HS football: Soaring Condors

North Monterey County senior Brandon Ducusin will take over as quarterback and lead the offense this season. (The Pajaronian file)

North Monterey County have pieces set for a breakout year

North Monterey County had its share of ups and downs last season, showing glimpses of success but also displaying signs of a team struggling to close out games.   

The Condors finished 3-3 in league play and settled for fourth in the Pacific Coast Athletic League’s Cypress division.

N.M.C. has not had a winning season since 2010 and has not captured a league crown since 2003.

The Condors will face a trio of newcomers to the PCAL-Cypress division. Gonzales High and Soquel High both moved up from the Santa Lucia division, while Watsonville High dropped down from the Mission Division. 

N.M.C. will also square off against familiar division-foes, which includes San Lorenzo Valley High, Santa Cruz High and King City High. 

N.M.C. will be the second-largest school in the PCAL-Mission division in terms of enrollment with 1,124 students.

Here’s a breakdown of this year’s N.M.C.’s football team:

  • Last year’s record: 5-5 
  • Last year’s league record: 3-3 (fourth in Pacific Coast Athletic League Cypress division)
  • Last year’s MaxPreps state ranking: 661st
  • Coach: Sean Gomes
  • Key losses: The Condors will be without PCAL-Cypress First Team selection offensive lineman Spencer Gonzalez and linebacker Adrian Gomez...Isaiah Solorio was the team’s leading receiver with 323 yards on 24 receptions for four touchdowns. He was one of the Condors’ young playmakers on defense, along with defensive back/receiver Lupe Sanchez, who were both all-league second team selections...Christian Moreno is another all-league second team lineman that’ll be missed on both sides of the ball...Konan Van Lear was a big and strong linebacker who played inside or outside. He was the Condors’ best overall athlete once again.
  • Key possible returners: Brandon Ducusin (Sr.); the All-PCAL-Cypress First Team selection is coming back as the starting quarterback. He completed 49 percent of his pass attempts (53-of-107) for 762 passing yards to go along with five touchdowns and eight interceptions. He was also the team’s leading rusher with 402 yards on 99 carries and nine touchdowns…Riley Anderson (Sr.); a 5-foot, 11-inch, 170-pound receiver/safety that was also an all-league first team selection. He led the team with 206 total tackles and was a ball hawk with three interceptions and 11 pass deflections…Cyrus Coffelt (Sr.); will be an upcoming receiver and defensive back this season. The coaching staff is expecting good things from him…Marcos Calderon (Jr.); a 6-foot, 2-inch, 230-pound lineman came up last season and instantly became a force up front. He can also come in as a defensive end to help cause pressure on the quarterback from the outside.

•••

PRESEASON

North Salinas High

  • When: Aug. 30
  • Where: N.M.C. High
  • Last year’s MaxPreps state rankings: 573rd
  • Last year’s overall record: 5-5 
  • Last year’s league record: 2-4 (fifth in PCAL-Mission division)
  • Coach: Ben Ceralde 
  • Notes: The Condors defeated North Salinas in last year’s preseason game, 19-14. The win snapped a three-game losing streak against the Vikings dating back to 2013…This will be the second-straight year N.M.C. will play North Salinas in the season opener…North Salinas no longer has running back Matt Morales and receiver Manuel Camberos…But, the Vikings should expect quarterback Jake Sotelo to return for his senior season.

•••

Monte Vista Christian

  • When: Sept. 6
  • Where: N.M.C. High
  • Last year’s MaxPreps state rankings: 446th
  • Last year’s overall record: 5-6 (Central Coast Section Division V quarterfinalist)
  • Last year’s league record: 5-1 (Pacific Coast Athletic League Mission division runner-up)
  • Coach: Jubenal Rodriguez
  • Notes: The Condors have lost five-straight games to the Mustangs, including a 42-7 loss in 2017…M.V.C. quarterback Nathan Renggli will be under center for most of the season in a run-heavy offense but can still use his arm to deliver a throw when he’s called upon...Anthony Sheppard, a 6-foot, 4-inch, 270-pound two-way senior lineman is the anchor on the offensive line and quick to get to the quarterback on the defensive line.

