The Scotts Valley High football team has had Santa Cruz High’s number dating back to 2004, going undefeated with a 14-0 record in that time span.
The tables turned on Saturday afternoon as the Falcons fell to the Cardinals, 35-6, in non-league play in Scotts Valley.
Isaiah Velez, who was hampered by a hamstring injury, finished with 78 rushing yards on 18 carries. The Falcons (1-1) were held to 207 yards on offense by a Cardinals defense that shut down the run game.
“We’re feeling beat up, we took a [butt] whooping today,” Velez said.
The senior running back scored the team’s lone touchdown to make it 14-6 in the third quarter. But that’s as close as they got to the explosive Cardinals.
Scotts Valley still leads the lifetime series 14-5.
Velez said they had a game plan set in place against the Cardinals and they came out fired up to start the game. But as they continued to play, he believes some of the players weren’t mentally and physically present in Saturday’s game.
“I think we threw ourselves off,” he said. “We kicked ourselves in the butt there.”
Falcons coach Louie Walters said they’ll need to reevaluate who they are as a team and he’s not going to gauge the success of their season in Saturday’s loss.
“We got punched in the mouth,” Walters said. “Hats off to Santa Cruz, they outplayed us. They beat us in every phase of the game and I felt like they were definitely the better team today.”
Santa Cruz coach Bubba Trumbull said their game plan coming in was to bottle up Velez and fellow running back Brock Siechen.
“We had to be aware of them and where they were,” he said.
Siechen, who finished with 22 yards on six carries, was sidelined in the second half with a shoulder injury. Walters said he should return in two to three weeks.
Scotts Valley quarterback Cole Leonard was pressured most of the afternoon and he was sacked five times. He also threw an interception to cornerback Johnny Gray.
“They’ve had our number, for sure and we told this group that beating that team is a big step in the direction that we need to go,” Trumbull said.
Trumbull said it took them some time to find their edge along with the cutback pass, crediting Scotts Valley’s defense for stopping their run attack in the first half.
“Once we got that going we felt like we could move the chains ok,” he said. “I felt like we were pretty balanced today.”
Scotts Valley also lost two of four fumbles. Caleb Womack recovered one of those fumbles that set up the Cardinals in the red zone early in the first quarter.
Santa Cruz quarterback Josh Bendix snuck in for a 1-yard run that gave them a 7-0 lead.
Bendix completed 10 of 15 passes for 169 yards and three touchdowns—one rushing and two passing—including a 13-yard strike to Womack with just under two minutes left before halftime.
Bendix said the coaching staff had been on them all week long about Santa Cruz having yet to beat Scotts Valley in 17 years.
“It feels amazing,” he said.
The Cardinals continued to roll in the second half as standout running back Qwentin Brown slowly started warming up. He finished with 99 yards on 14 carries and he averaged 9.5 yards per carry in the final two stanzas.
Brown capped off one of three scoring drives put together by Santa Cruz in the second half by bulldozing his way in for a 4-yard touchdown that made it 21-6.
When Brown sat out on a couple of plays, it was Andrew Whitmeyer who stepped in with a 73-yard touchdown run late in the third that put the game out of reach.
“I felt like the run game was huge,” Bendix said. “The people up front, the linemen, they were helping us out a lot. So it starts up front in the trenches.”
Scotts Valley got beat on both sides of the trenches, which is usually its strongest asset. Walters said the effort wasn’t there and overall the players looked tired, but he believes they’ll be able to bounce back in no time.
“We’ve always been a second half team and it’s a gut check for our kids, and I think the kids are going to be fine,” he said.
The Falcons have a bye next week and return to action Sept. 18 with a home game against Greenfield.
Santa Cruz 35, Scotts Valley 6
Up next: vs. Greenfield
When: Sept.18, 2 p.m.