Sports

M-A falls out of first in PAL Bay Division race

 

By Rick Eymer

Palo Alto Online Sports

Menlo-Atherton senior linebacker Luke Pinkston was packing his gear on the turf at Terra Nova High moments after a 35-0 loss Friday night regulated the Bears to second place in the PAL Bay Division. His mind was already on Woodside, M-A's final regular-season opponent.

"We have to go to work Monday to make it right," Pinkston said. "We've played better than we did tonight. We have to bounce back."

Pinkston was one of the bright spots for the Bears (4-1, 6-3), who had a five-game winning streak snapped by the Tigers (5-0, 7-2), who won their third straight title. He's one of M-A's leading tacklers and produced a quarterback sack and recovered a fumble against Terra Nova.

"We just have to work hard so we're not talking about mistakes," Pinkston said. "Woodside has some good players and we know each other. It should be a fun game to play."

Cameron Moody was another bright spot. He rushed for 64 yards and collected six receptions for another 59 yards. Punter-kicker Sam Falkenhagen also produced another fine game, which included punts of 53 and 68 yards.

Taalaiasi Teu nearly stole the spotlight in the fourth quarter, gaining 55 yards on nine carries.

The game was closer than the score would indicate. The Tigers led, 7-0, at the half and they were lucky to get that touchdown.

M-A, which turned the ball over four times during the game, had plenty of opportunities to blow the game open itself. Two long runs were called back because of penalties, an unsportsmanlike penalty allowed Terra Nova to get off the ropes and back into the fight, Falkenhagen's 49-yard field goal was nullified because of a procedure call and the Bears failed to take advantage of a recovered fumble deep in Tigers' territory.

M-A made several trips into the red zone but would misfire each time. Terra Nova picked off two passes late in the game, one in the end zone and the only returned for a touchdown. The momentum swings were too much for the Bears to overcome.

"We've got to leave all this here and not take it back to Atherton," M-A quarterback Willy Fonua said of the bad karma in Pacifica. "We'll go back to practice with every intention to pick up the momentum for CCS."

At Menlo School 48, Woodside 20

Sophomore quarterback Jack Heneghan fired four touchdown passes and backup Matt Bradley added two more as the Knights kept their postseason hopes alive by toppling visiting Woodside in a PAL Ocean Division regular-season finale on Friday.

The Knights finished the division with a 2-3 mark, but will take a 6-3 mark into next Friday's nonleague battle with Sacred Heart Prep in the annual Valpo Bowl while hoping to keep their CCS playoff hopes alive.

Menlo broke a three-way tie with Sequoia (which played Friday night) and Woodside while forcing six turnovers -- five of them interceptions.

"I think we were well prepared," Menlo senior running back, linebacker Dylan Mayer said. "Coach (Mark Newton) referred to this as like a playoff game, a must win."

Heneghan completed 13 of 26 passes for 198 yards and four touchdowns, despite playing the first two quarters and a few plays into the third quarter. Bradley came in and fired a pair of TD passes and senior Chris Zeisler scored another on an 87-yard interception return. Mayer caught seven passes for 127 yards.

Woodside scored on its opening drive, but Menlo had an immediate answer. The Knights worked their way down the field and fueled by Mayer's 16-yard reception scored in 10 plays and capped by senior Chris Reed's 37-yard touchdown catch from Heneghan.

On Woodside's next possession, Menlo junior Wyatt Rouser recovered a fumble on the Wildcats' 26 and on the opening drive, Mayer pulled in a 26-yard pass from Heneghan for a 14-7 lead. The Knights' defense kept Woodside out of Menlo territory for the rest of the half.

Junior Connor Stastny had two interceptions and, along with Zeisler's interception return, Reed and senior Colum Coyne also had a pick.

Pinewood 54, at Priory 20

Pinewood completed it's football season on a five-game winning streak after toppling host Priory in a nonleague, eight-man contest on Friday in Portola Valley. The Panthers (5-3) were led by senior Dante Fraioli, who had 17 carries for 257 yards and four rushing TDs plus four catches for 93 yards and another score. He also had 16 tackles from his defensive position

Fraioli capped his prep football career with 427 yards and 10 touchdowns, with 37 tackles, in just the past two games as the Panthers outscored the opposition by 110-26.

