Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - September 10, 2010

Palo Alto gets promising football season under way

by Keith Peters

His team is a little smaller than in previous years and perhaps not as dominant on the offensive line. He doesn't have a breakaway threat in the backfield, either. Yet, Palo Alto High football coach Earl Hansen is conceding nothing this season.

In fact, the Vikings may have the potential to be even better than in 2009 when they went 4-0-2 and won the SCVAL De Anza Division title while reachingt the CCS Open Division playoffs and finishing 7-2-2 overall.

A lot of things have to happen, of course, starting with a victory over host Burlingame on Friday night (7 p.m.) to start the season.

"We are really ready for a game," Hansen said.

Palo Alto returns eight offensive starters and five on the defensive side. The key returnee, however, is senior Christoph Bono, who missed six games with shoulder injury after leading the Vikings to a 4-1 start while throwing for 1,087 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Bono is healthy and ready to lead once again. Getting off to a solid start not only will do wonders for Bono, but for the Vikings as a team — especially with a showdown against highly ranked Mitty looming the following Friday.

In other nonleague football games this Saturday:

Priory will open its season by visiting Alma Heights in Pacifica at 1 p.m.; Menlo-Atherton (0-1) will host Los Gatos at 2 p.m.; Sacred Heart Prep (1-0) will host Riordan at 3 p.m., and Menlo School (0-1) will take on Carmel at Woodside High (7 p.m.) in a rematch of last season's CCS Small School Division title game.

The high school girls' tennis season got under way this week with neighborhood rivals Menlo School and Menlo-Atherton meeting in their annual battle.

Four freshmen took the court for Menlo on Wednesday, but they didn't play like first-year players as the Knights cruised to a 7-0 nonleague victory over host Menlo-Atherton.

"We have a lot of good freshmen who did very well in their first match," said Menlo coach Bill Shine. "They didn't show a lot of jitters."

Freshmen Kristy Jorgensen and Christine Eliazo made their Menlo debuts at No. 2 and 3 singles, respectively. Jorgensen handed Julia Sommer a 6-2, 6-0 loss and Eliazo defeated Erin LaPort, 6-3, 6-1.

Paulina Golikova, another freshman, teammed with senior Lauren Robinson at No. 2 doubles for a 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 triumph while freshman Jackie Fancher joined with senior Madeline Berry for a 6-1, 6-1 win over Keiko Aebi and Vivian Jones at No. 3 doubles.

Senior Eliza Adams added a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Lauren Diller at No. 4 singles while senior Stephanie Carlisle teamed with sophomore Laura Gradiska for a 6-0, 6-1 win at No. 1 doubles over M-A's Jordyn Fantuzzi and Chloe Rehlander.

"We have a nice mix of young players and seniors," Shine said. "It's almost a big sister-little sister thing at practices."

The Knights will be on the road this weekend for the annual California Classic in Fresno.

In another nonleague match Wednesday, Gunn lost all four singles matches but swept the doubles while falling short of victory in a 4-3 loss at Milpitas to open the season.

Gunn's Peying Lee gave the Titans some hope for an upset when she won her opening game in a 7-6 (8-6) tiebreaker. Her opponent, however, rallied to win the next two games, 6-1, 6-3, to complete the singles sweep.

Gunn's doubles tandems of Cara Lai-Angela Juang, Natasha Allen-Laura Kidder, and Tiffany Russell-Natalie Wilson all won in straight sets to make the final tally close.

Boys' water polo

John Holland McCowan scored six goals and Nick Hale added three to pace Menlo School to a 12-7 nonleague victory over visiting Serra on Wednesday.

Keegan Williams had 15 saves in goal for the Knights in their season opener while teammate Jack Finch contributed six steals and four assists.

Girls' water polo

The annual St. Francis Fall Invitational gets under way Friday with five local teams competing.

At St. Francis (Mountain View), Palo Alto (0-1) will open against the host Lancers on Friday at 1 p.m. The Vikings dropped an 11-6 opener to Campolindo a week ago. Menlo-Atherton will open its season against Aragon at 1:50 p.m., with Castilleja (2-0) taking on Burlingame at 2:40 p.m. The Gators are off to a good start under first-year coach Brenda Villa, a three-time USA Olympian.

Sacred Heart Prep will open its season Friday by hosting the other half of the bracket. The Gators will face Leland at 1 p.m. Menlo will take on Davis for the second time this week in the 1:50 p.m. game.

The championship match will be played Saturday at St. Francis at 5:50 p.m., preceded by the consolation finals at 5 p.m.

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