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December 3, 2022

Football | Despite some losses, South Monterey County teams show improvement

SALINAS VALLEY — It’s a great time to be a football fan in South Monterey County, as all the teams entered this week with a great shot to win the title as they move deeper into league play.

King City Mustangs

The last time we saw the King City Mustangs, they were coming off a win against Stevenson on Sept. 16, then had a bye week. 

Last Friday, the Mustangs faced off against another surprising team, the Rancho San Juan Trailblazers, who were undefeated.

The way this game played out was wild. One could make the case the Mustangs played their best game offensively, but it wasn’t enough for them to hold on. 

The Mustangs were up 28-13, but the Trailblazers executed down the stretch and rattled off 21 straight points to win the game. In the second half, several questionable calls left the King City coaching staff confused, and the Mustangs came up short 34-28.

“It was disappointing, we started off the game really good. We were up since the beginning of the game,” said starting quarterback Jjey Martinez. “But obviously, we weren’t able to finish and keep putting up points on the board. But we’ll learn from this loss.”

Although the game didn’t go their way, the Mustangs (2-3) had some great performances on the offensive side. King City wide receiver Adan Garcia-Loa had seven receptions for 123 yards and three touchdowns, while Martinez was 16-21 for 250 yards and three touchdowns.

King City will next play their homecoming game on Friday against Watsonville.

Soledad Aztecs

Right when you think the Soledad Aztecs can’t get more confusing, they break out a 40-point beat down of the Watsonville Wildcatz on their homecoming last Friday and improve to 5-1 overall in the standings.

Soledad’s Dominic Chavez had a great game, going 13-19 for 177 yards with two touchdown passes. Daniel Raso had his breakout game of the season with five receptions for 89 yards and two touchdowns.

Prior to this blowout win, Soledad had been winning these close games, making one wonder how good the team really is. This recent victory shows what this team should be. 

“It definitely gives us a lot of confidence because we all see the potential of the type of game we can play week in and week out,” Chavez said. “We have to continue to play the way we did on Friday to get through the second half of our schedule, when the tougher games come along.”

Coming up next for the Aztecs will be Rancho San Juan (6-0), which is coming off a big win over King City. The winner of Friday’s game could determine the Cypress Division. 

“As a team, we have to set the energy and the tone of the game, we have to play our ball,” Chavez said.

Greenfield Bruins

After beating King City in the season opener, the Greenfield Bruins dropped three games in a row. After a bye week, the Bruins had time to recover right before the second half of their season. 

As league play begins, Greenfield’s second half of the season should be better. Their first league game was last Friday against the Harbor Pirates, who lost to Gonzales the prior week. 

The Bruins got back on track by beating the Pirates, 35-8. Greenfield’s Cris Zavala had his best game of the season when he threw for a touchdown and scored two rushing touchdowns.

“It was definitely a nice boost and helped us to be healthy right when league rolled up,” said Bruins head coach Adam Barsenas. “The bye week was also a big help in getting guys back.”

Greenfield (2-3) will compete Saturday at San Lorenzo Valley.

Gonzales Spartans

After snapping a lengthy losing streak against Harbor last week, the Gonzales Spartans had a road game against Marina last Saturday.

This year the Marina Mariners have improved and are one of the teams that could surprise those in the Santa Lucia Division. Ultimately, the Spartans lost to Marina, 33-20. 

In the game, Gonzales’ Juan Pablo Acosta-Ayala had a rushing touchdown and also threw for a touchdown. Champ Flores also added to his already great season, as he scored his 10th touchdown of the season. 

Next, the Spartans (1-5) will travel Saturday to play Pajaro Valley.

Jason Gallardo
Jason Gallardo is the sports reporter for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers high school sports for South Monterey County.
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