With Jacob Flores and Jared Jensen, Pershing County possessed arguably the best running back tandem in the state. Defenses had to focus on the two.
Mountain View did just that Saturday afternoon, and Seth Montes made them pay.
The Pershing County quarterback ran for two long touchdowns in the first quarter that set the tone for the Mustangs' 56-6 victory in the Division III state championship.
Montes rumbled on the Bishop Gorman turf for runs of 39 and 83 yards that nearly matched his season total to that point and propelled Pershing County to its third straight title and fourth in eight years.
"What a way to go out," Pershing County coach Dave McLean said of his senior quarterback who was at the helm for each of the last three titles. "He's such an unselfish player. He makes everyone around him so much better. People don't know about him a whole lot. The game that we play, the option game, doesn't give the quarterback the best statistics. But he makes everything happen. He's the heartbeat of everything we do."
McLean didn't know Montes would break out as early as he did. But the ninth-year head coach saw something on film that pointed to the quarterback finding openings in the Mountain View defense.
"I didn't know exactly how they were going to play it, but all week I emphasized with Seth to slow the game down and make the reads," McLean said. "He did a good job of that."
Mountain View coach Mike Valenzuela admitted his team didn't account for Montes as it should have.
"It was a bit of a surprise," Valenzuela said. "We were trying to limit Flores and Jensen. You pick your poison with those three, and Montes made us pay."
Montes finished with 125 of the Mustangs' 377 rushing yards. Flores added 139 yards and Jensen had 85. All three found the end zone twice.
"All the hard work from Jared and Jacob all season set that all up," Montes said. "That really got us going. About 20 yards out both times, I just sensed I was going to score. I put it in fifth gear and just went. ... I can't think of any better way to start. Two touchdowns right off the bat like that is just perfect."
Montes also passed for 35 yards as Pershing County (11-1) racked up 412 total yards to the Saints' 246.
"He deserved it," Jensen said of Montes. "He's the heart of our offense. He deserved everything tonight. That 83-yard run was awesome, the best way to start out a state championship."
The Saints (11-2) had a chance to stem Pershing County's early momentum but trailing 16-0, Mountain View had a touchdown called back. They ended up not scoring on the drive and the Mustangs, who also beat Mountain View in the 2010 title game, led 30-0 at halftime and 48-0 after three quarters.
"Our boys still wanted to fight and we went down and had that touchdown called back," Valenzuela said. "Had that touchdown counted, our boys were still ready to fight. That kind of defeated our morale when we didn't get to punch it in."
The Saints didn't score until very late in the fourth quarter.
"We expected a way closer game but I can't complain with the outcome," Jensen said. "This is everything I wanted out of this season. From Day 1, all we wanted was to win another state championship."
McLean echoed his bruising fullback and linebacker.
"Now that it's over, it's awesome. Pretty awesome. And humbling," McLean said. "I thought as the year went on we got better and better, and the culminated in a game where nothing could go wrong for us it seemed."