The Menlo-Atherton football team made a big breakthrough last time out.
The Bears, looking for their first win in the midst of an arduous early-season non-league schedule, got that win and in a most powerful fashion with a 49-0 dismantling of Sacred Heart Cathedral.
They went into that game after losses to Bellarmine (34-20) and Marin Catholic (31-25).
"Mental errors on defense led to big plays in those games,'' Menlo-Atherton coach Adhir Ravipati said. "It comes down to discipline. This time we didn't turn the ball over and we forced four or five turnovers. I'm excited with our progress.''
Jordan Mims carried 18 times for 284 yards as M-A totaled 465 yards on the ground.
"We're a run-first team,'' Ravipati said. "Jordan is one of those guys, once he gets to the second level he's tough to corral, he's gone.''
There's no letup in the schedule as M-A plays host to traditional power Los Gatos on Friday at 7 p.m. Los Gatos is also 1-2, but with losses to very tough teams from Corona del Mar and San Benito.
"If we want to establish ourselves as one of the best public-school teams then we've got to beat Los Gatos,'' Ravipati said. "They've got a lot of talent. I'm looking forward to it. It should be real exciting on Friday.''
Eliminating mistakes is also No. 1 on the agenda at Palo Alto. The Vikings are coming off a 41-7 loss to Mitty after losing 35-14 to San Benito.
"They're a very good team, but yet again the score didn't indicate how the game went,'' Palo Alto coach Danny Sullivan said of the Mitty game. "We allowed them to have four drives start inside the 25. When you do that it's pretty hard to get a stop. We shot ourselves in the foot.''
The tough nonleague schedule continues Friday with a game at defending Central Coast Section Open Division I champion Oak Grove. The Eagles are 0-2 with losses to St. Francis (24-7) and Granite Bay (27-14).
"They're going to be hungry to get their first win,'' Sullivan said. "Watching them against St. Francis their offense struggled but their defense played tough.''
Sophomore Jackson Chryst got his first start for Paly against Mitty, due to an injury to senior Jordan Schilling, and completed 9 of 24 passes for 113 yards.
"Jackson got his first taste and I thought he played pretty darn well,'' Sullivan said. "You've got to catch the ball when it's on the money.''
Schilling, also the starting free safety on defense, is unlikely to play this week. Josh Brigel filled in at safety for him against the Monarchs and performed well.
Sacred Heart Prep finds itself in the unfamiliar position of being 0-3 after a 35-6 loss to Palma. The defending CCS Open Division III champion Gators host McClymonds (2-1), a team they beat 56-20 in a Northern California regional bowl championship game a year ago, on Saturday at 2 p.m.
"Last year we were pretty good,'' SHP coach Pete Lavorato said. "That was probably our best overall offensive effort. But of course this is not last year's team. I expect this is hopefully going to be a close game and that we can find a way to win, because it's been tough so far.''
The Gators will have to do it without the services of running back Isoa Moimoi, their returning 1,000-yard rusher from last year, who has still not played this season due to a hamstring injury.
"We want to be sure when he does come back that he won't hurt it again,'' Lavorato said. "Hamstring injuries can be very frustrating. He's chomping at the bit.''
Lavorato is looking for a payoff to come for his team's early-season struggles.
"Opportunity can be disguised in ways that don't look so good,'' Lavorato said. "When you give kids an opportunity to play you can be better down the road. We're 0-3, but still could be OK. We'll try to get better every game.''
Menlo School (3-0) will look to close out its early-season, nonleague schedule undefeated when it plays at Carlmont (1-2), Friday at 7 p.m.
Carlmont has a new coach in Jake Messina, who was at Fremont the last two years, and has installed the Wing-T. The Scots lost to Aragon and Woodside to start the season before getting a win over Yerba Buena.
"They've got a really sound running attack,'' Menlo coach Mark Newton said. "We will focus on defense and try to stuff their run.''
Menlo has had an easy time of it so far with lopsided wins over Lincoln-SF (42-13), Mission (35-14) and Harker (48-0). Charlie Ferguson has rushed for 585 yards in those three games and averaged 11.7 yards per carry.
After relying almost entirely on Ferguson the first two games, Menlo got its passing game going against Harker. Hayden Pegley completed 8 of 11 passes for 112 yards and Emilio Simbeck hit on 5 of 6 for 56 yards.
"Carlmont has an opportunistic, aggressive defense,'' Newton said. "We'll try to continue to build on our stout running game and make sure we're clear with our pass protection.''
Gunn (1-2) broke a 14-game losing streak with a 27-6 win over Harbor.
"It was good for the kids,'' Gunn coach Tony Kelly said. "Some of those kids had never won.''
The Titans host Andrew Hill (0-2) on Friday at 7 p.m. Mills is a common opponent and both teams lost by the same margin: Gunn by 40-7, Hill 33-0.
Hill at one time had a strong program. Mike Holt has returned this season to coach the team. He was the coach the last time the team had success.
"After watching film they've been getting better and better,'' Kelly said. "I'm sure it will be a competitive game.''
In the win over Harbor, Gunn received outstanding defensive performances from sophomore DB Lee Howard, who had two interceptions, and from junior free safety DJ Barnes, who had nine tackles.
Woodside (3-0) got a big win over Hillsdale its last time out, 40-34. The Wildcats take on Christopher on Friday at 7 p.m.
Christopher is off to a 1-2 start, but Woodside coach Justin Andrews says it's a team that should not be taken lightly.
"They had two losses to two good opponents in Live Oak and Carmel,'' Andrews said. "They're really athletic and a big team numbers-wise. A lot of guys pop out with their athletic ability. We expect to have our hands full.''
In the win over previously undefeated Hillsdale, Marcelous Chester-Riley rushed for 166 yards and sophomore QB Joseph King threw for 204 yards and three touchdowns.
"It was good to get that win,'' Andrews said. "The two games before we had a lot of mistakes. That made us look like the underdog and we played well.''