King City Mustangs’ defense scored 21 of the team’s 28 points against the Rancho San Juan Trailblazers on Sept. 30. (Jason Gallardo/Staff)

KING CITY — Last Thursday King City High School played football against Rancho San Juan, but the game wasn’t the most important thing that night.

During the Sept. 30 home game, the King City Mustang cheerleading team honored former cheerleader Ebony Vega Politron, who died Sept. 24, 2020, after her battle with cancer.

With a 28-0 win over the Rancho San Juan Trailblazers, the Mustangs moved to 4-0 in the ranks, one of the best starts in the team’s history.

Mustangs Head Coach Mac Villanueva is also off to his best start during his time at King City.

Winning by 28 points overall meant the team played a pretty great game all around, but for the Mustangs’ offense, it’s a game they would like to forget. The offense only scored seven points late in the fourth quarter.

King City came into Thursday’s game averaging 34 points per game.

The Mustangs’ offense fell victim to a trend they had been following all season, getting off to a slow start and unable to produce any first-quarter points this season.

“We have got to be better,” Villanueva said. “We kept putting ourselves in a hole on offense, penalty after penalty.”

The Trailblazers’ defense line was problem for the Mustangs’ offense, taking away the run and forcing King City quarterback Jjey Martinez to throw the ball 33 times, which is a season high.

Martinez was successful for 15 out of 33 throws, earning 194 yards and one touchdown, along with an interception and a fumble.

The King City defensive line was a huge part in holding the Trailblazers scoreless. (Jason Gallardo/Staff)

Coming into this game, the Trailblazers were coming off an upset against Pacific Grove, 20-14, and were looking to spoil King City’s perfect record.

In back-to-back games, the Trailblazers held Pacific Grove (70 yards on 23 attempts) and King City (26 yards on 18 attempts) to season low rushing yards.

“I really have to credit Rancho San Juan,” Villanueva said. “They played tough on defense.”

But for as good as the Rancho San Juan defense was, the King City defense dominated the game, scoring 21 points. This is the second time this season that Defense Coordinator Matt Mendez and his defense have not let a team score.

“All we do is play,” Mendez said.

The last time the King City defense had two shutouts in a season was back in 2010.

The first test for the Mustangs’ defense came right after the offense turned it over at their own 27-yard line right before the first quarter.

King City had a season high in turnovers with three.

The Mustangs’ defense did not let the Trailblazers take advantage of the short field and held them to attempt a field goal. King City’s defense struck for the first score of the game when Aiden Caulk picked up a blocked punt and took it to the house to make the score 7-0.

For the King City defense, it started up front with defensive tackle Noah Pacheco clogging up the middle and not letting the Trailblazers rush through with their triple-option offense. Pacheco finished with a season high of three tackles and two-and-a-half tackles for loss.

With the offense struggling, King City finally got some rhythm at the end of the first half, putting together a drive that took them deep into Rancho San Juan territory. But Trailblazers linebacker Javier Placencia picked off Martinez to send them to halftime down 7-0.

King City cheerleaders dedicate last Thursday’s game to former cheerleader Ebony Vega Politron, who died from cancer last year. (Jason Gallardo/Staff)

Coming out of halftime, Rancho San Juan caught King City when they did a squib kick and recovered the ball at the Mustangs’ 34-yard line.

But even with great field position, the Trailblazers couldn’t take advantage.

King City leader in sacks, Sebastian Garcia, got to the quarterback and knocked Rancho San Juan out of field goal range, forcing them to punt. The Trailblazers got a break, however, when the Mustangs muffed a punt, setting up the Trailblazers at the Mustangs’ 10-yard line.

This was the turning point in the game for the Trailblazers; they had an opportunity to really put the Mustangs on their heels. But instead, the Mustangs forced a fumble and Caulk recovered the ball.

In the fourth quarter, the Mustangs started to tack on the points. King City’s Ivan Lizardi picked off the quarterback and returned it back for a touchdown to increase the score, 14-0.

Martinez and the offense finally put together a drive that put points on the board. Martinez found his top two wide receivers, Brooks Hearne and Alexis DeDios, to move the offense into the Trailblazers’ side of the field. Martinez then connected with DeDios for a 36-yard touchdown pass to increase their lead by 21.

DeDios finished with seven receptions for 89 yards and a touchdown, while Hearne had six receptions for 51 yards.

Lizardi ended by scoring the final points of the game with another pick six, making the final score 28-0 and giving the defense 21 points scored.

“Luckily our defense was a heck of a lot better than any other unit on the field today,” Villanueva said. “I can’t remember a time when my defense had three touchdowns.”

Lizardi now has five touchdowns for the season, three rushing and two on defense.

The Mustangs move to 4-0 on the season, making them one of three teams that are still undefeated. King City will travel to Watsonville High on Friday.

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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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