By Keith Peters
Palo Alto Online Sports
It was only one year ago that the Palo Alto High football team was nearly halfway through the greatest season in program history -- a 14-0 campaign that ended with a state championship.
A few month later the Paly baseball team would begin its season, one that would end in that program's first-ever Central Coast Section title.
Perhaps not too surprising, B.J. Boyd was a big part of both those teams.
"It was a dream year," Boyd said this week as he prepared for yet another big game in a career that has been filled with many of them.
It was a dream year that Boyd wouldn't have enjoyed had not he made a big decision after beginning his sophomore year at St. Francis.
"I started the first couple of weeks at St. Francis and then I stopped going to classes," said Boyd, who informed his mother that it was time for him to leave.
The Palo Alto native enrolled at Paly, but had to sit out both the football and baseball seasons due to transfer rules. He watched both teams have highly successful years -- football went 7-2-2 while baseball's 29-4 year set a record for most single-season victories in school history.
The best, however, was yet to come.
Boyd joined the football team for the 2010 season, combining with Dre Hill to give the Vikings a solid duo at running back. Boyd and Hill finished with 1,724 rushing yards combined as Paly ran the table for the first time ever while winning the SCVAL De Anza Division, CCS Open Division and CIF State Division I crowns.
In baseball, the speedy Boyd batted .462 with 20 stolen bases, 37 hits and 26 runs scored. The biggest run came in the CCS Division I title game when Boyd scored the winner on an RBI single by Ozzie Braff in a 5-4 victory over San Benito as Paly finished 28-9.
Braff, coincidently, also transferred to Paly after Boyd did.
"I'd been playing with these kids all my life," Boyd said of why he transferred back home. "Basically, I grew up with them in all the sports."
Boyd missed his buddies, with home he had enjoyed many successful seasons including in Little League and Babe Ruth, the latter of which included a trip to the World Series.
Braff was among that group, as well. His presence on the Paly baseball team last season was obviously huge and now he's joined Boyd on the football squad playing some tight end and starting at linebacker.
While 2010 was historic for Boyd and Braff, there's plenty to be accomplished this season, as well.
Palo Alto will take 2-0 record in the De Anza Division (4-1 overall) into Friday's showdown at Los Gatos (1-0-1, 4-0-1) at 7:30 p.m. A victory will give the Vikings control of the division with perhaps only one tough game remaining against visiting Mountain View on Oct. 28.
"It's this game and Mountain View," Boyd said. "If we get Los Gatos this week, then we can get Mountain View. This (Paly) team has a lot of experience."
Boyd actually has a new position this season, shifting from running back to wide receiver. Fellow senior Morris Gates-Mouton has moved into the backfield to team with Hill, even though Boyd does run some plays out of the backfield.
Boyd, however, has been more efficient catching the ball because once he makes a catch he's in his running back mode anyway. In a crucial 42-13 victory over visiting Wilcox last Friday, Boyd caught TD passes of 36 and 48 yards from sophomore quarterback Keller Chryst. That was after Boyd returned a kickoff 80 yards to negate an opening touchdown by the Chargers.
"Boyd is amazing," Paly coach Earl Hansen told the school's website, The Paly Voice. "When he gets that ball he's dangerous. That's his fourth kickoff return (for a TD). He's not surprising anyone anymore, I would think."
Boyd caught three passes for 125 yards against Wilcox and has 12 receptions for 421 yards and six touchdowns. He also has rushed 21 times for 154 yards and one TD.
Hill has taken over the rushing leadership with 385 yards on 66 carries with Gates-Mouton adding 181 yards on 22 hauls.
That kind of balance has Paly averaging 159.6 passing yards and 157 rushing yards this season. The Vikings are currently ranked No. 82 in the state and No. 5 in CCS by MaxPreps.com.
Boyd was pressed into service as a wide receiver when Mitty put eight defenders on the line to stop Paly's run game. The plan worked as the Monarchs escaped with a 27-21 nonleague victory in Week 2.
That loss still bothers Boyd.
"It kind of hurt that we lost to Mitty," he said. "We made some mistakes."
Boyd, however, sees a victory over Los Gatos perhaps providing a big boost of momentum for the Vikings, who still harbor hopes of a CCS title and maybe even a return to the state bowl game.
"We can do it," said Boyd, "if everyone goes hard."
Palo Alto routed Los Gatos last season, 42-0, and topped the Wildcats in 2009, 34-12. Los Gatos, however, still leads in the all-time series, 17-4.
In other prep games on Friday:
Menlo School (0-1, 4-1) will play host to Half Moon Bay in its homecoming game at 3 p.m.
Pinewood (1-3) will take on visiting Anzar in an eight-man matchup in Los Altos Hills at 4 p.m.
Menlo-Atherton (1-0, 3-2) travels to Sunnyvale to face King's Academy in a PAL Bay Division showdown.
Gunn (1-0, 1-3) takes on SCVAL El Camino Division favorite Santa Clara at Buchser Middle School at 7:15 p.m.
Sacred Heart Prep (0-1, 4-1) looks to bounce back from its first loss since last season when the Gators visit Burlingame in a PAL Bay Division contest at 8 p.m.
On Saturday, Priory (2-3) will visit Crystal Springs in another eight-man game at 3 p.m.