TRINITY — The glance was subtle, and blinding to those who noticed the next step in the development of Mitchell's first-year quarterback.
Junior Cody Van De Boe was chugging across the line of scrimmage with defenders converging on the 5-foot-11, 155-pounder.
This was not a fearful glance, rather locking onto the sideline and first-down marker. Three yards would do it. He got 5.
This was a microcosm of Mitchell's youth movement in full effect.
"We are young. We're 4-2 now," Mitchell coach Scott Schmitz said after a 16-13 win over Ridgewood on Thursday. "We could easily right now be 0-6, but we're not. We make plays when we need to make plays."
Van De Boe kept the drive going on the next play. He aired out a pass to his best friend, sophomore Ricky Trinidad, who streaked down the home sideline for a 24-yard gain. First and goal Mitchell at Ridgewood's 1.
Pumped full of enthusiasm and energy, Van De Boe ran to the sideline and suggested the next play, a quarterback sneak that he pounded up the middle for a touchdown and 7-0 lead.
"He's starting to understand his role as a quarterback and a leader on the offense," Schmitz said. "He came right to me. I was going to run the damn thing again. He said, 'I've got a sneak, I've got it.' He's starting to become that quarterback."
Trinidad grabbed everyone's attention after a breakout night in Mitchell's spring scrimmage. And his hard play has not stopped.
In addition to his duties as a running back, Trinidad plays in the secondary. That proved important late against the Rams when he intercepted a pass by Jimmy Mattos at the Mustangs' 16.
Trinidad had just given Mitchell a 16-7 lead with two minutes, 34 seconds left on the previous drive thanks to a 38-yard touchdown run. His 53-yard run in the third set up a 32-yard field goal by freshman Cody Folesome that was the difference.
"That's a big-time run by a big-time player at a great time," Schmitz said of the touchdown. "… He's as big a competitor as you're going to see. He's a young kid."
Mitchell is 4-2 entering next week's key Class 5A, District 5 game against Wharton. Those four wins have come by the slimmest of margins — a total of 14 points.
A loss to the Wildcats could end any playoff hopes. A win would exceed the expectations of some for a team that replaced several key position players from last season and prompted Schmitz to revert to the Wing-T as his primary offense.
"I think we needed this big win to boost our motivation, to keep everything running," Trinidad said. "We needed it big time. … We've been jelling. We know each other. We're a team now and we're playing like one. We can stop anybody if we put our minds to it."