Cabrillo Football

Football: Cabrillo Can’t Catch Jefferson In Home Opener

There were a lot of positives to take from Cabrillo’s first home football game since 2019, but unfortunately for the Jaguars the final score wasn’t one of those things as visiting Jefferson led wire-to-wire in a 50-20 victory.

Cabrillo had a handful of standout individual performances and the Jaguars showed impressive cohesiveness on and off the field during only their second Varsity football game in the last 21 months.

“Seeing all of these kids in the stands with the band and the cheerleaders out here supporting the team is really big,” Cabrillo Principal Wendy Poffenberger said. “I’m really proud of coach (Shane Gonzales). I think last year was a challenge and it was heartbreaking to not be able to make (the spring season) happen for the students. For them to come out and be on the field for their first game, I think it’s a big moment. It’s a big moment for the team, but it’s also a big moment for (the school).”

Gonzales, who is technically in his first season at Cabrillo, said he’s purposefully taking it slow with his young, thin roster.

“I’m proud of our boys,” he said. “We were more effective this week. After we watched the film they saw the plays we left on the field and how they could get better. Now we’ve had a road game, a home game and we finally got into the end zone so we got that off our back. I think that it’s a learning process that we’re gonna get down.”

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Cabrillo sophomore quarterback Luis Haro only completed seven of his 15 pass attempts, but finished the night with 182 yards passing and 75 yards rushing. He capped his night by running through the heart of the Jefferson defense for a late touchdown.

“We improved because we were more prepared and had more trust in our lineman,” Haro said. “I feel like today was more complete than last week. Everyone just wanted to motivate each other. We wanted to finish the game strong. There was some ups and downs but we kept each other up.”

Haro completed all but one of his passes to sophomore wide receiver Gabriel Garcia, who finished with 151 yards receiving.

“This is amazing and everyone is so supportive,” Haro said of playing a home game. “This is a family and it’s really fun.”

Cabrillo’s defense had some highlight plays, specifically in the second and third quarters, while racking up seven tackles for loss. Defensive lineman Dylan Nugent-Sugamele had a few of those stops plus an interception.

“Even though we lost I couldn’t be more proud of my teammates because they played their asses off and I’m just excited for what the rest of the season brings us,” Nugent-Sugamele said. “And we have a great coaching staff. They know where we’re coming from and what we’ve done. They just want to help be the best version of us as possible.”

Cabrillo’s gritty performance is even more impressive considering they lost two starters before the game.

“We have a lot of guys with no football experience and they don’t know the game, but we got better at the stuff we should’ve been better at last week,” Gonzalez said of the season opening loss at Hawkins last Friday.

Jefferson set the tone early and scored on its opening drive, but Cabrillo looked lively by running the ball back down into the Jefferson red zone. Jaguars running back Kenjin Mababa picked up 41 yards on his first three carries of the game. However, the Cabrillo drive stalled after three consecutive sacks of Haro.

Two big plays set up Jefferson to score again for a 12-0 lead, then they added to their advantage with an interception returned for a touchdown.

Cabrillo was able to slow the Democrats down after that, and the Jaguars were only outscored 8-6 in the second quarter thanks the first of two rushing touchdowns from Antonio Elam. He finished with 68 yards and two scores on seven carries.

The Jaguars offensive line was particularly impressive in the middle stretch of the game as Anthony Fuentes, Javier Avila, Jasiah Ceniceros, Jayden Otero, Daniel Niula and Nugent-Sugamele showed huge improvement in one week of regular season practice.

“They’re our strength and the heart and soul of our team and they played really well,” Gonzales said of the offensive line.

Jefferson got a huge night from senior Norman Mason and junior Asden Carrol. Mason had an impressive 66-yard touchdown run to open the scoring in the second half and capped the game with an interception returned for a touchdown as time expired. Carrol scored twice and gained 132 yards rushing on six first-half carries.

Gonzales added that his new responsibilities as head coach are getting more manageable, and his team is getting more comfortable in a regular season.

“It was a different animal because it’s a home game so I had to worry about snack bar,” he said. “So before the game I was at (the store) buying all of the stuff while my assistants were handling the team. But we’ll get it down. There’s still a lot of things we need to improve on.”

Cabrillo is scheduled to visit Glenn next Friday.

VIDEO: Cabrillo vs. Jefferson, Football

PHOTOS: Cabrillo vs. Jefferson, Football

JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler is an award-winning sportswriter and videographer who has been covering Southern California sports for multiple newspapers and websites since 2004. After attending Long Beach State and creating the first full sports page at the Union Weekly Newspaper, he has been exclusively covering Long Beach prep sports since 2007.