TRINITY — To the casual observer, Mitchell's 21-7 win over Zephyrhills on Friday wasn't pretty.
But to Mustangs coach Brian Wachtel, it was a thing of beauty.
When the Mustangs were challenged, they responded just as he hoped they would.
"That was a true test," Wachtel said. "I'm proud of our kids."
With the win, Mitchell (6-0) eclipsed last year's win total and improved to 3-0 in Class 3A, District 7. The Mustangs play at Gulf next week in another crucial district game.
Staying perfect wasn't easy.
Mitchell, which came in averaging 34 points, didn't get on the board until tailback Ricky Trinidad weaved his way into the end zone on a 5-yard rush with 1:22 left in the first half.
Even after that, the game remained tight into the fourth.
In fact, at one point in the third, Zephyrhills (0-5, 0-3) appeared to have made it 7-6, but a long punt return for a touchdown by Tyler Pohjolalnen was brought back by offsetting personal fouls.
With 10:46 left in the game, Mitchell quarterback Matt Michaels, who had been quiet to that point, connected on a 32-yard scoring strike with Brandon Mundy. The Mustangs added another score moments later — after a Zephyrhills turnover — on a 33-yard Trinidad rush.
"(Zephyrhills) is a good football team," Wachtel said. "They have a phenomenal defense. It's one of the best in the county."
Trinidad finished with 148 yards on 23 carries.
Mitchell's defense had arguably its best game, holding Zephyrhills to 171 yards. The Bulldogs' only score came on a recovery in the end zone by Alex Paniagua after a blocked punt with 1:24 left.
"We knew their defense would keep them in the game, so we knew we had to shut them down," Mitchell linebacker Cory Smith said.