While four other teams have generated the majority of the spotlight from the Delta league this season, Monterey Trail is quietly having one of the best starts of any Sac-Joaquin Section team.
The Mustangs, off to a school-record 5-0 start, provided yet another reason why they might be a legitimate league contender after a 49-21 road win at Pleasant Grove last Friday.
Grant is also 5-0 overall and tied for first in the Delta League with Jesuit and Monterey Trail. Franklin and Elk Grove are just one game behind.
Of those five teams, Monterey Trail was the only team entering the season with an unknown future. While the others were not only league contenders but also Sac-Joaquin Section threats, the Mustangs figured to be in a battle for the league’s final playoff spot.
“We played great and did a good job of playing fast in an emotional and tough environment,” said Monterey Trail head coach T.J. Ewing. “We focused and cleaned up stuff we saw on film and made some plays.”
Playing on Pleasant Grove’s homecoming night, Monterey Trail silenced the crowd with 35 first-half points. The Mustangs scored 42 or more points for a third consecutive game.
Pleasant Grove, though, snapped Monterey Trail’s string of eight straight scoreless quarters.
“We are confident and knowledgeable in what we do and that is key to our success,” Ewing said.
While things were clicking on all cylinders on the offensive side of the ball for the Mustangs, Pleasant Grove also found mismatches and was able to connect on huge plays.
By then, it was too late.
Down by 28 points at halftime, Pleasant Grove quarterback Jake Ford score two touchdowns – one via run, one via pass - and cut the Mustangs lead in half.
“I thought we were actually playing to our potential,” said Pleasant Grove head coach Russell Gardner. “This team has a lot of talent and capabilities, but we have not been able to put it all together.”
Pleasant Grove, which lost back-to-back Delta League home games and fell to 1-4 overall, was outscored 14-0 in the fourth quarter.
“We are working hard but we are not just getting ourselves in the right place at the right time,” Gardner said. “The biggest thing we need to do is be ready to play.”
Monterey Trail scored five rushing touchdowns, including a 93-yard touchdown drive chewing up more than nine minutes of the second quarter.
Running back Trey Nahhas was able to punch it across the goal line four times while quarterback E.J. Viacrusis scored from two yards out on a quarterback keeper.
After starting the season with a pair of wins by nine points combined, Monterey Trail won each of the next three by 28 or more points.
“They (Pleasant Grove) really challenged our secondary and they did a good job of throwing the ball deep down the field,” Ewing said. “We have to practice and keep working and I have to do better in deciding what we are going to do as a team.”
The road ahead is daunting for Monterey Trail, and it starts this week with a home game against Franklin.
Grant comes to Mark Macres Memorial Stadium next week before back-to-back road trips at Elk Grove and Jesuit conclude October for Monterey Trail.
“This is a tough league and it’s not easy,” Ewing said. “Our guys understand what the league represents and the juggernaut of it, it’s going to be fun.”
Pleasant Grove will face another undefeated team this week, Grant, on the road.
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