West Ranch pounds Royals in season opener

A second-half collapse led to a disappointing football opener for the San Marcos Royals as they were throttled 42-14 by visiting West Ranch of Valencia on Friday at Warkentin Stadium.

Third-year San Marcos head coach Anthony Linebaugh was overall disappointed by the performance of his team.

“I’ve been with these boys since last season ended. They know what they can do,” he said.

The Royals kept the score close in the first half, with running back Inri Cortez racing 73 yards down the sideline for a touchdown on the team’s very first possession.

But plays like Cortez’s run were too few and far between.

“There were definitely flashes, but it was just too inconsistent,” said Linebaugh

Cortez finished the game with 104 yards on 10 carries and a pair of touchdowns.

Defensive end Sam Charest was another bright spot for the Royals. The senior created pressure on the West Ranch offense the entire night. He collected a pair of sacks.

The Royals gave Joseph Estrada the nod as the starting quarterback. The senior struggled throwing the ball, completing only two passes of six pass attempts for 11 yards.

Turnovers plagued San Marcos. It lost two fumbles on errant option pitches and West Ranch capitalized on both to open up a 28-7 deficit in the third quarter.

Despite Estrada’s rough night, Linebaugh kept his confidence in his quarterback.

“I was really pleased with his efforts tonight,” he said.

While Estrada got the nod over Sage Reid in the opener, Linebaugh said the starting quarterback position is still up for grabs. “I’m looking forward to both of them contributing on the offensive side of the ball.”

Both teams exchanged quick touchdowns on their first drives, with both strikes being over 50 yards. West Ranch scored again and took a 14-7 lead into halftime.

It would be all West Ranch in the second half. Head coach Jan Miller made a halftime adjustment to the offensive blocking scheme that led to the second-half explosion.

“In the first half, we were doing slide adjustments and they were destroying us up the middle,” Miller explained. “We made some adjustments and stopped it. If we have time to throw, we’re going to hurt you.”

The Wildcats’ up-tempo air raid, led by senior quarterback Chase Kilingsworth, put up 28 second-half points on the San Marcos defense. Killingsworth had a career night, completing 18 of 29 pass attempts for 322 yards and six touchdowns.

Despite his video game numbers, Killingsworth maintained that the victory was a team effort.

“We have a great set of guys around us,” Killingsworth said. “The line gives me the protection that we need. It was a team effort, and I’m just spreading the ball around.”

Killingsworth’s six scoring tosses were caught by three different receivers.

Miller gave insight to the development of the Wildcat aerial assault.

“We played 50-60 seven-on-seven scrimmages this summer,” he said. “You gotta understand, we’re in the Foothill League. If we play Hart or Valencia, there’s going to be one hundred passes.”

Despite the opening blowout, Linebaugh has high expectations for his Royals and was already looking forward to cleaning things up for the next game.

“It starts tomorrow with good film study. We gotta shake this off and get ready. It’s a long season”

San Marcos hosts Rio Mesa of Oxnard next Friday

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