Written by Meredith Spelbring
The Melba Mustangs lost a strong senior class to graduation after the 2019 season, but return plenty of talent to help the team in the upcoming fall season.
The 2019 class graduated a collection of All-State selections on both sides of the ball. Despite losing a top-tier class to graduation, the Mustangs return a strong senior class, many of whom have plenty of their own accolades.
The team returns first-team selection senior quarterback and defensive lineman Henry Clark, along with fellow first-team selection senior defensive back Zane Helm and a collection of second-team returners.
All returning players are expected to make an immediate impact on the team and have been helping build the program from the ground up.
“All these seniors and juniors were part of the 2018 team when only 27 kids came out. As freshmen and sophomores, all these guys played a vital part in turning the program around and making it what it is now a state title contender,” Mustang Head Coach Juan Colunga said.
In the early days of the program, many of the young players filled the varsity squad since there weren’t enough guys to make a full JV team, consistently playing stronger competition.
“While a lot of kids would quit from being in a situation like that, these kids stayed strong and wound up contributing as varsity backups and varsity special teams starters,” Colunga said. “They have faced a lot of challenges as underclassmen but now they will hopefully see all their hard work and perseverance pay off.”
The traditionally run-heavy offense will look to shift to a more balanced approach after relying heavily on the run game from graduates Easton Bunnell and Scotty Martinez. This year, the Mustangs plan to rely on the strength of the offensive line and athleticism of the running backs and receivers, Colunga said.
The off-the-field work will be just as critical to the team’s success, Colunga said.
“Keeping kids healthy, building and developing depth at all positions will help us be successful,” he said. “Staying eligible in the clasSr.oom will be important as well. As far as offense, the kids have been running the system for almost four years so we just have to focus, be mentally tough and execute during intense situations.”
On the other side of the ball, the Mustang’s 2020 defense comes in with great leaders and physicality and will focus on a gap-controlled scheme, Colunga said.
“We lost a lot of great leaders and a lot of experienced players that will be tough to replace, especially at the linebacker position. We graduated all three starting linebackers,” he said. “Defensive line and secondary should be a defensive strength. Last year the secondary had problems allowing big plays and we hope to fix that this summer and beginning of the season.”
Check back with IdahoSports.com throughout the season for updated Melba scores and schedules.