Last year’s overall record: 4-6
Last year’s league record: 3-3 (Monterey Bay League Pacific division)
Last year’s MaxPreps state ranking: 814th
Key losses: Danny Olivarez; tough-nosed running back who was the heart of the Watsonville offense and led the team in rushing…JoJo Vargas; athletic defender played multiple positions for the Wildcatz last season…Abraham Gonzalez; 6-foot-2, 275-pounder was a solid run blocker at tackle…Juan Chavez; quick outside linebacker brought a physical presence to the Watsonville defense.
Key returners: Brayden Arnold; senior free safety patrolled the defensive backfield like a hawk…Evan Delozier; 5-foot-11, 190-pound senior middle linebacker was a relentless force for the Watsonville defense…Matthew Barcelo; junior running back was an explosive runner when given the chance last season…James Sandoval; junior defensive back led the team in interceptions (4) and was not afraid to tackle either.
Notes: This season will be the fourth of head coach Ron Myers’ second stint with the Wildcatz. He has a 10-19 record in three seasons…Watsonville has not made the playoffs since 2009, which was also its last season in which it won a league championship.

Pacific Grove High
When: August 25, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Pacific Grove High
Last year’s MaxPreps state ranking: 697th
Last year’s overall record: 5-5
Last year’s league record: 4-3 (Mission Trail Athletic League)
Notes: Noah Cryns is gone a year after running for 1,020 yards and 20 touchdowns and passing for 1,525 yards and 12 scores. Receiver Nick Coppla, who caught 40 passes for 717 yards and nine touchdowns, is also gone…Last season marked the first time since 2011 that Pacific Grove failed to earn a postseason berth…Watsonville and Pacific Grove have played each of the last four seasons. The Wildcatz have yet to beat the Breakers, although they came close in last year’s 46-42 heartbreaking loss.

Santa Cruz High
When: September 1, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Emmett M. Geiser Field
Last year’s MaxPreps state ranking: 779th
Last year’s overall record: 4-6
Last year’s league record: 2-3 (Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League)
Notes: Cardinals have several offensive weapons returning from last season. Quarterback Abram Soriano and running backs Anthony Karagiannopoulos and Johnny Soto lead a group of 21 seniors…Santa Cruz and Watsonville have one of the longest running rivalries in all of high school football. The first game dates back more than a century. Watsonville owns a 56-38-5 advantage in the all-time series but lost last year.

Stevenson High
When: September 9, 2 p.m.
Where: Stevenson High
Last year’s MaxPreps state ranking: 667th
Last year’s overall record: 6-4 (Central Coast Section Division V qualifier)
Last year’s league record: 4-3 (MTAL)
Notes: Kyle Cassamas, a junior varsity assistant last year, was named the head coach at Stevenson after longtime coach Bruce Dini stepped down earlier this summer. Dini resigned to become the new head coach at Monte Vista Christian…Last year’s CCS playoff berth was the Pirates’ first in 17 years…Stevenson graduated a majority of its playmakers from last season, including quarterback Casey Mornhinweg and receiver Will Lansbury. Mornhinweg passed for 2,360 yards and 31 touchdowns and Lansbury caught 78 passes for 1,313 yards and 21 scores. Senior running back Ben Mudd, who ran for four touchdowns last season, and sophomore receiver Dakota Mornhinweg, who snagged 36 balls for 551 yards and four touchdowns, are the lone offensive weapons returning.

Irvington High
When: September 15, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Emmett M. Geiser Field
Last year’s MaxPreps state ranking: 662nd
Last year’s overall record: 5-6 (North Coast Section Division I qualifier)
Last year’s league record: 2-3 (Mission Valley Athletic League — NCS)
Notes: Vikings, coached by Ross Eddings, are coming off their first .500 regular season since 2013…The vast majority of last year’s strong 20-player junior class is back. Receiver/defensive back Samuel Carpio, tackle Raymond Pineda, outside linebacker Steven Von Berckefeldt and inside linebacker Dalton Evans lead the group. Carpio was a First Team All-MVAL selection on both offense and defense, while the other three earned Second Team All-MVAL selections.

North Monterey County High
When: September 22, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Emmett M. Geiser Field
Last year’s MaxPreps state ranking: 900th
Last year’s overall record: 2-8
Last year’s league record: 2-4
Notes: The Condors have not finished with a winning record since the 2010 season…Head coach Sean Gomes is heading into his second season of his second stint with N.M.C…Nearly all of the Condors’ statistical leaders from last season are gone following graduation. Junior defensive back and receiver Oscar Munoz is the lone returning skill position player that was used in the offense last season…N.M.C. and Watsonville have played 12 season straight and the Condors have gotten the best of the Wildcatz. They hold a 9-3 advantage in the recent series.