••• 

Scotts Valley High

  • When: Sept. 14
  • Where: Scotts Valley High
  • Last year’s MaxPreps state ranking: 641st
  • Last year’s overall record: 4-6 
  • Last year’s league record: 1-5 (sixth in PCAL-Mission division)
  • Coach: Lewis Lahood
  • Notes: It’s the first season under new coach Lewis Lahood, who replaced long-time coach Louie Walters…The Falcons missed the CCS playoffs for the first time since 2015… Scotts Valley lost quarterback and defensive back Kyle Rajala…Falcons tight end and middle linebacker Will Schwartz will return along with running back Joseph Roach and receiver Casey Collins…It will be the second time the two teams will meet. The Falcons won last year’s contest, 24-12.

 •••

Greenfield High

  • When: September 20
  • Where: Greenfield High
  • Last year’s MaxPreps state rankings: 926th
  • Last year’s overall record: 3-7 
  • Last year’s league record: 3-3 (fourth in PCAL-Santa Lucia division)
  • Coach: Adam Barsenas
  • Notes: Adam Barsenas is entering his second season as coach for Greenfield…The Bruins have not won a league title in their 19 years of existence, and last year’s 3-7 finish was the program’s eighth straight losing season…Greenfield will be without leading rusher Jamie Soto, who finished with 1,175 yards on 195 carries and 10 touchdowns…Bruins quarterback Daniel Morales, who finished with 741 passing yards to go along with six touchdowns and eight interceptions, is set to return for his senior year…Leading receiver Jose Hernandez, who finished with 214 yards on 21 receptions and four touchdowns, is also expected to return. He tied for a team-high three interceptions…The Condors won last year’s contest, 29-7, which was the programs’ second meeting since 2014.

 •••

PCAL-CYPRESS

Watsonville High

  • When: Sept. 27
  • Where: Watsonville High
  • Last year’s MaxPreps state rankings: 677th
  • Last year’s overall record: 4-6
  • Last year’s league record: 1-5 (tied for last in PCAL-Mission division)
  • Coach: Ron Myers
  • Notes: The Condors have lost two-straight against Watsonville, including a 35-7 loss in 2017…The Wildcatz will be without leading rusher and PCAL-Mission second team selection Matthew Barcelo, who finished with 569 rushing yards on 94 carries and 10 touchdowns, according to the MaxPreps website…Tight End Dylan Vargas and PCAL-Mission first team defensive lineman Rodrigo Hernandez are also gone…But with more than 30 seniors on its roster, Watsonville will have no issues with numbers or experience this season…Watsonville (1,966 students) will be the largest school in the PCAL-Mission division in terms of enrollment. 

 •••

Soquel High

  • When: Oct. 4
  • Where: N.M.C. High
  • Last year’s MaxPreps state rankings: 768th
  • Last year’s overall record: 7-3
  • Last year’s league record: 5-1 (second in PCAL-Santa Lucia division)
  • Coach: Dwight Lowery 
  • Notes: The Knights were the runner-up team to division champion Gonzales under first-year coach Dwight Lowery...Soquel junior running back Darius Bedford was last year’s Offensive Player of the Year in the Santa Lucia division…Junior quarterback Tanner Jones, senior offensive lineman Jeremiah Corpuz, who were also named to the PCAL-Santa Lucia first team, are set to return… Soquel will be without the services of defensive lineman David Blanke and defensive back Jarred Martinez…This is the first time both teams met in at least more than 20 seasons.

