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Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - September 7, 2012

Palo Alto hopes to move up on all-time football leaders

Vikings will take 617 career victories, ranked No. 6 in state history, into their 2012 season opener on Friday night at San Benito

by Rick Eymer

Palo Alto will have the opportunity to maintain its position as one of the winningest football programs in California history when the Vikings open their 2012 season on Friday at San Benito. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.

Palo Alto begins the season with 617 victories from 1897-2011. That includes a record of 87-46 in rugby from 1907-1919, which was played as an alternative for 11-man football during those years.

According to the Cal-Hi Sports state football record book, Paly will begin its season ranked No. 6 all-time for most victories.

Bakersfield, which is 2-0 this season, is No. 1 with 729 and Long Beach Poly (1-0 this season) is second with 710. Berkeley (0-1) ranks No. 3 with 639 while Santa Monica (1-0) and Loyola-Los Angeles (2-0) are tied for fourth with 620. Palo Alto is next, six wins ahead of Dos Palos (611). Those are the only teams in state history with 600 or more victories.

Paly has made a big move over the past nine years, going 91-23-2. That included a 14-0 record and CIF Division I state championship in 2010 for veteran coach Earl Hansen, who begins his 24th season at Paly with a 175-86-3 record.

The Vikings were 10-3 a year ago but lost a ton of offensive talent in B.J. Boyd (25 touchdowns), Dre Hill, Austin Braff, Morris Gates-Mouton plus lineman Tory Prati that helped produce 36.5 points a game.

The only returning starter from the offensive backfield is junior quarterback Keller Chryst (2.165 yards, 28 TDs, 11 interceptions). His top returning target is senior wideout Jayshawn Gates-Mouton (34 catches, 518 yards, five TDs). Junior Keesean Johnson and senior De'Antay Williams will provide additional targets while seniors Justin Gates-Mouton, Matt Tolbert, Erik Anderson and junior Malcolm Davis take over the chores at running back.

Seniors Spencer Drazovich and Drew Rider bring experience to the line and will be joined by junior Jack Anderson, senior Camden Santo, junior Justin Rittman and sophomore Nick Beeson.

Defense is the big question mark for the Vikings, who limited opponents to 18.8 points a game last season. A lack of experience at the skill positions also will be called into question, especially over the first two weeks that includes a home opener against Mitty on Sept. 14.

While Palo Alto heads to Hollister on Friday, Gunn (1-0) will be at home against Carlmont (1-0) at 7:30 p.m. Sacred Heart Prep (1-0) will visit Mountain View (0-0) at 3:15 p.m., Pinewood (0-0) will host Anderson Valley (0-1) at 4 p.m., and Menlo-Atherton (1-0) will visit Los Gatos (0-1) at 7:30 p.m.

On Saturday, Priory will open its eight-man season by hosting Rincon Valley Christian at 1 p.m., and Menlo School (1-0) will take on Mission (0-0) at San Francisco's Kezar Stadium at 2 p.m.

Here's a look at last week's openers:

Menlo 66, Santa Cruz 14

Menlo senior running back Heru Peacock has played the violin longer than he's played football and he's pretty good at football. He started winning awards for his violin virtuosity in middle school. These days he's just as happy scoring touchdowns.

Peacock needed eight carries to rush for 82 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the Knights' thrashing of visiting Santa Cruz on Friday.

"We showed we had good depth," Peacock said. "The juniors stepped up and kept the momentum going."

Peacock hopes to get a chance to participate in college, both football and the violin. He also plays the electric guitar and is a member of the Menlo jazz band.

Peacock's football lineage is pretty impressive too. His father, Walter Peacock, is the career rushing leader (3,204 yards) at the University of Louisville.

Peacock took his hand offs from two different quarterbacks in the game, junior starter Jack Heneghan and senior Matt Bradley. The two signal callers combined to throw for 140 yards on 11-of-18 passing. Heneghan added 67 rushing yards. He passed for a touchdown and ran for two more.

"It's nice to have depth at quarterback," Heneghan said. "It makes us a better team. We both have the 'team first' attitude and when he's in the game I'm rooting for him to score and when I'm in the game he's rooting for me."

Last year Menlo beat Santa Cruz on the final play of the game. This year, against a junior-dominated team, the Knights had a 9-0 lead before they ran a play from scrimmage.

