WATSONVILLE—After starting off the season struggling through adversity, Pajaro Valley battled for its first victory against visiting Greenfield on Saturday afternoon.
Senior running back Isaac Ortiz had 261 yards rushing and three touchdowns for the Grizzlies in a 28-7 victory over the Bruins (3-6, 2-2) in non-league action on Oct. 23.
“Feeling great, feeling awesome, speechless,” Ortiz said. “We prepared to be great, to go out there, play as a team and be prepared.”
The feeling was shared by the team after Pajaro Valley (1-6, 0-2) ended a 10-game losing streak that started in the abbreviated 2021 spring season. The win was also their first with homecoming festivities since the completion of the new stadium.
“I go out there and play, and give it my all, and hope for the best,” Ortiz said.
The win was significant for the Grizzlies, who have been overcoming obstacles coming in left and right throughout the season such as injuries. Their non-league contest against Pacific Grove on Sept. 10 was canceled due to Covid-19 protocols.
“It’s tough when you start out the season the way we did,” Pajaro Valley coach Joe Manfre said. “It’s easy to quit when stuff gets hard. I’m proud of this senior class, I’m proud of all the guys that stuck it out. This is not the amount of kids we had at the start of the season.”
Senior Eric Viveros, who was one of three linemen that were out with injuries, has slowly made his way back and has played with a club on his finger.
Manfre said other injuries include concussions, broken fingers, broken ankles and a variety of others.
In September, senior linebacker Manny Rodriguez had to stay away from the team until he was cleared from Covid-19 protocols. He had six tackles in Saturday’s win against Greenfield and he talked about how the team is coming back together.
“Our team could have been capable of doing way better than this, I think finally it’s starting to click and we’re really starting to see each other and come together and focus on one thing,” Rodriguez said.
Bruins junior running back Alonso Barcenas scored the lone touchdown for Greenfield, a 52-yard sprint to the end zone. The Grizzlies’ defense allowed 220 yards on offense.
Greenfield did manage to put together a good looking drive in the second quarter. Junior quarterback Cristian Zavala connected with senior receiver Anthony Morales for a 40-yard strike that set them up on PV’s 31-yard line.
But the drive stalled after Greenfield tight end Alexander Perea fumbled on the 2-yard line that was recovered by Pajaro Valley junior Juan Macias.
“I think we started letting off the gas, we started slowing down. We’re not used to being on the scoreboard,” said Rodriguez. “We had to stay together, stay strong, and we started pushing them back.”
Macias also had 40 yards rushing on 12 carries. Senior running back Roger Ruiz had 60 yards rushing on nine carries and a 10-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter that capped the scoring for the Grizzlies.
Manfre said it was nice to come away with the win on the team’s first official homecoming game at Pajaro Valley, in front of a good group of parents.
“It was awesome. I’m happy for the kids,” he said.
The win also gives the Grizzlies some confidence, which Manfre said was one of the biggest things they lacked earlier in the season.
“It gives us momentum going into next week. It’s hard to lose week after week,” Manfre said. “It gives us some confidence.”
Pajaro Valley will play at Harbor High (4-4, 0-2) in PCAL Santa Lucia division action on Friday at 7:30pm.
Editor’s note: Pajaronian sports editor Juan Reyes contributed to this story.