APTOS—A late turnover for the Aptos High football team led to a heart-breaking defeat in last week’s home opener against Campolindo High.
For senior running back Caden Prichard, the Mariners’ 30-22 loss left a bad taste in their mouths.
“I don’t think we played a great game,” he said. “I think we could’ve come out a lot better, a lot harder. I think we played soft today.”
Aptos (1-1) was shut out in a fourth quarter riddled with penalties, and the offense fumbled the ball on a bad exchange from quarterback Matt Hood to Prichard.
Prichard said they were fully accountable for all the mistakes they couldn’t overcome.
“We gotta clean it up, turn it around next week,” he said. “We have a lot of games left, we have time to clean it up for sure. I think they’re fixable mistakes.”
Prichard finished with 93 yards rushing on 10 carries and a touchdown that gave the Mariners a 22-16 lead in the third quarter.
Aptos coach Randy Blankenship simply stated they just weren’t the most physical team on Friday night.
“We gotta play our butts off and hit people,” he said.
The Achilles’ heel for the Mariners was allowing Campolindo to convert on third down and 1 yard to go situations at least six times or more. Aptos also finished with six penalties for 50 yards.
“They kept the ball away from us,” Blankenship said. “That’s how you beat us, don’t give us the ball and they did a great job of keeping the ball away. We had several other opportunities to score, we jumped offsides.”
Blankenship will most likely be in the film room studying the final possession that resulted in a fumble.
“Caden was gone and then we fumbled the ball,” he said. “You can’t make mistakes, can’t get beat deep, can’t have penalties. Things that you don’t wanna do.”
Last year, the Mariners took care of business against the Cougars in a 49-0 win on the road.
Campolindo starting quarterback Dashiell Weaver said last year’s loss still stings. He mentioned the fact they held Aptos to 22 points was a statement of its own.
Weaver said the defense stepped up massively, especially the junior class.
“We only have 10 seniors that are actively getting on the field right now.
“I couldn’t be happier about this team,” he said. “Everyone stepped up, it was a team effort. That Rob Mascheroni guy, he’s pretty good.”
Senior receiver Robbie Mascheroni finished with six receptions for 98 yards and the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Cougars junior receiver Scott Lyon had three receptions for 41 yards and a touchdown, while senior running back Lucas Concepcion had 65 yards on 10 carries and a touchdown.
Campolindo put together three straight scoring drives in the second half, including two in the fourth quarter that gave them the lead for good.
At first, it seemed like Weaver was in for a long day after Jordan Torres, Joshua Towley and Matt Forbes each recorded interceptions for the Mariners in the first half.
Weaver said his coaches told him to slow the game down and take what Aptos’ defense was giving him.
“Stop forcing the ball and just run it because they were only rushing three. That allowed for lanes to open up,” he said. “I was able to use my legs and chip away with positive yardages instead of interceptions, which is obviously a big difference maker.”
Blankenship said the three interceptions were great but there were a couple of third-and-long situations the Cougars completed where the Mariners didn’t play their technique right.
“They were supposed to undercut the receiver and we tried to stay on top of them,” he said. “I had somebody on top, it’s just doing what we’re supposed to do. That’s what hurts.”
Prichard, who also plays linebacker and safety, said the Cougars played a ground and pound type of game, which was opposite of the air raid attack they were expecting.
“We practiced that all week and practiced the inside runs a handful of times,” he said. “We didn’t expect a lot of outside zone. Obviously that isn’t on coach, that’s on us.”
The season is far too young for the Mariners to hang their heads down, and Prichard said they have an opportunity to turn it around.
“I’m excited to see what we can do,” Prichard said.
Blankenship said the goal is still to win a Pacific Coast Athletic League Gabilan Division championship. He understands there’s a tough road ahead of them and not being able to execute assignments is not on the agenda.
“We’ll just get better. This is a really young team, so maybe they’ll listen,” he said. “This is what you’re supposed to do and now we got film to show them that this is what happens. It’s a game, we’ll move on.”
Up next, the Mariners will host Mission College Prep High of San Luis Obispo on Friday at 7:30pm.
Aptos vs. Mission College Prep
When: Friday at 7:30pm
Where: Aptos High