SANTA CRUZ—Johrdan Garibay’s stellar performance powered the St. Francis High football team to its third straight victory.
The standout senior running back recorded three touchdowns for the Sharks in a 45-3 victory over Greenfield High in Pacific Coast Athletic League Santa Lucia Division play Friday night at Santa Cruz High.
With the win, the Sharks improve to 2-0 in league play and 3-3 overall. They have found their rhythm by outscoring opponents 128-22 during the three-game winning streak.
Garibay finished with 192 yards rushing on 11 carries and scores from 45, 46 and one yard out. It took them a while to figure it out, but Garibay said they realize what it feels like to be a winning team after having dropped the first three games of the season.
“We want that from now on,” he said. “Our goal right now, we’re going to go for league champs and we’re going to do everything we can to make sure that happens.”
It seems like they were doing everything they could to bring home a league title. Especially after St. Francis coach John Ausman went for it on fourth down in the Sharks’ opening possession of the game.
The gamble paid off as Garibay took off for a 45-yard touchdown to give the Sharks a 7-0 lead.
“I think Johrdan [Garibay] has done an awesome job of setting the tone for the last two games and he deserves a lot of credit,” Ausman said. “He’s worked his tail off and he’s one of our leaders.”
Ausman said the first three games were a challenge and it prepared them as they headed into league play. Plus, they’ve been getting back some key players such as Charlie Valencia, who was sidelined earlier this season.
“We’ve fought through some adversity in the last couple of days but it was good,” Ausman said. “The challenge was to come out and play a full game and I think we accomplished that. Now the challenge is can we do that consistently.”
The Sharks began the year with a 34-16 loss to King City in a game that was delayed three days and played on a Monday due to Covid-19 protocols.
After the short turnaround, the Sharks lost to Watsonville, 12-6, on Sept. 4. The following week they took a beating in a 42-12 loss to Mission College Prep in San Luis Obispo.
The Sharks have also played all their home games off campus this season while a new synthetic turf field is installed.
The tough start hasn’t affected them in the slightest as they continue to improve each week.
Garibay said their energy plays a big role in how they play as a team.
The Sharks’ defense swarmed to every Bruins player that touched the ball and allowed just three first downs the entire game. They allowed only 107 total yards. Junior running back Alonso Barcenas had a team-high 43 yards rushing on 15 carries for Greenfield.
The Bruins had a total of six three-and-outs and they turned the ball over on downs, which resulted in Garibay scoring his second touchdown in the first quarter.
“It’s fun whenever 11 guys work together, there’s nothing better,” Ausman said.
The biggest highlight of the evening for the Bruins was a 13 play drive that was capped off with a 45-yard field goal by junior Jose Zavala to make it 13-3.
St. Francis brushed it off and responded with 32 straight points, starting with an 85-yard kickoff return by senior Dez Litel immediately after Greenfield’s field goal.
“I saw a little crease and I knew I had to take it,” Litel said.
Senior receiver Garrett Lee took a screen pass from quarterback Kyle Dyer for a 55-yard score, followed by Garibay’s smashing 1-yard run into the end zone for his third touchdown of the evening.
Dyer completed five of six pass attempts for 101 yards and the one touchdown.
Senior defensive back Wyatt Galster returned an interception for a touchdown as time ran out in the first half, putting the Sharks up 39-3 at the break.
Christian Abdoo scored the lone touchdown of the second half on a 25-yard sprint into the end zone for the Sharks.
“We’ve been working very hard in practice, very hard, and it paid it off,” Litel said.
Litel said that they’re feeling ecstatic after Friday’s win and the expectations of going undefeated in league play are now higher than ever.
The league title run continues with a trip to Santa Cruz as St. Francis plays at Harbor High (4-1, 0-0) on Oct. 8 at 7:30pm.
“I think coach [James] Gaynor is doing a great job over there and I think he has a great quarterback who gave us fits last year and runs that offense,” Ausman said. “It’ll be a fun challenge. Each week is a fun challenge, so we’re looking forward to it.”
St. Francis 45, Greenfield 3
Up next: at Harbor High
When: Oct. 8, 7:30pm