WESLEY CHAPEL — Mitchell’s dominance over Wesley Chapel started more than a decade ago and continued Friday night, when the Mustangs recorded a 42-15 victory in the season finale for both teams.
The Mustangs’ ground attack led the way with 258 yards on 35 attempts as they defeated the Wildcats for the sixth consecutive time since 2009.
Wesley Chapel (6-3), which had a three-game win streak snapped, has not beaten Mitchell since a 22-14 double-overtime win in 2008.
Both teams now wait for Sunday, when the final Florida High School Athletic Association Ratings Percentage Index used to determine playoff brackets will be announced. In the most recent standings released Wednesday, Mitchell ranked 24th in Class 7A, while Wesley Chapel was 17th in 5A.
Postseason play begins next week.
“The thing about this team is that this is probably the most improved team I have ever coached,” Mitchell coach Andy Schmitz said. “That makes me really proud of the guys.
“You think back to our spring game — we played Zephyrhills (a loss) — and we just didn’t play well at all. We had a lot of people doubting us, and (we) looked bad doing it. These guys decided all offseason and all preseason they weren’t going to let that be who they were going to be.”
Mitchell rolled to a 30-9 first-half lead despite falling behind on the game’s second play when Wesley Chapel senior Nehemiah Morgan raced 85 yards for a touchdown (he ended the half with 108).
The Wildcats quickly got the ball back when junior Joshua Poleon, who set a school record this season with 20 tackles for losses, forced a fumble with a hit on Mitchell sophomore Jamarion Miller at the Mustangs’ 43. But Mitchell’s defense held on downs at its 34.
Eleven plays later, the Mustangs took the lead for good on the first of two first-half scoring passes from senior quarterback Ethan Rice to sophomore Hayden Guy, whose 24-yard reception in the back of the end zone came on a fourth-and-22 play. Junior quarterback Chris Ferrini ran in the two-point conversion to give Mitchell an 8-6 advantage.
On Wesley Chapel’s ensuing possession, junior defensive tackle Tayshawn Sullivan returned a fumble by Wildcats senior quarterback Ethan Harper 25 yards for a touchdown and 16-6 Mitchell lead.
The second Rice-to-Guy touchdown strike, a 12-yarder, completed a 79-yard, three-play drive that was fueled by a 67-yard run from Ferrini with 10:10 to go before intermission.
Ferrini, who rushed seven times for a career-high 128 yards (98 in the first half), added a 1-yard scoring run with 54.1 seconds remaining in the half following a 25-yard field goal by Wesley Chapel junior Alejandro Lopez.
Ferrini threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to senior Matthew Harkness, and Miller contributed a 2-yard TD run, both in the third quarter, for Mitchell.
Wesley Chapel scored with 1:25 remaining on a 61-pass from Harper to senior Sebastian Gutierrez.
“It was a huge game. . . the biggest game of the year so far,” Ferrini said.