High school sports roundup: Santa Cruz County football teams rev up for this week’s kickoffs at Jamboree
In Lookout’s first Santa Cruz County high school sports roundup, Thomas Frey has the scoop on who shined at the weekend’s Jamboree at Cabrillo College, previews football openers and checks in on water polo, cross-country and more.
Editor’s note: As fall approaches, Lookout is glad to launch our first coverage of high school sports. The pandemic delayed our coverage in this area important to so many in our community. Thomas Frey, an alum of Cabrillo College who has covered high school sports locally, will lead our coverage. His column – rounding up the week and looking forward to the next — will run each Monday. He’ll also profile an athlete of the month. We welcome your input as we launch — email firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com (with high school sports in the subject line). Further, we now launch a new partnership with the Reggie Stephens Foundation. Buy a membership to Lookout via this link, and help support the foundation’s scholarships. Please let us know how you like the new feature.
Hello, I’m Thomas Frey, and I’m glad to be here, launching high school sports coverage for Lookout in Santa Cruz County.
Check here every Monday for my weekly recap. We’ll go in-depth on games, leaders, stats and alums at every school in the county. This fall, I’m excited to cover football, girls flag football, girls golf, boys and girls water polo, girls volleyball, girls tennis and boys and girls cross-country.
Beginning next month, we’ll feature a player of the month, chosen on such criteria as athlete success, team success, leadership and more.
I’ve loved sports my entire life and got my start in journalism as an intern at the Register-Pajaronian from 2014-16, while I was a student at Cabrillo College. I covered three games a week for those two school years and loved every second of it. A pair of Aptos High School football title runs through the Central Coast Section playoffs are among the highlights I will never forget.
Since then I have covered prep sports, mostly in Sacramento, but around the state, including reporting on national football powerhouses De La Salle High School in Concord and St. John Bosco High School in Bellflower.
I’m entering my eighth season covering high school sports, and the main thing I’ve learned is that every student-athlete at every high school has a unique story to tell.
I want to tell those stories, but I need your help, mostly with statistics. If you are a coach, please post your stats online or email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are an athlete, push your coach to post your stats. With access to full stats, there is no limit to what I can write.
I look forward to covering the area thoroughly.
Thanks already to all the coaches and athletic directors who have gotten in touch with us. And for those who haven’t, we’re digital, and always open. Contact me at email@example.com.
With the 2023 football season beginning this Thursday, teams all around Santa Cruz County warmed up with live scrimmages this past weekend, including a preseason competition called the Jamboree. Friday’s event at Cabrillo College included several county teams playing short games against each other that do not count, to prepare for the regular season.
For Monte Vista Christian School, junior quarterback Dom Pierini threw touchdown passes to junior wide receivers Nico Downie and Nate Collins. Senior running back Connor Pallott used his speed to beat defenders to the edge, gaining big yards to move the chains. Defensively, senior linebacker Anthony Loredo recorded an interception for the Mustangs.
“We can’t wait until kickoff at Los Altos on Saturday,” said Monte Vista Christian coach Spencer Ferrari-Wood.
Getting out of the Jamboree healthy was a big plus for Scotts Valley High School.
“Everyone on the squad contributed,” said Scotts Valley coach Louie Walters, whose team hosts Gonzales on Saturday. “We still need to work some kinks out and overall the coaches are very happy about the first night of live action.”
Harbor High School has a big season opener at home against rival Santa Cruz High School on Friday and got impressive numbers at the Jamboree from a group of seniors. Ferris Vitali accounted for more than 100 total yards rushing and receiving and Jeovany Linares rushed for two touchdowns. Defensive tackle David Hernandez got into the backfield all night, recording four tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks while linebacker Jose Aguirre had seven solo tackles.
St. Francis High School had good showings from senior Gavin Valencia, who stood out on both sides of the ball at running back and linebacker, according to coach John Ausman. Ausman also said junior Nicolas Paz anchored both the offensive and defensive lines.
“We are excited,” Ausman said about the season beginning. “When you’ve worked hard throughout summer and through camp for this time of year, there is nothing like it.”
This week’s schedule
No. 23 Soquel High School at No. 2 Los Gatos High School
Soquel comes into the season ranked No. 23 out of 94 teams in the Central Coast Section MaxPreps rankings after going 10-2 and earning the top seed in the Division III playoffs last season. The Knights have a tough test against No. 2 Los Gatos, which went 8-3 on the season with a 5-0 record in the De Anza League.
San Lorenzo Valley High School at South San Francisco High School
The Cougars head into the 2023 season with momentum after winning their final game in 2022. The first test is a trip to South San Francisco to take on the Warriors, who went 6-4 last year.
Pajaro Valley High School at Ripon Christian School (0-1)
Pajaro Valley takes on the reigning Division VII Sac-Joaquin Section champions in Ripon Christian, which started its season with a 63-41 loss on Friday.
Oakdale High School (1-0) at No. 12 Aptos High School
Aptos went 8-3 last season with a trip to the Central Coast Section Division II semifinals last season. The Mariners will begin 2023 by hosting Oakdale of the Sac-Joaquin Section, a squad they beat 39-29 in 2022.
St. Francis High School at Monterey High School
St. Francis went 9-2 last year with a trip to the Central Coast Section Division IV playoffs. This week, the Sharks make the trip south to play Monterey, a squad coming off an 8-5 season with a trip to the Division V Central Coast Section finals.
Santa Cruz High School at Harbor High School
Santa Cruz and Harbor will clash for the first time since 2021 with the Conch Shell Trophy on the line. Santa Cruz has won 10 of the past 15 matchups since 2004, including the past four meetings.
Monte Vista Christian School at Los Altos High School
The Mustangs are looking to bounce back from a 3-7 season in 2022, and their first test is against Los Altos, another team looking to bounce back after a 4-6 season.
Gonzales High School at Scotts Valley High School
Scotts Valley had a stellar 7-3 record in 2022, including an exclamation point 48-6 victory over North Salinas to end the season. The first visitor of the year for the Falcons will be Gonzales, which is coming off a 3-7 season.
Watsonville High School at Carmel High School
After going 2-8 last season, the Joe Gregorio era at Watsonville will begin with a trip to Carmel to play the Padres, who went 5-5 last season.
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Teams from around Santa Cruz County begin play this week, highlighted by an intra-county game on Wednesday between San Lorenzo Valley High School and St. Francis High School.
Girls water polo
Harbor High School, Soquel High School and Aptos High School all begin the season this week, according to mbaypreps.com.
Aptos, under coach Cory Murphy, returns several key players. Senior Fiona Carey had 102 goals last season and was an all-league selection. Junior Adriana Santillano is a returning starter who will “step into a bigger role as a facilitator,” Murphy said. He added that sophomore Madi Knudsen and freshman goalie Mary Suarez-Abraham will have big opportunities to make an impact immediately as starters.
Boys water polo
Harbor High School and Santa Cruz High School begin play this week, while the remaining county squads start the following week.
Boys and girls cross-country
Monte Vista Christian School will host the MVC Invitational on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. The Mustangs return several strong runners including senior Mario Gonzalez Chavez and sophomores Gavin Beckmen, Connor Gilliam and Eli Cleft on the boys side. For the girls squad, junior Kylie Brunelli returns after finishing 73rd at the California Interscholastic Federation state championship as a sophomore.
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