Monte Vista Christian junior quarterback Dominic Pierini earned All-Pacific Coast Athletic League Mission Division North First Team offense honors for his record-breaking season in 2023. (Raul Ebio/The Pajaronian file photo)

After going through a year full of growing pains, Monte Vista Christian junior Dominic Pierini was feeling vigorous and ready to take charge of the Mustangs football team in his first full season under center.   

“I put in a lot of work, so I knew I was just confident in my abilities,” he said. “My mindset was just do what I got to do and stay confident, and the good things will come.”

Good things did come for the standout quarterback, who etched his name in the record books not once but thrice in 2023. 

Pierini set the all-time Santa Cruz County record for most passing yards in a single season with 3,057 to go along with 32 touchdowns. 

He surpassed former Watsonville High quarterback Jerry Alvarez who originally set the county record with 2,727 passing yards and 32 touchdowns in 2009. 

Pierini also set the county record for most passing yards in a single game with 486 against Watsonville High on Oct. 27, breaking a previous mark of 439 set by former MVC quarterback Josh Blanton in 2006.

On that night, Pierini also surpassed Blanton’s single-season school record of 2,570 passing yards, also set in 2006. 

“I didn’t really know those types of records were kept, so when I found out I did that I was pretty happy to be honest,” Pierini said. “Growing up in Santa Cruz, I have the Santa Cruz County records, it’s pretty cool.”

Pierini’s stellar performance was recognized with Pacific Coast Athletic League Mission Division North First Team Offense honors. He was a strong candidate for Offensive Player of the Year but Scotts Valley senior Quinn Turowski edged him out.

Turowski had 709 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns on just 19 receptions in 2023. 

Scotts Valley senior Jess Ringel was named Defensive Player of the Year and senior Marshall Dodge was the Lineman of the Year, helping the Falcons sweep the Mission Division North’s top individual awards. 

MVC head coach Spencer Ferrari-Wood said it was neat being able to watch how Pierini continued to progress throughout the season. 

Ferrari-Wood told the Mustangs players that good teams play their best football at the end of the season heading into November. 

“I think the same goes for a player,” he said. 

Pierini had a couple of big games early on but MVC also went through a tough stretch after losing four straight in the middle of a challenging schedule.

However, the Mustangs closed out the regular season with three straight wins in PCAL Mission Division North action by scoring 152 points in that stretch. They finished tied for third alongside North Monterey County and Watsonville with a 3-3 record in league play and 6-4 overall.

“Dom was playing just out of his mind,” Ferrari-Wood said. “It’s a testament to him and his focus throughout the season to continue to mature and develop and grow through the season, and get better.”

Pierini got his chance to start on the varsity team as a sophomore in 2022. 

During the offseason, he teamed up with quarterback trainer Jake Sotello—a former coach at Hartnell College—to work on motions, learning how to read the field and going through Pierini’s progressions.  

“I basically fixed all my mechanic issues from last year,” Pierini said. “[Sotelo] really helped me through that. He really taught me a lot about just the game and how I can go through my progressions and stuff. I’d be a lot more comfortable and throw a lot more effortlessly.”

Pierini sure did look comfortable in the fall season. He completed 210-of-317 pass attempts with most of them going to fellow teammate and best friend Nico Downie.

The junior receiver hauled in a league-best 76 receptions for 1,287 yards and 15 touchdowns for the Mustangs in 2023. 

“[Downie] just really impressed me and everyone just by the way he played and the way could run routes, catch, everything he did this year was really good,” Pierini said.

Ferrari-Wood called them brothers, in every sense of the word. 

“They bicker and they argue, and they put their arm around one another and they work hard together,” Ferrari-Wood said. “Dom and Nico, they’ve made us look like really great coaches here just because they had that really special chemistry and connection.” 

So much so, both Pierini and Downie this past Thanksgiving weekend were already on the field grinding together, running routes and working for next season.

“That’s just who they are,” Ferrari-Wood said.

MVC senior Luke DaRosa was the anchor on the offensive line as he earned all-league first team offense honors, while fellow teammate Connor Pallott earned all-league second team honors. 

Pallott finished with 792 yards rushing on 130 carries and eight touchdowns, and 32 receptions for 482 yards and a pair of scores.

MVC juniors Max Torres and Gunner Sorensen both earned all-league first team and second team defense honors, respectively.

Ferrari-Wood believes Sorensen could probably be pound-for-pound one of the best tacklers in the PCAL. 

“[Sorensen] loves football, he dedicates a lot to it,” Ferrari-Wood said. “He just has a knack for finding the football.” 

Torres was the leading tackler for the Mustangs. Ferrari-Wood called him a tireless worker and the “baddest dude in the school.” 

