Michael Murphy and Devin Quintana team up to tackle the Alvarez running back last Friday night at home. Stopping the run will be key tonight when the 'Balers play North Salinas at the Salinas Sports Complex.

‘Balers up against undefeated North Salinas

When quarterback Kyle Vallejo went down with an injury last week against Everett Alvarez, the San Benito Haybalers called upon junior Sal Ornelas, who was not only the team’s defensive back, but also their emergency signal-caller.

That sequence of events screams volumes with how San Benito’s season has gone so far. It’s been an injury-plagued year, to say the least, but for the first time this season, the San Benito coaching staff will have a choice at the quarterback position.

And not a moment too soon.

Vallejo’s injury was a high-ankle sprain, head coach Chris Cameron said, and he was able to practice this week. Quarterback Trevor Fabing, who’s been out all season with a hip-pointer injury, practiced this week as well.

Although Cameron could not be reached Thursday, he said Wednesday that either Vallejo or Fabing will get the nod behind center tonight when the ‘Balers play North Salinas (5-0, 1-0 TCAL) at the Salinas Sports Complex.

Kick-off is at 7:30 p.m.

“Someone will start,” Cameron said on Wednesday. “I know that much.”

Cameron said the offensive line has improved in recent weeks, and the team will look to run the ball against the Vikings.

Of course, preparing for a game against North Salinas means preparing to stop the run.

Last week against Alisal, the Vikings didn’t complete a single pass in a 35-7 victory against the Trojans – a game in which they led just 14-7 at one point in the third quarter.

Viking Mark Ramos sprinted to 218 yards on the ground on just 13 attempts against Alisal, and will most likely be garnering the majority of the attention when he tries to do the same against the ‘Balers.

On the year, Ramos has 640 yards on 66 carries, an average of 9.6 yards per carry. Teammate Bobby Bautista has 70 carries for 423 yards.

“Alisal battled them and gave them all they could handle,” Cameron said. “We’ve got to stop the run. But we’ve got to do a good job of being in our defenses and knowing what our responsibilities are in the secondary.”

Cameron said opposing teams routinely get beat in the passing game against North Salinas because they’re expecting the run, expecting either Ramos or Bautista to get the handoff.

Two weeks ago, Alisal orchestrated a 20-play drive against the ‘Balers, running the ball 16 times. But on that drive, the Trojans scored on a five-yard pass play, and Cameron doesn’t want to see the secondary fall asleep again.

“We need to key-read on the front and know what formations they’re in so we can play the big-shot pass game,” Cameron said. “We’ve worked real hard on identifying the difference between the two: what tells us they’re going to run and what tells us they’re going to pass.

“I don’t want to give up the big shot. I don’t want to give up the easy touchdown because we got lulled to sleep and weren’t playing responsible or disciplined football.”

Viking quarterback Mike Ramos is 15 of 39 for 307 yards. He’s thrown eight interceptions and seven touchdowns.

Cameron said the ‘Balers matured last week in their 10-0 win against Everett Alvarez, where the secondary improved on pass coverage and the rush defense allowed a measly 14 yards.

Allowing just 14 yards on the ground against the Vikings probably won’t happen, but the key to victory will start with San Benito’s rush defense.

“We need to come off the bus, ready to play,” Cameron said. “We showed some maturity last week, and hopefully we can bring that with us again this week, knowing when we have to be up helping the run, and knowing when we’re not supposed to be there.”

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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