The first week of the 2017 high school football season is in the books, and the Mustangs have signed their name on Page 1 with a “W.” In Friday night’s season-opening matchup between the Mt. Carmel Sundevils and the Otay Ranch Mustangs, the Mustangs got a taste of sweet redemption. Otay Ranch reversed last year’s 34-0 loss to Mt. Carmel in the season opener, this time coming up with a 33-0 victory on home turf.
Mustangs quarterback Alfredo Garcia came ready to play, running it in himself for a 20-yard touchdown to start the action in the first quarter. Garcia was swift and composed under pressure, certainly showing promise for the team’s offense this season. All night long, the Mustangs did a solid job in both their passing and running game. Otay Ranch’s offensive line shined, allowing for the push they needed to make huge gains on runs and solidify the pocket. In the fourth quarter, Josh Leera slammed the door on Mt. Carmel, as he caught a screen pass from Jonte “Puka” Stewart for a 75-yard touchdown, juking out multiple Sundevils along the way. That TD would make the score 30-0 Mustangs.
Mt. Carmel had some shining moments, but the offense could not capitalize on third downs. Lefty quarterback Sean Casey also lacked the pocket security necessary to achieve passing yards. Sundevils defense looked strong early in the first quarter, with two sacks and a great interception by defensive back Dylan Jackson for a twenty yard-gain, although the offense couldn’t finish the deal. While the Mt. Carmel D-line did a decent job, the rest of the defense was not able to hold off the Mustangs.
Mt. Carmel faces a formidable foe next week when they take on La Costa Canyon, but they will look to bounce back from Friday night’s loss with new focus and determination. Meanwhile Otay Ranch will look to continue their winning streak as they gear up to play Valley Center. Tune in to PPR on KUSI every Friday night at 10:30pm to keep up with all the best highlights and recaps, and be sure to follow @RedJacketArmy on Instagram and Twitter.
PREVIEW: Week one of San Diego high school football season kicks off this Friday at 7pm, as the south county Otay Ranch Mustangs host the north county Mount Carmel Sundevils. Although a non-conference matchup, this season opener will provide an opportunity for both teams to set the tone for the 2017 season.
Last season the Sundevils, anchored by head coach John Anderson, achieved an overall record of 7-5 that included a close win in the first round of the Division 1 playoffs. The Sundevils had a record of 2-4 in the Palomar North County league, and were tied for 4th out of seven teams.
The Mustangs, led by fourth-year head coach Lance Christensen, finished last season with an overall record of 4-8. This also included a win in the first round of the Division 2 playoffs. In the Metro Mesa League, the Mustangs had a record of 1-3, finishing 4th out of five teams. As the Mustangs battle in the Metro Mesa League this year, they will look to replicate their success from back in 2015, when they were a playoff semifinalist.
In the last matchup between these teams on August 26, 2016, the host Sundevils achieved a dominating 34-0 win over the Mustangs. Now the Mustangs have a chance for revenge on home turf, but there’s no doubt the Sundevils will bring their game.
“It’s always nice to play at home, but Mt. Carmel is a really good team so whether you’re home or away you have to be focused and ready to play,” said Mustangs Head Coach Christensen. “When the lights come on, we’re hoping that we play to our potential.”
The Sundevils will be returning six starters on offense, including lefty quarterback Sean Casey, wide receivers Danny Edwards and Reuben Flowers, tailback Amir Batta, and offensive linemen Sean Singh and Alek Dubney. When go-to QB Dylan Hunt was injured last season, Casey went to work and completed 74 of 143 passes for 938 yards and nine touchdowns. Casey will certainly be an offensive player to watch for this year. On defense, three starters will return: linebacker Kekoa Willkomm (an impact defensive player returning from a knee injury), linebacker Spencer Jackson, and safety Grant Walby.
As for the Mustangs, they’ll be looking to running back Gus Espiritu for big plays on offense, as he rushed for 1,263 yards last season and scored seven touchdowns. Another offensive standout is backup quarterback Kelvin Bradley, who passed for 483 yards, five touchdowns, and three interceptions. On defense, the linebackers bring tremendous size and strength, notably Alex King (225), Manu Ta’a (210), and Darian Williams (210).
Kickoff is set for 7pm. Make sure to tune in to the Prep Pigskin Report this Friday at 10:30pm for highlights and game recaps, and follow us on Twitter @RedJacketArmy and Instagram @RedJacketArmy.