WATSONVILLE—It had been three years since the St. Francis High football team last played on its own campus, hosting games at foreign places such as Watsonville High and Cabrillo College.
The wait was finally over Saturday afternoon as the Sharks took on Monte Vista Christian at the newly remodeled Strawberry Stadium.
St. Francis starting quarterback Kyle Dyer said he was excited to kick off the season. But the day started with the excitement of playing on the new turf field and the atmosphere the fans created.
“I think about it, all the seniors last year, they didn’t get this field to play on and we gotta step up for them, and of course the town, too,” Dyer said. “The families and everyone that has helped donate and everything, we gotta show out for them. It’s good to leave the field 1-0.”
Dyer and company didn’t disappoint the home crowd after the Sharks crushed the Mustangs, 28-0, in non-league action.
Diego Ramirez said there was somewhat a bit of weight on his shoulders playing on a brand new field, especially coming in as one of the seniors at St. Francis (1-0).
His brother, Armando, played on the Sharks when they played on what was essentially a dirt field with some patches of grass.
“Coming in as a senior I gotta fill in some big shoes,” he said. “It was a lot of pressure for me.”
Ramirez handled the pressure quite well. He scored a 37-yard touchdown on a screen pass from Dyer, broke up a couple of pass plays and made a touchdown saving tackle at the Sharks’ 5-yard line.
“Diego’s a really good football player, he’s worked really hard and deserves those mentions,” St. Francis coach John Ausman said.
Ausman said that Saturday’s win gave this particular group their own identity as a team after last year’s success.
“So this puts their identity in place,” he said. “They’re the first varsity team to get a win on the new field. They did an excellent job of saying, ‘This is our team, we’re going to continue the tradition and the expectations that are set.’”
Dyer said he didn’t know what to expect from the Mustangs (0-1), being that this was the first time he played them.
“It didn’t help that we didn’t have any film, either,” he said. “It was kind of just let’s see what happens, let’s play our game and adjust as we go on.”
Dyer threw for two touchdown passes on bubble screens to Ramirez and Micah Cervantes. The speedy quarterback also ran in for a pair of scores.
Dyer said the run game was a strong factor for the Sharks and it was all thanks to the offensive line.
“Without any of that, we don’t get the ball moving,” he said. “That’s just kind of how it was, they brought a lot of blitzes at us and that’s when the screen plays worked.”
Diego Wolfe finished with 125 yards on 15 carries, and fellow teammate Nathaniel Madrigal-Hernandez had nearly 60 yards on the ground.
St. Francis coach John Ausman said it was a full team effort and awesome to watch the players understanding their roles, playing for each other.
“They came out and executed, didn’t let up, stayed focused, adjusted when we needed to. It was really good,” he said. “I’m very proud of them, that’s as good as a first game could go. Defensively and offensively.”
Two players that stood out on the defensive line were senior Ramon Torres and sophomore Nick Ibarra, who was just brought up for some depth.
The Sharks defense held their ground and prevented the Mustangs from reaching the end zone including a goal line stance in the fourth quarter.
“They did an excellent job creating havoc up front that allowed some guys to really flow with it,” Ausmand said. “And then it’s the whole bend but don’t break.”
MVC coach JB Williams said the players are still learning a brand new offense. On Wednesday, the Mustangs also lost tight end and defensive lineman Luke Lange, which was one of their players that never steps off the field.
Williams said there were a lot of mental errors on the line because of players moving around. He mentioned Saturday’s loss was a teachable moment because it tells them how important the line is and how much they need to make sure that every linemen knows every position.
“We just don’t have the depth to be waiting,” Williams said. “You need to know everything on the offense and the defense.”
Williams said he’s still confident in his players, especially after the Mustangs managed to put together a couple of solid drives in the second half.
“I’m very confident moving forward,” Williams said. “We just want to keep moving forward and getting better week by week.”
Who: Monte Vista Christian vs. Santa Teresa
When: Friday at 7pm
Who: St. Francis vs. Stevenson
When: Saturday at 2pm