WATSONVILLE—The Monte Vista Christian football team last week began its quest for a Pacific Coast Athletic League title.
However, the journey to league supremacy took a snag for the Mustangs following a 50-29 loss to Monterey High in Mission Division action on Sept. 22.
For sophomore quarterback Dominic Pierini, the only way to deal with it now is to look past it and move forward to the next battle.
“We lost, I think we need to come back stronger next week against Seaside and go 5-0 in the next five games,” Pierini said after Friday night’s game.
With the loss, the Mustangs drop to 0-1 in Mission Division play with five league games left.
Next up, the Mustangs will play at Seaside High which is coming off a bye week after a 56-19 loss to Salinas High on Sept. 16.
Going into last week’s game, MVC had won two straight games including a 20-7 win over Alisal High and a 43-28 non-league win against Santa Cruz on Sept. 16 to cap off non-league play.
Pierini, who finished with a pair of touchdown passes, said he believes they should’ve won but the Mustangs didn’t manage to play at the level they needed to.
“We need to go harder and we need to keep the foot on the pedal, and let’s get these wins,” Pierini said.
The game got off to a shaky start after Monterey senior Jkai Thomas was ejected for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
The standout running back was thrown out of the game for displaying a martial arts crane stance after he scored the games’ first touchdown.
Once the dust settled, Pierini connected with Nico Downie on a 9-yard touchdown pass for MVC’s first score of the evening, making it 7-all.
The Toreadors retook the lead in the second quarter but that lasted all but 32 seconds after Connor Pallott returned a kickoff for a touchdown, tying it at 15-all.
Monterey quickly responded after sophomore quarterback Preston White connected with receiver Levi Elmore for a 20-yard touchdown strike.
Shortly later, sophomore receiver Kavon Collins returned a punt for a 70-yard score to extend Monterey’s lead to 29-15 going into halftime.
White, who completed 11-of-15 pass attempts for 305 yards and five touchdowns, said there no was no halftime speech required after coming off last week’s 17-16 loss to Hollister.
“Especially since we were up the whole game, definitely we didn’t want to feel that again,” he said.
White threw two touchdowns each to Elmore and Collins, who finished with 136 yards on four receptions and 125 yards on three receptions, respectively.
“Our receivers, mostly our linemen, too, knowing how to block [MVC]. I really didn’t feel pressure all game,” White said. “Our receivers just doing good jobs on running their routes, getting to the ball. We were just locked in the whole game.”
The Mustangs had a chance just before the break to cut the Toreadors’ lead. But a pass from Pierini to Jamie Ledesma on 4th down and goal was short of the goal line.
“I know we’re better than what the score showed right there,” he said. “I feel like if we play them 10 more times, there’s no way that same score happens.”
Williams said they also can’t be giving up big plays, especially when the defense has a chance to get off the field on a third down situation.
“We’re sitting there holding them on third down and forever and they throw up a 9 route, and it’s gone,” he said.
Williams said the entire team needs to stay constant from the start of the whistle and they can’t give away free plays to talented teams such as Monterey.
“We got the talent, I just want to see them sacrifice and play up to it,” he said. “I’m not about excuses, I’m about solutions.”
Pierini connected with Jaiden Cote for a 38-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter that cut Monterey’s lead to 36-22.
On the ensuing kick off, Nicolas Jimenez recovered the onside kick for MVC to give the offense another crack of chipping away at the deficit.
Instead, a pass attempt by Pierini was intercepted by the Toreadors to end the drive.
After the game, the Toreadors were supposed to stand on the 50-yard line to perform a celebratory walk but instead began striking the same pose that Thomas was ejected for earlier in the game.
Williams said that Monterey coach Alex Besaw told him about the celebratory march, which was fine with Williams, but Besaw wasn’t aware of the players striking the pose.
“Besaw, I know he’s going to handle it…he said ‘I respect you guys and I didn’t mean for that to happen. Our guys are young and they’re learning,’” Williams said.
Williams said his group of young players are well aware of the their positives, such as going from scoring just seven points in the first two games to to a quarterback change, which definitely makes a difference.
MVC will get some much-needed rest after some players limped off the field following last week’s loss to Monterey.
“We got a few things to clean up, back to the drawing board,” Williams said. “At least we get an extra day of rest.”
Monte Vista Christian at Seaside
When: Friday, 7:30pm