The second season for Palo Alto begins Friday night, when the No. 1 seeded Vikings (10-0) play host to No. 8 seed Mitty (6-3-1) in a Central Coast Section Open Division playoff opener at 7 p.m.
The winner will advance to the semifinals the following weekend against either No. 5 Bellarmine or No. 4 Oak Grove. The section finale will be held Dec. 3 at San Jose City College at 7 p.m.
Palo Alto is hoping to reach the championship game for a second time, the first coming in 2006 when the Vikings qualified for the Division II state finals — losing to Orange Lutheran and finishing the season with a 12-2 record, the most wins in school history.
Palo Alto is three wins away from another such trip to Southern California and has all the tools to get it done. The Vikings are averaging 32.3 points a game while allowing just 9.8. In the first 10 games of 2006, Paly scored 37.1 ppg while giving up 12.5.
Defense will be critical once again when the Vikings take on the Monarchs for the second time this season. In their first meeting on Sept. 17, Paly held Mitty to 199 total yards while registering a 20-7 victory.
"It was a very good defensive effort," Hansen said of that first game. "We played with passion."
Palo Alto focused its defensive attention on Mitty's highly touted quarterback Kyle Boehm last time.
"We got to him," Hansen said. "He's just as dangerous as a runner as a passer, but he couldn't get loose. We had pressure on him. It was a real team effort."
Boehm carried 15 times but gained just 12 yards. He also completed just seven of 15 passes for only 73 yards and one interception.
Hansen credited his defensive ends, Kevin Anderson and Tori Prati, for containing Boehm, along with linebackers Michael Cullen and Will Glazier, plus defensive back T.J. Braff.
"They were all instrumental," Hansen said.
Both teams have improved since their first meeting while adding new players. Mitty running back Rocky Meszaros didn't play the first time. He's now the No. 1 rusher with 530 yards on 87 carries. Paly's B.J. Boyd also didn't play previously, but has come on strong with 506 yards (a 9.55 average) on just 53 carries to lead the Vikings.
Boehm has rushed for 471 yards and thrown for 1,302 with nine touchdowns. His counterpart if Paly senior Christoph Bono, who has completed 121-of-182 passes for 1,968 yards and 23 scores.
Mitty is averaging 198.4 yards rushing a game and 150.1 passing, while Paly is running for 165.2 ypg and passing for 198.5.
Paly may have the edge in explosiveness with senior wideouts Maurice Williams and Davante Adams. Both are game-breakers. Adams has 48 catches for 863 yards while Williams is averaging a whopping 27.2 yards per catchy and is coming off back-to-back 100-plus yard games. He had four catches for 111 yards and two touchdowns to help rally the Vikings to a 28-14 victory over host Saratoga last Friday.
Paly actually trailed in that game, 14-0, before responding to the challenge. Williams had TD catches of 21 and 65 yards while linebacker Morris Gates-Mouton had a 73-yard interception return for a touchdown. Bono threw for 201 yards and three scores.
Despite beating Saratoga, the victory wasn't impressive enough to allow Palo Alto to retain its No. 18 state ranking in the Cal-Hi Sports Top 25. In fact, the Vikings dropped all the way to No. 47.
Another victory over Mitty on Friday could change all that.
"After three days of good practice," Hansen said, "we're ready to go."
Joining Palo Alto in its postseason excursion will be Menlo-Atherton, Sacred Heart Prep and Menlo School.
Menlo-Atherton (4-6) snagged the No. 8 seed in Division I thanks to a 34-27 victory over visiting Woodside last Saturday. The Bears will visit No. 1 seed Piedmont Hills (8-2) on Friday at 7 p.m. Woodside finished its season 1-9.
Woodside did its best to keep M-A from the postseason, but the Bears recovered an onside kick by the Wildcats and ran out the final 54 seconds to secure the victory.
Woodside got two touchdowns from Andrew Tamilau to grab a 14-0 lead, but the Bears responded to the challenge with a potent rushing attack that ground out 283 yards. Junior Sakalia led M-A with 12 carries for 108 yards with Taylor Mashack adding 104 yards. Both scored touchdowns.
Cameron Moody caught a touchdown pass, ran for a touchdown and finished with 75 yards rushing and 25 receiving. He also had an 83-yard run called back by a penalty. Sam Falkenhagen booted field goals of 33 and 44 yards.
Woodside scored on a 99-yard kickoff return to get to within 27-21 with barely eight minutes left to play. The Bears responded with a final drive that resulted in a four-yard TD run by Moody for the eventual winning points.
The CCS Division IV playoffs will open Saturday for Sacred Heart Prep and Menlo School, but only the Gators will be riding momentum into the postseason following a 35-7 romp over the Knights in the annual Valpo Bowl last Saturday at Sequoia High.
The victory locked up a No. 2 seed for Sacred Heart Prep (8-2), which will host No. 7 Seaside (6-4) on Saturday in a CCS opener at 1 p.m. The loss relegated Menlo (7-3) to a No. 6 seed, which means a trip to No. 3 San Lorenzo Valley (9-1) on Saturday at 1 p.m.
Should SHP and Menlo win their openers, they'll meet in the semifinals like they did last season when Menlo reached the division title game with a 20-14 win.
The Gators, however, appear to have the upper hand this season with their vaunted rushing attack. Tyler McCool (119), Colin Terndrup (112) and Pedro Robinson (105) all surpassed 100 yards on Saturday to take back the Valparaiso Cup, annually awarded to the regular-season winner of this game.
Sacred Heart Prep averaged 6.4 yards for its 54 carries, with Robinson scoring twice. Terndrup, meanwhile, raised his season rushing total to 1,119 yards. Tomas O'Donnell caught a 57-yard TD pass from John Geary that gave SHP a 21-0 lead.
Menlo got a season-high 171 yards on six catches from Tim Benton and 246 passing yards from Robert Wickers, who completed only 12 of 32 attempts and tossed three interceptions while being sacked six times.
Menlo also was limited to just 37 yards rushing, as an injury to two-way lineman Brad Eckert seemed to hurt the Knights.
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