Aidan Flynn, a senior linebacker at Salinas High, makes big plays on and off the field.

He can make huge plays on the bus.

Flynn took a 30-minute break as the Salinas football team bus made its way north, 111 miles to Clayton Valley High in Concord. He then scanned for any teammates who had slept longer.

Flynn stated that Coach advised not to sleep for more than 45 minutes as you can get into REM. “a couple of boys were around. I had to walk around the bus and wake them all up.

In the fourth quarter of Friday night’s season-opening, there were no groggy Cowboys. After the Ugly Eagles’ 21-14 win, the rest of Northern California won’t likely be sleeping in Salinas. Clayton Valley opened the season, ranked No. 9 in Sport Stars Magazine, NorCal Top 20, and Cowboys at No. 14.

With 27 seconds remaining in the third quarter, Salinas took a 21-14 lead thanks to a 5-yard touchdown run by senior quarterback Adam Shaffer. Flynn and his defense stopped two Clayton Valley fourth-quarter drives, which both reached the red line.

With 5:02 remaining in the game, the Ugly Eagles were stuck at the Salinas 5-yard mark. Josiah Garnica took possession and intercepted the ball at the 5-yard line. It locked the triumph within 1.10 seconds remaining.

After the win, Steve Zenk, Salinas’ football coach, said they always strive to improve. We believe that games are an opportunity to improve. The kids did just that tonight.

“I enjoyed it very much. It was a huge win.

After the first two series, Clayton Valley had all the momentum. The game started with Salinas turning the ball over. Josh Rodriguez intercepted Shaffer’s pass. The Ugly Eagles capitalized quickly with a nine-play drive that was capped off by a 7-yard scoring pass by Christian Aguilar and Hayezon Jackson.

Salinas would respond with the two Shaffer touchdown passes. The first was for Zach Ball at 14 yards, while Nyziah Hunter received the second. The cal-bound recruit was able to outleap two defenders and then ran the remaining 35 yards unassisted for a 65-yard score.

Shaffer said Hunter’s touchdown pass to Shaffer was “he got even with the cornerback,” “I took a shot. He is reliable and a person to bet.

This Salinas football team has a lot of trusts. There are 15 returning starters, most of them three-year veterans.

Zenk stated that 25 of these guys were sophomores in the spring COVID season. They were there for 14 consecutive games with the same kids. They were all starters at the time. It’s great to ride on.”

Clayton Valley tied it in the second half when Nicholas Khashabi ran one 1-yards to score. The play ended a six-play drive that Emilio Strange started by catching Mason Lovett’s bubble screen pass and breaking free for a 55-yard gain.

Christian Aguilar and Lovett shared Friday’s time behind the Ugly Eagles’ center. Aguilar dominated the second half of the game, although the time was evenly divided in the first half.

Both defences could come out of intermission with their game plan in place. Each team struggled on its three first possessions of the quarter. Clayton Valley decided to take it on its fourth possession at its 29-yard mark, making 4th-and-8. The Salinas offence needed the spark Aguilar’s pass gave them.

The Cowboys used three plays to score. One of the most significant 9-yard pass Shaffer accomplished to Julian Arreola. The Cowboys then made up the remaining 20 yards with a 15-yard scamper and a 5-yard touchdown. Senior Shaffer finished the night with 18 runs for 85 yards and threw for two scores, totalling 142 yards.

“You know what?” Flynn smiled and said, “I love the crap outta this man right now,” while gesturing to a Shaffer standing nearby after the game. “As much I love being on the pitch, I try my best to get off it so that he can return on it. They both are proud of the coordination level. It’s a great exchange.

Many Cowboys are making their teammates look great. Next Friday, they will try to continue that trend in a road match at Valley Christian San Jose. The traditional West Catholic Athletic League power dropped to No. 12 at Santa Clara.

Zenk stated, “When I got hired, I believed we’d be here within ten years in which we schedule these types of teams.” “We are here in six years, and I am pleasantly surprised.”