Grizzlies slow but can't tame running Mustangs
There was nothing fancy about Monterey Trail High School’s offense in its 22-17 win over Granite Bay on Friday night in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I semifinals.
The visiting Mustangs attempted just three passes, but the lack of throwing was no problem, given their 337 yards rushing. According to Granite Bay coach Ernie Cooper, the production wasn’t a possibility but rather the inevitable.
“They were probably right around their average, maybe even a little lower,” Cooper said. “Our defense played well enough for us to win this thing. … I don’t believe we gave up any more than anybody else did against them.”
Cooper was close. The rushing juggernaut averaged 322.8 yards per game, according to maxpreps.com. Drake Tofi was the lead man with an outstanding 261 yards in 28 carries. Derek Bellamy complemented Tofi with 65 yards in 14 runs.
“We’ve been in situations where teams will get ahead of us, but being a heavy running football team, as we continue on, teams tend to get worn down,” Bellamy said. “That’s what we thrive on is being physical and beating people to the punch.”
The Mustangs operated from a split-back formation with Bellamy and Tofi running dives behind guards Abel Tutupoly and Ruben Avalos. The duo’s consistent plunging averaged 7.8 yards per carry.
“It’s all the line,” Tofi said. “They work hard, and they make me better. All I ask for them is to give me three yards and I’ll do the rest. But tonight, they’ve been giving me more than three. Five, six, they were just playing hard, and I’m proud of them.”
Said Bellamy, “Man, the line did a phenomenal job. Me and Drake, they push us so hard. Whether it’s cold or hot or any snow, they just push us. They don’t care. It’s just great because that leads to our play on the field.”
Tofi had a 19-yard touchdown run to pull the Mustangs to 14-7 early in the second quarter. Monterey Trail converted a fourth and one later in the period to set up a tying 15-yard scoring run by Tofi.
The constant rushing paid off in the second half when Tofi reeled off some big runs. A 48-yarder started a 10-play drive that took Monterey Trail to the 1-yard line, where the Mustangs lost a fumble at the goal line. The Mustangs bounced back and took the lead on a 59-yard touchdown scamper, as Tofi started right and cut back left before reaching the end zone with 5:41 left in the game.
“All I was thinking was score,” Tofi said of the run. “My linemen opened it up so I just wanted to score for them.”
It was the third game Granite Bay allowed more than 300 yards rushing. The Grizzlies surrendered more than 200 yards nine times, four of which they lost. Granite Bay allowed 285 yards to St. Mary’s and 483 to Vacaville.
“We have a great group of guys, and it’s a lot of fun,” Cooper said. “The coaches are a lot of fun. Our kids are overachievers. You just have to love a group like that; you could go all year with a group like that. So I’m just very disappointed we don’t get another week with them in the big game.”