Thursday night, a new yet familiar era was ushered in at Mitchell Stadium.
The Mustangs returned to their roots, scrapping the spread offense they used the past three seasons and using the Wing-T that Coach Scott Schmitz has used since his days at River Ridge (1991-2000).
The Land O' Lakes offense, meanwhile, was led by a familiar name - Weatherford. The arm and fleet feet of sophomore signal-caller Stephen Weatherford helped push the Gators to a 21-14 victory in an unintentionally abbreviated Kickoff Classic.
The teams only played two quarters after two of the stadium's four banks of lights malfunctioned.
"We have a lot of work to do defensively, but I was pleased overall with the way Stephen held his poise and moved the offense down the field," Land O' Lakes coach John Benedetto said. "That's his job, that's what he's supposed to do.
"He didn't surprise me as far as his ability to sit back there and throw the ball down the field, but he did surprise me the way he was able to scramble and run up the field. I cringe when he does that, because he's still a sophomore and he's only 170 pounds. He's still growing and still getting stronger, but it's early in the season and we want to keep him healthy because he's the guy that's going to be the catalyst for our offense."
Weatherford completed seven of 11 passes for 83 yards. Of those completions, only one went for less than 9 yards, and each went to a different receiver.
The sophomore also showed that his legs were as dangerous as his arm, rushing for 83 yards, including a 51-yard scoring run.
Weatherford converted two third-and-longs and a second-and-long situation. Land O' Lakes running backs Tyler Peak and Ben Hipps found their way to the end zone, as well.
For the Mustangs, the move back to the Wing-T was a success. The team had 204 rushing yards in two quarters, led by Ricky Trinidad's 111-yard, two-touchdown effort. He was joined by James Hamilton, who ran for 70 yards.
"I thought they did a good job," Schmitz said. "Ricky's got a chance to be pretty special. The best thing about Ricky is - and he shows it in practice - he never gives up on a run. You've got to tackle him, because he's not going to give up. He runs, at times, so effortlessly that he doesn't look like he's very fast, but he is.
"James Hamilton ran hard. I was very happy with our running game, and all the kids we had back there running and our offensive line did a good job."
A new era, but at the same time, it's more of the same.
Reporter Eddie Daniels can
be reached at (813) 948-4214