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June 19, 2021

Prep Football: Mustangs optimistic after loss to Pirates

GILROY—The Mustangs held their heads high as they walked off the field at the Garcia-Elder Sports Complex Friday night. The scoreboard illuminated the final in the distance—a 40-17 loss to Piedmont Hills—but in their hearts, they were the winners.
“I was extremely happy with how we played and how we came out. This is the team—the first half—that I knew I had,” Gilroy coach Brian Boyd said. “I thought the guys came out prepared and they were ready to play and that’s the football team I know I have. It’s in there, we just have to get it to come out for a whole game.”
Gilroy held a 15-13 lead at the half, but the second half was a different story. The Pirates outscored the hosts 27-2 after the break, due in part to injuries and penalties. The Mustangs racked up 14 flags for 150 yards, but Piedmont Hills took the cake with 17 for 160 yards.
The Mustangs charged out of the gate and scored on their first possession. Junior quarterback David Munoz hit Patrick Hsu for a 9-yard touchdown with just under eight minutes left in the first, capping off a 14-play drive. Sean Kaufman’s extra point was good and Gilroy jumped ahead 7-0.
The Mustangs then turned a 13-play drive—which began late in the first quarter—into eight points. The 6-1 Riley Filice-Hollar showed off his vertical as he went up and pulled down a 19-yard throw from Munoz for a touchdown at 8:44 in the second. Hsu made a highlight reel toss while falling—also to Filice-Hollar—to complete pick up the 2-point conversion and put Gilroy up 15-0.
Munoz had only four incompletions in the first half, connecting with his receivers 16 times for 146 yards. He finished the night 24 for 34 with 210 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
“It felt good; we’re getting confident,” Munoz said. “We came ready this week. We came to play this week.”
Filice-Hollar was the leading receiver with 12 catches for 102 yards and a touchdown.
“Riley has become a different football player in the last two weeks,” Boyd said. “He’s leading this team. He doesn’t have a ‘C’ on his chest, but he is actually the leader of this team right now.
“He’s the one that has stepped it up out of all of them. He’s taking control of the football team, getting them pumped up, demanding perfection from them, pushing them a little bit.”
The Pirates scored on their next two possessions as Marcus Romero found Isaiah Stewart and Aaron Tillak for 15- and 2-yard TD passes, respectively. They missed the extra point on the first one, however, and trailed the Mustangs 15-13 as they headed to the locker room.
Gilroy had a chance to give itself some extra cushioning, moving the ball down to the half-yard-line after Matthew Castillo recovered a Romero fumble early in the third. A tough Pirates defense and a penalty pushed the Mustangs back, however, and they turned the ball over on downs.
Just two plays later, Romero fumbled a high snap and chased it towards the endzone. The 6-1, 275-pound Darius Alexander-Jones II was there to meet him with a tackle for the safety—giving Gilroy it’s last points of the night to lead 17-13.
“I thought we were going to come out with a win—I really did. I had confidence,” Boyd said. “I think not scoring down there on the 1- (yard-line) really hurt us. Momentum changed there and we have to be able to put that in on the half-yard-line, we have to—there’s no excuse for that. I think if we score there it’s a different football game, but that was a momentum changer for both of us.”
Injuries plagued the Mustangs after the break, forcing them to sub in players on defense—and it showed on the scoreboard.
Piedmont Hills scored on its next possession with a 49-yard catch and run from Romero to Tillak with 2:45 remaining in the third which put it up 20-17.
Joel De Guzman broke free for an 80-yard dash into the endzone with just 27 seconds left in the quarter to widen the Pirates lead to 27-17.
Romero hit Stewart and Nikolas Canales for 18- and 9-yard scores, respectively, to give his team the lead for good.
“We came out strong, moved the ball well in the first half. We played as a team the first half; injuries killed us the second half,” Filice-Hollar said.“We’ve got to get some people to replace our two corners that got injured.”
Gilroy (0-4) takes to the road next week to open up Monterey Bay League play with the Wildcatz (1-3) at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 3 in Watsonville.
With the level of play displayed tonight—both physically and mentally—the Mustangs said they feel great about starting league play.
“I have full confidence that we’re going to come out on top,” Boyd said. “We’re going to start our league, put this 0-4 behind us and we’re going to be 1-0 next week in league—that’s our plan.”

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