SOLEDAD — It might not have been a pretty win, but the Soledad Aztecs survived their first league game of the year, beating North Monterey County 9-7.
Coming into the season, many believed that the Aztecs would be this dynamic offense that would put up 28 points per game. That hasn’t been the case, as the offense has only scored over 20 points once this year.
Last year through five games, the Aztecs racked up 98 points, while this year, they’ve only scored 87.
Despite the problem on offense, the defense has been the bright spot for Soledad. Under former head coach Eric Rodriguez, the defense unit has been saving the season for the Aztecs, as they continue to dominate.
Last year the Aztecs beat North Monterey County 27-14.
Coming into the Sept. 23 game, both Soledad and North Monterey County were coming off a win. The Condors beat Harbor 34-6, and the Aztecs beat Gonzales, 19-14.
In the first half, both teams’ offenses couldn’t get much going, but it was North Monterey County who scored the first points of the game, taking a seven-point lead going into half time. It’s only the second time all season that the Aztecs didn’t score a point in the first half.
At the start of the third quarter, when the Aztecs needed a spark, Daniel Raso returned the kickoff 70 yards to set up Soledad with their best starting field position of the game. A couple of plays later, Raso found the endzone for his fourth touchdown of the season to pull them within one after a botched snap on the point after.
The Aztecs were able to keep their momentum going when they forced a fumble on the kick and recovered the ball on the Condors’ 26-yard line.
Soledad capitalized on the good field position when Ivan Salcido kicked a 32-yard field goal to put the Aztecs in the lead for the first time in the game, 9-7.
Late in the fourth quarter, Soledad punted the ball back to North Monterey County with 2:07 left in the game. The Aztecs needed their defense that has bailed them out all season to get one more stop.
Entering the game, Soledad’s Dominic Chavez has been their best player on defense all season, and once again he showed up big for them. With 1:20 left, Chavez ended the game with an interception, giving Soledad their third win in a row.
Chavez is now tied for first in interceptions in the Pacific Coast Athletic League.
Soledad moves to 4-1 and will return home this Friday to face Watsonville.