HS Football: Pajaro Valley 2017 schedule overview

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Pajaro Valley High Football

Last Year’s overall record: 3-7

Last year’s league record: 1-5 (Monterey Bay League Pacific division)

Last year’s MaxPreps state ranking: 961st

Key losses: Kevin Suarez; playmaker that saw time all over the field, including at quarterback toward the end of the season…Alec Moran; the 220-pounder had a surprisingly productive senior season on the defensive line…Alfonso Melgoza; three-year starter on the defense who also played offensive line last season and earned MBL-Pacific division First Team honors as a guard…Anthony Gallardo; stout linebacker that was one of the vocal leaders of the defense.

Key returners: Irepan Romero (Sr.); an athletic lineman that is a bit undersized (5-foot-8, 165 pounds) but makes up for it with great body control and smarts. Will play both offense and defense… Diego Navarro (Sr.); wiry receiver that also serves as the Grizzlies ace kicker… Jaylen Carreon (Sr.); played well at safety last season and also saw time at running back…Marcos Aguilar (Jr.); the 5-foot-11 lineman slimmed down from 315 pounds to 280 in order to stay on the field for both offense and defense this season.

Notes: Kevin Cordova took over the program following the retirement of longtime head coach Joe Gregorio. Cordova spent last season as the Grizzlies’ offensive coordinator. Along with the departure Gregorio, Pajaro Valley also lost defensive coordinator Casey Neligh, who resigned at the end of the school year to pursue his master’s degree in teaching…The Grizzlies were 2-2 heading into league play last season before losing five straight. They did, however, finish the year with a stunning 3-0 victory over Watsonville in the 10th annual Belgard Kup Game…Pajaro Valley will use both Carl Conelly Stadium on the campus of Cabrillo College and Emmett M. Geiser Field at Watsonville High as its home this season. No significant movement has been made in bring the campus its all-weather athletic field, according to Athletic Director Joe Manfre.

PRESEASON

St. Francis High

When: August 25, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Emmett M. Geiser Field

Last year’s MaxPreps state ranking: 863rd

Last year’s overall record: 5-6 (North Coast Section Division V qualifier)

Last year’s league record: 1-3 (Bay Football League - NCS)

Notes: With former head coach Adam Hazel stepping down after last season, John Ausman is now the head coach of the St. Francis program after serving as the defensive coordinator for the past two years. Hazel spent the last five seasons as the Sharks’ lead man and tallied a 18-32 record…The Sharks made their first postseason appearance since 2010 last season but were bounced by eventual section champion St. Patrick-St. Vincent in the first round…St. Francis and Pajaro Valley have met each of the last two seasons. The Grizzlies won the first meeting but the Sharks thumped Pajaro Valley last season…St. Francis has a strong senior class leading the way. Defensive back Mario Velasquez, quarterback Derric Estrada-Haro, running back Carson Cuzick and lineman Josh Kovacs figure to be key contributors.

Greenfield High

When: September 2, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Carl Conelly Stadium

Last year’s MaxPreps state ranking: 867th

Last year’s overall record: 3-7

Last year’s league record: 2-5 (Mission Trail Athletic League)

Notes: The Bruins have not had a winning season since 2011…Pajaro Valley has played Greenfield in eight of the last nine seasons. The Grizzlies hold a 4-2-2 advantage in those meetings and have won the last four…Quarterback Rodriguez Frias, receiver Isaac Pajas and tight end Bryan Ceballos lead the Bruins’ group of returners.

Soquel High

When: September 8, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Soquel High

Last year’s MaxPreps state ranking: 939th

Last year’s overall record: 2-8

Last year’s league record: 1-4 (Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League)

Notes: The Knights are entering the fourth year of head coach Brad Tompkins’ tenure. After an OK 4-6 season in 2014, Soquel has had trouble staying healthy and picking up wins. The Knights were 2-8 last season and 1-9 the year before…Last year’s contest was the first between the two schools at the varsity level. Pajaro Valley, which was up 20-7 in the second quarter, had to hold off a late charge to notch the victory…All-SCCAL First Team offensive lineman Carlos Mercado is one of few returning players that made a significant contribution last season, meaning Soquel will need several new stars to step up.

Lynbrook High

When: September 16, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Carl Conelly Stadium

Last year’s MaxPreps state rankings: 844th

Last year’s overall record: 5-5

Last year’s league record: 2-4 (Santa Clara Valley Athletic League’s El Camino Division)

Notes: Vikings saw some growth last season in head coach Alan Vinciguerra’s third year, finally notching a .500 season…Lynbrook will be trying to replace 23 graduating seniors but has junior quarterback Li-el Greenberg returning…this year’s game will be the first between the two programs.

