Live Oak’s Morgan Salzwedel kicks a field goal against Monte Vista Christian to help lift the Acorns to a 52-20 first round playoff win.

Live Oak got over a 10-season obstacle last week in defeating Monte Vista Christian to advance in the CCS Open Division III playoffs.
“They’re excited about it. They’re excited they get to play another game,” said coach Mike Gemo. “They took a team that nobody really gave a shot to and put them in the second round of the playoffs. That says a lot about the young men on the team.”
The next one is going to be even more daunting.
Live Oak kicks off against Palma 7 p.m. at Rabobank Stadium
in Salinas.
Palma is the top seed in the Open playoffs with a running back who is shattering school and Monterey County records.
Emilio Martinez has rushed for 1,772 yards this season and has more than 4,200 yards for his career.
According to John Devine at the Monterey County Herald, if Martinez doesn’t own a particular county rushing record, he soon will be.
Between 20 percent of his carries going for touchdowns, his propensity to break not just 100-yard games but 200-yard games, including a 308-yard performance against Saratoga, Martinez is a tough cat who doesn’t know how to go down easily.
“He’s a fast, elusive running back who gets stuff done,” Gemo said. “Their line does a great job of blocking for him. He’s a real threat.”
Palma hasn’t lost since falling 8-7 against St. Francis-Mountain View, who is the No. 1 ranked team in the section, according to
And the Chieftains have done it by upending no less than five playoff qualifying teams.
In short, this is not going to be easy.
But Live Oak understands what it takes to play against good teams.
The Mt. Hamilton Division winner Oak Grove was supposed to run over Live Oak, but the game was a 7-6 affair at halftime and it took a strong fourth-quarter effort from the Eagles to finally come out on top.
“I told them after the Oak Grove game they proved they can play with anybody in CCS,” Gemo said. “They have the confidence to get it done this week. They’re ready to go.”
Live Oak had plenty of heroes in the game against Monte Vista Christian, between making big plays on defense to laying down huge blocks on offense.
The task now is asking the team that not many people gave a chance to go out there one more time and prove some people wrong. Win or lose, however, the focus is on as always, getting just a little better than the week before on the never ending road toward improvement.
“We’re getting better as the year goes on. Everybody is getting a little better and a lot of them were juniors on the team last year. So the kids know what we’re looking for next year for the juniors who are here right now.”
Palma will throw plenty of weapons at the Acorns beyond just Martinez.
Quarterback Zach Flores had thrown for more than 1,100 yards this year with 10 touchdowns against
eight interceptions.
Last week, Live Oak completely shut down the MVC running game and turned the Mustangs into a one-dimensional squad.
This week will be a slightly tougher assignment to repeat.
“You would like them to be a more one dimensional team with running first, but they have athletes at all their positions. It’s going to be a tough challenge,” Gemo said.
Defensively, Palma will blitz a lot with linebackers and linemen who know how to get after the quarterback and blow up plays.
Palma shut down Hollister’s prolific attack and held St. Francis to one point, so Live Oak will need to be creative offensively.
“It’s just a huge challenge for us and we look forward to playing a school like that,” Gemo said.

Previous articleRobert George Corona May 9, 1961 – October 28, 2016
Next articleTwo trustees preside over final school board meeting


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here