HS Football, Week 11: League title up for grabs in Salinas

Aptos junior running back Vaughen Holland (4) runs for positive yardage during Oct. 26’s PCAL-Gabilan division game against Palma in Aptos. — Tony Nunez/Register-Pajaronian

It all comes down to this.

Aptos and Salinas will meet tonight at “The Pit” for a share of the Pacific Coast Athletic League Gabilan division championship.

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

Both teams are coming off tough losses. Aptos (8-1, 5-1) lost, 40-35, to Palma last week, and Salinas (6-3, 5-1) dropped its first league game to San Benito, 35-28.

Salinas currently owns the bragging rights over Aptos after scoring a title-clinching win over the Mariners on Trevin Dilfer Field last season.

Aptos, however, had won the three previous meetings against the Cowboys before losing last year’s game.

The Mariners’ offense continued its impressive season — it’s averaging 46.8 points per game — in last week’s loss but the defense had an uncharacteristic night. Aptos had allowed just 74 points before struggling to contain Palma.

The Chieftains totaled 467 yards of offense, 315 of which came through the air.

The Mariners’ struggles in the defensive backfield could carry over to tonight, as Salinas junior quarterback Carl Richardson passed for 442 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions against San Benito.

The good news? Salinas could not slow down San Benito’s running game last week. Senior Steven Navarro and junior Juan De Leon combined for 400 yards and four touchdowns on the ground.

Aptos senior running back Marcos Reyes could be in line for another big night after plowing ahead for 204 yards and four touchdowns against Palma.

Here’s a look at the rest of the week 11 local high school football action:

Watsonville vs Monte Vista Christian; tonight, 7:30 p.m.: The Mustangs will be looking to make any last-second tune-ups before heading into the Central Coast Section playoffs.

Watsonville will be looking to prepare for the future.

M.V.C. (4-5, 4-1) has already secured one of the PCAL-Mission’s three automatic playoffs berths, and can finish second in the division with a victory.

Watsonville (4-5, 1-4), meanwhile, has lost four straight games, but can hold off a losing season if it can pull the upset over its neighboring school.

Coach Jubenal Rodriguez’s Mustangs last week cruised to their third straight league win. They beat North Salinas, 30-7, behind Scott Tinsley’s two touchdown runs.

Watsonville last week lost 20-14 to Soledad in the Salinas Valley. It was the sixth time over the last seven games that coach Ron Myers’ Wildcatz failed to score at least 21 points.

M.V.C. has dominated Watsonville over their last four games dating back to 2010.

Pajaro Valley at Stevenson; Saturday at 2 p.m.: The Grizzlies will close out the second season of the Kevin Cordova era in Pebble Beach.

With last week’s 20-12 loss to Marina, Pajaro Valley (3-6, 1-4) clinched the program’s fifth straight losing season. The Grizzlies, however, can match the program’s record for league wins if it beats Stevenson (3-5, 3-2).

The Pirates have lost their last two games, including last week’s 41-10 loss to undefeated Gonzales.

Aside from last week, Stevenson’s defense has been solid during PCAL-Santa Lucia action. It allowed only 14.8 points per game before last week’s loss to Gonzales, which has already clinched at least a share of the league title.

Finding cracks in the Pirates’ defense will be a good test for the Pajaro Valley offense, which last week was held to less than 20 points for the first time this league season.

Pajaro Valley last played Stevenson two years ago. The Grizzlies lost 41-13.

St. Francis vs North Monterey County; Saturday at 2 p.m.: The Sharks and Condors will be fighting to secure a .500 season when they meet in Watsonville for a PCAL-Cypress game.

St. Francis (4-5, 1-4) has been decimated by injuries, and has lost three straight games as a result.

N.M.C. (4-5, 2-3) is also coming off a loss, though it has not lost back-to-back league games this fall.

The Sharks, coached by John Ausman, have not posted a losing regular season record since 2014.

Coach Sean Gomes’ Condors could clinch the program’s first .500 season since 2014 with the victory on St. Francis’ Senior Day.

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