By Will James

Hometown Sports

When it comes to scheduling elite high profile opponents, Monterey Trail Head Coach T.J. Ewing reaches as high as possible. Friday night in Elk Grove the second part of a grandiose home-and home package unfolds when the fabled De La Salle Spartans of Concord come calling on the Mustangs in a prestigious non-league meeting.

The game will be broadcast on Access Sacramento‘s Hometown Sports Game of the Week. The pregame for this live telecast begins at 7 p.m. with the opening kickoff scheduled for 7:30, and may be seen in Sacramento County on Comcast or Consolidated Communications Cable channel 17, and AT&T U-Verse channel 14. The game will also be streamed live from and on the NFHS Network.

Monterey Trail is recovering from a rough season-opener after suffering a lopsided 47-18 road loss to locally top-ranked Folsom. (Watch the video-on-demand full game replay by clicking HERE.) Despite its disappointing debut, and an even more daunting challenge awaiting them Friday night, Ewing’s team is regrouping and preparing to showcase its A-game against a formidable opponent that takes no prisoners.

In their inaugural meeting last year in Concord, it can be said that a welcome mat for visiting Monterey Trail was nowhere to be found. Justin Alumbaugh’s Spartans showed no mercy while systematically dismantling the Mustangs, 68-6 in a relentless display of precision football and total domination.

De La Salle Head Coach Justin Alumbaugh being interviewed by Access Sacramento’s Lauren Goodman during the 2021 game vs. Folsom.

The Spartans took control early and scored often, blasting to a 28-0 lead after one quarter, then proceeded to put the game beyond recall with a commanding 42-0 cushion at the half.

Even so, Ewing remains steadfast in scheduling top non-league opponents, and welcomes this opportunity to play a superior team with a storied history and a legendary reputation that far precedes them. The Mustangs must also contend with De La Salle’s haunting and impactful mystique capable of psychologically defeating teams before game day.

That being said, last week’s road loss to #1 Folsom was a good tune-up for the Mustangs as an aggressive Bulldogs’ defense stymied Monterey Trail’s vaunted Veer Offense. Despite grinding out 215 rushing yards, and 382 total yards, the Mustangs were unable to sustain long drives nor control time of possession while being limited to a pair of 2nd quarter touchdowns.

Monterey Trail #34 Ali Collier vs. Folsom last week.

Nevertheless, the run-heavy Veer remains Monterey Trail’s bread and butter. The Mustangs are again stacked with depth with another outstanding brigade of running backs.  Senior Ali Collier is the ringleader of this group which also features Daelin Ellis, Jervin Navarro, Vontrelle Waffer, and Jaylen Bryant.

It is seldom, if not rare, an elite team such as De La Salle visits the Sacramento region, making the Spartans’ local appearance more than a special occasion in the football circuit, but a major event for the community in every sense.

If anything, labeling De La Salle as an elite program is a gross understatement, considering it holds the national record of 151 consecutive victories; a 12-year winning streak spanning 1992 to 2004, and seven times have been crowned national champions.

Attendance Friday evening at Monterey Trail’s Macres Stadium presents a challenge to secure a ticket, and will assume a more basic prospect along the lines of every man for himself amid a certain capacity crowd. Such congestion and consternation is never the case when tuning in to Access Sacramento on cable TV or the Internet to watch the action on the Hometown Sports Game of the Week.