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MBL-PACIFIC

Christopher High

When: September 22, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Christopher High

Last year’s MaxPreps state rankings: 704th

Last year’s overall record: 1-9

Last year’s league record: 0-6

Notes: Cougars moved down to the MBL-Pacific division after two years in the Gabilan…Since starting up in 2010, Christopher has won a pair of league championships. It won its first title, a tri-league championship with Monte Vista Christian and Monterey, in its second year…It will be the first time since 2014 that Pajaro Valley has played Christopher. The Grizzlies have never beaten the Cougars…Outside of the teams in the West Catholic Athletic League, Christopher had one of the tougher schedules in the Central Coast Section last season. The Cougars played seven playoff teams, including three in preseason action…Last year was the first time in program history that Christopher finished under .500 in back-to-back seasons…The Cougars graduated 26 seniors... Junior quarterback Ben Sanford looks like the next man up in head coach Tim Pierleoni’s spread offense with the graduation of Ryan Adamkiewicz, who passed for more than 1,000 yards last season.

Monterey High

When: September 29, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Carl Conelly Stadium

Last year’s MaxPreps state rankings: 876th

Last year’s overall record: 3-7

Last year’s league record: 2-4

Notes: Dan Brown is heading into his third season as the Toreadores' head coach. He has a 5-15 record over his first two years at Monterey…Last season was the ’Dores' first stint in the MBL-Pacific division. They spent the first four years of the equity league in the Gabilan…Junior quarterback Evans Charles, who threw for more than 1,000 yards last season, returns but the majority of his weapons will be new faces after Monterey graduated its top three rushers and top two receivers…The Grizzlies have not been able to beat the ’Dores in their seven meetings.

North Monterey County High

When: October 6, 7:30 p.m.

Where: North Monterey County High

Last year’s MaxPreps state ranking: 900th

Last year’s overall record: 2-8

Last year’s league record: 2-4

Notes: The Condors have not finished with a above-.500 record since the 2010 season…Head coach Sean Gomes is heading into his second season of his second stint with N.M.C…Nearly all of the Condors statistical leaders from last season are gone following graduation. Junior defensive back and receiver Oscar Munoz is the lone returning skill position player that was used in the offense last season…N.M.C. had lost six games to start the season before beating Pajaro Valley, 36-14, for its first victory. Pajaro Valley, however, also has a history of breaking losing streaks against N.M.C. The Grizzlies’ 40-8 win over the Condors in 2013 snapped a 35-game losing streak against league opponents.

Gilroy High

When: October 20, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Gilroy High

Last year’s MaxPreps state rankings: 644th

Last year’s overall record: 8-4 (CCS Division IV semifinalist)

Last year’s league record: 5-1

Notes: Head coach Jubenal Rodriguez’s second season was a smashing success. The Mustangs’ winning record was their first since 2008. Their playoff victory over Gunn High was also the first of its kind since 2007… Pajaro Valley has lost to Gilroy five years straight. In last year’s 40-20 defeat, the Grizzlies were down 40-0 at the half before the offense finally got going late in the third…Junior running back Joseph Barnes ran for 1,633 yards and 23 touchdowns last season en route to MBL-Pacific division Underclassman of the Year honors and figures to be the focal point of a dangerous Gilroy offense which also returns senior quarterback Jonathan Castro, senior running back Dylan Holler and senior receivers Richard Perez Jr. and Max Pierce. Additionally, senior linebacker Antonio Andrade, who measures in a 6-feet tall and 220 pounds, is back to lead the defense.

Alisal High

When: October 27, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Emmett M. Geiser Field

Last year’s MaxPreps state rankings: 871st

Last year’s overall record: 2-8

Last year’s league record: 2-4

Notes: Head coach Cesar Chaidez started his tenure at Alisal with an eight-game losing streak but finished his first season with wins over N.M.C. and Pajaro Valley…The Grizzlies have not been able to find the win column against the Trojans, losing three games to Alisal in as many years… The Trojans have several players back from last year’s team, including senior quarterback Andrew Marquez and senior running back Thomas Martinez… Alisal has not finished with a winning record since 2012.

Watsonville High

When: November 3, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Carl Conelly Stadium

Last year’s MaxPreps state ranking: 814th

Last year’s overall record: 4-6

Last year’s league record: 3-3

Notes: Head coach Ron Myers is heading into his fourth season of his second go-around with Watsonville. He holds an 11-19 record over his first three seasons…The Grizzlies’ 3-0 win over the Wildcatz in last year’s Belgard Kup Game ended a 17-game losing streak to league opponents. It also improved their standing in the rivalry series to 8-2… Watsonville lost several starters from a defense that allowed only 13 points per game during MBL-Pacific action. The Wildcatz, however, do have more than a handful of offensive stars returning. Running backs Matthew Barcelo, Johnny Bravo and Evan Delozier, whom combined to rush for more than 1,000 yards and 15 touchdowns, will lead the multi-headed attack.