Top high school matchups on tap this week


The midway point of the high school football season arrives Friday and two local teams will be looking to remain unbeaten heading into the second half of the season.

Coming off a bye week, Sacred Heart Prep will put its 4-0 record on the line when it opens the PAL Bay Division season at home against always-tough Terra Nova at 3 p.m.

The Gators are averaging 32 points a game while giving up 11.2, using a strong defensive effort while a young offense -- led by first-year starting quarterback Jack Larson -- learns the ropes.

Getting past Terra Nova is crucial for the Gators, who next will visit Burlingame on Oct. 14 before staying on the road for games against King's Academy and Menlo-Atherton. Of SHP's remaining six games, four are away.

Menlo School also is learning to play on the road. The Knights (1-0, 4-0) have won three times away from campus, even though last week's 37-0 win over Hillsdale was a home game -- at Woodside High.

Menlo also has a fairly young offense, led by the QB tandem of sophomore Jack Heneghan and junior Matt Bradley. Heneghan is now the starter, but Bradley has seen plenty of action while the Knights have outscored their opposition, 107-37.

Menlo goes for a 5-0 mark on Friday night in a PAL Ocean Division tussle at host South San Francisco at 7 p.m.

Palo Alto also is in position to control its own destiny, following last week's 20-20 tie between Wilcox and Los Gatos in a SCVAL De Anza Division opener. The Vikings are 1-0 in league (3-1 overall) heading into Friday's home game against Wilcox at 7:30 p.m.

A victory is crucial for Paly, which has to play at Los Gatos the following Friday in a game that will go a long way in determining the division champion. The Vikings, who won last year's title, are 17-1 in their past 18 games.

Menlo-Atherton (2-2) is coming off a bye week and will open its PAL Bay Division season on Thursday at Burlingame at 7 p.m. The Bears are averaging 24.7 ppg but giving up 18.7, and need to find a way to limit the opposition's offense the remainder of the schedule.

While every game from here is important, none is bigger than an Oct. 28 home date with Sacred Heart Prep.

Gunn (1-3), which produced a huge 47-6 victory over visiting Harker to open its SCVAL El Camino Division season last week, unfortunately won't be able to capitalize on that momentum while enjoying a bye week.

The Titans return to action against division-favorite Santa Clara on Oct. 14 at Buchser Middle School.

In eight-man action, Priory (1-3) hits the road Friday to face Anzar while Pinewood (0-3) will be home to face Cornerstone Christian at 4 p.m.

In girls' golf, rain threatens matches this week, but it should be clear for Monday's showdown between Castilleja and Sacred Heart Prep at Sharon Heights County Club.

The teams shared last season's West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) title after splitting their head-to-head matches. Castilleja already has beaten SHP this season, which is the same scenario Castilleja faced last year. The battle of the Gators will tee off at 3 p.m., with an outright or co-title on the line.

In girls' volleyball, another big WBAL showdown will take place Thursday when Castilleja plays host to Sacred Heart Prep at 5:45 p.m. Both teams should be 3-0 heading into their first of two head-to-head meetings.

Menlo-Atherton, meanwhile, can control its destiny in the PAL Bay Division with victories over Carlmont (Tuesday) and at Aragon (Thursday). The Bears took a 4-0 record into this week with the Scots sharing first place and the Dons just a game back.

In boys' water polo, Sacred Heart Prep can all but wrap up the West Catholic Athletic League regular-season title on Wednesday with a victory over visiting Bellarmine at 6 p.m. The Gators (3-0, 7-4) already have beaten St. Francis in league play.

In girls' water polo, Sacred Heart Prep will face its toughest competition of the season during a doubleheader on Saturday in Atherton. The Gators will host Leland at 11:10 a.m. and later will face Monte Vista (Danville) at 4:30 p.m.

— Keith Peters/Palo Alto Online

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