Soledad-Carmel football

Friday's game
Soledad (4-2) vs. Carmel (6-0) at Monterey Peninsula College, 7:30 p.m.
 Just once in the Golden Anderson era at Carmel has the program been held without a touchdown.
 That came last year in a 9-3 road loss to Soledad.
 It happens.
 Usually though, not to programs averaging over 41 points a game since Anderson took over the head coaching reigns eight years ago at Carmel.
 "Soledad limited the big plays,'' Anderson said. "When you have to run a lot of plays, the likelihood is you're going to make mistakes. Time of possession doesn't always benefit us with our tempo.''
 The Padres never scored again after taking an early 3-0 lead in last year's battle, dropping just their second league game under Anderson in eight years.
 "We know Carmel's explosive,'' Soledad coach Frankie Berlanga said. "But we felt if we could weather the storm, we believed we would eventually make a play."
 Anderson agreed.
 "They did a good job in converting big plays and keeping drives alive,'' Anderson recalled. "I would argue that when you hold a team to nine points, you have a chance.''
 Unless you're only scoring three.
 While Anderson has been the most successful head coach in the county based on wins over the last eight years, Berlanga has changed the fortunes at Soledad.
 Doormats before Berlanga took over five years ago, the 2001 Soledad graduate not only resurrected the program, but he took it to a share of its first league title last year.
 The Aztecs have built off last fall's single season school record of eight wins, having rattled off four consecutive wins after non-league setbacks to 6-1 Seaside and perennial playoff power Salinas.
 "Soledad plays well together,'' Anderson said. "Their kids look like they genuinely get along. Usually when you're tight off the field, you play well on it, particularly when dealing with adversity.''
 Dating back to last year, Soledad has won a school record nine straight MTAL games, relying on a filthy defense, anchored by Andrew Hernandez, Agustin Meza and Daniel Contawe.
 The trio have combined for over 200 tackles, while Hernandez and Contawe have joined forces with Luis Nevarrette for 24 sacks.
"Our athleticism gives us a lot of freedom to move guys around,'' said Berlanga, who has seven starters back from last year's defense. "We've got guys that can play multiple positions, enabling us to match up with anyone.''
 What Soledad did well last year was contain tailback Covossay Windham, one of two teams in the last two years to hold the Padres back under 100 yards rushing -- Half Moon Bay was the other.
 The 230-pound Windham is a beast to bring down, having piled up 845 yards and 14 touchdowns, giving him 47 touchdowns in his last 23 games.
 Yet, while Windham is the focus of attention for most defenses, the Padres aerial attack has been efficient behind quarterback Daniel Higman.
 "If Daniel Higman was on a different team, he'd be the headline,'' Anderson said. "He makes good decisions. The supporting cast around him is doing a good job. But he doesn't turn the ball over.''
 A threat to rush for 1,000 yards as well this fall, Higman has thrown for over 1,000 yards and nine touchdown passes, with just one pick in 102 attempts.
"I don't know if you stop Carmel,'' Berlanga said. "Discipline is No.1. We have to get our kids and put them in a position to give us a chance to win. Carmel has a dual threat with their quarterback. He's very dynamic. We are definitely not ignoring him. With Windham, it's a double headed monster back there.''
 And while Soledad's defense has allowed just 94 points, the Padres have given up just 102 behind unheralded standouts Shokh Inagambaev and Zach Rossi.
 ""I would put this team up with any of my previous seven for how hard they play,'' Anderson said. "We don't always execute. But when you watch our kids, they're in the moment.''

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