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November 24, 2021

Falcons set to battle Leland in CCS quarterfinals | HS football

The Falcons earned the chance to play an extended season after they qualified for the upcoming Central Coast Section football playoffs.

No. 8 Scotts Valley High (9-1) plays at No. 1 Leland High (8-2) in the Division III quarterfinals on Friday at 7pm.

The Falcons, winners of the Pacific Coast Athletic League Cypress Division, will take on a Chargers team that won the Blossom Valley Athletic League’s Mount Hamilton Division.

Scotts Valley coach Louie Walters said he was excited to get into the postseason but he wasn’t too happy about where they were placed.

“We got hosed in the seeding big time,” he said.  

Scotts Valley is one of the smallest public schools with 700 students enrolled to compete in the playoffs. Walters said it wasn’t fair that they were bumped up two divisions and awarded the No. 8 seed to play a school with more than 2,000 students.

“Oh well, we will be ready,” Walters said.

The Falcons finished the regular season on an eight-game winning streak, including a 32-14 win over rival San Lorenzo Valley High. They also captured their first league title since the 2009-10 season, when they were Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League co-champion alongside the Cougars.

Senior running back Mark Eby powers Leland’s offense. He has 1,125 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns on 206 carries this season. He also has four interceptions.

Senior quarterback Nathan Wright has 775 yards passing and 10 touchdowns.

The Flacons have a stud running back of their own in senior Isaiah Velez, who had another incredible regular season. He finished with 1,456 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns on 138 carries, according to the Monterey Bay Prep Report website

Sophomore Niko Iles has also been a nice addition since joining the team midway through the season. He was a real threat in the red zone and had 11 touchdowns in four games.

Scotts Valley also got it done on defense and recorded four shutouts this season.

Senior Matis Barbier finished with a team-high eight of the 21 sacks for Scotts Valley. Other standouts include seniors Zach Schai-Helmold, Carlton Keegan and Nolan Smith.

“We got some kids that play nasty,” Walters said. 

Velez, who also plays defensive back, also had an impact on the defensive side with a team-high three interceptions, including two that went for touchdowns. The Falcons had eight interceptions as a team and a lot of that success came from working with defensive backs coach Reggie Stephens during the offseason. 

“I feel like when we all work together, we’re able to know the personnel and where my strong suit is being that I played at many different levels,” Stephens said.

Stephens said they run some complex stuff, especially with the cornerbacks being able to do some of the things he needs them to do. He said one thing that stands out about this year’s team is the players are disciplined and not afraid of a challenge.

Stephens recalls the season opener against Soquel High when they had to make adjustments at halftime. He said they ran a new system that the players had never seen before but they quickly adapted to it.

“That to me is like a championship defense that is able to adjust on the fly so we can put ourselves in the best situation to win,” he said. 

Stephens said he is excited to get back several players that have been out with injuries. However, they’ll still be without the services of senior Brock Siechen, who has been sidelined with a bruise on his right thigh. 

“It is what it is, but we’ll be ready,” Walters said. 

Other notable games include No. 8 Aptos (8-1) at No. 1 Saint Francis (9-0) of Mountain View in the Division I bracket. The Mariners were the runner-up in the Pacific Coast Athletic League’s Gabilan Division.

The Lancers stunned national power De La Salle earlier this season and went unbeaten in the West Catholic Athletic League 

No. 6 Santa Cruz (9-0) plays at No. 3 Wilcox (6-4) in the Division II bracket. The Cardinals, winners of the PCAL Mission Division, will face a Chargers team who was runner-up to Los Gatos in the SCVAL’s De Anza division.

In the D-IV quarterfinals, No. 3 Soquel (7-3) hosts No. 6 Los Altos (7-3). The Knights finished second to Santa Cruz in the PCAL’s Mission Division and are the lone county team to host a first-round game. They’ll face an Eagles squad that shared the SCVAL’s El Camino Division title.

Up Next

CCS D-III Playoffs

Who: No. 8 Scotts Valley at No. 1 Leland

When: Friday at 7pm

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