This has been a season of firsts for the Palo Alto football team, which finds itself alone in first place in the SCVAL De Anza Division following a dominating 42-0 romp over host Los Gatos on Friday night.
The triumph marked the first time the Vikings have ever beaten the Wildcats by such a lopsided margin and is the first time ever Paly has blanked Los Gatos in the 21 times the teams have met.
Palo Alto improved to 3-0 in league and 6-0 overall, setting the stage for potentially finishing the regular season with a 10-0 record for the first time since 1950. time the Vikings finished unbeaten was in 1963 (9-0).
That would set the stage for an appearance in the Central Coast Section Open Division playoffs, where Paly has won before. Yet, the Vikings could establish another first by reaching the postseason and finishing the season with only one loss.
The ultimate first, of course, would be sweeping through the postseason and then winning the state playoffs. But, it's too soon to be discussing things like that. Let the Vikings enjoy Friday's impressive victory.
"They (Los Gatos) had no answer whatsoever," Paly coach Earl Hansen said. "They didn't know whether we were going to run or throw. We have balance."
Palo Alto finished with 449 total yards against the second-best team in the De Anza Division, gaining 256 on the ground and 193 through the air as senior QB Christoph Bono completed 14 of 24. It was the Vikings' best overall showing this season and its most balanced.
"I thought it was an overall win," Hansen said.
Paly's backfield tandem of juniors B.J. Boyd (12 for 127 yards) and Dre Hill (10 for 89) continues to impress and improve. Hill scored on runs of nine and two yards while Boyd tallied on a 49-yard rumble.
Paly's receiving corps also did a number on the Wildcats as Maurice Williams caught a 25-yard TD pass to open the scoring while Davante Adams latched on to touchdown passes of eight and 46 yards to close it. Adams had eight receptions for 116 yards to boost his season totals to 31 catches for 446 yards.
As impressive as the offensive totals were, Hansen said the game was really won with defense. The Wildcats (2-1, 3-2-1) were held to just 164 total yards, 69 coming on rushing. Hansen said his defensive tackles, Nathan Hubbard and Sam Moses, held their ground and didn't allow Los Gatos any running room inside. The Wildcats' lone running threat, Garret Zeiter, who had gained 453 yards against Wilcox and Milpitas prior to Friday night, was limited to just 70 yards on 19 carries for an average of just 3.7 yards per carry.
Palo Alto knew Zeiter was the key Los Gatos player to stop since quarterback Hayden Hibberd was not a threat to throw. He finished 4-of-14 with three interceptions for 95 yards. T.J. Braff had two of the interceptions while Williams had the other.
"It was easier than it has been," Hansen said of the game's preparation.
Palo Alto's defense, which is allowing just 8.5 points a game, was led by defensive ends Kevin Anderson and Tori Prati, the aforementioned tackles, plus linebackers Will Glazier, Morris Gates-Mouton and Michael Cullen. The Paly defensive backs were pretty good, too.
Next up for Palo Alto is a road game against Milpitas, which lost to Wilcox on Friday (35-17) followed by home games against Homestead and Mountain View (nonleague) before a regular-season finale at Saratoga.
"The harder part of our schedule is over," Hansen said.
Saratoga 35, Gunn 16
Gunn didn't take advantage of its opportunities and dropped its second straight game in SCVAL De Anza Division action.
"We just couldn't punch it in tonight," said Gunn coach Bob Sykes. "There's no margin of error in De Anza and we learned that the hard way."
Gunn had one drive end on downs on the 5-yard line and then had three missed field goals before finally converting a 32-yarder by Paul Blanchette with eight seconds to go in the third quarter to make the score 21-10.
Blanchette's field goal marked the end of a Gunn rally where it looked like the Titans might get back into the game after falling behind 21-0 with four minutes to go in the third quarter.
After the Falcons got their third touchdown, Josh Jackson returned the kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown to put Gunn on the board. Moments later, Gunn's Weston McVicker intercepted a pass at midfield and returned it to Saratoga's 42. Anthony Cannon then hit Russell Savage on a 30-yard pass to the 12, but Gunn lost three yards and had to settle for Blanchette's field goal.
That would be as close as Gunn would get as Saratoga quickly struck for two touchdowns to push the lead to 35-10 before Cannon hit Jackson on a 41 yard pass for a touchdown in the final minute to wrap up the scoring. Cannon finished with 16 completions for 219 yards. Gunn managed just 101 rushing yards, though while falling to 0-2 in league (3-3 overall).
Aragon 28, Menlo-Atherton 14
Menlo-Atherton managed just 23 yards rushing while dropping a crucial PAL Bay Division game to host Aragon (1-1, 3-3) on Friday.
The Bears (1-1, 2-4) got off on the wrong foot when an apparent 69-yard touchdown on a flea-flicker play was called back on a holding penalty. The Bears then lost the ball on a fumble, which led to an Aragon score. The Dons never trailed after that while controlling the ball and the clock as M-A tried to play catchup.
The Bears gave up 400 yards of offense to Aragon, which forced three M-A turnovers. Michael Culhane was a bright spot for the Bears, catching a 72-yard touchdown pass and finishing with five catches for 110 yards. Cameron Moody added the other M-A TD on a 50-yard reception from Willy Fonua.