GONZALES — Last Friday was a return to football for the Gonzales Spartans, but the team came up short against the Pacific Grove Breakers, 34-20.
The last time Gonzales played a football game was Nov. 8, 2019. Coming into this season, the Spartans knew they were going to have some growing pain.
“We’re a young team, and we played like it,” said Gonzales Head Coach Eddie Ramirez. “The last time our QB played in a game, he was playing pop warner in eighth grade, and half our team is in a similar situation. We made a lot of rookie-type mistakes that will go away as we gain experience in our system.”
Pacific Grove, which was coming off a loss to Carmel High in “The Shoe Game,” put points on the board first when running back Luke Vanbrabant scored.
Gonzales had a hard time stopping the Breakers’ runs. Pacific Grove ended up rushing for 279 yards in the Sept. 3 home game.
The Breakers added another score in the second quarter, when running back Jacob Booker broke off a 75-yard run to make the score 14-0 going into the half.
Gonzales seemed to be pressing in the first half. Seeing that, the Spartans made every little adjustment at the half.
“We simply settled our nerves down and regrouped,” Ramirez said. “Our kids held each other accountable and we executed the game plan a lot better.”
Starting the second half, it didn’t seem that way as the Breakers scored again, making it 21-0.
But the Gonzales offense finally woke up in the second half, rattling off 20 straight points to make the score 21-20.
Spartans quarterback Juan Pablo “JP” Ayala-Acosta connected with wide receiver Gabriel “The Playmaker” Mendez for two touchdowns.
Mendez finished the night with nine receptions for 196 yards and two touchdowns, breaking a school record for receiving yards in a game.
On top of Ayala-Acosta’s two passing touchdowns, he also had a rushing touchdown.
Ayala-Acosta ended up completing 23 of 37 passes for 333 yards and two touchdowns, and running one touchdown in. He also broke a school record for passing yards in a game.
The Gonzales comeback, however, came up short, with the Breakers winning 34-20.
Despite the loss, Ramirez said he liked how his young Spartans team stayed together.
“I was most impressed with how well we hung together as a group,” he said. “It would have been easy to start pointing fingers, but we trusted each other and played hard for each other. I love my guys and was proud to see them fight to the end.”
Gonzales will have a short time to get over the loss as they will host Greenfield on Thursday, Sept. 9. (Read a preview here.)
“Going into this next week, we’re just going to get a lot more repetitions to get our guys more comfortable in our system,” Ramirez said. “Our kids are starting to trust the process, and it’s good timing as we have a short week against a tough competitor in Greenfield.”