Trojans reloading in time for fall pigskin campaign

SOUTH BAY LEAGUE ALIGNMENT RETURNS AS CONFERENCE SPLITS INTO TWO HALVES

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Montgomery's Christian Venegas scores on a stripped fumble during a game in the spring. Photo by Andy Bartotto

The Castle Park Trojans finished runner-up in the Division V section championship playoffs to cap the 2019 football season. The 24-21 setback to the Francis Parker Lancers was a bittersweet ending for the team’s senior student-athletes.

But it was nothing compared to what followed: the COVID-19 pandemic that delayed the start of the entire 2020 season.

Castle Park (11-2 overall in 2019) was able to return to the gridiron before the 2020-21 interscholastic season expired, though the Trojans turned in an up-and-down spring campaign that started with a 40-0 loss to neighborhood rival Montgomery, then quickly turned around the next week with a 54-16 victory against San Ysidro.

Overall, Castle Park finished the short spring season 3-2 overall, 2-1 in Metro-Pacific League play.

The Trojans return to the realigned South Bay League this fall with an agenda to “to be sound and finish strong,” according to second-year coach Paco Silva.

Silva took over head coaching duties last spring. It took a game for Castle Park to get all the pieces on the board assembled but once it did the Trojans seemed to return to past form, or at least close to it.

The Trojans dropped a 26-13 decision at Sweetwater in what turned out to be the Metro-Pacific League championship game. The game was fiercely fought throughout, with the host Devils scoring a late insurance touchdown to clinch the league banner.

Castle Park ended its short five-game season with decisive victories against Mar Vista (56-7) and Kearny (41-12).

Top returners from the spring include quarterback Jose Jackson and senior offensive/defensive lineman Marcos Morachis Also on board again are Guillermo Perez, Kamea Luna, Sergio Cobos, Ricardo Soto and Eli Benevidez.

Jackson passed for 395 yards with five touchdowns and three interceptions in four games for a 91.5 quarterback rating.

Cobos averaged 42 yards on kickoffs, 41 yards on punts and converted 16 of 20 extra-point attempts (80 percent) in the spring.

The Trojans faced huge losses on the field in graduated seniors Erik Hernandez (663 rushing yards, 10 touchdowns) and Ramon Cabal (455 rushing yards, five touchdowns), both first team all-league picks on offense and defense, respectively.

Hernandez led the team with 785 all-purpose yards, averaging 196.3 yards per game, while leading the team in scoring with 12 touchdowns (including two pass receptions). He concluded his three-year varsity career at Troy with 2,626 rushing yards (10.8 per carry, 109.4 per game), 36 rushing touchdowns and 40 total TD.

The team’s impact newcomers include Rey Villareal, Davian Simler and Jeremiah Simler.

Castle Park kicks off the 2021-22 season Aug. 20 with a non-league home game against Rancho Buena Vista (7 p.m. kickoff).

Montgomery quarterback Ansel Flanagan takes a snap from center. Photo by Andy Bartotto

Aztecs forced to miss season opener due to COVID-19 protocols

The specter of COVID-19 remains on the high school football sideline as the 2021 fall season kicks off. The defending Metro-South Bay League champion Montgomery Aztecs are among several teams that will miss their season openers because of COVID-19 protocols.

The Aztecs enter the season as the top-ranked team in Division IV. It is unclear how many of the team’s games will be affected by COVID-19 protocols this season.

The Orange Glen Patriots also had to cancel their season opener against crosstown rival San Pasqual because of COVID-19.

Montgomery continues to be hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. The Aztecs featured one of their best teams in years during the spring 2021 season – outscoring league foes 155-0 – but could not get an accurate gauge on just how good they were because the section canceled the playoffs.

Now the cancellation of Friday’s season opener against Scripps Ranch has dampened the team’s spirits.

When play resumes, the Aztecs do appear well stocked to defend their league title.

Quarterback Ansel Flanagan passed for 476 yards and 12 touchdowns as a junior in the spring to earn first team all-league recognition. Receiver Jordan Benton (six catches, 158 receiving yards) and Christian Venegas (5.3 rushing yards per carry, two touchdowns) bring experience and depth to the offense.

