By Keith Peters
Palo Alto Online
The Palo Alto football team has played 33 games in the Central Coast Section playoffs and, perhaps surprisingly, holds a winning record against the West Catholic Athletic League.
The Vikings have played Mitty three times, Bellarmine and Valley Christian twice each and has a 4-3 mark in those contests.
One WCAL team that Paly has never played in the postseason is St. Francis. That, however, will change this weekend when the Vikings and Lancers meet up in the CCS Open Division semifinals on Saturday at San Jose City College at 7 p.m.
The game is so big that the state champion Palo Alto girls' volleyball team switched its NorCal semifinal on Saturday from 7 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. so not to conflict.
Fourth-seeded Palo Alto (9-2) brings a 21-12 all-time postseason record into the showdown while the No. 8 Lancers (6-5) are 72-18-1 CCS games. St. Francis, in fact, is the winningest team in section playoff history.
The Lancers continued that mastery with a 20-17 upset of top-seeded Oak Grove last weekend to open the playoffs. That certainly opened Paly's door a little wider to the division championship game on Dec. 2 at San Jose CC at 8 p.m.
The Vikings, of course, must beat the Lancers to earn a date with the Mitty-Bellarmine winner. They play in the semifinals on Friday, also at SJCC.
St. Francis is led by quarterback Colin Johnson (77 for 122 for 1,213 yards) and running back Durell Crooks (189 carries for 1,269 yards). If the Vikings can stop either of these two and not turn the ball over like they did last week in a 20-6 first-round win over Leland, Paly could find itself playing for a second straight Open Division title.
Palo Alto overcame some sloppiness on a rainy night last week as senior wideout B.J. Boyd caught two touchdown passes from sophomore quarterback Keller Chryst to lead the Vikings. Dre Hill added a one-yard TD run in the fourth quarter and finished with 127 yards on 25 carries.
Chryst overcame four interceptions in the first half while dealing with a slippery ball. He was more solid in the second half with his two TD passes, winding up with 169 passing yards while the Paly defense did a standout job by blanking a Leland offense that had been averaging nearly 38 points a game.
Menlo-Atherton will get the CCS semifinals off to an early start when the No. 2-seeded Bears (8-3) play host to No. 6 Salinas (7-4) in Division I action Friday at 1 p.m.
Menlo-Atherton romped past No. 7 Santa Clara (8-3) by a 40-22 count last week while Salinas edged Homestead, 27-26.
In Division IV, No. 4-seeded Sacred Heart Prep (8-3) will take on No. 1 Palma (9-1-1) on Friday at the Salinas Sports Complex at 7 p.m. The Gators advanced to this game by rallying past No. 5 Scotts Valley, 27-20, in a first-round game last Saturday.
2011 CCS FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS
Palo Alto 20, Leland 6
St. Francis 20, Oak Grove 17
Bellarmine 56, Terra Nova 12
Mitty 36, San Benito 0
Bellarmine (10-1) vs. Mitty (7-3-1) at San Jose City College, 7 p.m.
Palo Alto (9-2) vs. St. Francis (6-5) at San Jose City College, 7 p.m.
Menlo-Atherton 40, Santa Clara 22
Salinas 27, Homestead 26
Milpitas 42, Mountain View 33
Serra 38, Wilcox 6
Salinas (7-4) at Menlo-Atherton (8-3), 1 p.m.
Milpitas (8-3) at Serra (9-2), 1 p.m.
South San Francisco 31, Willow Glen 23
Pioneer 25, El Camino 0
Los Gatos 62, Leigh 14
Aragon 30, Sobrato 17
South San Francisco (9-2) at Pioneer (8-3), 7 p.m.
Aragon (9-2) at Los Gatos (9-1-1), 7 p.m.
St. Ignatius 35, Aptos 31
Sacred Heart Cathedral 37, Monterey 14
Christopher 55, Del Mar 0
Valley Christian 35, Burlingame 21
Sacred Heart Cathedral (6-5) vs. Christopher (10-1) at Gilroy High, 7 p.m.
St. Ignatius (4-6-1) at Valley Christian (6-5), 7 p.m.
Palma 35, Soledad 0
Carmel 41, Menlo School 7
Monte Vista Christian 38, Half Moon Bay 11
Sacred Heart Prep 27, Scotts Valley 20
Sacred Heart Prep (8-3) vs. Palma (9-1-1) at Salinas Sports Complex, 7 p.m.
Monte Vista Christian (10-1) vs. Carmel (11-0) at Pacific Grove High, 7 p.m.