Jets Take Flight in Season-Opening Victory

Arianna Zalder -- Encinal running back Alexander Marston runs for a short gain against Hercules High School on Aug. 25 at Stargell Field. The junior rushed for 194 yards and 3 TDs.
Arianna Zalder -- Encinal running back Alexander Marston runs for a short gain against Hercules High School on Aug. 25 at Stargell Field. The junior rushed for 194 yards and 3 TDs.

Jets Take Flight in Season-Opening Victory

Encinal High School’s football team overcame a shaky beginning to the game to get their season off to a strong start with a 20-6 victory versus Hercules High School.

Both schools entered their 2023 season opener on August 25 at Stargell Field with intentions to reverse their fortunes from last year when the Jets went 1-9 in Head Coach Derrick Lyons’ first year in charge, one more win than the Hercules Titans achieved.

In front of a sizable crowd that expanded as students and other spectators trickled in, the Titans got off to a strong start, forcing Encinal to punt on the game’s opening possession. Then, on their first offensive possession, the visitors marched down the field and scored their only touchdown on a third-down pass from sophomore quarterback Drevaughn Mcguire to senior Davon Kornegay. The ensuing extra-point kick failed, limiting the Titans’ lead to 6-0.

The defenses took over for a few minutes with both teams making strong tackles to prevent the opposing offenses from racking up yards and moving down the field. Junior Marco Garcia and senior Kaleb Westbrooks led the way for a Jets’ defense that kept the Titans from scoring for the rest of the game while the home team looked for an offensive spark. Junior running back Alexander Marston served as that spark plug, igniting the offense with three touchdown runs.

The first, a 35-yard scamper that combined with a successful extra point kick attempt, gave Encinal the lead for the first time late in the first quarter.

The Titans found it difficult to stop Martson, who continued to get the ball on almost every play. With about three minutes left in the first half, Marston bulldozed his way into the end zone for his second touchdown, though the Titans blocked the extra point. Thanks to Marston’s elusive running and a stout defense, the Jets held a 13-6 lead at halftime.

The defensive battle persisted throughout the scoreless third quarter. The exciting contest came to a crescendo in the opening half of the fourth quarter as Hercules’ offense was in the midst of its best drive since its initial possession. The Titans worked their way down the field and looked like they were primed to get a touchdown that, if combined with an extra point, would have tied the game. However, the Jets made a huge defensive stand as they kept their opponent out of the end zone and took over on offense after a failed fourth down attempt.

Having seized all the momentum, Marston put the cherry on top for his team with his third and arguably most impressive touchdown run. It looked like he was going to be tackled by multiple Titans, but somehow wriggled free of all the defenders and took off for the game-sealing touchdown.

After the game, Coach Lyons commented on how his team was able to overcome early adversity and walk away with the victory.

“We are a team,” Lyons said. “These guys are out here playing for each other. They practice and play this game for each other, and I think that is one of the biggest differences we have this year. I am very excited about what these young guys can do, and we are going to build as a team.”

Lyons also reflected on some areas for improvement moving forward.

“It's just really cleaning up a lot of the things we do,” Lyons said. “It's like smaller details on the offensive line, making sure we get on our blocks and that we can clean up the little things. On defense, make sure we are paying attention and not losing sight of the ball and our guys.”

Tonight was the first step in Lyons’ and his team’s effort to grow school spirit and restore bigger crowds to Encinal football games. Next Saturday, the Jets play at Arroyo High School of San Lorenzo before hosting Redwood High School of Larkspur on Sept 8.