It was a perfect setting, albeit a little hot, for a football game at Monterey Trail High School last Friday night. There was the new turf at Mark Macres Memorial Stadium with “Wet Paint” signs marking off the new Mondo track surrounding the facility.
The lanes on the 400-meter oval was painted the day prior.
The students and fans showed up in big numbers for both Monterey Trail and Elk Grove. But, there was something special in the air on the green and gold side.
The buzz from a loud, motivating pep rally earlier in the day lingered with the student body and faculty. The press box was loaded with piles of pizza boxes, hot dogs and sodas and the snack bar was a potpourri of ethnic foods.
Will James and Access Sacramento’s “Home Town” sports crew were on site to telecast the game.
Monterey Trail head coach T.J. Ewing led his troops onto the new synthetic turf ready to shock the Sac-Joaquin Section. The players didn’t disappoint.
Monterey Trail, which spent most of the offseason defending its playoff berth from a year ago, proved it was not a fluke by dominating the Thundering Herd, 27-0, in the program’s first-ever shutout in school history.
“These kids deserve it, they worked their tails off for it,” Ewing said excitedly afterwards. “We know how good Elk Grove has been in the past and that’s what makes this special.”
The reality is Elk Grove is accustomed to this position: Being the unlikable favorite against a rising underdog. Head coach Chris Nixon understands that.
“We’re always the Super Bowl for any team we play in this area,” said Nixon.
The school has won so many league titles and championships the past 15 years that anyone who plays the Herd doesn’t need much motivation to get ready for them.
Even though it was the second game of the season for Monterey Trail, the way they celebrated at the end made a casual passerby wonder if the Mustangs had just won the Lombardi trophy, the award to the Super Bowl winner.
It started with the Mustangs scoring early and then not allowing the Herd offense to get untracked.
Sedale Hunter scored from 35 yards out just four minutes into the game and the Mustangs had an early 7-0 lead. Monterey Trail really never turned back from there.
Derek Tofi’s 37-yard scamper 19 seconds prior to intermission gave the Mustangs a 19-0 lead at the half.
After fumbling the ball nine times the previous week in a loss to Fairfield, mistakes were kept to a minimum by Monterey Trail. The only issue was the penalty flags.
Sixteen times the Mustangs were penalized for 188 yards. So numerous and unusual were the infractions that a 58-yard touchdown pass was called back in the third quarter and a rare double-penalty assessed against the Mustangs.
A second quarter interception by David Martinez was waived off when the Mustangs were penalized for failure to wear required equipment, and a long run by Tofi came back for sideline interference.
Elk Grove running back Russell Robards, who had 187 yards in the previous week’s win over Chavez, managed only 30 on 14 carries. And the Herd defense, which allowed minus-11 yards to Chavez, was so porous Friday as they gave up 307 yards on the ground alone to Monterey Trail.
“It’s all about matchups in high school ball,” Ewing said. “I think we matched up really well tonight.”
Linebacker Derek Bellamy led the defense with 12 tackles, including two for losses and a sack. Monterey Trail sacked Elk Grove quarterback Alex Angell four times and picked off one of his passes in the end zone with eight minutes left.
“We just pound the ball, pound the ball,” said Monterey Trail quarterback Mike Calvan, who threw for 120 yards and scored a rushing touchdown. “(The offensive line) is the best. That’s what they’ve been working on all summer. All those gassers, tires, liners, everything all worked for this moment right here.”
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