San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh has a busy weekend as his squad heads to Seattle to take on the Seahawks in a battle of Super Bowl-contending teams on Sunday.
Harbaugh, however, will make time to return to his alma mater, Palo Alto High, on Friday night as an honorary captain for the Vikings' season-opening game against visiting San Benito.
Harbaugh, who played football for current head coach Earl Hansen in 1981 and '82, will help Paly open the year in its renovated stadium. New home and visitor stands have been installed along with a new press box and entrance to the field.
Prior to kickoff at 7:30 p.m., a pre-game ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place. Harbaugh will take part in the coin toss.
Getting Harbaugh to take part in the ceremony wasn't that much of a stretch. Hansen's son, Peter, is on Harbaugh's staff with the 49ers, and Palo Alto's quarterback, Keller Chryst, is the son of Niners quarterbacks coach Geep Chryst. And, when Harbaugh was head coach at Stanford, the Cardinal held some preseason practices at Paly.
The Vikings' season opener marks the start of the program's 104th year of football. Hansen, meanwhile, begins his 26th season with the Vikings with a record of 192-91-3. He also coached five years at San Lorenzo Valley and is 210-102-3 in 30 years, putting him among an elite group of California coaches with more than 200 career wins.
In a battle between two of the best teams in the Central Coast Section, Gunn remained undefeated with a 197-207 nonleague victory over Castilleja on Thursday at Palo Alto Municipal.
Gunn (4-0) was led by junior Anna Zhou, who shot a 1-under 33 as she birdied the par-3 eighth hole. Senior Jayshree Sarathy had an even-par 34 as her birdies on the third and eighth holes were offset by a pair of bogeys. Chloe Sales paced the Gators with a 39 while Danielle Mitchell added a 40.
In San Jose, Sacred Heart Prep traveled south to open its season at Santa Teresa Golf Course, where host Leland handed the Gators a 206-213 loss. Junior Jessica Koenig led the Gators with a 2-over 38 while teammate Lauren von Thaden added a 42.
Menlo continued its strong start to the nonleague season with a 6-1 triumph over visiting Leland. The Knights (5-1) got singles victories from sisters Liz and Alice Yao in straight sets, plus Helena Ong. Menlo coach Bill Shine, in his 18th season with the Knights, earned his 395th career win.
In a matchup between CCS powerhouses, Menlo School knocked off perennial Division II contender St. Francis, 3-1, in a nonleague match Thursday in Atherton. The Knights and Lancers both reached their respective section semifinals last season.
After Menlo (5-2) took a 2-0 advantage, the Lancers mounted a challenge in the third before the Knights wrapped up a 25-21, 25-20, 20-25, 25-20 victory. Senior outside hitter Maddie Huber finished with a team-high 11 kills for Menlo.
"St. Francis made some nice adjustments in Game 3," Menlo coach Steve Cavella said. "It was nice to see the team respond to the challenge after we dropped the third set."
Menlo junior Lida Van der Meer posted 10 kills and five blocks and sophomore Maddie Stewart had nine kills with a .305 hitting percentage. Senior middle Morgan Dressel registered eight kills, hit .353 and put up four blocks.
"Morgan Dressel and Maddie Stewart both played well tonight. Both players were very effective attacking the ball," Cavella said. "I thought Melissa Cairo's serve and serve reception was spot on. Lida Van der Meer's blocking was phenomenal as she had key blocks in Game 4 to seal the match."
In Pacifica, Priory improved to 3-0 with a 25-19, 26-24, 25-9 nonleague victory over host Alma Heights. Marine Hall-Poirier had 21 kills and nine digs to pace the Panhers. Micheala Koval added 10 digs and freshman Nadia Faisal played well, starting her first match and contributing five digs and two kills.
In Atherton, Palo Alto (7-1) wrapped up a big week with a 25-17, 25-22, 25-22 nonleague win over host Sacred Heart Prep. The Gators reached the CIF Division IV state finals last season, but graduated eight seniors off that team.
Junior Jade Schoenberger led the Vikings with 14 kills and nine digs while senior Becca Raffel added 12 kills and eight digs. Senior Keri Gee finished with 15 digs and freshman setter Jessica Lee provided 33 assists.
SHP, which held a 9-4 lead in Game 3, got 16 kills from Victoria Garrick. Ara Peterson added five kills and four blocks, Natalie Marshall finished with 29 assists and Mamie Caruso provided 16 digs for the Gators (2-2).
In San Mateo, Jessica Norum posted 14 kills and Madeline Johnson added 10 as Castilleja (5-2) registered a 25-23, 25-14, 25-17 nonleague win over San Mateo.
Girls' water polo
Despite having scoring leader Caroline Anderson back from a recruiting trip to Michigan, Gunn dropped an 11-7 nonleague decision to visiting Davis on Thursday night. Anderson finished with four goals.
"Tough loss tonight against Davis," said Gunn coach Mark Hernandez. "We hung around for a long time, and gave them all they could handle, but it wasn't enough."
The Titans, who trailed only by 7-6 at halftime against the perennial NorCal power, will compete in the Acalanes tournament this weekend.
In Atherton, Menlo staged a fourth-period comeback and scored the winning goal with six seconds left to edge Hillsdale, 9-8, in a PAL Ocean Division match. The Knights (3-0) fought back from a third-quarter deficit with a three-goal fourth.
Kate Huneke scored four goals to pace the Knights. Yasmine El-Hage had a hat trick and Jennie Greenstein scored the winner with her second of two goals.
"Before the fourth quarter we were able to gain some momentum back," Menlo first-year coach Matt Jones said. "During the last few minutes we were able to get some of their better players in foul trouble, which helped because they had to substitute two of their top players. At the end of the game we had a great steal followed by a drawn exclusion . . . it was a great win for us."