Two-way players who will contribute on both sides of the football include junior Abel Estrada (offensive/defensive lineman), Antonio Perez (offensive/defensive lineman), senior Johnny Estrada (running back/defensive back), junior Victor Flores (running back/linebacker), sophomore Mike Mohr (tight end/linebacker) and junior Gideon Baraka (tight end/defensive lineman).

Abel Estrada, Johnny Estrada and Venegas were all first team all-league picks in the spring.

Venegas ranked second on the team with 30 tackles in five games.

The Aztecs will benefit from the continued development of last year’s large freshman class.

Montgomery recorded shutouts in four of their five games last season — all victories. The team’s lone loss was 39-0 to Mater Dei Catholic, from the Metro-Mesa League, which finished runner-up to Patrick Henry in the final Division III rankings.

 

San Ysidro Cougars enter season with optimism, seek respect

The San Ysidro Cougars return seven all-league performers from their shortened spring 2020-21 season.

The include seniors Matthew Jaime, McKai Jackson, Francisco Estrada, Antonio Valdez, Chris Rodriguez, Sal Samano and Jose Gutierrez.

Jackson wide receiver/strong safety), Valdez (offensive line), Rodriguez (linebacker) and Samano were all first team selections while Jaime (quarterback), Estrada (offensive line) and Gutierrez (defensive end) all earned second team honors.

Jaime, who led the team with 507 total offensive yards and scored three rushing touchdowns in the Cougars’ modest1-4 spring campaign, moves from the signal-calling position to running back.

Jackson was seemingly all-world for San Ysidro during the spring with 166 rushing yards, 82 receiving yards, 51 tackles, three sacks, three touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving) and four conversions.

The Cougars return their top four tackle masters from last season. Following Jackson on the team’s hit list were Samano with 45 tackles, Gutierrez with 28 stops and Rodriguez with 26 tackles.

With so much experience available this fall, head coach Keith Aguon is optimistic about his team’s fortunes.

“We are senior-heavy and expect to compete,” said Aguon, whose team finished 1-2 in Metro-Pacific League play during the spring. “Our O-line is our strength. Fourteen of our 18 seniors played as sophomores on varsity, including McKai Jackson, who will now be a four-year starter on varsity. We took our lumps as a young varsity squad the last few seasons but now we are experienced and hopefully peaking as a team.”

Impact newcomers include senior David Saldivar and junior J’ Marcus Jiles. Saldivar will try his hand at football after earning South Bay League track and field athlete of the year honors while Jiles will take over the reins as the team’s quarterback after backing up last season.

“David was the top performer in the offseason workouts and seven-on-seven and will play both sides of the ball skill positions,” Aguon said.

The Cougars kick off their new season of expectation with a home game against the Clairemont Chieftains this Friday at 6:30 p.m.

 

Mariners to set sail under new coaching staff

The Mar Vista High School football team struggled through a harsh spring season that COVID-19 protocols limited to just three games. The Mariners finished 0-3 in their resulting three Metro-Pacific League games while being outscored 147-25.

The Imperial Beach team would like to put all that behind itself and move forward under new head coach Syd Reed.

Twelve returning starters should aid the relaunch effort.

Senior returners include receiver/safety Jordan Mahan (6-1, 200), receiver/safety Dante Pacheco (6-2, 180), running back/linebacker Diego Arrizon (5-8, 160), running back/quarterback/safety Hunter Thomas (5-10, 170), running back/defensive back Gerardo Moya (5-5,134), defensive end Kanaan Pullum (5-7, 140) and running back/defensive back Ross Sharping (5-6, 160).

Junior returners include running back/defensive back Nathaniel Ramos (5-11, 160), running back/linebacker Christopher Balansay (5-10, 190), center/defensive tackle Anthony Baxter (5-9, 240), guard/center/defensive tackle Nathan Pulido (5-8, 230) and quarterback Aleks Wojcik (5-10, 200).

Pacheco and Mahan earned first team all-league honors in the spring while Sharping, Wojcik, Ramos, Pullum and Moya were second team all-league picks.

