APTOS—It was a cold chilly night for Aptos High football fans who were bundled up and ready to see some action on Trevin Dilfer Memorial Field one final time this season.
The No. 3 seeded Mariners did not disappoint the home crowd as they dominated No. 6 Christopher High, 38-7, in the opening round of the Central Coast Section Division II playoffs.
Aptos coach Randy Blankenship said it was special for them to be able to host a playoff game and play in front of an electrifying crowd, especially with all the work they put in all season.
“I’m really happy, this is the last game these guys will play on their home field for the seniors and we got a good win,” he said.
Aptos senior Dante Aranda said the crowd really motivated them on Friday night.
“It was amazing, fans were electric and really got us going when the crowd got loud,” he said.
The Mariners dominated the ball on both sides of the ball throughout the night, but the way defense opened the game was a big factor in their victory.
Aptos’ defense produced four straight three-and-outs and did not allow a Cougars first down until the middle of the second quarter.
“Our kids were focused tonight and that was probably the best we played defense for a long time,” Blankenship said.
It did not take long for Aptos to produce points on the scoreboard.
The Mariners started in good field position after the defense forced a quick three-and-out to start the game.
They took advantage and Aranda muscled it in for a 10-yard touchdown run that gave Aptos a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.
Much of the focus was on the rushing attack and they succeeded as they recorded five touchdowns on the evening.
“I don’t want to say it’s nothing new, but it’s nothing new,” Aranda said. “We love going out there running and hitting people and that’s what we did tonight.”
Blankenship said it was great to see some of the players get back in the groove including senior Caden Prichard who finished the night with three rushing touchdowns.
“It was nice seeing Caden get back in the groove, but Lawrence, Dante, Caden, and Matt really got us going, full team effort,” Blankenship said.
After another defensive stop by Aptos, they struck fast with a four yard touchdown run by junior Lawrence Ingram in the first quarter to give Aptos a 14-0 lead.
Shortly later, the Mariners got the ball and drove down the field again but they settled for a 32-yard field goal by senior Nathaniel Dow, extending their lead to 17-0.
With just a few minutes left in the half, Christopher was desperate to get on the board.
Cougars quarterback Damiann Gomez threw a deep pass attempt but it was intercepted by Mariners senior Blake Byers.
Christopher football coach Darren Yafai commended Aptos on its performance.
“They are the best football team we faced all year,” he said. “They had no weaknesses, they are loaded, they are big, tough and strong.”
The Mariners didn’t wait long to continue the scoring parade after Prichard punched it in with a 7-yard touchdown run that gave Aptos a demanding 24-0 lead.
Aptos had no plan on slowing down when Prichard broke out of a tackle and bursted for a 62-yard sprint to the end zone.
The Mariners’ defense did not skip a beat, as well. They continued to shut down the Cougars offense and were forced to punt ten punts on the night.
Despite the blowout victory, Blankenship complimented Christopher’s efforts after the game.
“They have a lot of speed and are well coached, they were 9-1 for a reason, they have great players,” he said. “Our guys prepared well for this game tonight.”
Aptos (9-2) will travel to San Francisco to take on No. 5 St. Ignatius (5-6) on Nov. 18 with kickoff slated for 7pm.