Mesa football begins season with a win, ready to work

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Photo Credit: Jared Knobloch/The Mesa Press

The Olympians (Yellow) played the Wildcats (White), taking a win 31-0 on Saturday, September 4.

Jared Knobloch, Editor-In-Chief

   San Diego Mesa dominated West Los Angeles College in their season opener on Sept. 4 with a convincing 31-0 victory.

   The Olympians, coming off a season of no actual play time, looked fired up to be playing their first game back, making a quick touchdown less than two minutes into the first quarter. They jumped out to a 24-0 halftime lead, with freshmen quarterbacks Gunnar Gray and Quincy Welch completed a slew of impressive passes over the course of the first half. The Olympians defense was stellar as well, keeping the Wildcats scoreless. The first half ended with with touchdowns from freshmen Daniel Latanca, Antoine Sullivan, and Blaze Zito, as well as a 42-yard field goal from freshman Dominic Camacho.

   The second half started slow on both ends, but Mesa’s Sullivan eventually scored a 72-yard touchdown off a pass from Welch. Up 31-0, the Olympians continued to play great defense and ran out the clock, starting the season 1-0. Mesa Coach Gary Watkins was grateful for the win emphatically saying, “Winning a college football game is one of the most difficult things to do in college athletics, so I’m very excited about the win.”

   The road taken wasn’t the easiest, but it helped the Olympians get to the point they’re at now. “We have dealt with a lot of adversity, just the COVID protocols and the testing, trying to make sure everybody is as safe as possible. Obviously we’ve been off (the field) for 18, 19 months at this point, so getting everyone back is awesome to be able to do,” added Watkins.

He knows the road is far from over, and is just focused on every single moment. “On the field, we want to be 1-0 every week, we want to play to the Olympian standard every night, that is the game we are chasing. Off the field, putting the best guys I can in the best situation to be successful for them, both on and off the field. We are always adamant about getting our guys to the four year level,” he said.

   The players themselves are also ecstatic to be playing football again. Sullivan, who plays wide reciever said, “It feels great to be back. It’s the first time a lot of us had some game time in almost two years, so it was awesome to be out there with my team.” Sullivan, who scored two touchdowns in the victory, added, “The defense did really well, holding the other team to zero points was great to see. Personally I believe there is always room for improvement, considering this was only week one, the plan is to improve and get better for each week.”

   Learning the ropes with any athletic program can be difficult at first, but in the end makes a better athlete, and according to Sullivan, Mesa has done a fantastic job of that. “Mesa has helped me understand the game better, being a receiver in general, as well as being able to read coverage. Being with Mesa has helped me mature as an athlete.”

   His teammates feel no different. Camacho said, “Mesa has helped me realize what I need to do to be the best version of myself.” Camacho is ready to continue staying in the moment with the team. “I feel like everyone, especially the players and the coaches, have been waiting to get out here and do what we love,” he added. His coach echoed, “Being able to get to this point, it took a lot of discipline and effort, to get to the game tonight. It’s always about having fun. We are onto different teams each week, so we plan on getting back to it and preparing for the next game.”

Mesa’s next game is at Ventura College on Sept. 11.