WATSONVILLE — For months, John Ausman preached of how the hours of hard work during the summer would lead to great things come August.
He won’t have to give that speech any longer.
St. Francis High was as dominant as could be on Friday night, welcoming in its first-year head coach with a 37-0 non-league win over cross-city rival Pajaro Valley High at Emmett M. Geiser Field in Watsonville.
“They went to church and heard and heard, and now they saw it,” Ausman said. “The guys bought in and I couldn’t be happier.”
Ausman spent the last two years as the defensive coordinator under former head coach Adam Hazel but took over the program when the latter stepped down after last season. His players made sure the Ausman-era started off positively.
“That was really important to us coming in,” said St. Francis junior fullback Aaron Soto. “Coach Auz really knows what he’s doing. We love what he’s doing. All of our coaches are great. We just wanted to get that win.”
Soto ran for a pair of touchdowns in the first half. His second rushing score, an 18-yard sprint into the end zone early in the second quarter, put St. Francis up 21-0 and started the rout.
He was one of eight Sharks who touched the ball and helped total 332 yards rushing. Senior Carson Cuzick led the way with 77 yards on seven carries and junior Andy O’rourke ran for 61 yards on 10 carries.
Junior receiver Andrew Seymour sprinted 25 yards for a touchdown on a reverse to put St. Francis up 28-0 heading into the half.
“Guys came out and executed and not just one or two — there was a lot,” Ausman said. “I think you start up front and we had a good front five that started.”
Senior quarterback Derric Estrada-Haro completed all three of his passes, two of which went for scores. He found senior tight end Cory Parker for a 38-yard touchdown to open the scoring midway through the first quarter and began the second half by connecting with junior receiver C.J. Gomez on a 36-yard score.
A 37-yard field goal in the fourth quarter from junior Cesar Sanchez completed the scoring for St. Francis, which still trails P.V. 3-2 in the all-time series .
Estrada-Haro, who missed the better half of last season with a broken collarbone, was making up for lost time.
“This was great,” Estrada-Haro said. “Especially after not playing the last six games of last season, coming out here and getting this big win for us.”
P.V. was also debuting a new head coach in Kevin Cordova but couldn’t piece together enough positives on either side of the football to secure a win.
The Grizzlies punted on their first three possessions and turned it over on downs on their fourth after reaching the red zone midway through the second quarter. It was P.V.’s lone trip inside the 20.
“First game is always tough, everyone wants to come out and do well,” said Cordova, who took over after longtime head coach Joe Gregorio retired last season. “You get the win and it can snowball. You lose and obviously the conversation is don’t let it snowball the other way. We’ve got a lot of things to fix.”
The Grizzlies lost a handful of starters to injury as St. Francis pounded away with its physical Wing-T attack. The Sharks’ defense also bullied Pajaro Valley’s offensive line and tallied eight tackles for loss, four of which came from Soto.
St. Francis junior defensive linemen Justin Parker and Diego Ramirez each recorded a sack.
“They were a very physical team tonight,” Cordova said of St. Francis. “We got banged up right off the bat. We had some twos that we needed to step up and they kind of weren’t ready. That’s on the coaching staff.”
The Grizzlies did find a bright spot in senior quarterback Danny Jimenez Carrillo, who provided a spark with his legs and also finished with 60 yards through the air on 5-of-10 passing.
P.V. will try to pick up its first win next week against Greenfield High at Cabrillo College.
St. Francis, meanwhile, will host California School for the Deaf at Santa Cruz High.
— Tony Nunez (@Tony_Nunez) August 26, 2017
— Tony Nunez (@Tony_Nunez) August 26, 2017
In other local football action:
Watsonville 41, Pacific Grove 18
The Watsonville High Wildcatz snapped a four-game losing streak to host Pacific Grove High on Friday night with a 41-18 non-league victory in both teams’ season opener.
Senior Evan Delozier and junior Matthew Barcelo each ran for a pair of rushing touchdowns, while senior fullback Jorge Maya also added a rushing score.
Senior quarterback Isaac Baltazar had a handful of nice connections with senior receiver Jorge Tinoco, who scored on a blocked punt.
The Wildcatz took a 7-6 lead in the first quarter and led 20-18 at the half. They shut out the Breakers 21-0 over the final two quarters.
Watsonville will host Santa Cruz High next week.
M.V.C. 37, King City 20
The Monte Vista Christian Mustangs edged King City High, 37-20, on Friday night in head coach Bruce Dini’s debut at home.
M.V.C. led 30-7 midway through the fourth quarter before King City made the score a little more respectable.
Senior quarterback Sean White tossed for three scores and junior QB Reese Selck added another.
Dini took over M.V.C. earlier this summer after spending six years as the head coach at Stevenson in Pebble Beach.
M.V.C. will try to make it two in a row next week against North Monterey County High.
Alvarez 40, N.M.C. 0
The North Monterey County High Condors were shut out 40-0 by the Alvarez High Eagles in their season-opener on Friday night in Salinas.
N.M.C.’s season only gets tougher next week at Monte Vista Christian.