SANTA CRUZ — The Aptos High football team believes it’s the best squad in the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League.
The Mariners played like it Friday night in a 60-23 victory over host Santa Cruz, and will get a chance to prove it in their next game against Scotts Valley on Oct. 26.
“We just have to keep playing our game because Scotts Valley is a great team,” Aptos running back Brandon Pierce said. “I believe they are (ranked) No. 1 in Santa Cruz County, but we believe we are the best team. We just have to keep coming out and playing hard, just like tonight.”
The Mariners (4-2, 2-0) dominated from the start against Santa Cruz (1-5, 0-2), which has lost five straight, building a 29-0 lead less than one minute into the second quarter.
They spread the ball around, with 16 different players, including 305-pound lineman Joe Demera, combining to rush for 488 yards. C.J. Pistorino led the way with 91 yards, while Michael Chavez added 81 yards.
“I thought we started right,” Aptos coach Randy Blankenship said. “It’s tough. Santa Cruz is building a program right now. I like that Santa Cruz kept fighting. And our kids, it can be hard to keep their concentration (in a game like this), so in that respect, they did a good job.”
Pierce, who was eligible to play for the first time this season after transferring from Sonora, had a pair of touchdown runs, the first two of his high school career.
“It was amazing,” he said. “It felt great. Every week I’ve tried to stay focused. It was great to be back on the field. It was a lot of fun.”
“He’s been working really hard, biding his time,” Blankenship said of Pierce. “He got the green light this week. He’s still green. I feel like he’s going to get better.”
Ricardo Medina opened the scoring just 33 seconds into the game with a 14-yard touchdown run. After Hans Plam tackled Santa Cruz’s Drake Fennelly for a safety, quarterback Alex Joh hit Brooks Nicholson with a 35-yard touchdown pass. Pierce then bulled in from 1 yard out.
Dalton Weitzel returned an interception 52 yards for a touchdown, before Santa Cruz finally scored, on a kickoff return by Alex Morris.
“I just read my keys,” said Weitzel, who also had another interception, of his touchdown.
Charlie Mehl boosted Aptos’ lead back to 29 points with a 7-yard touchdown run, before Nicholson hit a 22-yard field goal just before halftime.
Pierce scored on a 2-yard run on the Mariners’ first drive of the second half, then Chavez dashed 35 yards to push the score to 53-7. After a Santa Cruz touchdown, Michael Meidl scored Aptos’ final touchdown on a 1-yard run.
“Our defense was fierce and so was our offense,” Pierce said. “We came out to show that we are the best team in the county and we are a force to be reckoned with.”
Aptos, which is going for its third straight SCCAL title, will have a bye before facing Scotts Valley (4-1), which has yet to play a league game.
“We just have to continue doing what we’ve been doing,” Blankenship said. “Get better next week and get better the following week to face the No. 1 (ranked) team.”
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