WATSONVILLE—It was a day full of mixed emotions for Pajaro Valley senior Eric Viveros who stepped on the football field for the final time on his home turf.
The hefty lineman scored his first career touchdown to help lift the Grizzlies past Harbor High for a 41-16 blowout win in Pacific Coast Athletic League Santa Lucia Division play on Oct. 22.
“It was so emotional,” Viveros said. “When they took me out that last play, I started crying out of relief.”
Viveros and most of his teammates had never lost to Harbor in the four years he’s been with the program. With the win, the Grizzlies improved to 2-2 in league play this season.
“I feel like we just had confidence not only because it’s our Senior Night and it’s our Homecoming Game, but I feel like we also got mentally prepared the whole week,” Viveros said.
Pajaro Valley coach Joe Manfre said he’s proud of the players for sticking together in what’s been a rough season for them.
“When you’re not winning it’s really easy to just jump ship and we haven’t had that,” he said. “Guys keep showing up to practice, guys keep playing hard and it’s what I’ve asked them to do, and they have answered that bell.”
PV senior quarterback Jesus Basulto scored twice for the Grizzlies and fellow senior teammates Juan Macias, Milo Rodriguez and Gabriel Nolasco-Shah each scored a touchdown.
“I’m just excited, bro,” Macias said. “We really wanted this win.”
Viveros also got in on the action with a touchdown run of his own.
After taking the handoff from Basulto, Viveros said he made sure to hold on to the ball, lower his head and cross the goal line.
“I begged my coach all week to let me score a touchdown because it’s every lineman’s dream,” he said. “I just got to live that dream.”
Harbor’s Nico Edler tossed a pair of touchdown passes to Charlie Platt, one from 25 yards out and one from 4 yards out to cap off the scoring for the game.
Still, the Grizzlies’ defense was a handful for Edler and the rest of the Pirates’ offense.
“Our defense always plays hard,” Manfre said. “Coach [Casey] Neligh has the defense fired up, ready to go. Locked in.”
Manfe praised senior Damien Torres—who has eight sacks and 12 tackles for losses this season—for his stellar performance on the field.
Manfre said his stud linebacker could be a front runner for division’s Defensive Player of the Year honors.
“Every game, I feel like teams are having to game plan for [Torres],” Manfre said. “He’s coming off the edge and just rushing super hard. It’s hard for people to stop.”
Pajaro Valley (2-6, 2-2) plays at Greenfield (4-3, 3-0) on Friday at 7:30pm, followed by the regular season finale against Marina (6-3, 3-2) at Seaside High School on Nov. 5 at 6pm.
“I just want to see us work hard,” Viveros said. “Work hard as a unit and not just be selfish. Sometimes we have those problems, we just gotta fix them.”
Manfre said the players executed like they were supposed to against Harbor, but he knows the final two games will be much tougher.
“Stay the course and just keep going,” he said.
St. Francis 51, King City 28: Christian Magaña scored twice for the Sharks in their crushing win over the Mustangs in PCAL Cypress Division play on Oct. 22.
Magaña returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown and he caught an 18-yard TD reception from quarterback Kyle Dyer.
With the win, the Sharks (8-0, 4-0) remain as PCAL’s lone undefeated team this season.
They’ll try to finish the year with an unblemished record starting with a league game at Pacific Grove (5-3, 2-2) on Friday, followed by the regular season finale at Soledad (7-1, 4-0) on Nov. 4. Both games are slated to kickoff at 7:30pm.
St. Francis coach John Ausman doesn’t want to look too far ahead for their anticipated meeting against the Aztecs. He said they have a strong senior group that will keep the rest of the team focused on the task in front of them.
“It’s what’s been fun about coaching this team,” Ausmand said. “Those kind of conversations don’t need to happen because of the leadership of our team. That says a lot about who those young men are.”
Nethaniel Madrigal-Hernandez, a senior, had a 70-yard interception return for a score and senior Diego Wolfe notched his 15th touchdown of the season that gave St. Francis a 28-7 lead in the first quarter.
Junior running back Gavin Valencia finished with three touchdowns, while Madrigal Hernandez continued to shine on special teams by recording a blocked punt that turned into a safety for the Sharks.
Ausman said that King City coach Mac Villanueva does a great job of preparing and threw some things at the Sharks that they hadn’t seen all year.
“Which is good for us to see those things,” Ausman said. “It was a good win against a quality program.”
Ausman said the Mustangs came out with a more pass-heavy offense then they anticipated, which is something St. Francis doesn’t practice as much on a weekly basis.
“The formations they used were something we hadn’t seen very often and our guys hadn’t had a whole lot of reps in those formations, in the coverages we wanted to do,” Ausman said.
Ausman also credited King City quarterback Jjey Martinez, who is incredibly athletic and made some excellent throws on the run.
“He kept some plays alive where we thought we had him,” Ausman said. “Hats off to them but we took advantage of some mistakes when we needed to.”
A scary moment took place after King City senior Jace Espino went down with a head injury late in the first half.
Espino dove for a fumble with 34 seconds left in the half and hit the turf hard. He was immediately attended to by coaches and trainers from both schools, including Nicole Sutherland who administered first aid.
Paramedics transported Espino to the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds, where he was taken via helicopter to a trauma center in the South Bay.