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January 30, 2023

Sobrato High football team finds its identity with the run game

After playing a tough Alisal High team in its season-opener, the Sobrato High football team was prepared for its Week Two contest against a struggling Andrew Hill High squad. 

Struggling would be an understatement, as Andrew Hill was coming off a 77-0 loss to Gunderson in its season-opener. The Bulldogs were a little more merciful with the Falcons, rolling to a 49-0 win on Sept. 1. 

Sobrato coach Joel Rueda knew his team did what it was supposed to do. 

“Based on what I had seen on film and what I saw in person of Andrew Hill—they graduated 23 seniors so they’re very young—I expected our guys to do what they did,” he said. “Coming off playing Alisal, an A-league team, and to be relatively close late in the game was a good sign for us.”

Rueda, who is in his first season coaching at his alma mater, said he dedicated the team’s victory to the late Adrian Alcantara, who was Sobrato’s junior varsity coach in 2021 and one of Rueda’s friends. 

“We wanted to do it for coach Alcantara,” Rueda said. “It was good to get one for him because the JV team didn’t win a game last year. So for us to win both varsity and JV was nice.”

Rueda has been effusive in his praise of junior quarterback/linebacker Noah Taylor, who literally was making plays all over the field. Playing almost exclusively out of the shotgun in the team’s hybrid Wing-T formation, Taylor has been a force on keepers and designed runs. 

Rueda said Taylor rushed for 219 yards and two touchdowns on just six carries—that’s a video game-esque 36.5 yards per carry—including a pair of 65-yard runs, one of which was a scramble. Defensively, Taylor made several tackles and blocked a punt that Daniel Gutierrez returned for a touchdown. 

“Noah has been playing extremely well,” Rueda said. “It takes multiple guys to bring him down, and he’s been able to scramble and create some big plays when the receivers aren’t necessarily open. He comes to work everyday, and he has one speed to go all out and I love it.”

Tailback Ben Castellanos rushed for 124 yards on just five carries, nearly 25 yards a carry. Three of Castellanos’ carries went for 30, 31 and 43 yards. 

“Ben probably weighs 150 pounds but runs like he’s 220,” Rueda said. “He’s running like a madman. I knew he was fast and he was quick and could make people miss, but what he’s brought to the game physically I’ve been pleasantly surprised with. He’s punishing some guys and I was not expecting that out of him.”

Rueda was quick to credit the offensive line and said most of the time the team’s ball carriers weren’t touched until they got to the second level. 

“When the offensive line is executing, no one is touching our rushers for the first 5 yards,” he said. 

Some of the key standouts up front include Ryan McGlashan, Lucas Laisure, Jorge Mendoza, Talyn Castellanos, Gustavo Ureta and Kayden Ruiz. 

“I don’t think the O-line has given up a sack yet so they’re playing very well,” Rueda said. “They’re doing a fantastic job.”

Sobrato’s defensive line was also dominant against Andrew Hill. McGlashan, Mendoza and Castellanos double up and play both ways, with Steven Tamasco playing strong on the D-line. 

“The reason why we were able to win is because our guys dominated up front,” Rueda said. “The defensive line kept pushing back their offensive line back at least 2 yards on every play.”

Sobrato dominated special-teams play as well, with Aidan Butler returning a punt for a TD. The Bulldogs know their strengths and identity and have stuck to them. Rueda said in two games they’ve attempted just 12 passes “probably.”

Sobrato next plays Rancho San Juan of Salinas at home on Sept. 10 at 2:30pm. It’ll be a good test for the Bulldogs as Rancho San Juan is superior to Andrew Hill but probably just a step below Alisal. The Trailblazers are also a B-league team, the same as Sobrato.

Sobrato High junior Noah Taylor has been a force at quarterback and linebacker. Photo by Bryant Hammer/HmrDwnSports.
Aidan Butler, seen here in action vs. Alisal, returned a punt for a TD against Andrew Hill. Photo by Bryant Hammer.

Sports editor Emanuel Lee can be reached at [email protected]

Emanuel Lee
Emanuel Lee is the sports editor of the Los Gatan, Gilroy Dispatch, Hollister Free Lance and Morgan Hill Times. An American High and University of Kentucky alumnus, he primarily covers high school athletics, Gavilan College, various youth sports in south Santa Clara/San Benito counties and pro sports on occasion. Two decades of journalism experience and recipient of several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. With the Weeklys/NewSVMedia group since 2013. Emanuel has run eight marathons with a PR of 3:13.40 (7:24 mile pace), counts himself as a devoted follower of Jesus Christ and loves spending time with his wife and their two lovely daughters, Evangeline and Eliza. Coaches, athletic directors and parents are encouraged to report scores to [email protected]

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