PEBBLE BEACH — Needing a victory to win their first outright Mission Trail Athletic League title the Soledad Aztecs amassed 390 yards of offense and shut out the Robert Louis Stevenson Pirates 35-0.
The Aztecs used the running of Emanuel Ortega and the passing of quarterback Robbie SantaAna to receivers Angel Olivas and Aaron Rodriguez to beat the Pirates on the ground and in the air.
Ortega and Rodriguez were injured for a few games and their return to the field has meant power running in Ortega and an excellent receiver and defender in Rodriguez. With their return the Aztecs have won four straight league games.
“We always knew that we were the best team in league,” said Ortega. “We just needed to click on the field and get better as the season went on. Right now we are where we want to be with the playoffs coming up.”
Rodriguez recovered from a hand injury and has taken pressure off Olivas who is usually doubled team on his return to action. Rodriguez and Ortega stood on the sidelines in the lone league loss by the Aztecs to King City.
“Our coaches have helped us to prepare and to get to this point,” said Rodriguez. “There is no better feeling than ending league with the championship. This win was important to our team.”
Soledad took a 7-0 lead at the 8:25 mark of the first quarter on a ten-yard touchdown pass from SantaAnna to Rodriguez and a point after by Ulises Uribe. The Aztecs looked ready to score again after stopping the Pirates defensively after an interception by Rodriguez at the 43-yard line of Stevenson. With runs by Ortega and a 14 yard reception by Olivas Soledad was knocking on the door at the 12-yard line. The drive was short went Pirate defender Dylan Santos came up with a pick and was taken down at the 14-yard line.
Stevenson struggled from there and were fortunate to recover their own fumble. The Pirates tried a short run on third and 20 and had to punt after gaining just two yards. Behind the running of Ortega and Uribe the Aztecs were quickly in the red zone. With 22.3 seconds in the first quarter SantaAnna threw an eight-yard touchdown pass to Olivas. The second PAT by Uribe ended the quarter with Soledad leading, 14-0.
In the second quarter SantaAnna connected with Olivas for a 26-yard pass play of another score to put Soledad ahead, 20-0. On the PAT attempted a bad snap forced SantaAnna recover the ball and head upfield before being downed by the Pirates.
In the third quarter the Aztecs took a 27-0 lead with three-yard touchdown run by Ortega, scored two points on a safety, and completed the scoring with a 37-yard touchdown pass from SantaAnna to Rodriguez. Victor Ocampo was credited for making a stop on the safety and Uribe made one of his two last PAT’s for the 35-0 final.
SantaAnna finished with an eight of 15 passing performance and threw four touchdown passes. Olivas led the Aztec receiving corps with five receptions for 86 yards and score two touchdowns. Rodriguez caught two pass for 59 yards and scored two touchdowns and came up with an interception.
Ortega ran for 140 yards on 29 carries with one touchdown and Uribe contributed with 46 yards on four carries. Other Soledad rushers were: Chris Gonzales, two rushes for 21 yards; Diego Fernandez, two rushes for eight yards, SantaAnna, two rushes for seven yards; Christopher Chan, three rushes for five yards; and Marcus Morales, with two rushes for one-yard and making one catch for two yards.
“We won what is going to be the last MTAL title as things will be change in the leagues next season,” said Coach Berlanga. “Everything will stay the same for us on the practice field even though there will not be a game for us until the CCS playoffs begin. Our goals are the same and that means we will continue to work.”
Soledad will be seeded into the Central Coast Football Playoffs this upcoming weekend and will be out to defend the title they won last year. The Aztecs (7-3 overall and 5-1 in league), were co-champions in the MTAL with Carmel and Pacific Grove in 2015-2016 season and won the CCS Division IV Championship last season.
The Soledad Aztec JV team finished with a 2-4 league record and 5-5 overall record after defeating the Pirates on Saturday, 36-6. Quarterback Damian Mejia threw a touchdown pass to Angel Villalobos and touchdown pass to Josiah Freeman. Kevin Oliver and Ritchie Urquidez had touchdown runs and Jesus Lopez scored on an interception.