It took some time to warm up with a 44-degree temperature at kickoff, but the Mendota Aztecs found a spark behind Marquez Navarro in the second quarter to coast to the Central Section Division V championship Friday night.
With Navarro scoring two touchdowns before halftime to provide some cushion, top-seeded Mendota beat No. 3 Firebaugh 50-22.
It’s the second undefeated season in six years for the Aztecs and first section title since the program moved up to D-V in 2013 after winning back-to-back crowns in D-VI (2011, ’12).
“We were excited to be here,” Aztecs coach Beto Mejia said.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Fresno Bee
“We didn’t want to be a part of this; we wanted to take over.”
The Aztecs (13-0) did just that in front of a standing-room only crowd at Mendota Stadium that was the main event for the agricultural town of 11,000.
With the score 14-14 in the second quarter, Navarro scored on an 18-yard run to give the Aztecs the lead with 2:02 remaining until halftime.
After holding Firebaugh to a three-and-out, Mendota’s offense struck once more as quarterback Junior Cardenas found Navarro on a short pass, and he juked his way downfield for 71 yards for the score and a 29-14 lead at the break.
571 yards of total offense by Mendota against Firebaugh
“It felt like a dream, like it was fantasy, like something out of a cartoon” said Navarro, who finished with 142 yards rushing and 71 receiving.
“We knew our goal was to get at least 40 points. We pulled together and worked hard for it.”
The Aztecs took to the air in the second half, and the Eagles’ secondary couldn’t keep up with wide receiver Fabian Jasso.
Jasso caught three touchdowns on passes of 22, 11, and 41 yards from Cardenas.
Mejia and the Aztecs had a mild celebration after the game and also paid respects to the Firebaugh community for its loss earlier this week.
“I know they just lost a student in Dayla Banda, so on behalf of me and the team and our family, we send our condolences,” Mejia said.
Before kickoff, the Mendota football team gave Firebaugh (11-3) orange balloons and held a moment of silence for Banda, who died after suffering injuries in a car crash.