Sports

Menlo's faith pays off in PAL Ocean Division football

 

The Menlo School football team kept the faith and now has a chance to capture at least a share of the Peninsula Athletic League Ocean Division championship.

It sure didn't look like Menlo would get that kind of an opportunity on Sept. 30 when Half Moon Bay bolted out to a 36-6 lead against the Knights. But Menlo kept battling in that game, scoring three late touchdowns to make the final score 36-27.

Menlo won its next three games and got the help it needed when The King's Academy upset Half Moon Bay, 49-35, last Friday.

So Menlo and HMB are tied for first place heading into Friday's final PAL Ocean games. Menlo (7-1, 3-1) plays at Woodside (5-3, 1-3) while Half Moon Bay (7-1, 3-1) hosts South San Francisco. (2-6, 1-3). Both games are at 7 p.m.

"We're trying to prepare for Woodside like we would for any other game, check off the boxes on offense and defense,'' said Menlo running back Charlie Ferguson, who has more than 1,100 yards rushing on the season. "But there is definitely a buzz among the seniors, a little extra energy.''

You can go nuts trying to track a team's strengths and weaknesses, week by week. South San Francisco beat TKA 40-7, then lost to Menlo 45-0. Then TKA beats Half Moon Bay.

What the final score doesn't tell is Demonte Aleem playing his first game of the season for TKA against Half Moon Bay. Aleem, a transfer from Harker, rushed for 188 yards and three touchdowns in a game that was halted with 1:36 left on the clock after a brawl broke out.

Several players from each team are expected to have to sit out their team's final league game.

As far as that Menlo-HMB game:

"They wanted it more than us,'' Ferguson said. "But after that game we talked. And came to the realization that if we play Menlo football we can beat most anyone on our schedule. After that game we talked about doing something special.''

That opportunity is at hand.

Menlo-Atherton will try to complete a perfect season in the PAL Bay Division when it hosts Hillsdale on Saturday at 2 p.m.

"It's a fun time for M-A, getting a chance to play for an outright league championship,'' Menlo-Atherton coach Adhir Ravipati said.

The Bears (6-2, 4-0) are on a six-game winning streak.

"The offensive line has come together nicely,'' Ravipati said. "The receivers have done a nice job. I'm real happy with what Aajon Johnson has done at quarterback and the defense has improved against the pass. I'm real happy with the week by week progress the team had made.''

Hillsdale won the PAL Ocean title a year ago and was moved up to the Bay. "In athletics you are rewarded for past success,'' Hillsdale coach Mike Parodi said. "We've been hit by the injury bug, but that's football.''

The Knights have had eight different players line up at quarterback this season. Ben Carrithers is the current starter. But they got a big 16-13 win over Sacred Heart Prep last week.

The top four teams from the Bay get automatic berths in the Central Coast Section playoffs. M-A and Burlingame are in. The other four teams all have one Bay win.

So there will plenty of motivation on display when SHP plays at Terra Nova and Aragon hosts Burlingame on Friday.

The Terra Nova-SHP winner will get a second league win. Even if Hillsdale and Aragon both lose Friday those two schools will get one more chance when they play each other Nov. 4.

Palo Alto and Gunn from the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League both have byes this week. Palo Alto plays Mountain View Nov. 4 while Gunn takes on Los Altos on Nov. 5.

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