Football | Soledad Aztecs beat Carmel Padres in home opener

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After playing two road games to start the season, Soledad played their home opener against Carmel on Sept. 9, winning 28-2. (Jason Gallardo/Staff)

SOLEDAD — After starting the season with two road games, the Soledad Aztecs finally returned home for their season opener against the Carmel Padres.

This game had fans feeling every emotion, as Soledad played not only their best half of football, but also their worst half of offense.

Coming off a win against Greenfield on a last-second field goal the week before, the Aztecs had some momentum going into their game with former MTAL members, the Padres, who fell to 1-1 with a loss to Gilroy last week.

Due to the extreme heat in California, the Aztecs decided to move their practice to later when the sun went down. On Friday at kickoff time, the weather had cooled dramatically as the temperature was in the high 70s.

On the football side, Soledad decided to change their offense when they moved Ivan Salcido to quarterback and Dominic Chavez to wide receiver.

So far this season, the offense has not been clicking like fans thought it would. And, in the first half, it would continue not to look great as the Aztecs failed to get into the endzone for the first time this season.

Soledad’s struggles seemed to be internal, as there appeared to be a lot of disorganization, with players looking confused about who should be in. But on defense, everything was clicking, as the Aztecs held Carmel scoreless for the first time since 2015, when Soledad last beat them 9-3.

Two Soledad players who ended two Carmel drives were Chavez, who had two interceptions in the first half, and Jacobo Ruelas, who led the team in sacks

“It starts at the beginning of the week, and film is a big thing for me,” Chavez said. “It’s just being an athlete and keeping your eyes up as a safety. I hold myself to a high standard, so good things come out of that.”

The only score of the first half came from a miss-snap on a punt that went out of the endzone, giving Carmel a 2-0 lead at halftime.

In the second half, Salcido and the offense started to get things going by completing downfield passes, but the run game was huge for them, and they scored 28 unanswered points. Soledad beat the Padres, 28-2.

“It was a team win,” Salcido said. “My line opened holes, and that’s why we won.”

Aztecs running back Francisco Ballesteros had three rushing touchdowns, and Daniel Raso broke a 77-yard run.

As Soledad moves to 2-1 on the season, they will host their rivals, the Gonzales Spartans, on Friday.

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Jason Gallardo is the sports reporter for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers high school sports for South Monterey County.

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