“Kind of one of those guys who will get the job done no matter what the cost,” Ferrari-Wood said. “[Torres is] just a football player and he finds ways such as Gunner to be around the football. To have two of our linebackers both earn all-league recognition and knowing both those guys are coming back next year definitely makes you feel good.”

Below is a complete list of PCAL all-league teams.

Pacific Coast Athletic League All-League teams

Gabilan Division

Aptos High junior Jordan Torres attempts to split through Salinas High’s defense during the teams’ game in Pacific Coast Athletic League Gabilan Division play Oct. 5. (Juan Reyes/The Pajaronian)

Most Valuable Player: Nolan Borel (Sr.), Salinas

Defensive Player of the Year: Justice Grauel-Tebong (Sr.), Soquel

Offensive Player of the Year: Logan Saldate (Sr.), Palma

First team offense

Thomas Nunes (Sr.), Palma

Preston White (Jr.), Monterey

Nolan Borel (Sr.), Salinas

Jordan Torres (Sr.), Aptos

Enobong Wirth (Jr.), Monterey

Logan Saldate (Sr.), Palma

Kavon Collins (Jr.), Monterey

Jordan McCord (Sr.), Soquel

Angelo Cimino (Sr.), Salinas

Jake Freitas (Sr.), Salinas

Thomas Ducker (Sr.), Palma

Logan Brantley (Jr.), Aptos

Aidan Ishimaru (Sr.), Salinas

Messiah Johnson (Sr.), Alvarez

First team defense

Justice Grauel-Tebong (Sr.), Soquel

Noah Orozco (Sr.), Palma

Soakai Funaki (Jr.), Monterey

Alex Sewell (Sr.), Salinas

Carmelo Arias (Jr.), Hollister

Malakai Ross-Graves (Sr.), Soquel

Thomas Ducker (Sr.), Palma

Josh Na (Jr.), Salinas

Christian Lujano (Jr.), Hollister

Cade Petersen (Sr.), Soquel

Isiah Bivins (Sr.), Monterey

Drew Molinari (Sr.), Palma

Luke Borel (Sr.), Salinas

Gabe Virgalitto (Jr.), Soquel

Second team offense

Noah Gonzales (Sr.), Salinas

Sam Whelan (So.), Soquel

Brayden Watkins (Sr.), Hollister

Roman Garcia (So.), Alvarez

Harold Lusk (Sr.), Hollister

Kain Holly (Sr.), Alvarez

Jake Yeater (Sr.), Salinas

Chineme Mbechi-Ezeri (Sr.), Hollister

Masen Coso (Jr.), Soquel

River Deschenes (Sr.), Monterey

Mander Miller (Jr.), Aptos

Luke Battey (Sr.), Soquel

Robert Holsten (Sr.), Hollister

Kai Vaughn (So.), Monterey

Second team defense

Chris Phillips (Sr.), Salinas

Caden Scherer (Jr.), Palma

Edgar Chavez (Jr.), Alvarez

Ben Palma (Jr.), Soquel

Isaac Barragan (Sr.), Hollister

Elijah Fisher (Jr.), Monterey

Asa Sagrero (Sr.), Salinas

Isaac Crivello (Sr.), Monterey

Isaiah Ramos (Sr.), Hollister

Nick Dominquez (Sr.), Palma

Nolan Borel (Sr.), Salinas

Isa Morin (Sr.), Hollister

Amani Lang (So.), Alvarez

Phoenix Ghilgione (Sr.), Aptos

Richard Chamberlin Sportsmanship

Jack Nolan, Salinas

Jackson Stevens, Soquel

Colven Morse, Monterey

Tobias Perkowski, Palma

Callum Dolan, Hollister

Matt Hood, Aptos

Ivan Chavez, Alvarez

Mission Division North

Monte Vista Christian junior Nico Downie earned All-Pacific Coast Athletic League Mission Division North First Team offense honors for a stellar season in 2023. (Raul Ebio/The Pajaronian file photo)

