SALINAS VALLEY — For the first time in over a year, South Monterey County high school football returned Friday night after last year’s fall season was canceled due to Covid-19.
This year’s South County Jamboree took place Aug. 20 in Greenfield, where all four local teams — King City Mustangs, Greenfield Bruins, Soledad Aztecs and Gonzales Spartans — met for play.
Upon entering the Bruins stadium, one could feel the positive energy coming from all the players, parents, cheerleaders and students, including those working the concession stands.
Greenfield High volleyball player Lupita Nuñez said she was just excited to experience things again.
“The school year has felt very cool and weird,” Nuñez said. “I’m so excited to make up for what we lost last year and do it all this year.”
First-year Gonzales High Head Coach Eddy Ramirez was happy to see his athletes back on the field.
“I’m glad that we are out here,” Ramirez said. “Last year we went a whole year without football, so I’m excited we are getting the opportunity to play again. We don’t take it for granted; we are just going to take it in and enjoy football.”
For teams like Greenfield and King City, which played some spring games, they are ready to build off that momentum.
Greenfield High Head Coach Adam Barsenas and his team played just one game against Pacific Grove last season.
“I love the fact I get to see the kids I worked with during our short spring season,” Barsenas said. “To see my kids get ready to play a full season is awesome.”
King City High, which played five football games last season, is ready to start a traditional fall season.
“I’m very happy to be out here,” said Mustangs Head Coach Mac Villanueva. “We missed out on this last year, so I’m happy to see this group of kids get this opportunity.”
Parents also expressed that it felt good to be back in the stands and cheering on their sons and daughters.
“My son missed football,” said Johanna Harrell, a parent who attended Friday’s game. “He missed hanging out with the guys, and I missed watching him have fun out on the field.”
With the players being the most affected by the layoff, Soledad High quarterback Bryan Acero said it was great to play again.
“The first snap I had the butterflies,” Acero said. “Then, after that they went away and it was back to normal.”
South Monterey County teams will be back in action this Friday, Aug. 27. Soledad will host Greenfield in a non-league game at 7 p.m., while King City will welcome St. Francis High School of Watsonville at 7:30 p.m.
Gonzales’ next game will take place Sept. 3 at home against Pacific Grove, beginning at 7:30 p.m.