WATSONVILLE—The Monte Vista Christian football team began their quest for a Pacific Coast Athletic League title last week.
However, the journey to league supremacy took a hitch for the Mustangs after a 50-29 loss to Monterey High in Mission Division action on Sept. 22.
For second-year quarterback Dominic Pierini, the only way to handle it now is to look past it and move on to the next battle.
“We lost, I think we have to come back stronger next week against Seaside and be 5-0 in the next five games,” Pierini said after Friday night’s game.
With the loss, the Mustangs drop to 0-1 in the Mission Division with five championship games remaining.
Next, the Mustangs will play Seaside High which is coming off a bye week after a 56-19 loss to Salinas High on Sept. 16.
Heading into last week’s game, MVC had won back-to-back games, including a 20-7 win over Alisal High and a 43-28 win over Santa Cruz on Sept. 16 to cap non-league play.
Pierini, who finished with a pair of touchdown passes, said he believed they should have won, but the Mustangs failed to play to the level they needed.
“We have to go harder and we have to keep our foot on the pedal, and get those wins,” Pierini said.
The game got off to a shaky start after Monterey senior Jkai Thomas was ejected for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
The outstanding running back was ejected from the game for displaying a martial arts crane stance after scoring the games’ first touchdown.
After the dust settled, Pierini joined Nico Downie on a 9-yard touchdown pass for MVC’s first score of the night, making it 7-all.
The Toreadors regained the lead in the second quarter, but it only lasted 32 seconds after Connor Pallott returned a kickoff for a touchdown, tying it at 15-all.
Monterey responded quickly after sophomore quarterback Preston White connected with receiver Levi Elmore for a 20-yard touchdown strike.
Shortly after, second-year wide receiver Kavon Collins returned a punt for 70 yards to extend Monterey’s lead to 29-15 before halftime.
White, who completed 11 of 15 pass attempts for 305 yards and five touchdowns, said no halftime talk was required after last week’s 17-16 loss to Hollister.
“Especially since we were on top the whole game, we certainly didn’t want to feel that again,” he said.
White threw two touchdowns apiece to Elmore and Collins, who finished with 136 yards on four receptions and 125 yards on three receptions, respectively.
“Our receivers, especially our linemen too, knowing how to block [MVC]. I really didn’t feel any pressure the whole game,” White said. “Our receivers are just doing a good job running their routes, getting to the ball. We were just locked in the whole game.
The Mustangs had the chance just before the break to cut the Toreadors’ lead. But a pass from Pierini to Jamie Ledesma on the 4th try and the goal was below the goal line.
“I know we are better than what the score showed there,” he said. “I feel like if we play them 10 more times, there’s no way the same scoreline will happen.”
Williams said they can’t give up big plays either, especially when the defense has a chance to get off the field on a third down situation.
“We’re sitting there holding them third and forever and they throw in a Route 9, and here we go,” he said.
Williams said the whole team had to be consistent from the start of the whistle and could not give free plays to talented teams such as Monterey.
“We have the talent, I just want to see them sacrifice themselves and play up to it,” he said. “I’m not about excuses, I’m about solutions.”
Pierini joined Jaiden Cote for a 38-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter that cut Monterey’s lead to 36-22.
At the ensuing kickoff, Nicolas Jimenez collected the kick in play for MVC to give the offense another chance to reduce the deficit.
Instead, a pass attempt from Pierini was intercepted by the Toreadors to end the drive.
After the match, the Toreadors were supposed to stand on the 50-yard line to perform a celebratory march, but instead began to strike the same pose Thomas was sent off for earlier in the game.
Williams said Monterey coach Alex Besaw told him about the celebratory walk, which was fine with Williams, but Besaw was unaware of the players posing.
“Besides, I know he’s going to deal with it…he said ‘I respect you guys and I didn’t want that to happen. Our guys are young and they’re learning,” Williams said.
Williams said his group of young players are well aware of their positives, like going from scoring just seven points in the first two games to a quarterback change, which is definitely making a difference.
MVC will get some well-deserved rest after some players limped off the field following last week’s loss to Monterey.
“We have a few things to clean up, back to the drawing board,” Williams said. “At least we have an extra day off.”
Monte Vista Christian by the sea
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.