Sunday, October 13, 2019 SALAZAR’S FIELD GOAL LIFTS SEASIDE Kicker boots 36-yarder with 2 seconds left as Spartans edge Toreadores in rivalry game By John Devine jdevine@montereyherald.com @JohnJDevine on Twitter MONTEREY >> Deja Vu. Pandemonium once again erupted in the annual Battle of the Bay. This time it was Seaside rejoicing and shedding some tears, as Brayan Salazar kicked a 36-yard field goal with two seconds left Friday to beat Monterey 23-20 at Monterey Peninsula College. “Surreal,” Salazar said. “Right now I’m just feeling excitement and love for my team. I’m thankful for the moment.” Last season the roles were reversed when Salazar’s cousin Tony Barragan sent the Toreadores into a state of hysteria with a game-winning field goal as time expired in a 29-26 win. Surrounded by the Seaside student body on the field and embraced him. “He just told me it was a good kick,” Salazar said. “All I remembered coming into the game was his kick. We both did this for our cousin, who passed away last year.” As a result, the series is now tied a 28-28-1. Three of the last five games have been decided by three points or less. “If you bought a ticket, you got your money’s worth,” Monterey coach Henry Lusk said. “Same exact ending as last year. This time we were on the wrong end.” Ironically both celebrations have occurred on the visitor’s sidelines at MPC, where the teams have alternated sides the last three years. “We will build off this game,” Lusk said. Seaside will rejoice, taking home the perpetual trophy that accompanies the winning team, as well as improving to 6-0. “I just pray for another day,” Salazar said. During the team dinner earlier in the day, Salazar said the team watched a video of the 2004 game, which ended with Juan Carlos Cabrera kicking a game-winning field goal as time expired. “It’s been on my mind the entire day,” Salazar said. “That and my cousin’s kick. In my mind, I had been preparing for this moment the entire game.” So when the opportunity presented itself, Salazar might have been the calmest guy on the field. “No nerves,” Salazar said. “This is what we work on in practice with my center and holder. I knew it was going in before the snap.” Lusk had other ideas. “I was thinking overtime,” Lusk said. “Didn’t happen.” Salazar’s day didn’t get off to the start he envisioned, missing an extra point after the Spartans’ first touchdown. “He wasn’t kicking very well in warmups,” Seaside coach Al Avila said. “But he’s kicked well for us all year. I just said let’s give him a chance. When the ball left his foot, I was thinking about 2004.” The Toreadores have dropped their last two games by a total of four points, and their last three games by a total of seven points. “You can’t have seven jumping offsides penalties,” Lusk said. “Stuff like that is ridiculous. The kids weren’t watching the ball. It’s something we can fix. But it was costly tonight.” Despite the mistakes, Monterey ran off 13 straight points on the strength of quarterback Josh Elmore in the second half to tie the game at 20. Elmore, who returned last week when it was determined that he didn’t break his right throwing hand, hit Hendrick Lusk on a 40-yard scoring strike, then rushed for a touchdown to tie the game. “I thought Henry and his staff put together a great game plan,” Avila said. “That’s the best I’ve seen Monterey play all year. It made some big plays when it needed to.” With all the momentum, the Toreadores defense created a turnover with an interception, giving the ball back to the offense, which got into field goal position with four minutes left. But when the kick went wide, Seaside had life back on its sidelines. It went back to the ground game to chew up the clock, turning to Treyvon Campbell for a huge third-down run to keep the drive alive, setting the stage for Sandoval’s heroics. “Treyvon was limited because of an ankle injury,” Avila said. “That run may have changed the complexion of the game. It certainly fueled the drive.” With its starting quarterback and tailback out for the season with injuries, Seaside turned to its fourth back in Rusty Finona. A demon on defense, Finona blew through a hole on the second offensive play and took off 68 yards for a touchdown to stake the Spartans to an early lead. “I thought we had a chance to take the game over and we didn’t do it,” Avila said. “We did enough to win. But our kids couldn’t get that other gear. I felt like we went through the emotions in the second half. We weren’t in rhythm.” Playing with some urgency, Monterey (3-4) answered Seaside’s first touchdown when Elmore hit Jaiden Russell across the middle, where the sprinter eluded tacklers to get into the end zone, giving them a brief 7-6 lead. “We made some adjustments on defense,” Lusk said. “I thought our defense responded. I think our kids realize if we put this together, we can be special. Right now this is where we’re at.” Contact reporter John Devine at 831-726-4337.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019 WEEK IN REVIEW Seaside still has its skeptics As each win passes, the criticism seems to increase. Who has Seaside played? Well, let’s see: the defending state champions, a Gabilan Division opponent and its biggest rival. I get it. The combined record of the six teams Seaside has beaten this year is 4-34. Three teams are still winless. Is that the Spartans’ fault? Haven’t we had this discussion before? People like to pick on teams that are winning. Yet, instead of reminding them of their schedule, how about the fact that Seaside is persevering with a beat-up roster. The Spartans starting quarterback is out for the season. Their leading rusher is gone for the year. In last Friday’s win over Monterey, they lost their starting outside linebacker for the year — all to broken collarbones. Arguably one of the best linemen in section in Tevita Kamitoni was limited to playing just offense because of a lingering ankle injury, leaving the defense with a gaping hole last Friday. The next man up mentality is running thin. Yet, there was Rusty Finona, a defense demon, bolting 68 yards for a touchdown as the No. 4 running back. Trevyon Campbell wasn’t suppose to play. Yet, he had one of the biggest runs of the game late in the fourth quarter on a bad wheel to set up an eventual game-winning field goal. Seaside got tested, pushed to its limits, and found a way to win game against a Monterey team desperate for a win. Losing your two best offensive weapons in Tristan Cortez and Bubba Quenga is crippling. Then