Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - September 16, 2011

Palo Alto's win streak to be tested by Mitty

Menlo-Atherton, Gunn looking for wins on Friday; Sacred Heart Prep goes for a 3-0 start at Los Altos on Saturday

by James Huber

If there is any game on Palo Alto's preseason football schedule with a red flag attached, it's Friday's showdown with Mitty at Foothill College. Revenge can be a powerful motive.

Well-rested from last week's bye, the Vikings (1-0) will have to be at their best for the 7 p.m. showdown against a team they defeated twice last season.

Palo Alto beat the Monarchs in Game 2 of the 2010 season, 20-7, and then did it again in the first round of the Central Coast Section Open Division playoffs, 13-10, on a last-second TD pass in a driving rainstorm.

Mitty (1-1) hasn't forgotten those two losses and would like nothing else than to upend the defending Division I state champion, especially after dropping a 21-14 nonleague game to San Ramon Valley on Monday. The game originally started on Friday, but was postponed due to lightning.

"As tough as today's situation was, there's no doubt in my mind we'll be ready for Friday," said Mitty's Cail McClenahen said. "Palo Alto is the biggest game of our season. It's time for some payback."

Palo Alto has had plenty of time to prepare since opening the season with a 28-18 victory over San Benito. Combined with last season's 14-0 record, the Vikings will take a 15-game win streak into Friday's game — just another reason for Mitty to be ready.

While Paly attempts to keep its season rolling, Sacred Heart Prep (2-0) will try to do the same when the Gators visit Los Altos on Saturday for a nonleaguer at 1:30 p.m.

Sacred Heart will have to do a better job of taking care of the ball, something the Gators struggled with last week during a 24-17 nonleague win at Riordan. SHP fumbled four times, losing one.

Junior flyback Ryan Gaertner caught a 19-yard scoring pass from quarterback Jack Larson with 1:02 left in the game to pull out the victory in San Francisco. The Gators trailed the entire game before Gaertner's winning catch.

Will Morgan carried 11 times for a career-high 129 yards to lead a Sacred Heart Prep rushing attack that totaled 236 yards.

Sacred Heart Prep trailed 7-0 before Nic Kawasaki recovered a fumble in the end zone to tie the game in the second quarter. After Riordan went ahead 10-7, SHP answered again with Brendan Spilane kicked a 36-yard field goal for a 10-10 halftime deadlock.

Riordan (0-2) once again took the lead just into the fourth quarter, but Daver Refioglu scored on a 16-yard run for the Gators, who missed the point-after attempt and it was 17-16.

The SHP defense got the ball back deep in Riordan territory with under 2:00 left in the game. Four players later, Larson and Gaertner hooked up for the winner.

Tyler McCool, who had 145 rushing yards last week, was kept in check by Riordan. He finished with 32 yards on seven carries. Regioglu, in his first season of playing football, rushed for 43 yards. Larson was efficient again with 104 yards on 12-of-18 completions.

In other games this weekend:

Menlo-Atherton (1-1) will host St. Ignatius at 7 p.m. and have a special dedication of its new permanent lights during halftime. Gunn (0-1), meanwhile, will play host to Burlingame on Friday night at 7:30 p.m.

On Saturday, Priory (0-2) will host Rincon Valley Christian at 1 p.m. and Pinewood (0-1) will visit Crystal Springs, also at 1 p.m. Menlo School (2-0) has a bye this week.

In games last week:

Menlo 16, Mission 12

Senior wide receiver Tommy Ford hauled in the game-winning touchdown catch midway through the fourth quarter and the Knights' defense forced an incompletion on its own 10-yard line as time expired to secure the victory in Atherton.

Ford, who ended the night with four receptions for 101 yards, scored on a 30-yard pass with 6:51 left from sophomore quarterback Jack Heneghan to give Menlo the lead for good. Ford's touchdown was set up by a stellar effort by the Knights' defense, which caused a turnover on downs to give the offense excellent field position.

"The backside seam was wide open the entire game," Ford said. "Jack (Heneghan) stepped up, threw a nice pass, nice easy catch for a touchdown."

The Knights, who won on a last second-second touchdown over Santa Cruz in their opener, made things interesting on the last drive of the game for Mission (1-1).