••• 

San Lorenzo Valley High

  • When: Oct. 11
  • Where: N.M.C. High
  • Last year’s MaxPreps state ranking: 522nd
  • Last year’s overall record: 4-6 
  • Last year’s league record: 4-2 (second in PCAL-Cypress division)
  • Coach: Dave Poetzinger
  • Notes: S.L.V. tied with King City for second place behind unbeaten Monterey in the PCAL-Mission division…The Cougars will be without Aidan Callahan, who was named Defensive MVP of the Cypress Division. He was a first-team selection at lineman on both sides of the ball… Running back Taj Glasky, receiver Jacob Auldridge and defensive back Ty Martinez will also be gone…S.L.V. senior R.J. Kindred finished with a pair of interceptions as a defensive back but will also try to step in as the starting quarterback…Junior running back Brodie Brownlee should also see some more playing time…Senior defensive back Matt Stone finished with three interceptions and is set to return...The Cougars won last year’s meeting, 30-3…S.L.V. (739) is the smallest school in the PCAL-Mission division in terms of enrollment.

 •••

Santa Cruz High

  • When: Oct. 18
  • Where: Santa Cruz High
  • Last year’s MaxPreps state rankings: 838th
  • Last year’s overall record: 2-8 
  • Last year’s league record: 1-5 (tied for last in PCAL-Cypress division)
  • Coach: Jesse Trumbull
  • Notes: Santa Cruz took a step back after winning its first league title in more than two decades two years ago...The Cardinals will be missing senior offensive lineman Ben Williams, who was a PCAL-Cypress first team selection…Nathaniel Loza is another skill position player that’s not returning…Santa Cruz junior receiver Henry Campion, who was also a PCAL-Cypress first team selection, finished with seven touchdown receptions last season and is set to return…N.M.C. won last year’s contest against Santa Cruz, 21-0, which was the first time both teams met in at least more than 20 seasons.

 •••

King City High

  • When: Nov. 1
  • Where: North Monterey County High
  • Last year’s MaxPreps state rankings: 646th
  • Last year’s overall record: 5-5 
  • Last year’s league record: 4-2 (tied for second in PCAL-Cypress division)
  • Coach: Mac Villanueva 
  • Notes: King City has finished with a .500 winning percentage or better in each of the last four seasons…The Mustangs have not won a league title since the mid ‘80s…N.M.C. lost last year’s league game against King City, 21-16…The Mustangs are going to miss defensive back/receiver Luis Briseno, tight end Isaias Gonzales, defensive lineman Gabriel Oritz and linebacker Alex Villasenor, all gone to graduation…The Mustangs, however, do have reigning PCAL-Cypress Lineman of the Year Francisco Sandoval coming back for his senior season.

 •••

Gonzales High

  • When: November 8
  • Where: Gonzales High
  • Last year’s MaxPreps state rankings: 715th
  • Last year’s overall record: 11-1 (CCS Division V semifinalist)
  • Last year’s league record: 6-0 (PCAL-Santa Lucia champion)
  • Coach: Art Berlenga 
  • Notes: Gonzales will be without running back Payton Flores, who is the reigning PCAL-Santa Lucia Most Valuable Player. He finished with 2,463 rushing yards on 250 carries and 31 touchdowns…The Spartans are also losing a big chunk of their roster including offensive lineman Miguel Arreola, receiver Dominic Emery, quarterback Raul Morales, linebacker Nael Vasquez, defensive lineman Pablo Villaseñor, who were all named to the PCAL-Santa Lucia first team…Gonzales, however, does have all-league first team defensive back Frank Cisneros, who can also play the receiver position…Gonzales (766) is the second-smallest school in the PCAL-Cypress division in terms of enrollment…The last time both teams met was in 2015. Gonzales defeated the Condors, 16-0.

•••

Editor’s Note: This entry is part 3 of 6 in a weekly series that will delve in each local high school football program’s schedule. Following alphabetical order, Pajaro Valley High’s breakdown will run in the Aug. 16 edition of The Pajaronian.

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