again, it’s fuel for motivation. That and being told you’re overrated. Keep the wallpaper coming. GAME OF THE WEEK Battle of the Bay missing that buzz Rivalry game comes when both Monterey and Seaside high schools are out for fall break. By John Devine jdevine@montereyherald.com @JohnJDevine on Twitter MONTEREY >> Anxiety usually develops from the week-long buzz, as hype and an electric atmosphere flood the campus halls. That’s not the case leading up to Friday’s 57th annual Battle of the Bay. Both Monterey and Seaside high schools are out this week for fall break. And that’s a concern for the head football coaches of both schools. “I don’t like it,” Seaside coach Al Avila said. “I don’t know how the atmosphere will be. As far as the spirit leading up to the game, it will be different. We’re not in school.” The past has seen an adrenaline rush that grows to unforeseen levels on both campuses, often forcing coaches to calm down their players. “Fall break, in general, takes you out of your rhythm,” Monterey coach Henry Lusk said. “It may help the kids stay focused. But you’re missing that buzz around campus.” Thanks to a game-winning field goal in last year’s battle, the Toreadores hold a 28-27-1 series lead entering Friday’s game at Monterey Peninsula College (7 p.m.) — arguably the most intense among players, some of whom live next to each other. “Whoever made this schedule doesn’t respect the rivalry,” Avila said. “It was put together for whatever was easy for them. We’re in the same league. It easily could have been the last game.” Because the Spartans and Monterey were in different divisions last year, the game was held earlier in the year. The results dictated both teams’ seasons. Seaside never fully recovered, finishing 1-9, while the Toreadores won more games than they had the previous three years combined in finishing 10-2. “We’ve never led in the series,” said Avila, who has been a part of the series as a player and coach for four decades. “Practices are a little more intense this week. But you don’t want to play your best game in practice.” Despite injuries eating away at the Spartans, they are the only undefeated team left in the county at 5-0 — which includes a win over reigning state champion Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland. “We’ve played Marin Catholic,” Lusk said. “We know what the next level looks like. Seaside plays hard. It has some players that are difference makers. So do we.It’s a matter of who shows up.” The Spartans have been hit hard with injuries at the skill positions, as tailback Bubba Quenga is likely out for the year with a broken collarbone. Also, Treyvon Campbell, who splits time in the backfield with Quenga, left last week’s game with a sprained ankle. Between them is nearly 800 yards rushing. “We were down to our fourth back last week,” Avila said. “Sure it is a concern. But that’s OK. It is next man up. We played a lot of backups against North Salinas and the kids played well.” The return of quarterback Josh Elmore last week ignited a Monterey offense, which produced 35 points in a one-point loss to Monte Vista, falling to 3-3 overall. Erase the Marin Catholic debacle and the Toreadores are averaging over 35 points a game with the senior quarterback in the lineup. “Offense isn’t our problem,” Lusk said. “Our problem is we haven’t been able to stop opponents. As a staff, we need to see what we can do to get better.” In grading two of the Toreadores last three losses on film, it didn’t take long for Lusk to figure out what his team’s defensive deficiencies are. “It’s tackling,” Lusk said. “We can’t stand there and watch one guy try and make a tackle. You have 11 guys on the field. That’s something that can be fixed. We need to play technique football.” Having dropped three of their last four after a 2-0 start, the Toreadores sit just one game behind Seaside in the Mission Division. Two league losses, though, could be crippling in chasing a second straight divisional title. “This game certainly could help decide a league title,” Lusk said. “It’s a pride thing. But one game isn’t going to dictate our season. We just want to figure out a way to win this.” The Toreadores have a tremendous amount of speed at the skill positions, with half of the track team’s state-qualifying 400 relay team flanking the outside. When given time to throw, Elmore has picked apart defenses, having thrown 10 touchdown passes to a corps of receivers that includes Jaiden Russell and Hendrick Lusk. “It’s an athletic and fast group,” Avila said. “You have to contain that speed on the outside. You have to put pressure on the quarterback. He’s dangerous. We have to rise to the occasion.” Seaside has seen this type of speed before in Bishop O’Dowd, holding its offense to seven points in the program’s biggest win since capturing a Central Coast Section title in 2009. The Spartans defense has been filthy all year behind 308-pound lineman Kefu Leander and Tevita Kamitoni. “Those two guys are really special,” Avila said. “Not just on defense, but offense as well. Those are two of the best lineman in the county. I’ll challenge anyone in the CCS to see who is better.” Help is on the way as 6-foot-6 lineman James Milovale is expected back to create havoc as a pass rusher along with Dylan Olivares for Seaside, which has allowed four touchdowns on defense all year. “Our lines are our strength,” Avila said. “But we have to get better at so many different things. We have been misfiring on offense. We’ve been our own worst enemy.” Avila was speaking about seven touchdowns called back this year because of penalties, a trend that has continued throughout the season. “I call that stupid aggressiveness,” Avila said. “We consistently shoot ourselves in the foot. We cannot continue to do that if we want to get to where we want to be.” Lusk believes a challenging preseason has helped prepare Monterey for a game of this magnitude. Now it’s about rising to the occasion on one of the biggest stages. Monterey hasn’t faced a defense this dominating since Marin Catholic, which shut them out — a first since Lusk arrived as the head coach. “We know Seaside likes to shoot the gaps and let their kids go,” Lusk said. “It’s our job as coaches to figure out how to slow them down. Discipline and execution solve a lot of issues.” Contact reporter John Devine at 831-726-4337. Seaside will need to figure out how to contain Monterey’s great speed, including that of Hendrick Lusk. DAVID ROYAL — MONTEREY HERALD CORRESPONDENT