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Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - November 23, 2012

The tests get tougher for Menlo and SHP

After outscoring their first-round opponents by a combined 90-29, the Knights and Gators face explosive offenses in Division IV semifinals

by Andrew Preimesberger

After blowing out their first-round opponents by a combined score of 90-29, the Menlo School and Sacred Heart Prep football teams will face more difficult tasks in the semifinals of the Central Coast Section Division IV playoffs.

Fourth-seeded Menlo (9-2) will have its hands full with top-seeded Seaside (11-0) on Friday night (7 p.m.) in Monterey County. Second-seed Sacred Heart Prep (10-1) will match running games with No. 6 Soquel (9-2) on Saturday at 1 p.m.

The four winning teams from last weekend averaged a combined 48 points a game while advancing to the semifinals.

The Menlo-Seaside game has offensive explosion written all over it. The Knights are averaging 49 points a game and Seaside is averaging 33.9. Menlo features quarterback Jack Heneghan, who threw for 320 yards and two touchdowns last week in a 42-14 win over No. 5 Monte Vista Christian. Seaside also has a dual-threat quarterback in Michael Turner, who threw for 289 and ran for 129 more on just nine carries in a 56-21 blowout over No. 8 Capuchino of the PAL Lake Division.

Both teams faced two common opponents this season, with very telling scores. Menlo beat Jefferson, 56-14, and defeated Monte Vista Christian. Seaside defeated Jefferson, 47-0, but got by MV Christian, 12-7.

Menlo is relying a lot on Heneghan these days and the junior has responded. He has thrown for 2,458 yards, completing 65.4 percent, and 29 touchdowns and has run for another 371 with nine more scores.

Turner is nearly identical to Heneghan, having thrown for 2,459 yards and 25 touchdowns while running for 438 yards and six scores.

Menlo, obviously, needs to control Turner while Seaside needs to put the clamps on Heneghan. If neither team can do that, look for a very high-scoring game that either team can win.

Seaside's defense has been much better than Menlo's this season, allowing just 96 points. The Knights, meanwhile, have given up 210.

On Saturday, it will be a battle of the run games in Atherton. Soquel's offense revolves around senior running back Fabiano Hale, who rushed for 375 yards and six touchdowns in a 49-42 first-round win over No. 3 Carmel. The teams also met during the regular season and Soquel won that, 48-20.

While Sacred Heart Prep also is run-oriented on offense, its the Gators' defense that likely holds the key to success on Saturday. SHP is allowing just 9.5 points a game, best in the CCS this season. The Gators have given up 20 or more points just twice.

The Knights of Soquel are averaging 43 points a game and giving up 18.4.

"They (Soquel) have a really good running back," said SHP coach Pete Lavorato. "They also might be a little bit more stout on defense, so we'll have to mix it up a bit and throw a little more."

Sacred Heart' Prep ran for 424 yards and seven touchdowns in its CCS opener last Saturday against No. 7 Pacific Grove (7-4).

"It's our running game, it's what we do," said Lavorato. "I felt like we needed to get back to basics and run the ball; the kids blocked it well."

The Gators came right out of the gate. On their third drive of the game, junior Andrew Segre burst down the sideline for a 21-yard touchdown putting Sacred Heart up 21-0 at the end of the first quarter. The touchdown was the Gators' third rushing touchdown of the quarter.

"We're a running team," said Segre. "We just need to put the ball on the ground and we did that."

Sacred Heart senior quarterback Kevin Donahoe did some running of his own and ran for a 21-yard touchdown to put the Gators up 28-0 at the end of the first half. Donahoe finished with 65 rushing yards, including two touchdowns.

Segre gave the Gators some insurance points in the third quarter when he ran in for a two-yard touchdown to give Sacred Heart the 34-0 advantage. The junior finished with 105 yards and two touchdowns.

Sacred Heart sophomore Andrew Robinson ran in for a five-yard touchdown midway through the fourth quarter to seal the win for the Gators. Robinson, who was brought up to varsity for CCS, finished with 76 yards and a touchdown.

A night earlier, Menlo's Heneghan threw two touchdown passes in the first half and Heru Peacock scoring three of his four TDS in just the first quarter as the Knights rolled in their opener.

Heneghan finished with 320 yards on 16-of-24 passing while leading the Knights to a 35-0 halftime lead as they scored on all five of their possessions. Senior Max Parker had four catches for 124 yards for the Knights with Connor Stastny grabbing five for 83 yards and one TD.

Will King had seven tackles to pace the defensive effort with Peter Bouret, Matt Bradley, Hank Strohm and Brock Burgess all adding five.

While Sacred Heart Prep and Menlo School were advancing, Palo Alto and Menlo-Atherton were not.

The first-ever meeting between Palo Alto and Serra in the CCS playoffs won't be one the Vikings will want to remember after the visiting Padres held them to a single touchdown after halftime and rolled to a 52-35 victory in the opening round of the Open Division playoffs.

Fourth-seeded Palo Alto (8-3) had been allowing just 19.1 points a game and had given up more than 30 just once this season until facing Serra.

"We had a good season," said Paly coach Earl Hansen. "We're still De Anza champions and we have a lot of good juniors ready for next year."

The Palo Alto offense looked strong while starting off its third drive of the game when junior quarterback Keller Chryst threw a dump pass to senior Matt Tolbert for a 28-yard touchdown, putting the Vikings up 7-0 in the first quarter.

The Padres' offense started to come alive in the second quarter when senior running back Eric Redwood flew past the Vikings' defense for a 43-yard touchdown, putting the Padres up 21-14. Redwood had 143 yards in the first half alone and set a single-game school record for 288 total yards, including four touchdowns.

"He (Redwood) is a good player," said Hansen. "I thought we had a good scheme there, but we didn't execute as well as I thought we could."

Redwood would score again on Serra's next possession with a two-yard dive up the middle to tie the game at 28-28 at the end of the first half. The Serra running backs racked up 227 yards in the first half and 499 total. The Padres attempted only two passes and completed neither.

The Paly offense had no answer for a tough Serra defense in the second half as the Vikings made it to the red zone only one time out of five possessions. Chryst was limited to only 82 passing yards after intermission and was sacked three times -- two came from Padres' senior Fia Malepeai.

Chryst finished with 12-of-25 passing for 229 yard and two TDs. Tolbert had 100 rushing yards on 13 carries.

Serra senior Angelo Arco dashed down the sideline for a 70-yard touchdown run, giving the Padres some breathing room at 45-28 early in the fourth quarter. Arco quietly had a solid game, finishing with 128 yards and a touchdown.

"We played hard and fought every game," said junior defensive back Andrew Frick. "All of my teammates this year did a great job all year long. I'm proud to be on the field with all of them."

While Paly was falling, Menlo-Atherton was doing likewise just a few miles away -- 27-7 to Sequoia in a Division I opener.

Quarterback Zack Moore threw for a career-high 266 yards on 17-of-34 passing, but the host Bears turned the ball over three times inside the 20 and suffered a season-ending loss. The No. 4-seeded Bears finished 6-5 while the No. 5 Cherokees improved to 9-2 and will face No. 1 Milpitas in the semifinals.

Menlo-Atherton managed just six yards rushing and was forced to punt on its first five possessions. The Bears also lost a fumble inside Sequoia's 20-yard line. Despite all the problems, M-A trailed by only 10-7 at halftime afterl a nine-play, 78-yard drive was finished off by an eight-yard touchdown run by Tasi Teu. After that, it was all Sequoia.

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