Alisal High
When: September 29, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Alisal High
Last year’s MaxPreps state ranking: 871st
Last year’s overall record: 2-8
Last year’s league record: 2-4
Notes: Head coach Cesar Chaidez started his tenure at Alisal with an eight-game losing streak but finished his first season with wins over N.M.C. and Pajaro Valley High…The Trojans have several players back from last year’s team, including senior quarterback Andrew Marquez and senior running back Thomas Martinez… Alisal has not finished with a winning record since 2012…Watsonville has beaten Alisal in two of the last three seasons. Last year’s 20-7 win over the Trojans was much closer than the score indicated, as the Wildcatz’s offense sputtered until the fourth quarter.

Gilroy High
When: October 13, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Emmett M. Geiser Field
Last year’s MaxPreps state ranking: 8-4 (CCS Division IV semifinalist)
Last year’s league record: 5-1
Notes: Head coach Jubenal Rodriguez’s second season was a smashing success. The Mustangs’ winning record was their first since 2008. Their playoff victory over Gunn High was also the first of its kind since 2007…Junior running back Joseph Barnes ran for 1,633 yards and 23 touchdowns last season en route to MBL-Pacific division Underclassman of the Year honors and figures to be the focal point of a dangerous Gilroy offense which also returns senior quarterback Jonathan Castro, senior running back Dylan Holler and senior receivers Richard Perez Jr. and Max Pierce. Additionally, senior linebacker Antonio Andrade, who measures in a 6-feet tall and 220 pounds, is back to lead the defense…Watsonville’s shot at a league championship took a major hit when it lost 48-13 to Gilroy High in the third week of MBL-P play. It was Watsonville’s seventh straight loss to Gilroy since the turn of the century.

Monterey High
When: October 20, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Emmett M. Geiser Field
Last year’s MaxPreps state ranking: 876th
Last year’s overall record: 3-7
Last year’s league record: 2-4
Notes: Dan Brown is heading into his third season as the Toreadores’ head coach. He has a 5-15 record over his first two years at Monterey…Last season was the ’Dores’ first stint in the MBL-Pacific div
ision. They spent the first four years of the equity league in the Gabilan…Junior quarterback Evans Charles, who threw for more than 1,000 yards last season, returns but the majority of his weapons will be new faces after Monterey graduated its top three rushers and top two receivers…Watsonville’s 7-0 win over Monterey last season was its first since the 1990s.

Christopher High
When: October 27, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Christopher High
Last year’s overall record: 704th
Last year’s overall record: 1-9
Last year’s league record: 0-6
Notes: Cougars moved down to the MBL-Pacific division after two years in the Gabilan…Since starting up in 2010, Christopher has won a pair of league championships. It won its first title, a tri-league championship with Monte Vista Christian and Monterey, in its second year…Outside of the teams in the West Catholic Athletic League, Christopher had one of the tougher schedules in the CCS last season. The Cougars played seven playoff teams, including three in preseason action…Last year was the first time in program history that Christopher finished under .500 in back-to-back seasons…The Cougars graduated 26 seniors… Junior quarterback Ben Sanford looks like the next man up in head coach Tim Pierleoni’s spread offense with the graduation of Ryan Adamkiewicz, who passed for more than 1,000 yards last season…Watsonville and Christopher have met four times overall and the Cougars have won all four. They last played in 2014. Christopher won that game 41-7 en route to the MBL-P title.

Pajaro Valley High
When: November 3, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Carl Connelly Stadium
Last year’s MaxPreps state ranking: 961st
Last year’s overall record: 3-7
Last year’s league record: 1-5
Notes: Kevin Cordova took over the Pajaro Valley program following the retirement of longtime head coach Joe Gregorio. Cordova spent last season as the Grizzlies’ offensive coordinator…The Grizzlies were 2-2 heading into league play last season before losing five straight. They did, however, finish the year with a stunning 3-0 victory over Watsonville in the 10th annual Belgard Kup Game… Two-way senior lineman Irepan Romero, senior safety/running back Jaylen Carreon and senior receiver/corner/kicker Diego Navarro lead a youthful group — only 10 seniors on the current roster…Last year’s loss to Pajaro Valley brought the Belgard Kup Game series record to 8-2, in favor of Watsonville. The Wildcatz first lost the Kup in 2013 but regained the giant ceramic coffee mug a year later.

Previous articleJon Jones stops Cormier in 3rd, regains UFC title belt
Next articleSemien's grand slam helps lift Athletics past Giants, 8-5


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here