Offensive Player of the Year: Quinn Turowski (Sr.), Scotts Valley

Defensive Player of the Year: Jess Ringel (Jr.), Scotts Valley

Lineman of the Year: Marshall Dodge (Sr.), Scotts Valley

First team offense

Dominic Pierini (Jr.), Monte Vista Christian

Eli Velez (Jr.), Scotts Valley

Andrew Beal (Sr.), Seaside

Alex Arevalo (Jr.), Watsonville

Nico Downie (Jr.), MVC

Quinn Turowski (Sr.), Scotts Valley

Julius Escort (Jr.), Seaside

Luke DaRosa (Sr.), MVC

Ethan Yates (Sr.), North Monterey County

Arnulfo Jimenez (Jr.), NMC

Marshall Dodge (Sr.), Scotts Valley

Lorenzo Gonzales (Sr.), Scotts Valley

Jose De La Torre (Sr.), Watsonville

Taylor Rice (Sr.), Seaside

First team defense

Jesse Martinez (Sr.), NMC

Marshall Dodge (Sr.), Scotts Valley

James Bullock (Sr.), Scotts Valley

Jeremiah Laui (So.), Seaside

Ruben Mora (Sr.), Watsonville

Max Torres (Jr.), MVC

Jes Ringel (Jr.), Scotts Valley

Niko Iles (Sr.), Scotts Valley

Genghis Atalima (Sr.), Seaside

Adan Magana (Jr.), Watsonville

Damian Hernandez (Sr.), NMC

Brady Siechen (Sr.), Scotts Valley

Jamari Vaughns (Sr.), Seaside

Javier Fonseca (Jr.), St. Francis

Second team offense

Jamari Vaughns (Sr.), Seaside

Connor Pallott (Sr.), MVC

Chris Rasmussen (Jr.), NMC

Niko Iles (Sr.), Scotts Valley

Ryan Ruiz (Sr.), NMC

Pedro Ibarra (Sr.), St. Francis

Patrick Miller-Brown (Jr.), Watsonville

Hector Pantoja (Jr.), NMC

James Bullock (Sr.), Scotts Valley

Anthony Collins (Sr.), Scotts Valley

Keoni Riparip (Sr.), Seaside

Bladimir Mendoza (Sr.), Seaside

Marcus Gonzalez (Jr.), St. Francis

Markel Parker (Sr.), St. Francis

Second team defense

Kente Dorsey (Jr.), Santa Cruz

Imanol Cruz (Sr.), Seaside

Taylor Rice (Sr.), Seaside

Donovan Dominguez (Jr.), St. Francis

Guadalupe Rico (Sr.), Watsonville

Gunner Sorensen (Jr.), MVC

Alex Guzman (Sr.), NMC

RJ Bradfield (Sr.), Scotts Valley

Colton Dureson (Sr.), Scotts Valley

Ben Dewig (Sr.), St. Francis

Ayden Valdez (Sr.), NMC

Jacob Womack (Jr.), Scotts Valley

Keon Ealey (Jr.), Seaside

Issac Urbina (Sr.), Watsonville

Richard Chamberlin Sportsmanship team

Dylan Gowdy (Sr.), MVC

Isaiah Garife (Sr.), NMC

Matteo DeMarco (Sr.), Santa Cruz

Khaliel Milhouse (Jr.), Scotts Valley

Adam Chong (Sr.), Seaside

Gavin Valencia (Sr.), St. Francis

Jiovani Guerrero (Sr.), Watsonville

Elgie Bellizio Sportsmanship team 

Santa Cruz

Mission Division South

Scotts Valley High’s defense gang tackles Alisal High senior Damion Gonzales during the teams’ Central Coast Section Division III semifinals on Nov. 11, 2023. The Falcons fell to the Trojans, 28-7. (Raul Ebio/special to the Press Banner)

