Two of the top dogs from the Santa Cruz Coast Athletics League battled it out on Friday night when Aptos High stormed into Dewey Tompkins Field to face Soquel High in a chase for first place.
The Mariners (6-2, 3-0) relied heavily on their run-attack yet again as they racked up 374 yards on 68 carries and three touchdowns in a 32-21 win over the Knights (5-2, 2-1). Two of those touchdowns came courtesy of Elijah Marta along with his 112 yards on 20 carries.
Soquel also had a weapon of their own, Fabiano Hale ran the ball 19 times for 188 yards and scored all of Knights touchdowns including a 41-yard beauty up the middle that gave them a 21-20 lead over the Mariners with 7:20 in the third quarter.
However, Aptos’ top ranked defense turned up the heat in the fourth and didn’t allow Soquel to add any more points on the board. The Mariners took control of the game after two costly mistakes by Soquel that included a turnover on downs and a fumble by Hale on his own 37-yard line.
After the Knights gave it up the first time, it was Brodie Bennet that ran a 25-yard run into the end zone to cap off a 9-play drive. Shortly after it was Marta with his second touchdown of the night that pretty much sealed the deal and gave the Mariners a shot once again a the SCCAL title this year.
“It feels great, I’ve been with these guys for a very long time and I know how hard they work,” said Alex Joh of Aptos about taking over the top spot in the league. “Just to be on top right now if feels amazing, but we can’t really settle still because the season isn’t over.”
Joh only completed two passes on Friday night, however both of them went for touchdowns of more then 50 yards to Alec Bonsall.
“I’ve been waiting for this game since last season,” said Bonsall. “When we played them last year I knew this was going to be the biggest game of the season. They’re a heck of team, Fabiano is one of the best running backs in the coast and we were able to contain him. I’m so happy right now.”
Although the Mariners found themselves in trouble with a total of six penalties for 45 yards, it was the 23 first downs and clock control that gave Aptos the win on Friday night.
“I think we came out with a great win but I still think that we can still get better,” said Joh. “You can never get pleased with your performance.”
The Mariner will have a bye next week but look to keep up their SCCAL dominance on Nov. 3 when they face San Lorenzo Valley High (6-2, 3-1) at home in Aptos.
As for Soquel, they look to get back on track when they go to Felton next week to challenge the Cougars in their own backyard on Saturday afternoon.