Scotts Valley High's defense gang tackles Alisal High senior Damion Gonzales during the teams' Central Coast Section Division III semifinals on Nov. 11, 2023. The Falcons fell to the Trojans, 28-7. (Raul Ebio/special to the Press Banner)

Prior to the Central Coast Section playoffs, Scotts Valley football coach Louie Walters was hoping they would get at least one playoff home game following an amazing regular season.

They got their wish, yet it almost seemed like home field advantage became a disadvantage.

The No. 6 Falcons were taken out of their element and turned the ball over three times in their 28-7 loss to No. 7 Alisal High in last week’s Division III semifinals game that took place on muddy, wet terrain.

“First time I felt like our home field advantage hurt us,” Walters said. “Sloppy field, we were sloppy. Can’t take anything away from a 10-win season. Alisal was better than us today and that’s the turnover battle.”

With the loss, Scotts Valley once again failed to earn its first trip to the CCS championship in the program’s history.

Alisal senior running back Damion Gonzales was at a loss for words knowing they’ll be making their first section final appearance in their program’s history.

“I can’t even put words to describe it, honestly,” he said. “All respect to Scotts Valley, but this is what we worked for and we’re proud as a team.”

Alisal’s coaching staff prepared the team by making them practice on a soaked Trojans’ baseball field in order to get ready for the wet conditions.

“We were prepared,” Gonzales said.

Scotts Valley practiced on its own campus for three days, then took a trip to Harbor High for the remaining two days in order to preserve their home field as much as possible.

Not having a turf field killed the Falcons’ strengths of getting the ball to playmakers Quinn Turowski and Brady Siechen. 

“[It] hurt us big time,” Walters said. “It’s time all sports at Scotts Valley deserve it.”

In the end, it all came down to who made fewer mistakes and controlled the tempo.

“I say we made a ton of mistakes, but their style of football, we kind of lost our home field advantage,” Scotts Valley senior Marshall Dodge said.

The Falcons were also without key starters Niko Iles and Robert Bradfield, who both were injured in their win over Aragon High in the quarterfinals on Nov. 10.

“That was a good football team, Alisal was no joke,” Walters said. “They controlled the tempo, they got the brakes, we didn’t get any.”

It wasn’t until the second stanza that Alisal put together a good-looking drive that chewed up most of the game clock. Santiago Chaidez slithered his way into the end zone on a 1-yard quarterback sneak that gave Alisal a 7-0 lead.

Scotts Valley went on a well orchestrated two-minute drive just before halftime that included a pair of big time passes by quarterback Lucas Ringel.

The biggest catch of the drive was a 30-yard strike to Siechen, who made an incredible over the shoulder catch that set the Falcons up at Alisal’s 22-yard line. However, the drive stalled when Jayden Durate stepped in front of a pass attempt for the interception.

The second half looked promising for Scotts Valley’s defense, which came alive following a pair of big stops. They also got a break when Alisal’s special teams unit lost the ball on a botched snap, setting up the Falcons at the Trojans’ 19-yard line.

Eli Velez capitalized on the turnover by bulldozing his way into the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown run that tied the game at 7-all. It was the momentum swing that Scotts Valley was searching for throughout the afternoon.

But it all came tumbling down after Ringel threw his second interception of the day, this time to Anthony Enriquez who returned it to the Falcons’ 8-yard line. Chaidez scored his second rushing touchdown of the day that gave Alisal back the lead at 14-7 and never looked back. 

Following a fumble lost by Velez, the Trojans scored 14 points in the fourth quarter on a pair of touchdowns from Gonzales.

The first one was a 38-yard sprint to the end zone as Gonzales split past Scotts Valley’s defense and saw nothing but green grass ahead of him.

“My guard made a great, absolutely great, great block and I just read it. I cut through the back and luckily I was able to get through and the rest, you saw it,” Gonzales said.

Scotts Valley’s Jess Ringel credited Alisal for being a tough bunch, yet he believes the Trojans caught the Falcons on the wrong foot and felt like they were the more physical team on Saturday.

“It was the lack of focus,” he said. “Our heart was there, we made some physical and mental mistakes that ultimately cost us the game, but we fought our tails off. We fought to the end.”

Ringel said they should have the right personnel to make another playoff run for next season, which for him already begins at the beginning of the year.

“We’re gonna play with a chip on our shoulder,” Ringel said. “It starts this offseason, in January.”

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A Watsonville native who has a passion for local sports and loves his community. A Watsonville High, Cabrillo College, San Jose State University and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumnus, he primarily covers high school athletics, Cabrillo College athletics, various youth sports in the Pajaro Valley and the Santa Cruz Warriors. Juan is also a video game enthusiast, part-time chef (at home), explorer and a sports junkie. Coaches and athletic directors are encouraged to report scores HERE.


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