GONZALES — At the end of his sixth game as Gonzales head football coach, Arthur Berlanga was raised off the ground by Pablo Ayala in a bear hug to celebrate the Spartans first victory of the year and first of the Berlanga era.
The 24-0 Homecoming game win over the Marina Mariners snapped a seven-game losing streak that stretched into last season. For one glorious night that streak did not matter as the Spartans played well all game long.
Berlanga and his team have come close to winning the last few weeks and the win over the Marina helped to ease the pain of coming up short in games against Soquel and Santa Cruz to start the Mission Trail Athletic League season. The head coach had lost a little sleep after those setbacks but experienced a good night’s sleep on Friday.
“Feels great, I slept really good last night,” Coach Berlanga. “The process is taking its course. It was a great crowd and we played to a packed house. As a coach I am just fulfilling my purpose and using my gifts. Our quarterback Raul Morales had his best game of the year and our defense did everything we asked of them.”
The Spartans wasted little time getting on the scoreboard against the Mariners, taking a 3-0 lead on the first drive on a 29-yard field goal by Jaime Perez. On their third drive Morales threw a pass to Giovanny Garcia who ran the ball for a 38-yard touchdown. A point after attempt by Emanuel Camacho gave the home team a 10-0 lead.
Defensively the Spartans did a great job behind the pressure of lineman Pablo Villasenor, linebacker Seth Mays, and free-safety Michael Madera. Gonzales kept the Mariners out of the end zone. Villasenor finished the game with two fumble recoveries and Damian Acosta came up with a fourth quarter interception to keep the Mariners off the scoreboard.
In the third quarter the Spartans scored a touchdown on a pass play from Morales to Payton Flores for 27 yards and a PAT by Camacho. Gonzales made the score 24-0 with a two-yard pass play from Morales to Garcia. Perez entered the game and was successful on the PAT to complete the scoring.
Offensively Morales completed the game with 174 passing yards on an 11 of 18 passing performance, two touchdown passes, and one interception. Mays led Gonzales with 71 rushing yards on 14 carries and Flores had 63 rushing yards on 11 carries. Garcia was the reception leader with six catches for 100 yards and two scored two touchdowns. Flores added two receptions for 35 yards and Dominic Emery contributed with two catches for 49 yards.
Gonzales (1-2 in league and 1-6 overall), will have a bye this week and will be back in action on Friday, Oct. 20, against the Greenfield Bruins (1-2, 2-4 overall).
“We will use this week to rest up and recover from some injuries,” said Berlanga. “The bye comes at a good time for us as we want to be ready to play at Greenfield because that will be a very important game for us.”
The Spartan JV team played well in 28-18 loss against the San Benito High School (Hollister Haybaler) team. A few mistakes kept Gonzales from coming up with a win.
“We came into the game positive that we could win,” said Gonzales head JV coach Ruben Alvarado. “Mental mistakes keep hurting us. Our defense made a great stop and we drove the ball on our first possession. Jayson Flores had a great game playing several positions including throwing the ball to give us our last points of the game.”
Scoring touchdowns for Gonzales were Flores, Jojo Valdez, and Franky Cisneros.