Most Valuable Player: Ashton Rees, Carmel

Offensive Player of the Year: Damion Gonzales, Alisal

Defensive Player of the Year: Demajae Roberson, North Salinas

First team offense

Santiago Chaidez, Alisal

Hudson Rutherford, Carmel

Damion Gonzales, Alisal

Gideon Llantero, Pacific Grove

Justin Pascone, North Salinas

Julian Pineda, Rancho San Juan

Ty Arnold, Carmel

Simeon Brown, Carmel

Ramiro Orozco, North Salinas

Joshua Angel, Alisal

Oscar DeAlfaro, North Salinas

Jackson Lloyd, Carmel

Angel Lopez, Alisal

Oscar Weigel, Carmel

First team defense

Isaac Benavides, King City

Christian Campos, North Salinas

JT Maxon, Carmel

Nathan Ruiz, Alisal

Anjel Marquez, North Salinas

Noah Pacheco, King City

Brian Picazo, Alisal

Bode Stoddard, Carmel

Rocky Villanueva, King City

Rogelio Jacinto, Alisal

Matthew Maxon, Carmel

Ashton Rees, Carmel

Demajae Roberson, North Salinas

Ryder Scheid, Carmel

Second team offense

Kainoa Ceralde, North Salinas

Ivan Salcido, Soledad

Julio Camacho, Soledad

Sean Nimuan, North Salinas

Carson Tidwell, King City

Adrian Garcia, King City

Oliver Ottmar, Pacific Grove

Victor Ruano, Soledad

Pete Gamecho, Pacific Grove

Solo Kalemani, North Salinas

Jesus Maciel, Alisal

Julio Nunez, Alisal

Noah Pacheco, King City

Moises Villacana, Rancho San Juan

Second team defense

Chris Gaytan, King City

Ryton Harrison, Pacific Grove

Gideon Llantero, Pacific Grove

Danny Morales, Soledad

Robert Ward, Carmel

Axel Chicas, Rancho San Juan

Daniel Murguia, Alisal

Anthony Nimri, Pacific Grove

Anthony Trevino, Soledad

Dennis Uribe, Rancho San Juan

Christian Vaughn, Pacific Grove

Jesse Argueta, Soledad

Fabian Ceja, Rancho San Juan

John Klevan, Pacific Grove

Richard Chamberlin Sportsmanship team

Jonathan Martinez, Alisal

Carlos Rodezno, Rancho San Juan

Armando Villasenor, King City

Nathaniel Wade, Pacific Grove

Juan Ochoa, North Salinas

Chase Wittman, Soledad

Viliami Sime, Carmel

Elgie Bellizio Sportsmanship team 

King City

Santa Lucia Division

Pajaro Valley High junior Izaak Ocampo breaks away from a San Lorenzo Valley High defender during the teams’ PCAL Santa Lucia Division opener on Sept. 23. The Grizzlies snapped a four game losing skid following an 18-7 win over the Cougars. (Paul Firenzi/special to the Press Banner)

Player of the Year: Adrian Perez (Sr.), Gonzales

Offensive Player of the Year: Misael Silva (Sr.), Greenfield

Defensive Player of the Year: Nathan Cox (Sr.), Greenfield

First team offense

JP Acosta Ayala (Sr.), Gonzales

Naythen Hernandez (Jr.), Greenfield

Gilbert Snyder IV (Sr.), Greenfield

Jeovanay Linaras (Sr.), Harbor

Ely Cisneros (Jr.), Gonzales

Julius Robinson (Sr.), Marina

Adrian Perez (Sr.), Gonzales

Izaak Ocampo (Jr.), Pajaro Valley

Jayden Lyman (Sr.), San Lorenzo Valley

Bryan Ortega (Sr.), Greenfield

Amani Wilson (Sr.), Stevenson

Nathan Alvarez (Jr.), Gonzales

Misael Silva (Sr.), Greenfield

Angel Vega (Sr.), Greenfield

First team defense

Dom Chechi (Sr.), San Lorenzo Valley

Adrian Perez (Sr.), Gonzales

Derrek Diniz (So.), Stevenson

Naythen Hernandez (Jr.), Greenfield

Amani Wilson (Sr.), Stevenson

Bryan Ortega (Sr.), Greenfield

Nisael Gonzalez (So.), Greenfield

Abel Villegas (Sr.), Gonzales

Haden Woolworth (Jr.), San Lorenzo Valley

Brian Flores (Jr.), Pajaro Valley

Elijah Guerrero (Sr.), Gonzales

Tommy Dayton (Jr.), Stevenson

Nathan Cox (Sr.), Greenfield

Special teams first team

Julias Robinson (Sr.), Marina

Second team offense

Justin Diniz (Sr.), Stevenson

Jack Dagen (Jr.), San Lorenzo Valley

Ray Blanco (Jr.), Gonzales

AJ Martinez (Jr.), Greenfield

Keegan Charupoon (Sr.), Stevenson

Manuel Perea (Sr.), Gonzales

Hector Garcia (Jr.), Greenfield

Ferris Vitali (Sr.), Harbor

Eduardo Valdez (Sr.), Gonzales

Andrew Airada (Sr.), Stevenson

Omar David (Sr.), Marina

Gabriel Espinoza (Sr.), Greenfield

Adrian Martinez (Sr.), Greenfield

Tony Garcia V (Jr.), Gonzales

Second Team Defense

Julias Robinson (Sr.), Marina

Ray Blanco (Jr.), Gonzales

Reggie Bell (So.), Stevenson

Hector Garcia (Jr.), Greenfield

Exodus Tuialuuluu (Sr.), Marina

Tony Garcia V (Jr.), Gonzales

Eduardo Mendoza (Jr.), Pajaro Valley

Vincent Pierre (So.), Stevenson

Genaro Anaya (Jr.), Greenfield

Donovan Maben (Jr.), Marina

Malcolm Deguara (Sr.), San Lorenzo Valley

Mickey Ricigliano (Sr.), San Lorenzo Valley

Ely Cisneros (Jr.), Gonzales

Special teams second team

Adrian Perez (Sr.), Gonzales 

Richard Chamberlin Sportsmanship team

Robert Gutierrez (Sr.), Gonzales

Malcolm Deguara (Sr.), San Lorenzo Valley

Aiden Higgins (Sr.), Harbor

Dominic Gnamm (Jr.), Stevenson

Jair Hernandez (Sr.), Greenfield

Omar David (Sr.), Marina

Jose Perez (Jr.), Pajaro Valley

Elgie Bellizio Sportsmanship team 

San Lorenzo Valley

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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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