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PREVIEW: Santa Cruz vs. Watsonville (CA)

September 4, 2012

The Santa Cruz Cardinals will host the Watsonville Wildcatz in one of California’s oldest high school football rivalries. This rivalry dates back to 1908 with Watsonville currently leading the all-time series 52-37-5. The Wildcatz won last year’s battle in a tight one, 10-6. Upwards of 7,000 fans are expected to pack the stands at Santa Cruz High School to witness this historic high school football rivalry.

The Santa Cruz Cardinals began the season as a very inexperienced team. The Cardinals list just 5 seniors on their roster that includes 24 juniors. They will have major question marks to fill with the departure of running backs Jonah Hodges and Nick Locatelli. New quarterback Alex Morris is looking to help fill some holes in the Cardinals offense. Morris won the 100- and 200- meter state championships in the SCCAL track and field championships. He will have newcomer running backs Ashtyn Davis and Dale Stoller to help him run the Cardinal fly offense. The defense will be led by three linebackers in Doug Leonard, Riley Cameron and Eli Bariteau. On the defensive line, the Cardinals will have Collin Gilmore and Miles Keys-McKay who are sure to cause problems for opposing quarterbacks. Santa Cruz is looking to bounce back after a 66-14 loss to Menlo. The Cardinals showed signs of promise throughout the game and look to continue their improvement against Watsonville.

The Watsonville Wildcatz began the 2012 season under new head coach John Montante. Montante will have the Wildcatz running the spread-option offense and a 4-2-5 on defense. A big key to Montante’s coaching strategy is continuity. He will have the varsity, JV, and freshman teams all running the same system to lower the learning curve when they are called up to varsity. The Wildcatz return 12 players from last year’s team including quarterback Eddie Mares and running back Roger Contreras. Mares and Contreras will be replacing all-MBL selections Lamar Cowans and Fabian Serrano. Mares will be throwing to all-MBL honorable mention wide receiver George Ruiz III. Michael Barcelo will be lined up at fullback and will also play linebacker on defense.

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Each fall for over a century, high school football has been the centerpiece for families and communities on Friday night. In 2004, iHigh, Inc. created the Great American Rivalry Series to celebrate this uniquely American sport and the cultural phenomenon of “Friday Night in America.” The Series shines the spotlight on top high school football rivalries across the nation, where long-standing traditions are valued, expectations are sky high, and followers are committed.