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September 26, 2022

Mustangs’ football team making strides to return winning culture

MVC hoping to bounce back in PCAL’s Mission Division

WATSONVILLE—Monte Vista Christian senior Kyle Recotta is on a mission to accomplish some big things for the Mustangs’ football team this upcoming season. 

Especially after a challenging year plagued with injuries and going winless in the difficult Pacific Coast Athletic League’s Gabilan Division a year ago.

“My time at Monte Vista I haven’t gotten that many wins and I want to change that,” he said. “This is going to be my first time starting at quarterback and I want to make a difference.”

The 6-foot-3, 195-pound right-hander said he wants to start by improving the pass game and scoring a lot more touchdowns, especially after the offense averaged a little less than 11 points per game last year.

The Mustangs lost 27 seniors due to graduation and they will be a relatively young group this season, which is something this program has dealt with in the past. 

The small numbers on the roster sheet also means players will play both on offense and defense.

MVC coach Jeremiah “JB” Williams is optimistic the returning upperclassmen are ready to go. Plus, they’ll be loaded with plenty of freshmen and a talented sophomore group. 

“We don’t have as many returning seniors, but the guys that we do have are quality and they’re going to ball, and they’re hungry,” Williams said. 

Williams mentioned this particular group of seniors went through a lot these past two years, including an abbreviated 2020 spring season due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It’s the first time this group gets a full spring and a full summer,” Williams said. 

The Mustangs last season got banged up competing in the Gabilan and suffered a string of injuries that sidelined players for numerous games. 

They also had to cancel their Week 2 game against Carmel due to Covid-19 protocols. 

MVC finished 1-8 overall and 0-8 in league.

“Who wouldn’t use that as fuel?,” said senior running back Jamie Ledesma. “Anything to make you go harder, anything, I’ll take that.”

Ledesma is also attempting to change the culture at MVC and said he’s doing what the guys last year couldn’t. 

“Just the little things, leading by example, cleaning up after practice, no walking on this field, don’t swear at all,” he said. “Just controlling the little things because that leads to big developments.”

Recotta, who Williams called the leader on defense, has his eyes set on the Mission Division’s Most Valuable Player award. He can make a strong case now that he’s playing on both sides of the ball. 

Recotta sustained a concussion and he missed significant time, yet, he still earned All-PCAL second team defense honors.

“For him to still get on there says a lot about how he plays,” Williams said.

Recotta said this past season helped him improve as both a player and as a leader.

“On both sides of the ball I call the plays,” he said. “It’s just helped me feel like more of a leader and be able to get more of a leadership role on the team unlike last year.”

Williams said that Recotta looks comfortable in the pocket and he can run straight down field if he needs to take off. 

“I haven’t had this dynamic of a quarterback since Brendan Doyle,” Williams said. “Not only can he sling it but he can run it. He’s a dual threat all the way.” 

Ledesma and his twin brother, Jonny, will be a pair of key returners on the offense for the Mustangs. 

Jamie Ledesma is fast and decisive coming out of the backfield. He’s a very straight forward runner, but when he finds a hole he can be elusive. 

“With him, I always know he’s got my back,” Recotta said. “Pass protection, I know I’m solid every single time he’s going to pick them up. On the run plays, I just know him. Get it in his hands and let him do his thing.”

Jonny Ledesma is also a speedster on the field, but he’ll be using his quick feet at the receiver position to get past defensive backs. 

Williams said they installed a brand new offense using the spread formation, but it doesn’t mean the Mustangs are not going to run the ball. 

“It was a little slow at first but I love it, everyone is getting it,” Jamie Ledesma said. “I know it’s kind of looking like a me and Kyle [Recotta] thing right now but we’re spreading the ball. I’m not going to tell you who but you’ll know.”

The Mustangs took a big hit at the offensive line position and they will have just one senior in Liam Loudon. Shane Steckler, a junior, will return at center after getting bumped up to varsity last year.

MVC’s talented group of sophomores include Dom Pierini, Nico Downy, Michael VanDierendonck and Max Torres, who’s going to help out on both sides of the ball. 

“The sophomores have answered the call because they’re out there competing alongside the seniors, and they look good,” Ledesma said.

Williams also brought in freshman James Hanzlik who’s athletic, unselfish and is going to help the Mustangs in a spot where they need help.

“We wanna win now, we want to have some payout now,” Williams said. 

Defensively, MVC has seniors Hudson Cortez and Reagan Rivera along with junior Miles De La Paz, who is one of several players going both ways. 

“[De La Paz] is going to be a beast,” Williams said. 

Luke Lange, a senior, and junior Jaden Cote will also be assets on the defense along with sophomore Rykin Resurreccion, who will return for his second season at outside linebacker.

Brandon Swing, a senior, will help out quite a bit at linebacker and as a slot receiver. 

Ledesma said they might not have the largest roster, but he knows they can do well if they play Mustangs-type football.

“That includes a fast offense and not going down on the first hit, just toughness,” he said. “Being mean, football players. Just bringing that back.” 

After going winless in the Gabilan Division, the Mustangs were dropped down to the Mission—the “B+” tier of the four PCAL divisions. 

Williams is excited about the move and he believes it’s one of the most competitive, if not, the most competitive division from top to bottom. 

“I think every single team is well matched but I’m looking forward to it,” he said.  

The Mustangs begin the season Saturday with a non-league meeting at St. Francis High. Kickoff is scheduled for 2pm. They will wrap up non-league play with games against Santa Teresa of San Jose, Alisal and Santa Cruz high schools. 

MVC will square off against Monterey in the Mission Division opener set for Sept. 22, followed by matchups against Seaside, North Salinas, Scotts Valley, Soquel and finally Carmel.

“I’m hoping by the time we get to league, we’re nice and seasoned,” Williams said. 

Recotta said the competition within the division will better suit their school and hopefully they’ll be able to pull out more wins this year. 

“Feeling way more confident,” he said. “We’re going to be a major contender this year. This year I feel like we’re going to be fearless.”

Ledesma said he’s not looking at this season any different. He knows what to expect after seeing most of the teams within the division earlier this year during a 7-on-7 camp.

“I think just a whole new mentality, a whole new team atmosphere, you guys will see,” he said. “The results will speak for themselves.” 

Monte Vista Christian football schedule

  • At St. Francis, 8/27 at 2pm
  • Santa Teresa, 9/2 at 7pm
  • At Alisal, 9/8 at 7:30pm
  • Santa Cruz, 9/16 at 7:30pm
  • Monterey*, 9/22 at 7:30pm
  • At Seaside*, 9/30 at 7:30pm
  • North Salinas*, 10/7 at 7:30pm
  • Scotts Valley*, 10/21 at 7:30pm
  • At Soquel*, 10/28 at 7:30pm
  • At Carmel*, 11/5 at 2pm

*PCAL Mission Division play

Juan Reyes
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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