It wasn’t an artistic masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but the San Benito High football team will take a win any way they can get it—especially when it’s in the postseason. Despite a rash of injuries, the No. 2 seed Haybalers had more than enough to beat Salinas 21-10 Friday in a Central Coast Section Open Division I playoff opener.
San Benito (10-1) hosts No. 3 seed Milpitas (9-2) at 7 p.m. Friday. Against Salinas, the Balers were missing several key players, including top running backs Hunter Nye (ankle), Carson Schmuckle (concussion) and defensive tackle David Cadena. The team’s other starting tackle, Richard Justo, played sparingly due to injury.
Despite the adversity, the Balers were never seriously threatened, taking a 14-0 lead after Robert Mendoza and Isaac Regalado returned interceptions for touchdowns, covering 15 and 30 yards, respectively, in the first quarter. The Cowboys scored 10 unanswered points to cut their deficit to four points, but they would get no closer.
“We had some injuries that really affected us, but a lot of players stepped up,” Mendoza said.
Jonny Gonzalez, who finished with a game-high 128 yards on 20 carries, went over right guard for a 15-yard TD run to account for the final margin with 9 minutes, 56 seconds remaining. Eddie Moran had a season-high 74 yards on 17 carries, and punter Diego Fisher also made an impact, as his best punts covered 44, 45, 49 and 54 yards.
“Diego Fisher is a great weapon as far as playing the field position game,” Smith said.
Smith was pleased with the team’s defense, as it forced Salinas quarterback Brett Reade into a number of mistakes. Reade was just 9 of 25 for 47 yards with the two interceptions that were returned for scores. With 1 ½ sacks, Balers defensive end Michael Camacho set the school’s all-time career sacks record that was previously held by J.J. Melo.
The Balers finished with 261 yards of total offense, all on the ground. San Benito attempted just five passes, all incompletions.
“We need to find a way to move the ball consistently throughout the game,” Smith said.
The backfield of Gonzalez, Moran and Ramon did a solid job of running and carrying out their assignments, Smith said. San Benito was penalized 17 times for 105 yards, while Salinas finished with seven infractions for 75 yards.