KING CITY — With only seven seconds on the clock, the Greenfield Bruins football team was tied with the King City Mustangs at 14 apiece. Bruins kicker Jose Zavala lined up for a field goal to not only win the game, but also to snap a decade-long losing streak to the Mustangs, reassuring fans that Greenfield’s team is going to be different this year.
Last Friday the Bruins took a quick bus ride to King City to face the Mustangs on their turf. Although these teams might be rivals on the field, one can see in the pregame the respect both coaches and players have for one another.
The relationship between Bruins Head Coach Adam Barsenas and Mustangs Head Coach Mac Villanueva goes back to the day Barsenas got hired at Greenfield, as Villanueva was one of the first people to congratulate him on the job.
“Coach Mac (Villanueva) was the first guy to reach out to me when I became a head coach,” Barsenas said. “I told him you set the standard, we are still here to try to meet you and give you one hell of a game.”
And “one hell of a game” they got on Friday, beginning with the first kickoff. Coming into the Aug. 26 matchup, the Mustangs had won 10 straight games against the Bruins. The last time Greenfield beat King City was back in 2010-11, when they won 42-36.
The Bruins started with the ball first and tried to set the tone against a Mustangs lineup that was replacing a lot of players from a year ago.
Greenfield tested the toughest of King City’s players on that first drive, showing that they were the more physical team with linemen finishing their block to the floor and the wide receivers also driving their guys a couple of yards off the ball. Although Greenfield was aggressive, they were overly aggressive that led to five penalties in the first two drives for the Bruins.
The Mustangs woke up after those first two drives and turned up their level of physicality. Probably the most unexpected thing to happen was how good the Mustangs’ defense played. Led up front by Max Morales, King City was able to contain Greenfield’s run game.
“Our defense played really well,” Villanueva said. “Their first touchdown was a defensive touchdown. Our defense only gave up 10 points tonight.”
In Friday’s game, both defenses scored, but the Bruins’ defense scored first when Nathan Cox returned a fumble for a touchdown to give them the lead 7-0.
It was a rough first half for both offenses, as neither found the endzone. The Mustangs’ offense had a more difficult time as they had three turnovers. Luckily for King City, as they entered halftime, they were only down 7-0.
After being unable to take advantage of their best starting field position in the game, the Mustangs turned it over on downs as the struggles continued. If the Mustangs were going to get back in the game, they would need a spark.
King City’s defense delivered and got a defensive touchdown to tie the game at 7 each.
After the Mustangs scored, the momentum changed in the stadium. King City quarterback Jjey Martinez found his basketball buddy, Adrian Garcia, who was playing his first regular season football, for his first touchdown, and the Mustangs took the lead 14-7.
After both defenses went back and forth, getting stops, fast forward to the final five minutes of the game on a drive that the Bruins needed to tie.
In the second half, the Bruins’ offense knocked on the door, but the Mustangs’ defense stopped them. This time, however, Greenfield backup quarterback Naythen Hernandez took the ball into the end zone with 2:04 remaining in the game, now tied at 14 apiece.
On the next possession, the Mustangs had to punt the ball back to Greenfield, giving the Bruins excellent field position. The Bruins got into field goal range with only seven seconds remaining.
Bruins kicker Jose Zavala lined up for a field goal and nailed it, winning the game 17-14.
For King City, this was the first time in a decade that they have lost to Greenfield. After the game, although there was disappointment, there was also respect being shown.
“I’m disappointed that we didn’t get the win,” Villanueva said. “Sometimes you have to tip your cap off to the other team. Adam and his staff did a good job getting his boys ready.”
After the game, the two head coaches shared a moment that didn’t see a rivalry but just genuine happiness for each other.
“Much respect to coach Mac (Villanueva) and the King City guys,” Barsenas said. “The first thing Coach Mac said was that he was proud of me, and I hold that close to my heart.”
The Bruins scored 10 points in the final two minutes of the game to come back and win. Though some may be shocked about the outcome, the players and coaches connected to the Greenfield program knew this was always possible, and there is more to come.
“Resilience has always been there,” Barsenas said. “These guys have been together for four years. These are the freshmen students that were there when I started coaching. I have seen the fight in them since they were JV kids. Nothing changed.”
Both King City and Greenfield will next play on Thursday, with the Mustangs heading to Alisal and the Bruins hosting Soledad.