After both teams traded fumbles late in the fourth quarter, senior quarterback Davon Hargraves moved the Bears quickly downfield with deep passes to junior wide receiver Demitrius Thibeaux and senior wide receiver Algeron Malbrough. After Malbrough's 29-yard catch put Mission on the Menlo 10-yard line, the Bears had time for one final play. Menlo's defense pressured Hargraves into an incomplete pass as time expired however, preserving the Menlo victory.

"Our defense is one of the top defenses in our league," senior linebacker Spencer Buja said. "We have some really good players on the line and some really good defensive backs and linebackers."

The Menlo defense forced five fumbles on Friday, recovering two of them, and forced an interception.

Neither team scored in the first quarter, but a 26-yard run by senior running back Dylan Mayer, who finished the night with 58 all-purpose yards, put Menlo into field-goal range. Junior kicker Timmy Costa, who made the game-winning PAT in Menlo's wild 19-18 comeback win last week, nailed a 36-yard field goal to put the Knights ahead 3-0 with 6:43 left in the second quarter.

Later in the second quarter, junior cornerback and wide receiver Connor Stastny picked off Hargraves's pass in Mission territory. After a 32-yard catch by senior wide receiver Chris Reed, Stastny caught a short ball from Heneghan and darted into the end zone from 15 yards out to put Menlo on top 10-0.

"We weren't playing our best at the time and the interception really set the tone," Stastny said. "I just got the ball and all I saw was a touchdown."

Mission answered right back to cut Menlo's halftime lead to 10-6. Junior quarterback Antoine Porter led the Bears downfield before catching a 20-yard touchdown from Hargraves with 30.4 seconds left in the half.

In the third quarter, after seven consecutive runs, Mission took a 12-10 lead with senior tight end Oscar Campos's 24-yard touchdown reception before Ford caught his game-winning touchdown catch in the fourth quarter.

McClymonds 20, Gunn 14

The Titans opened their season under new head coach Dan Navarro, but weren't able to hold on to a 14-0 first-quarter lead on Friday night in Oakland.

JJ Strnad gave Gunn (0-1) a 7-0 lead on a 20-yard run and junior quarterback Andrew Guzman made it 14-0 after scoring from three yards out. That held up for a 14-0 lead at the half.

The Titans, however, stalled offensively in the second half and finished with 194 total yards. Strnad had 56 yards rushing on 14 carries while Guzman finished with 101 passing yards while completing eight of 13 passes. Five receptions went to Skyler Larson for 70 yards.

After McClymonds, the 2010 Oakland Athletic League champs, went ahead 20-14 with five minutes left, Gunn had one final shot at victory when Guzman connected with Dallas Trevillion on an apparent 52-yard screen pass that took the ball to McClymond's 18.

It appeared Gunn might pull it out, but the play was wiped out by a holding penalty putting the ball back to Gunn's 20 and McClymond held on downs.

Los Gatos 27, Menlo-Atherton 14

The Bears had enough offense but not enough defense and suffered a nonleague loss on Saturday in Atherton. For the perennial power Wildcats, it was their third straight season-opening win over the Bears.

Los Gatos rushed for 248 yards while its defense came up with four fumble recoveries to hold off the Bears, who opened their season a week ago with a 43-7 victory.

Menlo-Atherton quarterback Willy Fonua was 14 of 31 for 220 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. Evan Perkins caught six passes for 89 yards and senior running backs Cameron Moody and Taylor Mashack combined for 221 rushing yards as the Bears showed improvement over their two previous losses to Los Gatos.

Anderson Valley 56, Priory 8

Priory dropped its second straight nonconference game in eight-man competition by falling to host Anderson Valley.

Stuart Hall 26, Pinewood 22

Pinewood opened its season with a tough loss. John Bennet led the Panthers by completing 14 of 26 passes for 187 yards and two touchdowns while Dante Fraioli paced the rushing attack with 45 yards on 14 hauls. Kevin Sweat caught six passes for 70 yards and one touchdown. Fraioli and Daniel Branski paced the defensive effort with 11 tackles each while Greg Naumann added eight. M.J. Stevens had a pair of sacks.

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