Mustangs senior Matt Mendosa stiff-arms a Leigh player in last Friday's game. Photo by Bryant Hammer.
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On the second play of Gilroy’s second drive, Matt Mendosa took the handoff before going over center for a six yard gain. It took multiple defenders to take down Mendosa, who bowled over one player at the end. In football lingo, Mendosa absolutely trucked someone, a rare highlight in the Mustangs’ 59-8 loss on March 27. 

“That play fired me up,” Mendosa said. “It was my first hit in a game in almost 2 ½ years.”

The 5-foot-10, 186-pounder elected not to play in the 2019 season, which was a rather forgettable one for the Mustangs as they forfeited the final six games of the season due to an ugly off the field incident amongst the team. 

“It wasn’t the worst year to miss,” Mendosa said. 

Against Leigh, the two-sport standout rushed for 113 yards on 17 carries, rarely going down on first contact. He accounted for Gilroy’s lone touchdown, a 43-yard run that he took around left end before accelerating to the sideline and outrunning the Leigh defense to the end zone with 6 minutes, 14 seconds remaining. Although the game had been long decided, the play highlighted Mendosa’s speed and playmaking ability. 

Due to a variety of reasons, Gilroy only had 18 players suited up against the Longhorns. Quarterback Jadon Perkins showed his rocket for an arm with a couple of deep throws across the field that not many QBs in the entire Central Coast Section could make. Marcques Anthony intercepted a Leigh pass in the end zone to prevent a TD with 4:20 left in the first quarter. Despite the blowout loss, Mendosa said he and his teammates have reason to cherish the opportunity of playing a sport they love. 

“After all that’s gone on, we’re just happy to be out here,” he said. “When we got shut down again in December, I didn’t think we were ever going to play. I thought we were done.” 

Gilroy ran into a tough team in Leigh, which beat Sobrato—Gilroy’s upcoming opponent—41-8 on March 18. 

“They hit us in the mouth today,” Mendosa said. “Leigh is big and definitely the toughest team on our schedule. But we’ll adjust, we’ll get better and hopefully we’ll win our final three games.”

Because it was his first game since his sophomore year, Mendosa felt a bit anxious before kickoff. “I was really nervous, but it feels good to be back out here for sure,” he said. 

Mendosa is a baseball standout and has been playing the sport longer than football. However, from the moment Mendosa knocked pads with Leigh players, he realized why he returned to the gridiron after taking his junior season off. 

“The feeling of playing football, there’s nothing like it,” he said. 

Mendosa plans on playing both football and baseball at the community college level, with the goal to earn a scholarship to a four-year program in one of those sports. 

“I will always put in the work and never stop trying to improve,” he said.

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Emanuel Lee primarily covers sports for Weeklys/NewSVMedia's Los Gatan publication. Twenty years of journalism experience and recipient of several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. Emanuel has run eight marathons with a PR of 3:13.40, counts himself as a true disciple of Jesus Christ and loves spending time with his wife and their two lovely daughters, Evangeline and Eliza.


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