By Rick Eymer
Palo Alto Online Sports
It doesn't matter one whit to senior linebacker Hunter Shaw that Sacred Heart Prep plays Menlo School in this week's Central Coast Section Division IV football semifinals on the Gators' field on Saturday at noon.
The Gators scored four touchdowns in the third quarter to turn a nailbiter into party time, beating visiting Seaside, 49-20, Saturday in the opening round of the CCS playoffs.
It seemed the harder it rained the better No. 2 seed Sacred Heart Prep played and the more it took advantage of No. 7 Spartans' mistakes.
Meanwhile, Menlo beat host San Lorenzo Valley, 36-14, to bounce back from a disappointing end to its regular season -- a 35-7 setback to the Gators in the annual Valpo Bowl just a week earlier.
"We're ready to play Menlo as we would any team," Shaw said. "We'd play as hard as we could no matter what. It's the playoffs."
Shaw had himself a pretty good defensive game for the Gators, flying in to tackle a running back on a fourth down and goal play, recovering a fumble that led to a touchdown and recording a handful of sacks.
Fatu Tupou, Bo Sakowski, Will Gotcher, Leo Koloamatangi, Duke Moran and Luke Thomas were also prominent figures on defense.
"We had a good week of practice," Shaw said. "We had plenty of reps and were able to read plays. We played with a lot of heart."
Pedro Robinson rushed for 152 of his 181 yards in the second half, scored three third-quarter touchdowns and helped the Gators record 417 total rushing yards.
Sacred Heart Prep, with the help of an onside kick and two fumbles, scored 21 points in the span of two minutes, 20 seconds at the beginning of the second half. What looked to be an offensive slugfest turned into a one-sided scoring spree.
"We saw something that was wide open," Robinson said. "Luckily I was getting some great blocking."
Colin Terndrup to gain 119 yards on 13 carries, while Tyler McCool and Robert Ojeda combined for another 95 yards. The trio also added three scores. John Geary also scored.
Menlo 36, San Lorenzo Valley 14
Backup running back Jordan Williams scored three touchdowns to spark the No. 6 Knights (8-3) to an upset of the No. 3 Cougars (9-2) in Felton.
Menlo grabbed a 28-7 halftime lead, thanks to Williams scoring three times. Normally, the starting slot receiver, Williams finished with 103 yards rushing on 15 carries. He also had five catches for 72 yards as the Knights advanced to the semifinals for the second straight season.
Williams was shifted to running back because starter Beau Nichols was still nursing a broken hand. He was used mostly at linebacker to fill a defensive void.
Menlo quarterback Robert Wickers also shined on the dreary rainy day. He completed 10 of 14 pass for 231 yards in the first half, finishing with 245 for the day on 11-of-17. Wickers also scored on a two-yard run. Tim Benton caught four passes for 120 yards and one touchdown.
The Knights did give up 174 yards rushing and 122 passing, but they also came up with four sacks while Benton picked off a pair of passes.