The Live Oak and Sobrato football teams both won their most recent games in blowout fashion. The Acorns rolled to a 38-7 win over Silver Creek on Oct. 7, while the Bulldogs overwhelmed Willow Glen 36-6 two days later.
After losing its first two games of the season, Sobrato has won four straight contests, its longest win streak in the Blossom Valley League’s Santa Teresa B Division in at least six years, if not longer. Now the Bulldogs face a monumental challenge playing at Pioneer on Oct. 15 in a game that will determine if the Bulldogs have arrived as a bona-fide contender for the league championship, or if they’re still a year or two away from being a legitimate threat to win it all.
“It’s going to be a championship-caliber game,” Sobrato coach Jubenal Rodriguez said. “It’s definitely a great opportunity to see if Sobrato has arrived.”
Playing its first on-campus home game since the 2019 season, the Bulldogs only had to utilize one offensive play the whole game against an inferior Willow Glen squad. Nathan Ortiz returned a punt 80 yards for a touchdown, Trey Bringuel had a 75-yard TD run and a 35-yard TD reception to continue his excellent season and Matt Nguyen and Remy Hernandez also rushed for scores.
“We really haven’t shown much in the way of different offensive plays, but you can bet the ones we’ve installed in the last two to three weeks will be shown this week,” Rodriguez said.
Anthony Anderson, Colin Bringuel and Mark Collins have been stalwart two-way linemen all season, and how they play will be key against Pioneer, which is coming off a huge 17-14 win over Leigh. Pioneer and Leigh are widely considered the two best programs in the Santa Teresa Division, but Sobrato aims to join and eventually surpass them into the A division.
“We’re excited about this next game and our program is clicking,” Rodriguez said. “Our kids have figured out how to practice and be consistent about it.”
Live Oak, meanwhile, rebounded nicely against Silver Creek after a heartbreaking 14-13 loss to Leland the week before. Quarterback Xavier Catano was 9-of-12 for 158 yards, including two touchdowns. Trent Cousens and Nathan Williams were key as receivers, as Williams had a long gain of 61 yards and Cousens had a 45-yard reception.
Jordan Fuentes had another terrific game, totaling 188 all-purpose yards: 62 rushing, 26 receiving and 100 yards on kick returns. Williams, Justin Kester-Johnson and Aaron Parra combined for 30 tackles. Parra and Williams play linebacker, and coach Mike Gemo said both are flying to the ball and making tackles.
Playing in his first full season at quarterback at the varsity level, Catano continues to improve in his decision-making, a big reason why the team’s passing game has taken off in recent weeks. Against first-place Leland, Catano was 9-of-12 for 181 yards. Gemo said opponents are set on stopping Live Oak’s run game and making Catano beat them with his arm—which he has.
“Xavier can do a little bit of everything and is getting better every week in our passing game,” Gemo said. “We’re getting a lot of guys involved in the passing game right now which helps.”
The venerable Live Oak coach added he was proud of the players for starting fast against Silver Creek and essentially putting the game away by halftime when they led 31-0.
“We bounced right back after a tough loss,” he said. “The defense had a great showing and guys were making plays all over the place and got us a couple of fumble recoveries that gave us an extra possession.”
The Acorns are currently in a three-way tie for second place in the Mount Hamilton Division with a 2-1 mark. However, neither Lincoln nor Santa Teresa—the other teams at 2-1—have faced Leland yet.