The562’s coverage of Cabrillo Athletics is sponsored by the Cohn Family.
The thing about underdogs is, sometimes they bite back. In Friday night’s season opener on the West Side, Cabrillo did just that with a 56-8 thumping of Hawkins High. Cabrillo lost last year’s opener at Hawkins, 36-0, and finished 1-8 in their first season back on the field.
But with every new season comes a fresh start, and after Friday’s laugher the Jags are 1-0 to start 2022, picking up their biggest win since 2014.
Junior quarterback Luis Haro was the star of the night, racking up 324 total yards on offense to go with five touchdowns for the Jags.
“It’s definitely going to create some momentum. I don’t think the kids have ever experienced a win like that,” said Cabrillo head coach Shane Gonzales, beginning his second season with the team. “We had one win last year, so hopefully this will propel us to where we need to go, because we’ve got a lot more work to do.”
The execution certainly wasn’t perfect for the Jags, who were able to turn broken plays into nice gains with their athleticism. The home team also had its fair share of penalties, which isn’t uncommon in season openers. But even with those caveats, a win is a win, and this one was delivered with some authority.
“I hope it gets the community and the fans excited, and just the kids at school,” said Gonzales. “There’s a lot of kids at school that could contribute and be a part of this team, but there’s such a bad stigma and a losing culture that they don’t want to get in there. But maybe this might start to change some of that.”
The Cabrillo defense did a nice job limiting big plays for Hawkins while generating some turnovers. The Jags had four takeaways on Friday night, and held the Hawks to just 48 yards on offense. Cabrillo’s defensive unit pitched a shutout, with Hawkins’ only score coming on a kickoff return by Amaghee Kegler to make it 14-6 in the opening quarter.
Devin Edwards had a pair of interceptions for the Jags’ defense, while Isaiah Miranda added a pick on Hawkins’ first drive. Senior captain Marco Garcia also recovered a fumble in the second half for Cabrillo.
Haro opened the scoring midway through the first quarter with a 14-yard strike to Aviann Ortega, who was a reliable third-down target. Ortega finished with 5 catches for 79 yards and the score. Less than three minutes later, Haro doubled the Cabrillo lead with a one-yard TD run. The junior had 121 yards rushing on 12 carries, running in a pair of scores. He said the experienced he gained as a sophomore last season had him in a much better mindset going into the new year.
“Last year, I had no experience. I didn’t know what I was gonna feel,” Haro admitted. “Now, I’ve had a year to prepare with my coach pushing me every day, never letting me quit, and now we’re here and it’s a W.”
In addition to Haro’s success on the ground, sophomore running back Antonio Elam ran it 13 times for 127 yards. Running backs Bobo Jackson, Amir Stevenson, and Ben Diaz added rushing touchdowns for the Jags.
In addition to his fumble recovery, Garcia caught a 18-yard TD pass to close the first half scoring, putting the Jags up 33-6 at the break.
One of the most exciting performances of the night goes to freshman D’Jon Pittman, who showed why the coaching staff is excited about his potential. Pittman had four catches for 100 yards, including a 55-yard catch-and-run in the first half for his first varsity TD.
Cabrillo celebrated fiercely as the final seconds ticked away, soaking up a feeling that’s been tough to come by in recent seasons.
“It’s different, like, I’m not used to it,” Haro said. “We surprised some people that were doubting us. We were underdogs and we came back. 54-6, that's all I gotta say.”
Cabrillo will be on the road at Jefferson next Friday at 7 p.m. while Hawkins travels to Belmont.