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2018 Team of the Year: Monterey Trail Mustangs

By Kerensa Uyeta-Buckley Citizen Sports Editor, 12/26/18, 7:15PM PST


The pure talent of players across Monterey Trail High School’s roster, combined with the proven guidance of the Mustangs’ coaching staff, spelled victory for Monterey Trail’s football program this year. They had a season full of jaw-dropping scores, broken records, and win after win.

The Mustangs were undefeated for most of the year, and the only loss they endured (they finished the season 12-1) came in the Div. I Sac-Joaquin Section Championship game against a football powerhouse that not only was ranked seventh in the nation at the end of the year, but went on to win the state championship weeks later.

“I think it was outstanding, I think the level of effort the kids put in to really get to where we wanted to be, and that’s a top tier team in the state, so to be in the top 20, it’s very humbling. The kids really did some great stuff. It shows a lot about their character,” Mustang head coach T.J. Ewing said on Dec. 19.

Limiting opponents’ offense was one trademark of the bulk of the season; during the stretch of Sept. 28-Nov. 9, the Mustangs held six combined opponents to 13 points, while scoring 340 points themselves.

The Mustangs also won the Metro Conference Championship with a perfect 5-0 record, and allowed just six points in league play, which were scored by Burbank.

Finishing the season ranked 20th in the state, it took the collective effort of a team that ranged from underclassmen to seniors.

The statistics could go on for a while but among them: senior quarterback Zach Larrier’s single season record for touchdown passes with 18, Jehiel Budgett ran past opponents all year long with a team-leading 1,564 rush yards and 23 touchdowns; Andre Crump had 830 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns; and Marcus Jones Jr. led with 147 tackles.

The skill, work and time spent on the football field this year led to the Mustangs’ winningest season in history, their third Section Championship appearance, and a postseason that left opponents scratching their heads.

All of their accomplishments, under the guidance of a coaching staff led by Ewing, who started the program, bodes well for the future, despite the departure of graduating seniors.

“I think the kids will do a good job taking on that responsibility and legacy the seniors left, and the work ethic and commitment they had. The brotherhood, camaraderie and togetherness they showed, they’re going to be able to take that on and really understand what their responsibility is to the program. If they want to be a part of that, they’ll do the work that is needed to get to that level because it took a lot of work. You’re talking some elite-level ball when you get to that last game, section championship, regional, state title. I think those younger guys understand; that’s why they came to Monterey Trail. They want to be challenged,” Ewing said.

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