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King City
April 12, 2024

Football | King City tops Gonzales in Little Big Game

KING CITY — In the 91st Little Big Game, the King City Mustangs were able to keep the megaphone from their longest rivals, the Gonzales Spartans, as they won 14-12.

The last time the Spartans won the megaphone was back in 2019, when they beat the Mustangs 20-14. King City would go on to win the last two match-ups heading into last Friday’s game in Gonzales.

This season, both teams have been going in different directions. The Spartans are contending to be the best team in South Monterey County, while the Mustangs are in a rebuilding time and coming off back-to-back losses.

Coming into the Sept. 8 game, King City had to figure out how to stop an offense that scored 34 points against Pacific Grove. One of the problems that the Mustangs would face is Gonzales’ quarterback Juan Pablo Acosta-Ayala.

Gonzales’ Juan Pablo Acosta-Ayala runs the ball during the Little Big Game against King City on Sept. 8. (Jason Gallardo)

“Gonzales is impressive,” said Mustangs Head Coach Mac Villanueva. “Juan Pablo is a really good QB we’ve been facing for the last three years. That kid is a spectacular quarterback in my opinion, and (Adrian) Perez is a really good wide receiver.”

To start off the game, the King City offense came to play as they took their opening drive and running back Carson Tidwell scored the game’s first points. The most fascinating thing was this time last year the freshman was in the stands watching the rivalry game in King City.

“He came through,” Villanueva said about Tidwell. “He was a big part of our game plan we knew all along. We had a plan. We wanted to see how he held up his first two JV games and see what he could do there before we brought him up. He learned everything we do pretty much that week, and he came through with the score touchdown. He had a great game.”

King City quarterback Junior Manriquez (#8) was 6 of 13 in passing for 80 yards in the Sept. 8 game against Gonzales. He also scored one touchdown, running 16 yards into the end zone. (Jason Gallardo)

Tidwell rushed for over 100 yards in his first varsity game and scored a touchdown.

The Mustangs’ defense once again would be lights out as they held the Spartans to just 12 points, led by Isaac Benavides with six tackles and Noah Pacheco, who was a force up front.

When the final buzzer went off, King City’s emotions took over. The Mustangs broke a two-game losing streak and knew that this game meant a lot to them and the community. 

“I’m just so excited and proud of you guys right now,” Villanueva said. “I don’t think people realize how young we are. We start two freshmen and a sophomore, so I’m just really proud of this group. We have a lot of respect for (Spartans Head Coach Eddy) Ramirez and his staff. It’s even close to me. This game means the most to me by a million miles.”

King City will travel to Stevenson on Saturday, while Gonzales will host Soledad at home.

King City Mustangs hold up the megaphone in celebration of their 14-12 win against the Gonzales Spartans on Sept. 8. (Jason Gallardo)
Jason Gallardo
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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