WATSONVILLE — St. Francis High got a head start to the football season on Thursday when it took on King City High in what was supposed to be a highly-anticipated matchup.
Instead, the Sharks came up short in their season opener with a 35-0 loss against the Mustangs in non-league play at Watsonville High.
King City senior quarterback Jonah Mendez scored three touchdowns — two through the air and one on the ground — and was in total command throughout the evening.
“Basically we just had to get our playmakers the ball,” Mendez said. “When they get the ball in their hands they make plays. Simple as that.”
The Mustangs recorded the shutout against a depleted Sharks team that features just 12 players on the roster.
Opening the season with a loss is not the ideal situation but St. Francis coach John Ausman said he was still proud of the effort the players put on Thursday evening.
“It was the fight in the entire game,” Ausman said. “When you talk about football and outcomes, it’s are you gonna play each play no matter what the score is? And that’s what we did.”
Ausman said it’s a sign of a team that’s growing and maturing.
“Outcomes are outcomes,” he said. “But more importantly is how you play the game and we played the game the right way today.”
Ausman said players who put in the hard work was a big positive in his eyes.
“Outside circumstances you don’t control but you control your effort each and every play and you’re there for the other 10 guys” Ausman said.
King City coach Mac Villanueva said the offense still needs to work on adjusting minor issues but for the most part they were firing on all cylinders.
Villanueva said his starting quarterback is familiar with the offense and is an intelligent player who knows how to make plays with his arm or feet.
“(Mendez) has some playmakers around him that can make plays,” Villanueva said.
Mendez praised his running back Felix Dominguez, who came into Thursday’s game as a substitute and immediately made an impact on the field.
Dominguez scored a pair of touchdowns, including a tackle-breaking, 35-yard sprint to the end zone that put the Mustangs up 21-0 in the third quarter.
“(Dominguez) stepped it up big today,” Mendez said.
Dominguez made the switch from receiver to running back about two weeks ago and the junior is slowly starting to make a name for himself.
“(Dominguez) is super explosive. He’s probably the fastest guy on the team,” Mendez said. “He’s just a great athlete all-around.”
Villanueva said this year’s team is full of explosive athletes such as Dominguez, who began getting reps during last week’s jamboree.
“That’s what really got us on track,” Villanueva said. “Obviously scoring on the first play was an explosive play.”
Mendez also gave props to his offensive line for giving him time in the pocket to complete passes, including a quick touchdown strike to Devin Morales on the first play of the game.
“My (offensive) line did a great job,” Mendez said. “I can’t thank them enough.”
Mendez said the offense had been working on that particular scoring play throughout the week and knew they would run it on Thursday against St. Francis.
“We knew it was gonna work. We just had to execute the pass and get it to (Morales). He did the rest,” Mendez said.
The defense also played lights out and held St. Francis to less than 100 total yards along with a couple of key fourth down stops. Seniors Jonathan Toledo and Benny Aguiree each recorded an interception in the shutout win.
“It’s huge, it kind of sets the tone for the season,” Villanueva said. “We know we’re not gonna shut out everyone out but when you can go out and do that, it shows what your defense is capable of doing.”
Despite the dominant performance, Villanueva mentioned there were still times the Mustangs did not look sharp during the game.
“But I give all the credit in the world to St. Francis,” Villanueva said. “With the limited amount of numbers they have, those kids have a ton of heart. They fight the whole game and they’re a well-coached group of kids.”
Villanueva said the Sharks did an excellent job of minimizing the inside run by clogging the middle.
“It’s definitely some stuff we gotta go back and look at on film and address,” Villanueva said. “But we were able to get the perimeter around them when we did run the ball...but I think they did a really good job of shutting our inside run down.”
Ausman said the Mustangs are a well assembled team and took advantage of every little, or big, mistake the Sharks made.
“There’s a couple plays here, a couple of plays there and when that happens they score,” Ausman said. “We just ran out of gas at the end.”
Coaches are encouraged to report scores, stats and highlights to [email protected] following games or call 831-761-7335. Please include your name and a contact number in the email.