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September 27, 2023

HS Football Preview, Week 5: Local teams try to keep momentum rolling

The Monte Vista Christian Mustangs bounced back in their Monterey Bay League Gabilan division opener against North Salinas High last week but they will have a much bigger challenge on Friday night against powerhouse San Benito High.

In the Haybalers (3-1, 1-0), coached by Bryan Smith, the Mustangs will face a seven-time Central Coast Section champion that has advanced to the postseason each of the last eight seasons.

This season, San Benito has also been impressive, securing wins over Sacred Heart Prep, Los Gatos High and, last week, Alvarez High.

The Mustangs (3-1, 1-0), meanwhile, enter with the same record as the Haybalers but have yet to beat a team with a record above .500.

Coached by Bruce Dini, M.V.C. dropped its game against San Benito last season despite holding a 13-0 lead.

In order to win, the Mustangs will need a huge performance from senior quarterback Sean White and his plethora of play-making receivers, including senior David Alcantar and juniors Nick Bautista and Daniel Brierley.

The M.V.C. defense will also have to rise to the occasion against run-heavy San Benito, which ran for 279 yards and four scores last week.

Here’s a look at the rest of the action happening this weekend:
• Aptos High at Seaside High, Friday at 7:30 p.m. — The Aptos High Mariners sent a shockwave through the MBL-Gabilan division last week with a win against Palma High and they will try to follow that up on Friday night with another victory against Seaside High.

Aptos (2-2, 1-0) last played Seaside (3-1, 1-0) in 2014. It was part of a two-year series against the Spartans which the Mariners swept.

After a rough go during the preseason, Aptos, coached by Randy Blankenship, found its way offensively over the final two quarters of last week’s win over five-time MBL-G defending champ Palma, running for 355 yards and four touchdowns.

That success on the ground bodes well for the Mariners, who are trying to win their 34th straight league game. Seaside last week gave up 328 yards rushing and five touchdowns to the Salinas High Cowboys in a 47-21 loss.

• St. Francis High at Greenfield High, Friday at 7:30 p.m. — The St. Francis High defense has been the Sharks’ saving grace during the first five weeks of the season, allowing 5.4 points per game, and they will need to come to play once again on Friday night at Greenfield High in a Mission Trail Athletic League Coastal division contest.

Coached by Ryan Bravo, Greenfield (2-2, 1-0) has twice scored 48 points and is averaging 27.5 points per game. The Bruins last week were an offensive force, totaling 540 yards in a win over Harbor High.

The Sharks (4-1, 1-0), however, have been stifling teams all season with their fast and physical defense. Coached by John Ausman, St. Francis has posted three shutouts this season, including last week’s 17-0 win over Marina High.

It will be the fifth straight meeting between the two teams. St. Francis holds a 3-2 advantage in that series.

• North Monterey County High vs Christopher High, Friday at 7:30 p.m. — The North Monterey County High Condors struggled to contain Watsonville High’s offensive attack last week and they will have another tough test this week against Christopher High.

Coached by Tim Pierleoni, Christopher (5-0, 1-0) is averaging 40 points per game this season and last week started off MBL-Pacific division play by dropping 46 points on Pajaro Valley High.

Coached by Sean Gomes, N.M.C. (1-4, 0-1) has not had the same offensive success as the Cougars. The youthful Condors have twice been shutout this season and are averaging just 8.8 points per game.

• Watsonville High at Alisal High, Friday at 7:30 p.m. — Watsonville High began the MBL-Pacific division season with a near-perfect performance last week against North Monterey County High but the challenge will be much tougher this week at Alisal High.

Although the Trojans (1-4, 0-1), coached by Cesar Chaidez, have won only one game, they have looked like a dangerous team. Three of their four losses have come against playoff teams and all but one has been by two scores or less. Alisal also hung tough with undefeated Gilroy High last week, trailing 22-19 at the half before allowing 17 points in the second half.

Watsonville (4-1, 1-0) will have to continue its strong play from last week’s 28-point win in which they ran all over the N.M.C. defense.

If its defense, which is allowing only 13 points per game, can continue to play well, the Wildcatz will have a chance to score their third win over the Trojans in the last four years.

• Pajaro Valley High vs Monterey High (at Cabrillo College), Friday at 7:30 p.m. — It’s homecoming week and the Pajaro Valley High Grizzlies are looking for their first MBL-Pacific division win of the season against Monterey High.

The Grizzlies (1-4, 0-1), coached by Kevin Cordova, have never beaten the Toreadores (1-3) but this year could very well be the first time P.V. accomplishes the feat.

Coached by Dan Brown, Monterey has struggled to find consistent play from a youthful group, which features only 12 seniors. The ‘Dores’ three losses have come by an average of 27.6 points.

The good news for Monterey? The last time they were on the field the ‘Dores edged Marina High, 34-20, and they are also coming off a bye week.

P.V., meanwhile, is fresh off a 46-8 loss to undefeated Christopher High. Like Monterey, Cordova’s bunch is young and inexperienced with only 13 seniors.


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