Mike Byusâ€™ debut in green and orange might have been spoiled, but for the Mustangsâ€™ faithful there is plenty to be excited about.
East Lincoln played East Gaston down to the final snap Friday night, before losing 37-29, in a game where the consensus didnâ€™t feel it would be close.
A hail mary fell to the ground harmlessly as time expired.
The Mustangsâ€™ seniors led by example as tailback Ryan Sykes gained 126 yards on 17 carries with one touchdown.
Explosive receiver Thomas Huntley reeled in six balls for 128 yards and two touchdowns to lead all area receivers.
â€œThomas had a great game. He did everything we asked him to both sides of the football,â€ Byus said.
Fellow senior Greyson Schram and junior Payton Brady saw time at quarterback with both experiencing successful moments.
Schram had 142 yards passing on 8-for-17 passing with one touchdown, while Brady, who transferred from North Lincoln, was 3-for-8 with 19 yards passing with one touchdown.
Brady made his mark with his feet, carrying the ball eight times for 47 yards. He also scored his first varsity touchdown on a 28-yard run down the left sideline.
East Lincoln out gained the Warriors 306-268 and demonstrated a solid balance of run and pass.
Byus was satisfied with his teamâ€™s effort despite the loss.
â€œWe didnâ€™t have a clue we would even be in the game. I was proud our kids battled and gave effort for four quarters,â€ he said.
One thing Byus was most pleased about is his kidsâ€™ resilience.
â€œThey had a couple of chances where they got down by a couple of scores and they didnâ€™t lay down. They fought back.â€
â€œThatâ€™s a good sign,â€ he added.
The Mustangs were victimized by giving the Warriors a short field a failed two-point conversion and a botched punt attempt just before the half.
Next up for the Mustangs is the traditionally-strong program Bandys.
While some coaches and onlookers may have a problem with Byusâ€™ current two-quarterback system, Byus feels that will continue.
â€œThrough the non-conference, weâ€™ll probably go with it,â€ he said. â€œAll three of us (Greyson and Payton) have talked about it and they donâ€™t mind doing it. You sub in and out at other positions. I donâ€™t know why you canâ€™t with that one,â€ Byus explains.
Although the Mustangs were happy to be so competitive, Byus feels they shouldâ€™ve been ahead in the fourth quarter.
â€œAt least that way, they wouldâ€™ve had to drive the field,â€ he said.
by John Mark Brooks