Week 1 South Bay Game of the Week: Otay Ranch Mustangs 28, San Marcos Knights 24
Ethan Knight and Paul Richardson lead the way for Otay Ranch (1-0) as the Mustangs erase a 14-point deficit to beat San Marcos 28-24.
After not being able to convert on a turnover that was returned inside the San Marcos 5-yard line, Otay Ranch looked all but down and out as the Knights would respond on the ensuing drive. Emmett Brown would connect with Jalen Bainer on a 19-yard touchdown to go up 21-7. Bainer accounted for all three Knight touchdowns (2 rec, 1 rush).
The man of the night, Ethan Knight, would rally the troops taking over at quarterback and leading the Mustangs down the field on consecutive drives to tie the game at 21. It is worth noting that starting quarterback Paco Fuentes capped both drives off with two passing touchdowns and didn’t throw any interceptions in the game
San Marcos (0-1) would then respond with a drive of their own as Evan Vanderhei drilled a 27-yard field goal to give the Knights back the lead, 24-21.
The biggest play of the game would happen on the very next play as Ethan Knight would return the kickoff 88 yards for the touchdown to give the Mustangs their first lead of the game with under three minutes remaining in the fourth. San Marcos had an opportunity on their last drive, but Paul Richardson stepped in front of an Emmett Brown throw for the interception and clincher.
Both coaches will tell you it was a sloppy game on both sides of the ball with penalties and mental breakdowns, but Head Coach Lance Christensen of Otay Ranch would say a win is a win no matter how ugly.
San Marcos will look to redeem themselves at home against Mira Mesa (0-1) in Week 2, and Otay Ranch will look to remain undefeated as they head to Valley Center (0-1) for a tough road test.
Otay Ranch will open its 2019 season at home against San Marcos looking to avenge its 24-21 season-opener loss last year at San Marcos.
The Mustangs ended 2018 with a 6-5 record losing to Oceanside in the first round of the Division II playoffs.
Mustang head coach Lance Christensen enters his sixth season and is coming off back-to-back seasons finishing above .500, a feat last accomplished over a decade ago.
It is a new season and coach Christensen will look for new players to step up.
Offensively, the Mustangs lose running back and 1st team All-League player Noah Isley and the Metro-Mesa League’s offensive MVP, QB Jonte Stewart.
But, the big hit comes on the defensive side of the ball as Otay Ranch will lose four 1st team All-League players and three 2nd-team All-League players. The only notable returner is tight end Dylan Baca, who received 2nd team All-League honors.
San Marcos welcomes new head coach Derek Stank to the helm replacing Jason Texler who served as the Knights head coach for the past seven seasons.
Stank has big shoes to fill as Texler was 56-29 overall and 5-0 against South Bay opponents.
The 36-year-old coach travels from Bedford High in New Hampshire where he guided the Bulldogs to their second undefeated season and state championship in the last three years.
Like most teams in the county, the Knights lost key players to graduation. Quarterback Miles Hastings and Jack Carlson were both 1st team All-League players.
However, captains Gavin Cherveny, Jalen Bainer, Zavion Reese, and Maverick Martin are all returning for their senior year.
Cherveny, Bainer, and Reese all had solid games last year in the season opener against Otay Ranch.
Reese will also be this week’s Big Pig on Campus, as four chosen players to compete in fantasy points, going up against Dustin Ellison from Serra High, Christian Hall from Cathedral Catholic, and Keontae Springs from Madison.
Please make sure to catch the highlights at 11 p.m. on KUSI’s Prep Pigskin Report.