Pinewood quarterback John Bennet was 16 of 20 for 235 yards and three touchdowns. Kevin Sweat had four receptions for 101 yards and two TDs. In addition to Fraioli on defense, Nate Bell had 10 tackles, Kevin Sweat 12, and Mike Naumann added eight. Greg Naumann, Alie Rafie and Daniel Branski all had seven tackles with Branski also recovering a Priory fumble in the end zone for a touchdown.

James McDaniel had touchdowns runs of 5 and 50 yards to spark Priory (4-5).

At Gunn 44, Fremont 6

Senior Night meant it was the final time the Titans' seniors would take the field. For two of them, Skyler Larson and JJ Strnad, they made sure it was a winner as they combined for seven touchdowns in the SCVAL El Camino Division game.

"Our seniors played really well tonight, especially Larson and Strnad," said Gunn head coach Dan Navarro. "It was a good win, but we got to get ready for a tough Lynbrook team next week."

Gunn will take a 3-2 league mark (3-5 overall) into its final game next Friday.

The Titans opened up the scoring midway in the first quarter when they scored on a 10 yard run by Strnad that was set up by a 27 yard run by Larson to go up 6-0.

After Robert Kato recovered the first of his two turnovers of the night, he had an interception in the second quarter, Gunn was back in business at Fremont's 30. The Titans took just one play to score as Andre Guzman lofted al pass to Larson for a touchdown and 12-0 lead.

After Fremont (2-3, 2-6) made it 12-6, the Titans answered with a four-play, 74-yard drive capped by a 53-yard TD run by Strnad to make it 18-6 with 11:27 to go in the half. On the Titans' next possession, Guzman connected with Larson on a 53-yard scoring play.

The Titans added a final touchdown with 21 seconds left in the half as Guzman connected on a 34-yard pass to Larson for his third touchdown of the game to put the Titans up 31-6.

Gunn continued to dominate in the second half as Strnad added touchdown runs of 53 and 31 yards in the third quarter. Strnad finished with 18 carries for 269 yards and four touchdowns.

At Palo Alto 74, Los Altos 14

The Vikings set the stage for a shot at defending its SCVAL De Anza Division football title by blasting visiting Los Altos on Friday night. The Vikings (5-1, 7-2) need to beat host Milpitas next Friday in order to claim the division's top seed for the Central Coast Section playoffs.

Palo Alto took over sole possession of first place following their resounding victory, coupled with the Trojans' 20-6 loss to Homestead on Friday. Milpitas fell to 4-2 and 7-2 while Los Gatos moved into second place at 4-1-1 (7-1-1).

Paly celebrated its Senior Night with senior Dre Hill leadig the way with three rushing touchdowns, a receiving touchdown and a blocked punt that a teammate returned for a TD. The Vikings scored four times on special teams, including a 75-yard kickoff return by B.J. Boyd to open the second half and a 62-yard kickoff return by Gabe Landa.

Junior Justin Gates-Mouton carried three times for 123 yards to pace the effective Paly ground game that totaled 223 yards.

The game was so lopsided that the Vikings ran only 14 plays from scrimmage and had only two pass completions for 85 yards against last-place Los Altos (0-6, 1-8), which suffered eight sacks by the aggressive Paly defense.

At Sacred Heart Prep 16, Jefferson 13

Sacred Heart Prep strengthened its position for a solid CCS seed by holding off last-place Jefferson in a PAL Bay Division football game on Friday in Atherton.

The Gators concluded their division season at 3-2 (7-2 overall) with only a nonleague game against Menlo School next Friday in the annual Valpo Bowl, set for Foothill College. SHP played without starting quarterback Jack Larson, who was injured last week in a loss to Menlo-Atherton.

Kevin Donahue replaced Larson and produced the winning points with a 31-yard TD pass to Pat Bruni with 33 seconds left in the game to prevent an upset loss. Daver Refioglu rushed for 100 yards and scored the Gators' first touchdown, a 21-yard run in the first quarter.

— Menlo School Sports Information/gunntitans.com contributed

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