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May 17, 2021

Mariners cap season with unblemished record | HS football

MVC rolls Soquel; St. Francis falls to Scotts Valley in season finale

SANTA CRUZ—Aptos High posted a 42-0 win against Santa Cruz High in a scrimmage at Memorial Field on April 16. 

The game was scheduled as a regular season Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League game, but officials never showed up. The game did not count as an official contest.

The anticlimactic season finale was just another chapter in a season that’s been anything but ordinary.

“It was a roller coaster,” said Aptos senior running back Christian Mendoza, who ran for two touchdowns in the victory. “There were some highs and lows but it brought us joy just to play this season.”

The Mariners finished the Covid-19 delayed season with a 3-0 overall record in the “A” division of the SCCAL.

Andy Gonzalez, a parent volunteer, served as one of the four unofficial referees. He was sitting in the bleachers just before the JV game was about to begin when they asked him to serve as an official. 

He initially declined, but then he realized that the players worked hard during the long offseason and for them not to play would’ve been heartbreaking.

“It was for the kids,” he said.

Santa Cruz County teams were scheduled to play five regular season games, including four league games. But Aptos High missed out on a game against San Lorenzo Valley High when the Cougars canceled because of an insufficient number of healthy players.

The scrimmage was also in jeopardy when the bus that was supposed to deliver the Mariners to Santa Cruz High didn’t make it. The players found their way to the stadium, but the delay pushed back the opening kickoff to 8pm.

Mendoza said that having unofficial officials call the game didn’t make a difference to their approach against the Cardinals.

“We played our game and referees officiated the game,” he said. “We just did what we had to do.”

Mariners’ starting quarterback Nick Forbes connected with junior receiver Rio Cruz on a 27-yard strike for a touchdown that gave them a 28-0 lead just before going into halftime. 

Coming out of the break, junior running back Seamus Carey returned a kick off for an 85-yard touchdown.

Aptos senior Nicco Riccabona said they left everything on the field, and they tried to put up as many points possible.

“Make it sure that there’s not a close game because everyone thought it was going to be close since [Santa Cruz] has been doing good, but we had to prove our point,” he said. 

Riccabona said it was unfortunate that the officials didn’t show up, but that there was a time when he thought there wasn’t going to be a season.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the team could not use the locker room or weight room for much of the offseason. But that changed in December, and he became more confident as the number of cases in Santa Cruz County continued to drop.

Riccabona, who is attending Northern Arizona University, said it’s been odd playing football in March and April, which is typically reserved for the spring sports season. Things got especially weird for him when the daylight savings time kicked in, because they got an extra hour of daylight during practice, which he wasn’t used to.

“But it was chill, especially waking up for the morning workouts because it wasn’t as dark,” he said.

Mendoza said he’s going to miss waking up early mornings for those workout sessions with the team and, most of all, getting an earful from head coach Randy Blankenship. 

“He’s correcting us but I enjoyed it,” Mendoza said. “I definitely learned some life lessons playing football and it’ll definitely stick with me for the rest of my life.”

MVC 42, at Soquel 21: Mustangs senior quarterback Brendan Doyle rushed for more than 200 yards and scored three touchdowns in a win against the Knights in SCCAL play on April 16.

Doyle scored on runs of 3, 45 and 25 yards to help MVC (4-1) close out the season on a four-game win streak.

Doyle also recorded a 12-yard touchdown pass to senior tight end Riley Moller.

MVC junior receiver Mark Spohn connected with Moller for a 65-yard touchdown reception on a trick play; and junior running back Corydon Lindner scored from 7 yards out.

At Scotts Valley 43, St. Francis 26: Sharks senior quarterback Davin Avila threw for four touchdowns in a loss against the Falcons in SCCAL play on April 17. 

Avila connected with junior receiver Dez Vital, senior receiver Brandon George, junior fullback Seth Vasquez and junior receiver Garrett Lee for scores.

It was the second meeting between both teams this season. St. Francis (2-4) lost the season opener, 12-0, to the Falcons.

Scotts Valley High junior Brock Siechen took over the offense after starting quarterback Aiden Paul left the game with an injured elbow.

Siechen scored four rushing touchdowns to help the Falcons finish the season with a 6-0 overall record.

Junior running back Isaiah Velez scored on a 20-yard run, and Daniel Nava added a 6-yard touchdown for the Falcons. Lineman Andre Nice recorded three sacks, extending his school record for sacks in a season to 14.

At SLV 40, Harbor 8: The Cougars ended the season on a high note for head coach Dave Poetzinger, who retired after spending nearly 30 with the program, including the past eight seasons as skipper. 

Poetzinger was an assistant under longtime head coach Doug Morris when SLV won three Central Coast Section titles.

The Cougars finished with an overall record of 3-1. Harbor dropped to 0-5.


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