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Leading into the finals

Posted: Saturday, Dec 1st, 2012


Aptos coach Randy Blankenship has won several section football championships while coaching in the San Joaquin Valley. Today, he will lead Aptos High to its third Central Coast Section final in school history. (Glenn Cravens/Register-Pajaronian file)


APTOS — The calendar was minutes from turning to Sept. 8 as the Aptos High football team was returning from the San Joaquin Valley. The team just lost 35-14 to Oakdale, a team considered to be a contender for not only a San Joaquin Section championship, but an appearance in a CIF State Bowl game.

The Mariners were starting 0-2 for the second time in three years.

On the way back to Aptos, coach Randy Blankenship turned on the radio and heard Monterey native and former NFL coach Herm Edwards talk about an NFL team that had started 0-2.

“Herm Edwards said, ‘Don’t count out these guys yet. The cake’s not done baking,’” Blankenship said.

Edwards’ words became a rally cry for the Mariners. And ever since they left Oakdale, they haven’t lost.

The Mariners have prevailed in 10 consecutive games. An 11th today, and they’ll have done something only the 2003 squad has done: win a Central Coast Section championship. The Mariners face Valley Christian at 3 p.m. at Independence High in San Jose in the CCS Division III finals.

“The kids have exceeded expectations,” Blankenship said. “We’ve definitely baked a cake. Now, we’re going to try to ice it.”

The 21-point loss to Oakdale was Aptos’ worst loss since Oakdale worked the Mariners for a 34-point victory a year ago.

Perhaps the 21-point margin should have been more. That’s the silver lining Blankenship saw after that game.

“They were inside our 50 nine times and scored only three touchdowns,” he said. “We held them six times. That became a rallying cry. We’re not as bad as we think.”

Before the season started, Blankenship looked to the defense to be the portion of the squad that dictates how the team does overall.

The defense has done its job, especially in the second half of games. The Mariners have allowed five second-half touchdowns in their last three games.

It’s a big reason why they’re in today’s championship. Last week against Monterey, the Mariners allowed one touchdown in the second half. As the defense held the Toreadores out of the end zone, the offense rallied to take the lead.

A week earlier, Aptos held a 28-7 halftime lead against Saratoga before Saratoga put together two quick scores to creep to within 28-21. The Mariners held on for a 28-24 win thanks to a goal-line stand.

“The last two weeks, we’ve learned how to play football,” Blankenship said. “Saturday, we’ll see if we’ve learned some more. The poise this team has shown, it’s remarkable.”

For the complete article see the 12-01-2012 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 12-01-2012 paper.


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