Scotts Valley High junior Nico Iles has been the sturdy locomotive for the Falcons’ football team since the season kicked off three weeks ago.
The junior running back was clicking on all cylinders on Friday night in a crushing 35-0 win against Watsonville High at Emmett M. Geiser Field in Watsonville.
Iles finished with 168 yards on 15 carries and one touchdown for the Falcons who improved to 3-0 this season.
Scotts Valley’s offense produced a total of 369 yards with most of it coming from Iles and the rest of the backfield, finishing with 268 yards rushing on 33 carries.
“It’s hard work and dedication in practice,” he said. “We got some really good boys on the line and all of our running backs keep running and running, we’re in good shape.”
Junior running back Brady Siechen finished with 43 yards on six carries and one touchdown, while fellow teammate Eli Velez had 55 yards on seven carries and one touchdown in the fourth that capped off the scoring for Scotts Valley.
Sophomore quarterback Lucas Ringel, who typically subs in for starter Cole Leonard, saw a majority of snaps under center Friday night.
He took advantage of the opportunity to shine and he was confident his arm would do the talking.
“It’s kind of tough coming in, [Leonard] normally starts the game, gets the first couple of quarters and then I’ll pop in out of random,” he said. “I’m glad my coach let me get in for a couple of series because it’s kind of hard going for one play and then coming out.”
Ringel completed 6-of-10 pass attempts for 89 yards, including two big-time throws that set the Falcons up near the end zone.
The air raid began with a 26-yard strike to junior receiver Quinn Turowski, who jumped over a Wildcatz defender to make the grab at Watsonville’s 7-yard line.
One play later, Iles found himself in the end zone to give the Falcons a 14-0 lead.
On the ensuing drive, Ringel found senior receiver and basketball standout Tristan Roure who used his vertical leap to snatch a 28-yard reception.
Lukas Murphy capped off the drive with a 10-yard touchdown run.
“I knew where I was going to throw it, I trust my guys,” Ringel said. “Yeah, there were a couple of mess-ups but it’s all good.”
The Wildcatz mustered a total of 143 yards but the run game was working for them in the first half. They picked up big chunks of yardage up the middle including a 39-yard run by Salvador Fuentes.
Iles said the runs up the middle surprised him and he wasn’t aware Watsonville’s run game was tough.
“They’re dogs and we knew that. That’s why we kept running in practice, we knew they were going to run on us,” Iles said. “They did their part and I have so much respect for them.”
Junior quarterback Vicente Baltazar completed 4-of-7 pass attempts for 33 yards and ran for 17 yards on 11 carries for Watsonville.
Baltazar said the Falcons came in as the more dominant team, but he also admits the ‘Catz missed big tackles, lacked communication on the field and didn’t pick up blocks well.
“Many things that we did right, many things that we did wrong,” Baltazar said. “Next week, let’s just bring it back.”
Iles’ biggest run came during the Falcons’ opening drive after he sprinted 49 yards down the sidelines, nearly getting in the end zone.
But his cleat got caught on the turf, forcing Iles to fall short of the goal line.
“Jess Ringel had great blocking on that, he led me through it. Just cut it out and I was gone,” Iles said.
On the next play, Jess Ringel finished the job with a 1-yard bull rush into the end zone for the game’s first score.
Iles has ran for 300 yards on 29 carries and has scored three touchdowns for the Falcons this season
Scotts Valley will host its preseason finale against Alisal High on Saturday at 2pm before heading into Pacific Coast Athletic League Mission Division play beginning next week.
Lucas Ringel said facing Alisal will be one of the biggest tests for Scotts Valley this year. He’s never had a chance to compete against the Trojans or watch them play, but that might change come Saturday afternoon.
“Their offense is a little wonky, so that’ll be new for our defense but I’m excited,” Ringel said.
Iles added they just need to fix a couple of mistakes from Friday night and stay locked in during next week’s practice.
“We’re coming for Alisal. I’ll be ready, we’ll be ready,” Iles said.
Week 3 Scoreboard
Monte Vista Christian 20, Alisal 13
St. Francis 14, Greenfield 10
Aptos 38, Mission College Prep 21
Soquel 47, Santa Cruz 24
Scotts Valley 35, Watsonville 0
San Lorenzo Valley 38, Richmond 8
Pacific Grove 28, Pajaro Valley 12
Harbor vs. Saratoga, TBD
Feather River 70, Cabrillo 14