GONZALES — It wasn’t long ago that Gonzales High’s football team was winning the Santa Lucia Championships, but after missing a year of play due to Covid, the Spartans’ return to the field wasn’t as expected when they failed to win a game.
Last year Gonzales was a team with every little senior and a ton of underclassmen.
Throughout the year, the Spartans endured a lot of growing pains up front on the offensive and defensive lines. They also suffered a big blow when their starting quarterback got hurt and missed the final part of the season.
The good news for the Spartans is they will have a lot of their players returning from last year, but they will have to replace Gabe Mendez and Juan Zarate.
If fans are looking for a bright spot to last season, Gonzales did almost beat Soquel, who made it to the playoffs and finished second in the Mission Division.
Going into this season, the Spartans will have the best pure quarterback in Juan Pablo “JP” Ayala-Acosta. Last year as a sophomore in his very first varsity game against Pacific Grove, he threw for a school record of 333 yards and two touchdowns.
In the previous season, the Spartans struggled to run the ball, and that made them one dimensional, which made it easier for defense to tee off on Ayala-Acosta.
Gonzales will look to Champ Flores to give them a running game to keep the defense on their toes. Last year Flores led the Spartans in rushing, and in a game against the Mission Division champs Santa Cruz, he broke off a 65-yard run and had over 100 yards rushing.
In order for Flores and Ayala-Acosta to get wins this year, they will need their offensive line to play better. Luckily, they will have the majority of them returning to help.