The Aptos High Mariners will hit the road on Friday night to try continue their early dominance of the Monterey Bay League Gabilan division against the San Benito High Haybalers.
Coached by Randy Blankenship, the Mariners (4-2, 3-0) have won their first three games against MBL-G opponents by a combined 90 points and also have the advantage of an extra week’s rest after their game against Alvarez High last week was postponed because of poor air quality, stemming from the California Wine Country Fires.
Coached by Bryan Smith, the Haybalers (5-2, 3-1) are fresh off a tough 41-13 loss against MBL-G rival Salinas High last week. The loss halted their three-game winning streak and it was also the program’s widest margin of defeat in a league play since a 47-point loss in 2008.
The two programs have only met twice. Aptos won the first game in 2003, beating San Benito in the Central Coast Section Division II championship. San Benito won the second meeting, a preseason contest, three years later.
The two programs have been powerhouses in the CCS this decade. Aptos has three section championships and four CCS finals appearances, while San Benito, which is ranked 295th in the state by MaxPreps.com, has won a pair of titles and advanced to three section finals in total since 2010.
The Mariners, ranked 205th in the state by MaxPreps.com, need a win this week to keep pace with Salinas, which hosts Monte Vista Christian this week and like Aptos is also undefeated in MBL-G play.
Aptos junior running back Marcos Reyes has played like an M.V.P. this season, scoring 10 rushing touchdowns on the season so far and leading the defense from the inside linebacker position.
He’ll need to continue his stellar season this week.
Here’s a look at the rest of the local action happening this weekend:
• Watsonville vs Monterey, Friday at 7:30 p.m. — The Watsonville High Wildcatz have not played a football game since Sept. 29 so they will undoubtedly be well rested heading into Friday’s tilt against Monterey High at Emmett M. Geiser Field.
Head coach Ron Myers, however, will have to make sure his players aren’t rusty or out of rhythm against a dangerously fast Monterey (3-4, 2-1) squad, which is coming off one of its most dominant wins of the season.
Last week the Toreadores, coached by Dan Brown, made quick work of the North Monterey County High Condors in a 42-9 victory.
Junior receiver Iris Hutchins and sophomore running back Azjani McGill bring the speed for the ‘Dores, who last year lost a 7-0 heartbreaker to Watsonville at home.
Watsonville (4-2, 1-1), ranked 775th in the state by MaxPreps.com, has not had a chance to wash away an ugly 35-7 loss to Alisal High from its memory. The Wildcatz had a bye week following the loss and last week’s homecoming game against Gilroy High was postponed because of smoke from the ongoing fires in California’s Wine Country.
Friday’s game will be an important one for both teams in terms of the Monterey Bay League Pacific division championship chase. Watsonville and Monterey, ranked 865th in the state by MaxPreps.com, are still mathematically alive but both teams would need to string together a few wins and also get some help down the road in order to capture a share of the title.
• Pajaro Valley at Gilroy, Friday at 7:30 p.m. — The Pajaro Valley High Grizzlies will have had a full two weeks to prepare for their Monterey Bay League Pacific division game against undefeated Gilroy High, which is without a doubt their biggest challenge of the season.
Neither team played last week. Pajaro Valley (1-6, 0-3), coached by Kevin Cordova, had a bye week, while Gilroy (6-0, 2-0), coached by Jubenal Rodriguez, had its game against Watsonville postponed because of poor air quality stemming from the California Wine Country fires.
Pajaro Valley, ranked 1,020th in the state by MaxPreps.com, is riding a three-game losing streak in which it has been outscored 130-29.
Gilroy, ranked 258th in the state by MaxPreps.com, has not lost this season and has already steamrolled two of the better teams in the MBL-P, Christopher High and Alisal High.
The Grizzlies have never beaten the Mustangs. Last year’s meeting ended 40-20 in favor of Gilroy.
• Monte Vista Christian at Salinas, Friday at 7:30 p.m. — Monte Vista Christian will try to get off to a much better start this week against Salinas High in Friday’s Monterey Bay League Gabilan division contest at “The Pit.”
Last week, M.V.C., coached by Bruce Dini, had a tough start in a 37-14 loss to Palma. The Mustangs (4-3, 2-2), ranked 487th in the state by MaxPreps.com, had a punt blocked and fumbled away the ball twice in the first half. Palma took full advantage of the mistakes, taking a 24-0 lead at the half.
M.V.C. can not make the same early mistakes if it wants to upset a Salinas team that is ranked 158th in the state by MaxPreps.com and has won its last four games.
The Cowboys (5-2, 4-0), coached by Steve Zenk, have beaten up the teams of MBL-G so far. Their four league wins have come by an average margin of 26 points. Last week, Salinas impressively dominated San Benito in a 42-13 win in Hollister.
All of this means the Mustangs will have their hands full on Friday.
M.V.C. senior quarterback Sean White finally looked human last week, as Palma’s defensive backfield kept him and the Mustangs’ passing attack out of the end zone. He did throw for 223 yards to bump his season total to 1,624 yards. He also has 15 passing touchdowns on the year.
White and his plethora of receivers will need to have a huge day if the Mustangs want to knock off Salinas for the third straight season.
• North Monterey County at Alisal, Friday at 7:30 p.m. — The North Monterey County High Condors will go from one tough opponent to an even tougher one this week at Alisal High.
The Condors (2-6, 1-3), coached by Sean Gomes, last week were blown out 42-9 by Monterey High and will play an Alisal (4-4, 3-1) team that two weeks ago thumped Monterey by 22 points.
The Trojans, coached by Cesar Chaidez, have won their last three games and four of their last five. Last week, Alisal, ranked 565th in the state by MaxPreps.com, went into overtime to knock off Christopher High, 28-21.
N.M.C., ranked 945th in the state, has lost to Alisal each of the last six seasons. Last year, the Condors nearly pulled the upset of the Trojans but wound up losing 15-6.