TRINITY — Mitchell coach Andy Schmitz huddled with his staff over the summer in search of a motto for this year’s team. They knew this was a veteran group capable of continuing the string of postseason appearances the program had already put together.
So they came up with #OTBF.
One to be followed.
The players and coaches knew the meaning behind the hashtag all season, but it was not revealed to the student body until Friday.
The Mustangs’ rowdy student section, the Stang Gang, followed the team as it racked up wins. Those with a rooting interest in Pasco County football kept tabs on Mitchell, too, especially after it went undefeated in the regular season and clinched its third straight district title.
Maybe the rest of the area will start paying attention as well after the Mustangs held on to beat Chamberlain 14-13 in a Class 6A region quarterfinal. It was Mitchell’s second playoff win, one that gives them another home game next week against Ocala Vanguard.
"I knew this was a special team that could do some pretty amazing things," Schmitz said.
The Mustangs (11-0) could not have scripted a better start. They blocked a field goal on the Chiefs’ opening possession.
Then Mychael Hamilton went to work.
The senior, Mitchell’s career rushing leader, ripped off a 61-yard run on third down that set up his own touchdown on a 4-yard burst up the middle for a 7-0 lead.
Chamberlain (8-3) countered as Yahsin Wooten went right around the left end, broke a few tackles and sprinted down the sideline on a 58-yard scoring run that tied the score in the first quarter.
The Mustangs came right back. Jacob Mattos hit an open Treshaun Peters on busted coverage that resulted in a 68-yard pass for a touchdown to go ahead 14-7.
What looked to be a shootout turned out to be anything but. Both defenses clamped down.
The Mustangs were particularly stout. Twice they stopped the Chiefs on downs and made life miserable for quarterback Tyler Riddell, who was never able to get comfortable in the pocket.
Riddell threw for 30 touchdowns and just four interceptions in the regular season, numbers that helped Chamberlain reach the playoffs for the first time since 2008. But he did not throw for a touchdown Friday and was unable to engineer many long drives.
Mattos had three turnovers (two interceptions and a fumble), but none resulted in scores. Twice, Mitchell held Chamberlain to field goals in the fourth quarter.
"We struggled a little on offense, but we were still confident because we knew our defense could pull through," Schmitz said. "They’ve been doing that all season."
Late in the game, the Mustangs turned to Hamilton. After gaining 70 yards on four carries in Mitchell’s opening drive, Hamilton was bottled up by a stifling, swarming Chiefs defense.
But when it mattered most, Hamilton found a way to gain yards — and eat up time.
He ran for three first downs on the final drive, including one on third and 12 that sealed the win.
Hamilton finished 142 yards, the 23rd time he has gone over 100 yards in a game during his career.