By Keith Peters
Palo Alto Online Sports
Palo Alto senior quarterback Christoph Bono will enjoy taking the field Friday night to face Los Gatos in a showdown for the SCVAL De Anza Division championship at 7:30 p.m. It sure beats what he was doing last season at this time.
After guiding the Vikings to a 4-1 record in 2009, Bono suffered a broken clavicle in his (right) throwing shoulder. He missed the remainder of the season as Paly finished 3-1-2 without him, suffering a 34-7 blowout loss to Bellarmine in the first round of the Central Coast Section Open Division playoffs.
This season, Bono made it through the first five games with a 5-0 mark and, more importantly, without a season-ending injury.
He'll lead the Vikings against the Wildcats (2-0, 3-1-1) in a showdown game that most likely will decide the division champion. Palo Alto captured last season's title with a 4-0-2 mark as Bono missed all but one league outing.
"I guess it was hard to watch, instead of playing," said Bono, who actually didn't mind watching his team plaster Los Gatos, 34-12, on the Vikings' field.
"We played really well and that wasn't as hard to watch," Bono said. "The Homestead game (a 20-20 tie) was the most frustrating and we should have won the Wilcox game (another tie, 14-14)."
While Bono rehabbed his shoulder, he wasn't idle.
"I watched and tried to keep myself involved in the games," he said. "I tried to look at things, helping the defense and offense; just tried to help the team."
Bono is doing that once again, only this time on the field. He has completed 61 of 92 passes (.663 percent) for 841` yards and nine touchdowns. He has thrown only two interceptions while averaging 168.2 yards per game.
Bono has plenty of talented targets this season in senior Davante Adams (23 catches for 330 yards), senior Maurice Williams (8 for 151), Michael Cullen (12 for 157) and T.J. Braff (7 for 85).
"I think we have a pretty good game plan," Bono said for Los Gatos. "I'm not sure how they're going do on defense, whether they try to shut down our passing game. But, I think they'll have to respect our running game."
Helping open up the Paly passing game has been the running of juniors Dre Hill (43 carries for 363 yards) and B.J. Boyd (20 fore 216). Both are finally learning better blocking techniques, as well, which takes some pressure off of Bono.
"As long as we can establish both (running and passing), we'll be fine," Bono said.
Palo Alto (2-0 in league) comes into its annual grudge game with Los Gatos averaging 28 points while allowing just 10 per game. The Wildcats are averaging 18 points while giving up an average of just over 10.
Palo Alto coach Earl Hansen says his team is ready for the challenge.
"It's a championship week, because no one else is going to beat them," he said.
Los Gatos already has played Wilcox and Milpitas, the preseason contenders along with Palo Alto, and beaten them both. The Chargers fell 17-9 and the Trojans were toppled 23-6. Paly beat Wilcox 28-15 and will play at Milpitas on Oct. 22.
After that, the Vikings have a home game against Homestead, a nonleague game at Mountain View and a league finale at home against Saratoga. Should Paly get by Los Gatos unscathed, it wouldn't be a stretch for the Vikings to finish 6-0 in league.
While the Wildcats aren't as offensively talented as in previous years, running back Garret Zeiter did gain 260 yards on the ground against Milpitas (on 48 carries) and had 193 rushing yards against Wilcox.
Los Gatos QB Hayden Hibberd, however, is no Trent Edwards. He threw for a combined 75 yards in those two victories and has completed just 25 of 66 passes (.379) for 429 yards in five games.
Palo Alto has gone 3-4 against Los Gatos in the past five years and 0-5 the five preceding seasons for an unspectacular 3-9 in the past decade.
"That's still better than the previous 10 years," Hansen said.
These past five years, however, have showed Palo Alto's consistency as an elite program. The Vikings have gone 47-12-2 and reached the postseason all five times, playing for a CCS title four times while winning twice (in 2006 and '07).
Coming off a 49-14 victory over Gunn last week, Palo Alto is headed in that postseason direction once again. And this time, Christoph Bono is enjoying the action firsthand.