WATSONVILLE — Adversity comes in unique avenues.
Two ejections and numerous penalties haunted Monterey in the first half. Overcoming a flag happy first 18 minutes tested the temperament of first year head football coach Alex Besaw.
“I tried not to get caught up in it (calls),” Besaw said. “It almost got me out of it. It (penalties) kind of lingered. There was a lot going on. We were so emotionally charged. I probably let it go on for too long.”
Maintaining his composure was contagious as the Toreadores cleaned things up, running off 21 straight points during one stretch en route to a 50-29 win Thursday at Monte Vista Christian in its Mission Division opener.
Monterey is 3-0 this fall when scoring 40 or more points, winless when it doesn’t, having suffered one point losses to Gabilan Division power Hollister and reigning Central Coast Section Division V champion Aragon.
“We can be immature at times,” Besaw said. “I told them at the half that outside factors can’t influence our performance on the field. This is testing our maturity and being mentally locked in.”
Last year Monterey was one of the most penalized teams in the entire Pacific Coast Athletic League, creating a reputation that apparently hasn’t been distinguished.
“I don’t know if we’re being targeted for the past,” Besaw said. “I do not want to find an excuse for why we did not play to our standards. The best way to overcome that is teach the kids to focus on our assignments.”
The growing pains that have accompanied quarterback Preston White vanished as the sophomore tossed five touchdown passes — three in the first half for Monterey, including a pair to senior captain Levi Elmore.
White, who didn’t even play the quarterback position last year as a freshman on the junior varsity team, connected with Elmore on a 75-yard touchdown pass and a 26-yard scoring strike.
The 6-foot-2 White finished 11-of-15 for 305 yards, with sophomore Kavon Collins catching three passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns, while Elmore caught four passes for 136 yards.
“He’s got a big arm,” Besaw said. “With the speed we have on the outside with Kavon, Jkai (Thomas) and Levi (Elmore), they can get on top of the coverage. He (White) was locked in. The ball was on the money ”
All three caught touchdown passes, with Thomas opening the game with a 32-yard touchdown catch. Collins also returned a punt 65 yards to put the Toreadores up 29-15 at the half.
A penalty filled first 18 minutes tested the patience of Besaw, who has spent his first season preaching the importance of restoring the discipline to the program.
“When you let emotions get the best of you, that’s when you get sloppy and forget assignments,” Besaw said. “We got our composure back in the second half. We didn’t play so emotionally charged football.”
Monte Vista (2-3), who beat two Gabilan Division opponents in non-league play, tied the game at 7 and again at 15 when it returned a kickoff 88 yards for six in the second quarter.
“I challenged the kids at the half,” Besaw said. “As far as their body language, they responded. I’m proud of how we handled the adversity.”
For all the big plays Monterey had through the air, running back Enobong Wirth provided balance with the running game with 89 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown.
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