miranda described as “the play of the game” on his way to scoring the insurance touchdown.

The alert Christiansen was quickest to react when an incomplete Eel River pass was thrown behind the line of scrimmage and he picked up the live ball and returned it almost 30 yards for a TD.

Several of his teammates also had big games, including tight end/defensive end Easton Essig, who was outstanding all season and had an attitude second to none.

“He’s just a beast and the most coachable kid you’ll ever meet,” Miranda said. 

Multi-sport standout Ryker Renner also had a big game game at slot back and safety and “ran his tail off,” according to the coach, while fullback/linebacker Justin Noga was one of the team leaders all season.

“He’s a leader through and through,” Miranda said of Noga. “He always did what was best for this team, lead blocking and tackling.”

Quarterback Mason Long was another standout this fall and played with a composure all season long.

“He delivered every time we needed it,” Miranda said. 

Overall, it was a season the young Mustangs won’t easily forget.

“They never quit,” the coach said. “They always kept battling and gave 110 percent on every play.

“If these kids attack life how they attacked this season, the sky’s the limit for them.”

The Ferndale coach also praised the efforts of the young Huskies, who pushed the Mustangs all the way in a defensive game.

“It was a battle,” Miranda said. “Both teams were stopping each other. We just have a resilient group of guys. Our team just didn’t fold.”

The team also included Eli Albee, Zen Giacomini, Levin Smith, Tegan Dalton, Lane Brown, Jaxon Smith, Benjamin Buck, Theodore Meltzer, Derek Bueler, Julian Miller, Wyatt Shaw, Ryker Braud and Kasen Hardwick.

And the team was coach by Sterling Renner, Blake Miranda and Logan Miranda.

The championship was one of two this year for the Mustangs program, which also claimed a AAA championship with a 40-16 win over the Redwood Beasts.

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