SOLEDAD — Coming off a win against North Monterey County, the Soledad Aztecs returned home to start league play last Friday against North Salinas High School, but only the Vikings came ready to play, winning 49-7.
During warmup, the Aztecs were delighted to see Soledad receiver Daniel Raso able to suit up after missing the last game with a separated shoulder.
Aztecs quarterback Dominic Chavez made his second straight start at quarterback, replacing Bryan Acero, who played on defense.
According to multiple sources within the Soledad program, Acero was replaced last week due to a pulled hamstring. At this time, there is no indication that he will return to quarterback.
After the Vikings deferred the ball to the second half, Chavez and the Aztec offense had a chance to set the tempo, but instead they were out of sequence all game.
After scoring 27 points against North Monterey County, the Aztecs only scored seven points this game, making it the lowest amount of points they have scored all season.
On the Aztecs’ first drive, they went for three and out to start the game, giving the ball to the Vikings right outside the 50-yard line. The Vikings took advantage of the field position and on their first play connected on a long pass down their sideline, setting them up in the red zone.
One problem that the Aztec defense had was being fooled by the hard count all game, and that was a significant factor that led to the Vikings’ first score.
With the Vikings facing a fourth down deep into Aztec territory, they got a new set of downs when an Aztec defender jumped offside. Two plays later, the Vikings found the end zone to make the score 7-0.
On the second Aztec offense position, they managed to pick up a first down before facing a key fourth down. However, the offense self-imploded and the quarterback tried to pitch it to his running back, but the ball ended up five yards behind the line of scrimmage, giving the ball back to the Vikings.
With the momentum on the Vikings’ side, Daniel Raso gave the Aztecs some life. On the first play following the turnover, the Vikings decided to take a shot downfield, but Raso picked it off, giving the ball back to the Aztecs.
The Soledad offense continued to struggle, failing to take advantage of the turnover; the Viking defense capitalized and got a safety, making the score 9-0.
On the Vikings’ next offensive position, the offensive line punished the Aztecs by opening holes for their running backs. The Vikings then scored on a 25-yard run, making it 15-0.
Soledad’s defense suffered many injuries to their linebacker group during the game, leaving them to move players around to try to fill the positions.
During the first half, the offense seemed confused about what personnel were supposed to be on the field. With 8:23 in the second quarter, the Aztecs had burned all three timeouts when on offense.
“Too much miscommunication,” said Soledad Head Coach Jose Martinez. “We have to figure it out as a staff.”
Soledad finally got a drive going, stringing together a couple of firsts to get them deep into the Vikings’ territory. Chavez found Raso, making three defenders miss on his way to the end zone to make the score 15-7.
Trying to keep the momentum, the Aztecs tried an onside kick that was unsuccessful and led to another Vikings touchdown on the very next play, making it 22-7.
The Aztecs tried to answer right before the half, putting together another drive that put them in Vikings’ territory. The turning point in the game for the Aztecs came when Chavez connected with Soledad leading receiver Isaiah Cruz to get Soledad down to the five-yard line, but a holding penalty negated the gain. Soledad went into the half down, 22-7.
In Soledad’s first three games, the defense was able to make adjustments at the half and raise their level of play, giving up only six second-half points all season. But the Vikings offense packed it on in the second half, adding 27 points.
“They just outplayed us,” Martinez said. “They came out aggressive and faster than us.”
With Soledad dropping its first league game, the competition doesn’t seem to get much easier for the Aztecs. Soledad will play the entire month of October on the road, starting with Monterey this Friday.