Ben Burr-Kirven enjoys scoring touchdowns and everything but he really loves playing defense.
"It's my favorite thing," he said. "It's all about hitting people."
Burr-Kirven threw his weight around on both sides of the ball Friday night, helping Sacred Heart Prep win the battle of PAL Bay Division undefeated football teams, 35-14, over host Burlingame.
The Gators (9-0 overall, 4-0 in the Bay Division) clinched the league championship and secured a spot in the Central Coast Section Open Division playoffs in a couple of weeks with the win.
Sacred Heart Prep still has a game remaining on its regular season schedule and the Gators will have no trouble getting motivated for it.
Sacred Heart Prep meets Menlo School in their annual Valparaiso Bowl rivalry game next Friday at Woodside High at 7 p.m.
"I don't care who has beaten Menlo, they are not a bad team," Gators lineman Max Weiss said. "It's a big game for us every year. Not just for us, or the team, but for the school. We'll put in the time and work hard so we can give them everything we've got."
For the time being, the Gators can congratulate themselves for following the excruciatingly detailed game plan that resulted in Burr-Kirven scoring three touchdowns and Andrew Daschbach on the receiving end of two long touchdown passes from Mason Randall.
"It was a perfect game plan," Burr-Kirven said. "We wanted to shut down their sweep and I think we did that pretty well."
Burr-Kirven finished with 106 rushing yards on 10 carries in addition to his scoring frenzy. He also recorded 14 tackles, broke up a couple of passes, had an interception and forced a fumble.
Randall made the most of his seven pass attempts, completing six of them for exactly 200 yards. His longest completion of the evening, a 60-yarder to Nick O'Donnell, was the opening act for one of Burr-Kirven's touchdown runs.
"To be honest, our running game does so well the defense has to respect that," Randall said. "And then everybody plays their roles, faking a run. The defense runs in and the receivers run past them."
For you soccer aficionados, imagine an offside trap, only it counts when the ball is in the air. If you didn't understand football, you'd swear both teams choreographed the whole thing.
"It's all done with the running game," Randall said. "You just have to be able to read defensive blitzes."
Randall still put the ball in his receiver's hands in stride, turning big plays into super-duper explosive plays. Daschbach caught four of those passes and turned them into a cool 127 yards, a rather emphatic 31.75 yards a catch.
Following a relatively dull scoreless first quarter, Burr-Kirven set the tone with a 48-yard romp to open the second quarter. His run set up his own four-yard burst into the end zone, the first of three second-quarter scores.
Weiss, Cole March and Matt Odell, among others, each shared in the game's defining moment.
After the Gators took the lead, Burlingame (8-1, 4-1) found itself in a fourth-and-one situation near midfield and decided to go for it -- an ill-fated decision.
Weiss and company neatly wrapped up the Panthers' fullback and brought him down roughly four inches shy of a first down.
"The key was to pressure and contain," Weiss said. "They run hard up gaps covered by linebackers and we just swarmed to the ball."
Stopping Burlingame's momentum was one thing but throwing a 39-yard touchdown pass on the next play was just downright back-breaking.
"The momentum would have been different," Weiss said of the possibility the Panthers would have made the first down and gone on to score.
The 14-0 lead turned into a 21-0 advantage, the margin by which Sacred Heart Prep took into the locker room at halftime. Burr-Kirven intercepted a pass in the neighborhood of the end zone on the final play.
Burlingame scored twice in the first three minutes of the third quarter, though the Gators answered each time.
Riley Tinsley, who was perfect on five PAT attempts, had a perfectly fine evening despite missing some time after taking a pretty solid hit on one play.
He made a touchdown-saving tackle, caught a pass for 13 yards and managing to add 56 yards to the Gators' rushing total.
In all, eight runners accounted for 292 yards on the ground. Lapitu Mahoni had 81 yards on 18 carries.
Defensively, JR Hardy added a crunching pass break-up, Cameron Dulsky, Nick Becker and John Van Sweden each had a tackle for a loss and Cameron Chapman, Daschbach, Milan Baldini and Connor Cody were in on sacks.
A good time was had by all.
Sequoia 27, Menlo School 21
Menlo School quarterback Austin D'Ambra completed 24 of 42 passes for 300 yards and three touchdowns and Michael Reed had eight receptions for 110 yards and a score, but it still wasn't enough as the Knights fell to 1-3 in the PAL Bay Division (4-5 overall). Garrett Matsuda had eight receptions for 69 yards from D'Ambra, who threw TD passes of nine yards to Reed, a 17-yarder to Jack Marren and a 16-yarder to Alex Moore.
Terra Nova 42, Menlo-Atherton 35
The Bears came up with one of their best offensive efforts of the season as they rushed for 322 yards against the Tigers, still coming up short in the PAL Bay Division matchup Friday night in Atherton. The Bears (1-4, 2-7) took a 28-21 lead into the fourth quarter, but gave up 21 points to the Tigers (3-2, 4-5).
Junior Maua Te'o rushed nine times for 94 yards and a TD, sophomore Jordan Mims had 16 carries for 92 yards and a score and sophomore Stavro Papadakis carried 15 times for 63 yards and a TD.
Even QB Robby Beardsley got into the act as he carried three times for 54 yards and a touchdown. He also completed seven of 19 passes for 140 yards and a score, but was picked off three times.
Chase DeRosso caught four passes for 119 yards and the one score. Justin Friedsam intercepted a pass and Alexander Ruiz recovered a fumble for the Bears.
Milpitas 47, Palo Alto 7
The Vikings saw their postseason hopes all but disappear in a lopsided loss to the playoff-bound Trojans (5-0, 9-0) in SCVAL De Anza Division action Friday night. Paly (2-4, 3-6) fell behind by 47-0 before quarterback Oliver Svirsky connected with Riley Schoeben on a 30-yard scoring play in the final moments to avoid a shutout. Milpitas wrapped up the division title and a berth in the CCS Open Division with the triumph.
Pinewood 60, Priory 26
Alex Dagman had 13 carries for 79 yards and two touchdowns and Jack Sweat added 56 yards and two TDs on 11 carries to pace host Pinewood to a season-ending victory over rival Priory in the Panther Bowl Game.
Pinewood (5-2) scored 44 points over the second and third periods to put the game out of reach of Priory (4-3). Andrew Capin completed nine of 19 passes for 105 yards with Sweat completing two passes for 51 yards. Wilson Fields had seven catches for 105 yards and three TDs.
Sweat also had 14 tackles, two fumble recoveries and two sacks. Oliver Fick had 10 tackles and two fumble recoveries with Fields adding 11 tackles. Pinewood played without standout running back Aidan Lucero, who dislocated his right shoulder during practice on Tuesday. He had rushed for 312 yards the previous week.