JORDAN -- The 2018 season ended in heartbreak for the Jordan Mustangs, falling on the road to rival Wibaux in the 6-Man title game, 70-27.
What a difference a year makes.
This season has been full of firsts for the Jordan football team. The Mustangs won their first conference title, hosted their first playoff game, and on Saturday Jordan will host its first state championship game when the Mustangs take on Wibaux.
Head coach Wyatt Colvin was a graduate of Jordan in 1983, and he has a sense of pride when reflecting on what his team has accomplished over the past two years.
“A lot of times people hear about Jordan, but it’s never positive things. It might be the coldest place in the nation or things like that. This is great. It’s a very positive thing for the community," Colvin said.
After Jordan beat Wibaux in the regular season, quarterback Keenan Murnion spoke of how important it was for the Mustangs to have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. It’s certainly proven beneficial, as community members have packed the Jordan sidelines throughout its postseason run to witness program history.
“It’s been tremendous. Every game we’ve had such a turnout," Murnion said. "I don’t remember how many people exactly, but you can just see on the sideline, how they’re packed from end to end. Every play we make it’s just so loud. It’s such a great home-field advantage.”
Jordan’s path back to the title game wasn’t easy. The Mustangs lost their season-opener to Big Sandy, 44-28, before ripping off 11 consecutive wins, including a 30-point beatdown of Big Sandy in last weekend’s semifinals. Jordan has won in blowout fashion and they’ve also won one-possession games. Their growth throughout the season was evident in last weekend’s victory, which could be a precursor of what’s to come.
“We’ve got a lot better on both sides of the ball, particularly our tackling," Colvin said. "(Big Sandy's) Strutz kid was a great, big running back and fast. We knew we had to get him low and get some good tackles and not let him get down the field 8-10 yards per carry like we did the first game.”
“I think we were more prepared this time around. Big Sandy had a new defense going into that first game, and we weren’t really prepared for it. Honestly, we probably weren’t prepared for how physical they were either," Murnion said. "Just those two big factors right there allowed us to prepare better in practice and show it on the field.”
Saturday is also a rematch of last year’s 6-Man title game, where Wibaux blew the doors off Jordan, 70-27. That loss has lingered with the Mustangs for the past 12 months.
“We want it more than anything. Certainly, because it’s the state championship, our second one all-time, and we want that win from last year. Because we’re playing Wibaux it’s just a little bit sweeter," Murnion said. "Nothing is guaranteed. Obviously, they’re going to bring their best shot. They’re our rivals, I don’t think they like us very much. They’re going to give us their best shot and it should be a good game.”
Jordan got a piece of revenge on Oct. 12 when the Mustangs beat Wibaux 47-41 in thrilling fashion in Wibaux. The game was back and forth throughout, before Jordan was finally able to open up a two-score lead late in the fourth quarter.
Wibaux, though, rallied and even had a chance to tie the game on the final play, but a Hail Mary attempt sailed out the back of the end zone. It was Tel Lunde’s heroics that brought Wibaux back, as he threw for over 300 yards and had five total touchdowns. Bottling Lunde up may not be possible, but Jordan will focus much of its attention on Wibaux’s standout senior.
“He hasn’t (kept me up at night) so far, but he probably will Friday night,” Colvin laughed. "We obviously need to tackle better, and we need to contain Tel. Most of the time we did good, but the few times we didn't he got away from us and made big plays."
“There were some things in that last game, certain mistakes we allowed," Murnion said. "(Lunde) had two touchdown runs in the fourth quarter when we lost contain on him. Certainly, we can try and put a stop to that and put a little more pressure on him so it's not as easy for him to throw. Hopefully we show how much we've improved this week, too."
Lunde is the engine that drives Wibaux’s offense, but he has weapons all over the place. Running backs Gavin Nelson and Wyatt Davis have lightened Lunde’s rushing load throughout the year, and Colton Miske has been Lunde’s top target through the air. The Longhorns’ offense is predicated on getting its power-run game going, though, whether that be with Nelson and Davis, or with Lunde.
Defensively, Wibaux struggled to contain the speed of Jordan, primarily of Keenan and Ed Murnion. With three of the most explosive 6-Man players in the state – Lunde, Keenan Murnion and Ed Murnion – plenty of points could be put up on Saturday afternoon.
Wibaux is aiming for its second consecutive 6-Man title and eighth football state title in program history. Jordan is playing in just its second championship game and looking for its first football state title. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. in Jordan.