In its first Gabilan Division game of the year, the Aptos High football team proved it is once again a force to be reckoned with in the Pacific Coast Athletic League.
The Mariners put on a complete offensive clinic for the homecoming crowd Friday night while the defense shut down Alvarez High en route to a 62-6 thumping win in league play Sept. 29.
“It was important to come off our bye [week] and play like I thought we could all year,” said Aptos head coach Randy Blankenship—who announced this will be his last year at the helm after coaching on the sidelines for 50 seasons including 14 with Aptos. “We had a slow start but I think a lot of it had to do with the teams we played.”
The Mariners (2-3, 1-0) finished with a 1-3 record during the preseason portion of their schedule going up against tough competition in Oakdale, Mitty and Mission College Prep high schools, but they were ready to turn the tide.
In last week’s game, Alvarez (2-4, 1-1) began with false starts on three straight possessions. It also turned the ball over in what would lead to a 48-yard rushing touchdown by Aptos senior quarterback Matt Hood to draw first blood.
Hood finished with two passing and two rushing touchdowns, and played a pivotal role in the offensive annihilation his team handed out.
“He’s so fun to coach because he looked at film and said “See this,” he changed it and had a nice night,” Blankenship said.
Senior and team captain Jordan Torres played just as strong as he was fast both offensively and defensively.
The Eagles scored their first and lone touchdown of the evening on a 32-yard keeper by quarterback Isaiah Garcia.
Torres revived the momentum for Aptos with a 65-yard rushing TD to close the first quarter.
It took him just a few minutes to get back in the endzone, this time from 15 yards out, playing with everything he had for his team and soon to retire head coach.
“We’re trying to make it a good last year for [Blankenship],” Torres said. “He knows what you have in you, doesn’t let you slack off or doubt yourself.”
Time after time, the Eagles found themselves stuck in fourth down situations and managed daring ways to convert.
But any time they got in sight of the end zone, Aptos’ stifling defense would send Alvarez back with some of the most electrifying hits inflicted and sent shockwaves throughout the packed home crowd.
The Eagles declined to answer questions regarding Friday’s game.
Following their bye week, the Mariners beat North Salinas High, 42-27, and now feel prepared for the remainder of the season with an active win streak.
“We came into this game with a great week of practice; we were definitely prepared for this game,” said Aptos running back Andrew Silva.
Players across the board made major contributions for Aptos including senior receiver Jasiah McKenzie.
Despite not playing last season, McKenzie finished with two touchdowns including a 43-yard reception that added an exclamation point that gave the Mariners a 35-6 lead going into halftime.
In the eyes of coaches and players alike, it was the offensive line that was the X-factor that gave Aptos such a lopsided victory.
“It all starts with the line, my linemen were blocking tremendously today,” Torres said. “This is how it turns out when everyone is doing their job.”
Entering the second half, it was more of the same with Aptos keeping their foot on the gas the entire way through.
With no question of who the dominant team was, fans began to look for the exits as soon as the end of the third quarter.
After falling to three difficult opponents in non-league play, Blankenship said the players already saw everything they can expect to face during the remainder of the season.
Starting this week, the Mariners will enter the challenging part of their PCAL Gabilan Division schedule.
They hope to extend their two-game win streak starting with a trip to “The Pit” to square off against Salinas on Thursday at 7pm, followed by a meeting at home with Palma on Sept. 14 at 7:30pm.
Blankenship was asked if Aptos was ready for this upcoming final stretch.
“We’re going to have to be,” he said. “The next five games are all playoff games. It’s my job to get them ready.”
Week 6 Scoreboard
At North Monterey County 28, Monte Vista Christian 25: Dominic Pierini tossed four touchdowns for the Mustangs in a loss to the Condors in PCAL Mission North Division action Sept. 29.
Pierini completed 15-of-30 pass attempts for 223 yards passing, while fellow teammate Nico Downie finished with a team-best five receptions for 107 yards and two TDs.
Max Torees and Anthony Loredo each had one receiving touchdown for MVC, which has lost three straight since opening the season with a 3-0 overall record.
The Mustangs (3-3, 0-1) will regroup in a much-needed bye week before their league game at Scotts Valley (4-1, 1-0) on Oct. 13 at 7:30pm.
At Scotts Valley 28, St. Francis 0: Gavin Valencia finished with 50 yards rushing on 17 carries for the Sharks in their PCAL Mission North Division game Sept. 30.
Eli Velez finished with 154 yards rushing on 14 carries and a pair of touchdowns for Scotts Valley.
Scotts Valley junior quarterback Lucas Ringel completed 6-of-8 pass attempts for 84 yards and two touchdowns. One of those TD passes was a 50-yard strike to senior receiver Brady Siechen.
St. Francis (2-4, 0-2) will host Santa Cruz (0-6, 0-2) on Saturday at 12:30pm.
Contact sports editor Juan Reyes at [email protected] with any news tips or story ideas.