Monache holds off late comeback attempt by Golden West to win 28-20
VISALIA – Following a canceled 2020 season, the Monache Marauders are off to one of their best starts to a season in a long time. After last Friday’s narrow victory on the road at Golden West, Monache has improved to 2-0 for just the second time in the last decade.
Since 2007, the only other time the Marauders won their opening two games was in 2017 when they finished with seven wins which ties for the most they’ve had in a season since 2005. The strong start hasn’t come easy as they won both games by just one possession, and they escaped a late game comeback attempt by Golden West last week.
The game was filled with missed opportunities by both teams, but the Marauders capitalized when it mattered most. The Trailblazers closed the third quarter and opened the fourth with consecutive deep passes to receiver Michael Williams, with the second ending in the end zone, which cut the Marauder lead down to 28-20. After a series of miscues from the Monache offense, and good plays by the Blazer defense, Golden West had two possessions in the final eight minutes but failed to put together a game-tying drive.
Following a defensive takeaway on the game’s opening possession, Monache took an early 14-0 lead on the back of junior David Leyva and his pair of touchdown runs. They handed the momentum over on a silver platter after fumbles on back-to-back drives gave the ball to their opponents, with one of the possessions starting in the red zone. Golden West scored after both turnovers following touchdown runs from junior Ricky Elias and senior Diego Legaspi, which tied the game at 14 heading into halftime.
The fumbles continued for Monache coming out of the locker room as they coughed up the ball on their first possession, but the defense stepped up to only allow one touchdown in the second half. The offense got it together and scored two third quarter touchdowns to go back up 14, and would hold on to the lead. Despite the opening turnover, Monache put together a strong second half to earn the victory which was sparked by a change in the team’s demeanor after the break.
“We got a little bit of swagger back, we played with emotion. From about the middle of the second quarter on, we lost some emotion. This team is going to have to rely on emotion and we’re going to have to play excited football, even when there’s nothing to get excited about,” Monache head coach Shane Focke said.
The Marauders were carried by their run game as they only attempted five passes with three completions all game. When asked about key contributors, Focke gave the typical head coach answer by saying that it has been a team effort over the first two weeks. The stats from the Golden West game back up his claim as they had four players combine for 41 carries, over 150 yards and four touchdowns.
With their 2-0 start, Monache has already matched their win total from 2019. They’ll have one of their biggest tests of the season as they travel to play the 3-0 Strathmore Spartans on Friday at 7 p.m.
As for Golden West, they begin the season 0-2 with back-to-back single digit losses. They’ll be on the road this Friday to play at Bakersfield Christian at 7:30 p.m.