King City Mustangs will head to Salinas on Friday to play the Rancho San Juan Trailblazers in their first league game of the season. (Jason Gallardo/Staff)

KING CITY — After a week off, the King City Mustangs return Friday to start league play in the Cypress Division.

The last time we saw the Mustangs play they won their second straight game beating Stevenson 21-7. Once again, the Mustangs’ defense sparked the comeback by getting another defensive touchdown.

Now that preseason is over, the Mustangs are returning to the field to face Rancho San Juan Trailblazers.

Last year the Mustangs beat the Trailblazers 28-0. In that game, the Mustangs’ offense was held to just seven points, while the other 21 points came from the defense and special team.

Coming into this game, the Trailblazers are 5-0 and have captured the attention of everyone.

For the Mustangs, after starting the season 0-2, they have won two straight games. Things haven’t been great for them offensively this year, but they have improved through the preseason.

Friday, Sept. 30
King City Mustangs (2-2) vs. Rancho San Juan Trailblazers (5-0)
7:30 p.m. at Rancho San Juan High School

King City Mustangs

What We Know: All season long, the Mustangs’ defense has been their best unit, and they will need to be again as they face a tough Rancho San Juan team. When the Mustangs have faced physical teams, such as Alisal and Greenfield, they have matched them physically.

Players to Watch: Aiden Caulk, who had a touchdown on special teams last year against the Trailblazers, will be asked to do more defensively this year. Noah Pacheco, who has a touchdown already this season, will cause problems for that Trailblazer offense line. Isaac Benavides is coming off his best game of the off season, during which he scored on defense and offense while being the top rusher in the win against Stevenson.

Mustang Strengths: The King City defensive line has been a great unit all season. Jjey Martinez has had a great season and will have to find a way to make plays and put some points on the board.

Question: When you think about the way the Mustangs can win this game, the best way is to jump out to an early lead and force Rancho into throwing more. But if it’s reversed, can the Mustangs come back from multiple scores down?

Rancho San Juan Trailblazers

What We Know: Rancho is off to its best start in school history and has captured everyone’s attention. They have scored over 30 points in each of their wins.

Players to Watch: Peyton Hatten has been the talk on social media as he has rushed for 971 yards and 20 touchdowns. Anthony Abarca leads the Trailblazers in tackles this season.

What’s At Stake: If any of these players have postseason dreams, they will need to run the table. Starting 0-1 in league play almost eliminates you from the postseason.

Question: If Rancho is forced to play from behind, can they complete enough of the air to get back into a game?

Prediction (7-0): I believe the Mustangs match up with the Trailblazers well, and the King City defense will be able to continue the run game and frustrate Rancho. Rancho is facing the hardest part of their league schedule, and the Mustangs will catch them on the road. Mustangs win — 17-14.

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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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