Amid the coaching and personnel changes within Arbor View’s football program, three staples remain.
The double-wing offense, a physical defense and a standing atop the rugged Northwest League.
The Aggies relied on the fundamentals of their running game and a pair of timely stops Friday night to secure a 24-17 home victory over rival Faith Lutheran. They seized the league tiebreaker and moved ahead of the Crusaders and Centennial, which snapped Arbor View’s 26-game league winning streak earlier this season.
“We wanted to put them down and show them that you’ve got to come through Arbor View (6-2, 3-1 Northwest),” Aggies senior running back Daniel Mitchell said after helping to hand Faith Lutheran (3-4, 2-1 Northwest) its first league loss. “You ain’t going to win.”
Arbor View is the five-time defending league champion, and still boasts a championship-caliber culture instilled by former coach Dan Barnson, who retired last offseason. He handed the reins to Matt Gerber, who continues coaching Barnson’s principles to a group of players accustomed to success.
Mitchell sprinted off right tackle for a 74-yard touchdown run in the first quarter and finished with 17 carries for 138 yards. Teammate Darius Williams also scored in the first quarter from 24 yards out and helped the Aggies build a 17-3 lead as their pass rush flustered Faith Lutheran junior quarterback Grant Wood.
“We pride ourselves on man coverage. We pride ourselves on trying to be the aggressor,” Gerber said.
Wood found a groove in the third quarter, though, and connected with sophomore wide receiver Keegan Bunn for a 47-yard touchdown. He completed long passes to senior Peyton Thornton and Bunn on the ensuing drive, allowing junior running back Marcos Canales to tie the game with a 9-yard run.
But Arbor View responded in the fourth quarter.
First with its defense. Then with its offense.
The Aggies turned the ball over on downs near the goal line, but forced a three-and-out to set up the game-winning touchdown — a 13-yard run by senior Justin Hausner with 2:35 to play. They added an extra defensive back for Faith Lutheran’s next possession, forced three incompletions and ran out the remainder of regulation.
“The kids were focused. They understood the importance of this game. It puts us in the driver’s seat to retain our title,” Gerber said. “Coach Barnson and the staff that I have here put years into it. When they say winning breeds winning, it does here at this school.”
Wood completed 8 of 22 passes for 244 yards and the lone touchdown to Bunn. Thornton had three receptions for 117 yards.