Pacheco piled up 535 all-purpose yards to lead the team during the spring, collecting 355 kick return yards, 139 receiving yards and 41 rushing yards.

Sharping had 136 kick return yards while Mahan had 116 receiving yards. Wojcik passed for 102 yards and one touchdown in two game appearances

Reed lists the team’s impact newcomers as senior tackle/defensive end Ethan Benson (6-4, 260), junior running back/linebacker Adrian Martinez (5-9, 190), junior running back/safety Maximus Ramos (5-8, 170), junior running back/guard/defensive tackle Andrew Urquizu (5-10, 260) and senior guard/defensive end A’marion Jones (5-10, 260).

It’s apparent several players will draw multiple position assignments during the season. The team’s success will depend on how well those players are able to adapt and how fast the team comes together under a new coaching staff.

“This is a young team with a bright future and well-developed leadership,” Reed said. “The newcomers are expected to produce right away and contribute. This team will turn some heads.”

Mar Vista’s annual Battle for the Bell rivalry game with Southwest will not take place for the second consecutive season after Southwest made the decision not to field a varsity team this season. Last season’s game was canceled because the Mariners’ were still under COVID-19 protocols.

The lack of game officials forced Mar Vista’s season opener to be moved from Friday against Crawford to Thursday at 6 p.m..

The Mariners will host Clairemont in their home opener on Aug. 27 at 6:30 p.m.

 

 

SAN DIEGO SECTION PRESEASON RANKINGS

(Through Aug. 15/MaxPreps)

Division I: 1. Cathedral Catholic, 2. Carlsbad, 3. Mission Hills, 4. Lincoln, 5. El Camino, 6. Torrey Pines, 7. St. Augustine, 8. Eastlake, 9. Granite Hills, 10. Steele Canyon, 11. Helix, 12. San Marcos, 13. Oceanside, 14, Madison, 15. La Costa Canyon, 16. Grossmont

Division II: 1. La Jolla, 2. Poway, 3. Otay Ranch, 4. Rancho Bernardo, 5. Mira Mesa, 6. Central Union, 7. Vista, 8. Olympian, 9. Scripps Ranch, 10. Christian, 11. San Diego, 12. Point Loma, 13. Valley Center, 14. San Pasqual, 15. Morse

Division III: 1. Mater Dei Catholic, 2. Ramona, 3. Santa Fe Christian, 4. Mt. Carmel, 5. El Capitan, 6. Brawley, 7. West Hills, 8. Monte Vista, 9. Orange Glen, 10. Westview, 11. Santana, 12. Imperial, 13. Bonita Vista, 14. Escondido, 15. Canyon Hills (Serra)

Division IV: 1. Montgomery, 2. Patrick Henry, 3. La Jolla Country Day, 4. Coronado, 5. Sweetwater, 6. Mount Miguel, 7. Francis Parker, 8. Castle Park, 9. Del Norte, 10. University City, 11. Vincent Memorial, 12. Valhalla, 13, Classical Academy, 14. Rancho Buena Vista, 15. Chula Vista

Division V: 1. Tri-City Christian, 2. Holtville, 3. Palo Verde Valley, 4. Mission Bay, 5. Fallbrook, 6. Clairemont, 7. Foothills Christian, 8. O’Farrell Charter, 9. El Cajon Valley, 10. Crawford, 11. Mountain Empire, 12. San Ysidro, San Ysidro, 13. Maranatha Christian, 14. Escondido Charter, 15. Calexico

 

SAN DIEGO SECTION TOP 25

  1. Cathedral Catholic, 2. Carlsbad, 3. Mission Hills, 4. Lincoln, 5. El Camino, 6. La Jolla, 7. Torrey Pines, 8. St. Augustine, 9. Mater Dei Catholic, 10. Eastlake, 11. Poway, 12. Otay Ranch, 13. Granite Hills, 14. Ramona, 15. Steele Canyon, 16. Helix Charter, 17. San Marcos, 18. Santa Fe Christian, 19. Oceanside, 20. Madison, 21.La Costa Canyon, 22. Montgomery, 23. Rancho Bernardo, 24. Mira Mesa, 25. Central Union

 

2021-22 South Bay League Football Schedule

Castle Park Trojans

August

20: Rancho Buena Vista at Castle Park, 7 p.m.

