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MT becomes playoff eligible

By Sade Mills, Elk Grove Citizen, 10/22/13, 3:15AM PDT


At this point in the season, it doesn’t matter the manner in which a team gets a win; just that they get them.

Monterey Trail, needing at least two Delta Valley Conference wins to become playoff eligible, has played close games all season, most of which were undecided until the fourth quarter.

With a three-game gauntlet ahead to end the regular season and with already one league win, Monterey Trail could ill-afford to lose to a struggling to Laguna Creek team.

They didn’t. Barely.

“We’re in playoff position,” said Monterey Trail quarterback Donovan Robinson. “We have to keep getting victories”.

The Mustangs did just that.

Escaping with a 35-28 win over Laguna Creek in a rare Thursday night game, Monterey Trail improved to 5-2 overall and notched a much-needed second league win.

In doing so, the Mustangs remained tied for first place in the DVC with Elk Grove at 2-0.

Monterey Trail begins a difficult three-game stretch Friday at Grant. They will also play Elk Grove at home and Franklin on the road to close out the regular season.

Typically, six overall wins are the playoff benchmark, although 5-5 records have qualified in the last two years since the Sac-Joaquin Section changed its playoff eligibility requirements.

A sixth win would guarantee Monterey Trail a playoff spot. If they finish 5-5, it would depend how many other teams are eligible in Division I.

Conversely, Laguna Creek is trying to snap its losing streak, which extended to six straight. They have not won since the season opener. 

“If you make mistakes, you lose.” said Laguna Creek head coach Dave Morton.

Laguna Creek’s offense showed promise on the first drive of the game, eating nearly six minutes off of the clock and dominating the ground game.

Russell Williams, Jr. showed explosiveness that both he and the Cardinals lacked since his thigh injury three weeks prior against Jesuit.

The Cardinals trio of running backs of Jacobi Kelly, Jaquan Brown-Collins, and Williams Jr., had its most productive game of the season since the opener.

Laguna Creek rushed for 193 yards, led by Williams’ 109 and three touchdowns.

Laguna Creek’s first half, though, was riddled with mistakes, including two turnovers that halted promising offensive drives.

“Take those away and we’re in the game,” said Morton.

Even with those, Laguna Creek still had a chance to win the game.

Monterey Trail’s Jahmar Sexton broke up a potential game-tying pass attempt near the end zone with 16 seconds left.

Sexton also caught a touchdown pass and blocked a punt.

Monterey Trail head coach T.J. Ewing admitted that preparing to defend against a team with strong running backs was not the easiest task.

“We put out a lot of energy, and I give my defense credit,” Ewing said. “They played really good tonight and our senior leaders really stepped up.”

Monterey Trail running back Trey Nahhas rushed for 191 yards and two touchdowns. He also had a team-high 15 tackles.

Robinson accounted for three touchdowns, including two on the ground.

He rushed for just 25 yards on seven carries, but scored two of Monterey Trail’s four rushing touchdowns.

He also completed 4-of-5 passes for 85 yards and a touchdown pass to Sexton, who caught two passes for 81 yards.

The game was moved to Thursday night because of a scheduling conflict with Florin, which also shares Mark Macres Memorial Stadium.

Florin played Rosemont in a Metro Conference game on Friday.

Florin and Monterey Trail also have home games the same week in late October. Then, Florin will play on Thursday against Kennedy (Oct. 31) and Monterey Trail will play Friday against Elk Grove.