Rio Mesa thwarted Dos Pueblos at every turn on Friday night, spoiling the Chargers 2019 football opener with a 19-0 win in the first game on the new turf at Scott O’Leary Stadium.
CJ Lewis, a 6-3 senior running back/cornerback, ran for 120 yards on 19 carries and his 1-yard TD plunge gave the visitors a 19-0 lead with 5:39 to go in the third period. Ethan Feciuch had a strong all-around game with a 68-yard TD run in the third quarter and 12 tackles and two sacks from his linebacker position.
The Spartans, a team from Oxnard that plays in the Pacific View League, dominated in first downs (16-3), rushing yards (223-7) and total yards (309-87) while holding the Chargers without a first down in the second half.
“We’re young and we’re going to have some growing pains,” said DP coach Doug Caines. “We lost No. 50 Isaac Nungaray (offensive guard) with an injury at the end of the first half and that caused some holes.
“We missed a lot of execution and a lot of assignments. We didn’t execute offensively and we held but didn’t break on defense. We just bent a little bit too far. We gave up one big play. We need to finish plays and get a little better off the edge.”
Both teams had long drives in the first quarter that didn’t produce points. The Spartans had a first-and-goal on the 4-yard line but 6-5 senior Baylor Huyck intercepted a high toss in the back of the end zone on fourth-and-goal.
Huyck had five of the Chargers’ six receptions for 83 yards.
“I just go in when they need me and I can play pretty good defense,” said Huyck. “They can try to go over me (with a pass) but it’s pretty hard. We’re not very experienced but the people coming up are pretty skilled and I have confidence in them.”
On its second possession, Dos Pueblos went from its 20 to the Spartans’ 15 in eight plays. Daniel Pineda’s 39-yard field goal caromed off the right upright. Five plays earlier, Huyck caught a short pass in the left flat from quarterback Albert Alvarado, then juked a defender and sprinted into the end zone. The TD was nullified by a block in the back.
“Huyck had a pretty decent game and we were trying to find ways to fit him the ball a little better,” said Caines. “When he broke open, we weren’t getting the protection. He was streaking down the middle of the field a few times and we just couldn’t make it happen.”
The Spartans covered 80 yards in 15 plays on their next series, capped by a 10-yard scoring pass from Samuel Marquez to Joseph Hernandez on a fourth-and-2. Rio Mesa led 7-0 at the half.
The Spartans ran 27 second-half plays for 160 yards while the Chargers had 14 plays for minus 11. DP had four three-and-outs in the second half plus a fumble at its own 1-yard line, one play after Lewis had fumbled at the 1 on a 27-yard run that seemed destined for the end zone.
“The kids played very well in the defensive line and they penetrated well, which is something we’ve been working on,” said Spartans coach Jim Bittner. “DP is a big tough physical team and we really challenged our guys to step up. I think they met the challenge.
“Ethan Feciuch played a great game on both sides of the ball. He was flying around and they really struggled with him getting to the line of scrimmage. It felt like we were in control of the game but it never felt like we had it in control. When Ethan made that long run, it put us over the top.”
The Chargers made two first-half interceptions to thwart scoring chances. Huyck’s end-zone theft ended Rio Mesa’s 48-yard drive on its opening possession and Daniel Santacruz picked off a wobbly pass at his 42 late in the first half after Roberto Vargas applied the pressure on the quarterback.
DP drove to the Spartans’ 17-yard line, then Nungaray suffered his injury with 18 seconds to play. Lewis intercepted a pass at his own 9 and returned it 50 yards before getting stripped and losing the ball at the DP 41. Alvarado recovered and the half was over.
Udy Loza, Dos Pueblos’ top running back, only carried five times for 12 yards.
“We’re still trying to grow and figure out our guys,” said Caines. “Udy is fine. He played a lot of defense and I think he was a little winded.
“When the defense is on the field a lot, you’re going to get tired. We have to do a better job of getting off the field on third down. There were a couple of penalties but it’s not our job to complain about the zebras. There were a couple of crucial third downs that extended drives that should have ended much sooner.”
The Chargers travel to Oxnard to take on Pacifica, ranked No. 2 in Div. 6, on Friday at 7 p.m.