With week six of the football season coming to an end, we shift our focus to the Central Coast as the Gonzales Spartans faced Watsonville's Pajaro Valley Grizzlies. The Spartans pulled away in the second half to a commanding 40 -20 victory thanks to their two-way star, Pablo Villasenor.
Villasenor is a 6'4", 240lbs offensive and defensive tackle for the Spartans, who has been playing on varsity since his sophomore year. The senior team captain is clearly a force to be reckoned with on both sides of the ball as he tallied six pancake blocks, 12 total tackles, three tackles for loss and one forced fumble against the Grizzlies.
Going into the game, head coach Art Berlanga expected a tough battle in the trenches. "They run a wing-t, triple option offense that is dependent on running the football," Berlanga said. "We knew they we're going to control the clock and run the ball. They came out on the first series and ran the ball very well, scoring on their first drive."
The Spartans came out of the gate quickly, scoring in five plays on their first offensive drive. "Our running back, Payton Flores, had a great game with over 170 yards rushing," Berlanga said. "He came out on that first drive and was extremely explosive." The head coach also shared that, "Payton already has 1,200 rushing yards on the season, Pablo and the offensive line have been a huge part of his success."
When discussing his offense, Berlanga said, "Pablo is a key component of our offense. We run power, stretch, inside/outside zone, speed option, and counters where he is our focal point. Pablo leads on zone, pulls on power and counter, and he just moves guys around." That is a luxury to have on any offense.
On the defensive side, the Spartans posted a second half shut out which was the driving force for their Friday night victory. When asked about Villasenor's defensive presence, Berlanga recalled, "Pablo was a force on the defensive line. He had 12 tackles, including three tackles for loss. In the second quarter we needed a big play to change the momentum, so Pablo forced a fumble making a tackle for loss. We scooped it up and took it 85 yards for a touchdown." Coming out of half-time, the Spartans were firing on all cylinders, scoring 19 unanswered points and shutting down the Grizzlies' impressive rushing attack.
When asked about Villasenor's leadership style Berlanga said, "Pablo is a vocal leader. He is an alpha that leads by example and holds himself, and his teammates accountable. He has an impressive work ethic, and prepares and practices like he still has a lot to learn. He is mentally tough and has no quit in him whatsoever."
If that isn't impressive enough, Villasenor is a three-sport varsity athlete. He doesn't excel solely on the football field, but was all league in basketball last season and had a chance to compete for the State Championships in shot put. Needless to say, we are excited to nominate him as the Player of the Week and can't wait to see how the season turns out for #52!
As the home school of the 49ers High School Player of the Week presented by U.S. Bank, Gonzales High School will receive a $500 grant for their football program from the 49ers Foundation. As part of this award, Villasenor will receive two tickets to a 49ers home game where he will be recognized on the field during pre-game. At the end of the season, Villasenor will be invited to the SAP Performance Facility to watch a closed practice where 49ers head coach, Kyle Shanahan, will officially present him with his award.