Onside kick return for a touchdown keys crazy Archbishop Mitty victory against James Logan
UNITED NATIONS — Archbishop Mitty’s players were sick of hearing about last season’s success story, when the team went from 1-9 to 9-4, being spoken about in the past tense, as if it had already happened.
Yes, the 2023 roster had a lot of new faces after the majority of the senior class graduated in the spring. However, those players are eager to demonstrate that the Monarchs were more than a one-year wonder or feel-good story.
“We definitely have a different identity, and each team brings something unique to the field,” said senior running back AJ Cenizal. “I feel like we’ll forge our own identity.”
But, if Friday’s wild 20-12 victory over James Logan is any indication, “gritty Mitty” still has that familiar resolve, along with some magic, to use on gamedays.
That enchantment? It was just a routine 60-yard onside kick return touchdown by junior Alec Grimaldo, who scooped the ball up off a perfect bounce and ran up the right sideline to make it 20-6.
“I was a little nervous, but I powered through it,” Grimaldo explained. “I saw an opening and took advantage of it.”
What about the grit? A bruising rushing attack led by senior tailback Cenizal, who rushed for 63 yards and a touchdown, allowed senior Joey Campagna to throw for 179 yards and a touchdown on an efficient 9 of 13 clip.
With 3:08 left in the first quarter, a four-yard Cenizal run made it 7-0, and Mitty went up 14-0 when 6-foot-2 tight end Caden Allard scored on a 16-yard fade with 1:11 left in the quarter to cap a short three-play drive.
The Mitty defense, led by energetic safety Billy Hutton and a slew of hard-hitters, kept James Logan off the field until 4:27 remained in the half.
“Jonathan Craft made some plays,” said Mitty head coach Danny Sullivan. “It was tough work for our defense, but we put them to the test pretty much every day in practice.”
During the final six minutes of the fourth quarter, the slugfest turned into a sprint. James Logan, led by quarterback Craft, drove his team downfield, culminating in a 15-yard touchdown pass. Logan missed the extra point with 2:30 remaining in the game, leaving the score at 14-6.
Craft, who converted Mitty tackles for loss into Logan gains on multiple occasions, passed for 144 yards and rushed for 73 more behind blockers like Giovanni Valverde. His stats would have been even better if his receivers hadn’t dropped several catchable passes.
“We prepared and practiced very hard,” Valverde explained. “We did what we were supposed to do during the week, but I don’t think that translated well enough on the field.”
The Colts’ momentum was immediately shattered by Grimaldo’s return, but that didn’t stop Craft from leading his team downfield for another touchdown drive, this time completing six of eight passes and throwing his second scoring pass.
Mitty recovered the ensuing onside kick and fell on it this time, the most conventional part of an otherwise entertaining game. Next Friday, Archbishop Mitty (1-0) will host Aptos, while Logan (0-1) will host California.