27: Castle Park at Calexico, 7 p.m.

September

3: Orange Glen at Castle Park, 7 p.m.

10: Vincent Memorial at Castle Park, 6:30 p.m.

17: San Ysidro at Castle Park, 6:30 p.m.

24: Castle Park at Montgomery, 6:30 p.m.

October

1: Chula Vista at Castle Park, 6:30 p.m.

8: Castle Park at Mar Vista, 6:30 p.m.

15: Bye

22: Bye

29: Sweetwater at Castle Park, 6:30 p.m.

 

Chula Vista Spartans

August

20:  La Jolla Country Day at Chula Vista, 7 p.m.

27: Chula Vista at Mount Miguel, 7 p.m.

September

3: Chula Vista at Hilltop, 6:30 p.m.

10: Canyon Hills at Chula Vista, 6:30 p.m.

17: Mar Vista at Chula Vista, 6:30 p.m.

24: Chula Vista at San Ysidro, 6:30 p.m.

October

1: Chula Vista at Castle Park, 6:30 p.m.

8: Bye

15: Chula Vista at Sweetwater, 6:30 p.m.

22: Bye

29: Montgomery at Chula Vista, 6:30 p.m.

 

Mar Vista Mariners

August

19:  Crawford at Mar Vista at Crawford, 6 p.m.

27: Clairemont at Mar Vista, 6:30 p.m.

September

3: Mar Vista at Santana, 7 p.m.

10: Coronado at Mar Vista, 7 p.m.

17: Mar Vista at Chula Vista, 6:30 p.m.

24: Army-Navy Academy at Mar Vista, 6:30 p.m.

October

1: Bye

8: Castle Park at Mar Vista, 6:30 p.m.

15: Mar Vista at Montgomery, 6:30 p.m.

22: Sweetwater at Mar Vista, 6:30 p.m.

29: San Ysidro at Mar Vista, 6:30 p.m.

 

Montgomery Aztecs

August

20:  Montgomery at Scripps Ranch, 6:30 p.m.

27: Montgomery at Santana, 7 p.m.

September

3: Crawford at Montgomery, 7 p.m.

10: Kearny at Montgomery, 7 p.m.

17: Montgomery at Mission Bay, 7 p.m.

24: Castle Park at Montgomery, 6:30 p.m.

October

1: Bye

8: Sweetwater at Montgomery, 6:30 p.m.

15: Mar Vista at Montgomery, 6:30 p.m.

22: Montgomery at San Ysidro, 6:30 p.m.

29: Montgomery at Chula Vista, 6:30 p.m.

 

San Ysidro Cougars

August

20: Clairemont at San Ysidro, 6:30 p.m.

27: San Ysidro vs. Bonita Vista, 6:30 p.m. at Southwestern College

September

3: Fallbrook at San Ysidro, 6:30 p.m.

10: San Ysidro at Hoover, 7 p.m.

17: San Ysidro at Castle Park, 6:30 p.m.

24: Chula Vista at San Ysdiro, 6:30 p.m.

October

1: San Ysidro at Sweetwater, 6:30 p.m.

8: Bye

15: San Ysidro at Foothills Christian, 7 p.m.

22: Montgomery at San Ysidro, 6:30 p.m.

29: San Ysidro at Mar Vista, 6:30 p.m.

 

Sweetwater Red Devils

August

19:  Sweetwater at Grossmont, 6:30 p.m.

27: Sweetwater at Coronado, 6:30 p.m.

September

3: Bonita Vista at Sweetwater, 6:30 p.m.

10: Santana at Sweetwater, 6:30 p.m.

17: Scripps Ranch at Sweetwater, 6:30 p.m.

24: Bye

October

1: San Ysidro at Sweetwater, 6:30 p.m.

8: Sweetwater at Montgomery, 6:30 p.m.

15: Chula Vista at Sweetwater, 6:30 p.m.

22: Sweetwater at Mar Vista, 6:30 p.m.

29: Sweetwater at Castle Park, 6:30 p.m.

Trojans reloading in time for fall pigskin campaign