There was plenty to celebrate as the Vikings opened their season with a 28-7 nonleague triumph over San Benito. Now, things get a lot tougher.
It will be Palo Alto and Mitty meeting once again when the perennial Central Coast Section powers tangle at Foothill College on Saturday at 7 p.m.
For the Vikings, it will be an opportunity to avenge losses in their two previous games with the Monarchs, 28-27 last year and 27-21 in 2011. Paly last beat Mitty in 2010 when the Vikings won during the regular season and in the CCS playoffs on the way to a 14-0 record and state title.
The past three showdowns have been decided by six points or less. Palo Alto had the upper hand in offense last season, 487 yards to Mitty's 237, but suffered five sacks and three turnovers.
Taking care of the ball will be crucial for both teams, highly ranked in both the section and in Northern California.
Palo Alto is No. 3 in CCS with Mitty No. 5, according to MaxPreps, which also lists the Vikings No. 1 in its NorCal rankings — trailing only De La Salle, Folsom and Bellarmine. Mitty's NorCal ranking is No. 18.
Rankings will be meaningless in this game, however, as quarterbacks Keller Chryst of Paly and Trent Scharrenberg of Mitty lead the way. Chryst threw a pair of touchdown passes against San Benito while Scharrenberg tossed three in a 35-14 win over Leland.
At Palo Alto, the Vikings unleashed a promising offense that racked up 296 total yards during its win over the 2012 CCS Division I champion Haybalers.
"Overall, it was a good team win tonight," said Chryst, who committed to Stanford earlier this year. "We played it pretty conservative and played our game and just did what we had to do."
Chryst led off the Vikings' third drive of the game with a four-yard dump pass to senior running back Andrew Frick to give Paly the early 7-0 first-quarter lead. In the second quarter, Chryst connected with senior wide receiver Malcolm Davis for a spectacular 31-yard diving touchdown catch to give his team the 14-0 edge.
Frick scored his second touchdown of the game on a three-yard run up the middle to give the Vikings a 21-0 advantage going into halftime.
The Haybalers' offense had no answer against the stingy Paly defense. The Vikings' defense shutout San Benito in the first half and allowed just 61 yards, including two fumbles.
Senior running back Marcus Brown sprinted down field for a 36-yard touchdown in the third quarter and built the lead for the Vikings, 28-0.
Harbaugh, meanwhile, took time out as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers to join in the celebration — making the pregame coin toss.
"When your high school, especially football coach asks you . . . tells you to do something, you just do it," Harbaugh said. "I'm here and enjoying it."
"Having Jim here and having him be a part of everything is always great," said Paly coach Earl Hansen, who coached Harbaugh at Paly in 1981 and '82.
"It was really cool," said Paly sophomore wide receiver Eli Givens. "I was really excited and it got everyone really pumped up before the game."
Harbaugh's appearance brought out at least one Bay Area TV crew.
Chryst made his season debut with 188 passing yards, completing an efficient 15 of 20 passes with no interceptions. Keesean Johnson caught nine balls for 89 yards with Davis added 75 yards on three catches.
Elsewhere last weekend:
Menlo-Atherton 19, Los Gatos 10
Isiah Nash scored on runs of 50 and 41 yards in the fourth quarter to carry the Bears (1-1) to its stirring nonleague win over the host Wildcats. Nash finished with a career-high 204 rushing yards on 26 carries.
The M-A defense, which gave up 38 points in an opening loss to Campolindo last week, was much improved as it dominated the interior. The Bears forced two key turnovers inside the 20 and stopped Los Gatos on two late-game drives.
M-A will host St. Ignatius on Friday at 7 p.m.
Carlmont 13, Gunn 7
While the defensive effort was better, the result was not for the Titans as they dropped a nonleague decision to host Carlmont on Friday night. Gunn lost its opener, 43-6.
The Titans (0-2) tied the game at 7 in the third quarter on a 17-yard touchdown pass from Noah Riley to Guy Kasznik. Gunn, which had only 49 offensive yards in the first half, was solid defensively throughout. The Scots, however, turned a late interception into the game-winning touchdown with under four minutes left to play.
Max Chiew was credited with 17 tackles for Gunn while teammate Dietrich Sweat had 12, including three for loss. Sean Lydster contributed 10 tackles for the Titans, who visit Capuchino on Saturday at 2 p.m.
Priory 64, EPA Academy 0
James McDaniel had 17 carries for 180 yards and scored four touchdowns in a romp against first-year program East Palo Alto Academy in a nonleague eight-man contest at Ronald McNair Middle School in East Palo Alto. Priory improved to 2-0 and visits Anzar on Friday at 6 p.m.
Menlo 59, Mission 12
Menlo scored on its first two possessions and didn't allow a first down in the first half, paving the way for its easy win at Sequoia High. The Knights (1-1) bounced back from a rough 84-49 loss to Central in Texas, in their second of five nonleague games.
Menlo senior QB Jack Heneghan connected with Peter Bouret for three of his six touchdowns. Heneghan, who finished 14-of-21 for 255 yards and no interceptions, added another 10-yard rushing TD. Bouret caught six passes for 117 yards.
Colin Johnson led the defense with 10 tackles and a third-quarter interception while Charlie Roth had seven tackles and a fumble recovery. Riley Zeisler tallied six tackles and Travis Chambers had five for the Knights
Menlo visits San Mateo on Friday in nonleague action at 3:15 p.m.
SHP 48, Mt. View 0
Ricky Grau carried 10 times for 130 yards and Riley Tinsley added 120 yards on 11 hauls as the Gators cruised behind 332 rushing yards.
SHP's quarterback tandem of sophomore Mason Randall and junior Cole March combined for 5-of-8 passing and 145 yards, with sophomore Andrew Daschbach catching four balls for 86 yards.
Grau got things rolling with a 30-yard run in the first quarter before Daschbach hauled in a 48-yard TD pass from Randall. The Gators put up 20 points in the second quarter as Tinsley scored on a 25-yard run and caught a 59-yard pass from Randell before Daniel Thaure returned an interception three yards for another score.
Grau added a 53-yard scoring run in the third quarter and Tinsley capped his big day with a 52-yard TD run in the fourth.
SHP picked off three passes, recovered a fumble, had a sack, and limited Mountain View to just 16 rushing yards and 78 passing yards. Nic Collazo and J.R. Hardy each had six tackles with Paul Westcott and Ben Burr-Kirven adding five.
Sacred Heart Prep will hit the road for the first time this season when it travels to Salinas on Friday night for a nonleague test at 7:30 p.m.
In San Francisco, Pinewood opened its eight-man season with a 40-14 victory over Stuart Hall on Treasure Island on Saturday.•