Sobrato High senior running back Noah Taylor will be a dangerous weapon for the Bulldogs football team in the fall. (Jonathan Natividad/Morgan Hill Times)

The Sobrato High football team got back on track in a big way during its home opener after it hit a minor bump in the road to kick off the season. 

Senior Noah Taylor led the way with four rushing touchdowns for the Bulldogs who demolished Del Mar, 53-12, in a one-sided blowout that finished with a running clock on Aug. 31.

“Last week didn’t represent who we are,” Taylor said. “We made much improvement and our heads were in it. There was a lot of energy and confidence today.”

Sobrato offensive lineman Jorge Mendoza was impressive as he bulldozed potential tacklers to free up Taylor, who ran through and past defenders for 267 yards on 13 carries, scoring from 17, 61, 45 and 59-yards out. 

Equally as impressive was Sobrato’s revamped defensive unit which last year allowed 30.6 points per game. Del Mar tallied just six points until a concession touchdown in the final two minutes.

The Bulldogs (1-1) forced six turnovers and kept the Dons without a first down on five of eight possessions. The headline should also read how Sobrato stifled Del Mar star quarterback Andre Lattimore.

Lattimore ranked third in the Central Coast Section with 1,807 yards rushing on 157 carries for an 11.5 yard-per-carry average. He tallied 242 yards rushing on 22 carries in a 23-7 loss to Westmont, which was a section-best going into last week’s game against Sobrato. 

Welcome to Morgan Hill, Mr. Lattimore. The Sobrato defense held him to 60 yards on 28 carries, a measly 2.1 average. 

Lattimore recorded more than 150 yards rushing on eight carries in 10 contests last season, always topping 102 yards. But Sobrato shut him down with a fierce defensive line and linebacking corps.

“Our guys bought into the defensive scheme and played hard,” Sobrato coach Joel Rueda said. “We had a scheme and we played within our roles. Our defensive line won in the trenches and our linebackers read their keys.”

This year’s group of linemen, which include Lucas Laisure, Kayden Ruiz, Logan Nielsen, Steven Tomasco and Alexandr Kushchanka, simply would not yield. Right behind them, the linebackers, including Nick Luna, Leo Fiorentino and Luke Anderson, were right there to plug any gaps.

Sobrato bounced back after it struggled in a 47-15 defeat against North Salinas on Aug. 25. Taylor also followed up a 194-yard effort in the season opener with an amazing performance against Del Mar on the Bulldogs’ home field. 

Taylor will be a major force every week on an offense that scored eight touchdowns on eight possessions in last week’s win over Del Mar.

In addition to Taylor’s bruising carries and highlight-reel scoring runs, Anderson picked up 63 yards and two touchdowns on five carries, and quarterback Ray Perez rifled a 37-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Hankins.

Taylor credited his offensive line, which blew Del Mar off the ball to give him and Anderson running room.

“Jorge Mendoza, Tallon Castellanos and Lucas Laisure were amazing,” Taylor said. “They really led the way.”

Mason Miller and Gustavo Ureta were also among the linemen aiding the attack, and Kushchanka was a big force at tight end.

“We made a lot of mistakes last week,” Rueda said. “We’re a young team and there are growing pains. We did not get down on ourselves. I know our guys can execute. I’m very happy and pleased with my guys and how they played today.”

Sobrato placed fourth in the Blossom Valley Athletic League Santa Teresa – Valley Division with a 2-3 record in league play and finished with a 3-7 overall record.

Rueda cited Westmont, Leigh and defending league champion Overfelt as the other favorites in what is considered one of the most competitive “B” leagues in the section. 

Overfelt and Leigh both have big, physical teams but Sobrato also has size, and they have a dangerous weapon in Taylor.

“Noah [Taylor] is a special athlete,” Rueda said. “He’s a total package. Fearless and aggressive, with breakaway speed. He has a strong stiff-arm and good vision. Noah is fundamentally sound and he follows his blockers. He is really coachable. He wants to win for his teammates.”

Taylor followed up with another spectacular performance in a 48-28 win over North Monterey County on Sept. 7. He finished with 232 yards rushing on 21 carries and a pair of touchdowns.

The Bulldogs will host the El Toro Bowl against cross-town rival Live Oak (2-0) on Saturday at 1pm. 

BVAL Santa Teresa – Valley Division play begins with a home game against Westmont on Oct. 7 at 2:30pm.

“I think we’re going to have a really good team,” Taylor said. “Our goals are to beat Live Oak in the El Toro Bowl, win the league and go to CCS.”

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