Max Parker raced 91 yards with the opening kickoff for a 7-0 edge and a bad snap into the end zone gave Menlo another two points. The Knights turned the game into a romp after that, building a 30-0 advantage and 66-7 lead.

"The coaches did a great job with special teams," Peacock said. "That's what really turned the momentum for us."

Travis Chambers returned a free kick 62 yards for a score and Peter Bouret's 43-yard free kick return set up Menlo's second touchdown. Connor Stastny also scored, on a 48-yard pass, for Menlo. Wiley Osborne added an 11-yard scoring run and had a 71-yard scoring run called back by a penalty.

Menlo-Atherton 26, El Camino 0

Royce Branning completed seven of 13 passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns to spark the Bears to a season-opening victory over El Camino at South San Francisco High on Friday night.

Branning hooked up with Evan Perkins on an 85-yard TD and fired another to Talaisi Teu, who also rushed for a score. Teu finished with 90 yards on 13 carries while Isiah Nash led the rushing attack with 13 carries for 129 yards. The Bears ground out 251 rushing yards on 35 carries.

Perkins finished with three catches for 118 yards. Brian Keare added 32 yards on two catches.

Jonathan Simonian led the impressive defensive effort with nine tackles while Enzo Santos added seven. Blake Olsen and Nicky Gallagher finished with six tackles each while Jamar Gaddis wrapped up the scoring with a rushing TD.

Sacred Heart Prep 31, Branham 6

Ryan Gaertner got his senior season under way in a big way as he scored a pair of touchdowns to lead the Gators to a nonleague triumph over host Branham on Friday night in San Jose.

SHP quarterback Kevin Donahoe got his team rolling when he hit Rex Shannon on a 60-yard scoring play. Gaertner provided the winning points on TD runs of 10 and four yards while Chris Lee contributed an eight-yard scoring run and Brendan Spillane kicked a 20-yard field goal.

Gunn 14, San Mateo 6

With the exception of poor tackling on one play, the Gunn defense was the key in a 14-6 win at San Mateo in the opening game for both teams.

"We were aggressive today," Gunn coach Dan Navarro told Gunntitans.com. "Our aggressive play along with playing nearly penalty free football made the difference."

Gunn's defense throughout the game made key tackles and the only penalty on the Titans came in the second-to-last play of the game as they were running out the clock.

The game started out well for Gunn but quickly turned as its initial drive stalled at San Mateo's one yard line. Three plays later on from their own 5, San Mateo's Taylor Sanft hit Larry Campbell at the 15 on a slant pass and Campbell broke a couple of tackles on his way to a 95-yard touchdown reception. The Bearcats missed the extra point as they took the early 6-0 lead.

Gunn was able to move the ball effectively throughout the game and especially in the air in the first half. In the second quarter, Gunn's Andre Guzman hit Lee Zhao on a 46-yard gain, but the drive came to naught when Zhao was unable to hold onto a pass in the end zone.

The next drive Guzman connected on two passes to Kevin Sharp. The first gained 62 yards and then, four plays later, Guzman hit Sharp with a nice toss in the right corner of end zone from five yards out for the score with 16 seconds to go in the half. Ben Sampson converted the extra point to put the Titans up, 7-6.

The teams combined for 377 yards of offense in the first half with 210 of those belonging to Gunn.

In the third quarter Gunn started controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball as the Titans stifled the Bearcats' offense and then Gunn established a running game. With 4:25 to go in the third, Gunn faced fourth-and-5 from San Mateo's 33 and eschewed the pass as Guzman handed off to Sean Lydster, who rambled over the right side for the touchdown. Sampson's extra point gave Gunn a 14-6 lead.

Gunn withstood one final challenge by San Mateo, which took advantage of a bad snap on the Gunn punt that caused Sampson to fall on the ball at the Titans' 42. The Bearcats took over and marched down the field. San Mateo reached the Gunn 6, but lost four yards when Sharp made a tackle in the backfield. On the next play, Nabil Hamade intercepted Sanft's pass at Gunn's 4-yard line with 3:27 left in the game.

The Titans took over and Guzman hit Zhao on a 13-yard gain to give Gunn a critical first down with 2:37 left in the game and San Mateo out of timeouts.

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