Photo by: Richard Munoz
APTOS — Toughness and togetherness.
Those qualities helped the Aptos High football team overcome a halftime deficit and run away from Seaside for a 38-17 victory in a battle of two of the Monterey Bay Area’s top programs Friday night.
It was the first victory of the season for the Mariners, who lost their season opener 13-10 to Encinal.
“The weight room won that game,” Aptos coach Randy Blankenship said. “To play two physical games like that is tough. Our kids are a lot tougher than they’ve ever been, and we just have good team speed.”
“We weren’t really working together (before this game),” junior running back and linebacker Louie Demicell said. “Now we’re starting to work together, and we’re beating teams.”
The Mariners (1-1) dominated the second half from the start. Aptos forced Seaside to punt for the first time on the opening possession, then took immediate advantage of a poor kick, with Miles Beaudoin dashing 34 yards to give the Mariners the lead for good.
Ricardo Medina then snared the first of the Mariners’ three second-half interceptions, returning it to the Seaside 21-yard line. That set up Brooks Nicholson’s 39-yard field goal, which gave Aptos a 24-17 lead.
The Mariners doubled their advantage when Michael Chavez completed a 78-yard drive with an 8-yard touchdown run. Demicell sealed the victory with an 11-yard touchdown run that capped a 98-yard drive in the fourth quarter.
While the Mariners, Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League champions and Central Coast Section Division III finalists a year ago, had plenty to smile about after the game, they faced significant adversity in the second half.
Seaside, which won the Monterey Bay League Pacific Division title a year ago, used a 34-yard touchdown pass from Chris Evans to Colby Ostberg on broken coverage and a controversial 18-yard scoring pass from Evans to Ronald Turner to take a 17-14 halftime lead. On the latter play, Turner lost the ball as he hit the turf, but it was still ruled a touchdown, a ruling that Blankenship was still shaking his head about after the game.
“We really had to step up our game for this one,” Demicell said.
In the first half for Aptos, Demicell scored on a 1-yard run on the game’s opening possession and Beaudoin scored on a 4-yard run in the second quarter after a pass-interference call on fourth down allowed the possession to continue.
The Mariners finished with more than 350 yards rushing, and had three players eclipse the 100-yard mark. Beaudoin had 113 yards on 13 carries, CJ Pistorino 106 yards on eight carries and Demicell 101 yards on eight carries.
Seaside relied on a combination of passing and quarterback runs, with Evans and rifle-armed Lorenzo Johnson sharing the duties behind center. Evans completed 8 of 9 passes for 75 yards, while Johnson was just 9 of 29 for 132 yards and threw three interceptions.
Aptos’ other interceptions came from Dante Gomez and Connon Houser.
Evans and Johnson combined for 98 yards rushing on 23 carries, but did most of their damage on the ground during the first half.
“In the beginning we were trying to be greedy when were tying to tackle the quarterback one-on-one, and we couldn’t do that,” Blankenship said. “We had to tackle him as a team.”
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