At 3-0 overall and fresh off a 35-14 drubbing of Greenfield High, Watsonville High is off to its best start since 2003. But Friday night’s preseason finale against the Irvington High Vikings will, without a doubt, be the Wildcatz’s biggest test of the season so far.
Irvington, of Fremont, is ranked ahead of Watsonville in the MaxPreps state rankings — the Vikings are 615th while the ‘Catz are 621st — and is also coming off a blowout win. The Vikings, coached by Ross Eddings, easily beat Arroyo High, 55-6, last week to improve to 2-1.
Irvington’s lone loss of the season, a 21-6 defeat at the hands of Lincoln High, came two weeks ago.
According to the Register-Pajaronian records, the two teams have never met.
Watsonville’s offense found its way last week against an overmatched Greenfield defense. Senior running backs Evan Delozier and Johnny Bravo ran wild, scoring two touchdowns apiece to stake Watsonville to a 28-0 lead at the half.
The defense, which has allowed a little more than 14 points per game over its first three contests, once again came to play. It pitched a shutout until the latter part of the fourth quarter while Watsonville’s second teamers saw some action.
A win would not only mean the Wildcatz would head into their Monterey Bay League Pacific division season with even more momentum and confidence, but it would also set the team up nicely in the Central Coast Section playoff hunt.
Typically, teams in a “B”-league that finish 7-3 overall or better have had success in qualifying for the playoffs as an at-large team thanks to the recent changes in divisions — Gilroy High last year was 7-3 and finished runner-up in the MBL-P and earned a CCS Division IV berth. But that would mean Watsonville would not only have to win on Friday night but also finish .500 or better in what should be a highly competitive MBL-P slate.
Neither of those are guarantees.
Here’s a look at the rest of the action happening this weekend:
• St. Francis High at Pacific Grove High, Friday at 7:30 p.m. — The St. Francis High Sharks ran into their first dose of adversity this season in a 20-7 loss to the La Salle High Falcons in Milwaukie, Oregon last week.
They’ll try to get back on track against a Pacific Grove High team that last week notched its first win of the year. Led by quarterback Ben Minik and receiver Nate Lominario, the Breakers edged winless Gonzales High, 13-6.
Coached by Chris Morgan, Pacific Grove (1-2) is young and has only 28 players on its roster. For those two reasons, St. Francis will have a good chance at rebounding this week on the road.
Last week in the Pacific Northwest, the Sharks (2-1) hung tough with a talented La Salle team but could not pull off the upset. Juniors Abel Martinez, Andrew Seymour and Andy O’Rourke paced the Sharks’ rushing attack, which finished with 208 yards but found the end zone only once.
Look for St. Francis to come out firing as it tries to finish up its non-league season with a victory.
• North Monterey County High at Carmel High, 2 p.m. — The North Monterey County High Condors finally found the win column last week against Marina High but this week’s contest will be a much bigger test.
N.M.C. (1-2) travels to Carmel High to play the Padres (1-2) on Saturday afternoon.
Coached by Golden Anderson, Carmel has suffered back-to-back losses for the first time since 2014 and will try to correct course this week.
The Condors, meanwhile, will be trying to pull the upset of the pass-happy Padres, who have qualified for the CCS playoffs each of the last 10 seasons. To do so, N.M.C. will have to carry over its defensive effort from last week’s 30-15 win over Marina in which it allowed just one offensive touchdown and came away with three takeaways.
Offensively, junior quarterback Joseph Bertao will also have to continue to make plays with his legs and extend drives to keep the Carmel offense off the field.
The Condors have not played against Carmel since 2002.
• Pajaro Valley High vs Lynbrook High (at Cabrillo College), Saturday at 7:30 p.m. — The Pajaro Valley High Grizzlies have yet to secure their first win of the season but will have a golden opportunity to fix that on Saturday night at Carl Conelly Stadium in Aptos.
P.V. (0-3) will welcome in Lynbrook High, which has also not been able to capture its first victory. Coached by Alan Vinciguerra, the Vikings (0-3) have loss their first three contests by a combined 84 points. Last week they lost 41-6 to Mills High at home.
The Grizzlies, meanwhile, showed signs last week that they are starting to round into form in a 34-20 loss to Soquel High. P.V. played toe-to-toe with the Knights for two and a half quarters but couldn’t keep pace over the final 15 minutes. Even though it was a loss, it was a positive for first-year head coach Kevin Cordova and Co. after back-to-back weeks in which they were blown out by a combined score of 85-6.
For P.V. to prevent its first 0-4 start since 2010, senior quarterback Danny Jimenez-Carrillo, who accounted for 161 of the Grizzlies’ 205 yards last week, will need to continue to make plays with his legs and his arm.