Aptos High junior Caden Prichard had 114 yards on 14 carries and a touchdown against Palma High. The Mariners defeated the Chieftains, 47-42, in PCAL-Gabilan division play on Friday, Sept. 10, 2021. (Photo by Juan Reyes)

APTOS—The Aptos High football team is on the brink of missing its first football game of the season due to Covid-19 protocols.

The Mariners were notified Wednesday by San Benito High officials that Friday night’s game between both teams will be canceled.

Aptos coach Randy Blankenship said he was highly disappointed after he heard the announcement. He broke the news to the players prior to Wednesday’s practice and they decided to call that off, too.

“It’s just really disappointing. Our kids, coaches and parents have all been looking forward to this game,” Blankenship said. 

The game will be recorded as a no-contest and it won’t be rescheduled. 

According to school officials, a number of San Benito High varsity football players have been temporarily excluded from participating in athletics due to close contact protocols.

San Benito officials said the California Department of Public Health issues mandatory guidance for K-12 schools that outlines quarantine and modified quarantine requirements for unvaccinated students who were in close contact with a Covid-19 positive case.

San Benito is working with Pacific Coast Athletic League Commissioner Tim McCarthy to follow the established PCAL bylaws for Covid cancellations of scheduled league football games.

The Mariners’ freshmen game is scheduled for Thursday and the junior varsity game is scheduled for Friday. Both games are at Aptos High. 

The varsity squad will miss out on, potentially, their final home game of the season that includes their annual Senior Night festivities.

“We don’t get to play a really good opponent in front of a big crowd,” Blankenship said.

Aptos is also still in the race for at least a share of the PCAL Gabilan Division title, sitting with a 5-1 record in league play behind division-leaders Salinas (6-0, 5-0). The Mariners lost to the Cowboys on Sept. 17.

Playing one less league game hurts Aptos, which has 26 points in the Central Coast Section postseason standings.

They also need Palma (5-2, 3-2) to beat Salinas in their season finale on Nov. 5 for a shot at a league championship.

Blankenship said they’re still trying to decide if they want to pick up another game for this weekend. He mentioned that a school was ready to play tomorrow night but it’s not enough time for him and the rest of the coaching staff to prepare for a squad they’ve never seen.

The team will regroup tomorrow and make the decision to play or wait. Blankenship said the cancellation is also tough because he believes they’ve been playing their best football of the season.

“We’re kind of in high gear right now,” he said. “Now we’re looking at taking two weeks off before we play our rival Monte Vista Christian.”

Blankenship said they’ll use the extra time off to give players a chance to heal up before they wrap up the season.

The Mariners are scheduled to play at Monte Vista Christian on Nov. 5 at 7:30pm.  

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A Watsonville native who has a passion for local sports and loves his community. A Watsonville High, Cabrillo College, San Jose State University and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumnus, he primarily covers high school athletics, Cabrillo College athletics, various youth sports in the Pajaro Valley and the Santa Cruz Warriors. Juan is also a video game enthusiast, part-time chef (at home), explorer and a sports junkie. Coaches and athletic directors are encouraged to report scores HERE.


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