Scotts Valley High senior defensive lineman Andre Nice recorded a sack and seven tackles for the Falcons in a 28-0 shutout win over rival San Lorenzo Valley High in Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League play on March 27.
The Falcons remained undefeated at 3-0 and they improved to 2-0 in the league’s “B” Division with the win. It was also the first time in 19 years that they held the Cougars scoreless since the valley schools began playing one another in 2002.
Nice said that the Falcons have worked hard since the summer, despite the fact that there was no guarantee there would be a season this school year.
“When we finally got it we were really excited and we’ve been grounded, really working hard,” he said. “SLV’s a big game for us…as a team we got the shutout.”
The game was plagued by injuries on both sidelines. Nice said after the game that the Falcons dedicated the win to senior Shane Williams, who suffered a severe right leg injury and was carried off by his teammates during the second quarter.
The Cougars started the game with 17 players, but they wound up with 11 healthy ones in the end.
“You look around on the sidelines and there’s nobody on the sideline,” SLV coach Dave Poetzinger said.
He said he liked how the team fought through the injuries.
“The measure for these kids is how well they fight through adversity,” he said.
Poetzinger, however, announced Monday that this week’s game against Aptos High School is canceled because they won’t have enough healthy players to suit up.
The Falcons will look to stay undefeated when they play at Pajaro Valley High School on April 3 at 2pm.
Their special teams got things started on March 27, as junior Nick Erickson blocked a punt and recovered the fumble. He crawled into the end zone for the touchdown to give the Falcons a 14-0 lead before the end of the first half.
Erickson said that the coaches told the team in practice earlier that week that attempting to block a punt during the game was a “big no-no.” But, he was in too great of a position not to go for it, as he bulldozed through the offensive line and put his hand on the ball.
“I saw the lead blocker come up, so I hit him and the ball got loosey goosey, so I crawled to it,” he said. “But before the punt I thought I was going to get the block.”
The block was one of several momentum-changing moments.
Late in the third quarter, Scotts Valley’s relentless defensive line forced SLV quarterback Jaden Hunter to throw a costly interception to defensive back Isaiah Velez.
The end result was a 49-yard return for a touchdown that gave Scotts Valley a commanding 21-0 lead with 4 minutes left in the third period. Velez had also recorded the game’s first score with a 47-yard rushing touchdown early in the second quarter.
Falcons running back Caden Stratton put the game away as he hurdled into the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown that made it 28-0 with 2 minutes left.
“They scored on defense, they scored on special teams,” Poetzinger said. “You usually don’t win those games. But all that aside…man, did our kids fight hard and they’re walking away with their head held high, smiles on their faces and they competed as hard as they possibly could.”
Erickson said they worked hard this week during practice and the defense was strong throughout the game, pushing the Cougars inside and forcing them to run up the middle.
Nice gave credit to the coaching staff for putting together a game plan that exposed the holes in the Cougars’ offense.
“Credit to everyone working together as a team, calling everything out, speaking on the line and just staying focused, working hard,” he said.
The Falcons have two games left in what has been a shortened season for a fall sport taking place in the spring due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Nice, who’s been playing football since he was 7, said he he had plenty of doubts about playing this year because of pandemic. But now the Falcons are three weeks into their season and the focus is trying to finish on a high note—perhaps undefeated.
“Football is my life and I was really worried we weren’t going to have a season,” Nice said. “But then I found out we were going to have a season we all focused up and locked in, especially against SLV, they’re our rivals.”