Runners to carry the load | September 9, 2011 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - September 9, 2011

Runners to carry the load

Young quarterbacks still finding their way after Week 1 of the season

by Keith Peters

Four local football teams opened the 2011 high school season last weekend, with three of the squads starting new quarterbacks. Perhaps not too surprising, explosive aerial games did not come to pass.

In the victories by Palo Alto, Sacred Heart Prep, Menlo School and Menlo-Atherton, those teams combined for just 390 yards of passing — an average of 97.5 yards per game — as Jack Larson (SHP), Keller Chryst (Paly) and Jack Heneghan/Matt Bradley (Menlo) made their varsity debuts at quarterback.

The only returning quarterback starter was Willy Fonua of Menlo-Atherton.

By comparison, the 2010 openers produced 721 passing yards in five games — an average of 144.2 yards per game.

Despite a lack of passing, the 2011 openers actually turned out better than last season.

The five openers in '10 produced four wins in five games, 131 points scored and 65 allowed. In the four openers last week, all four local teams won while producing 129 points and allowing 43.

(Note: Pinewood and Priory were not included in these totals because they play eight-man football)

While passing lacked, the running games took over last weekend. Menlo's Dylan Mayer rushed for a career-high 155 yards on 18 carries in the Knights' 19-18 win over Santa Cruz; Tyler McCool of Sacred Heart Prep rushed for a career-high 145 yards on eight carries with a pair of TDs; Palo Alto's B.J. Boyd carried eight times for 100 yards and scored twice while Taylor Mashack and Cameron Moody of Menlo-Atherton combined for 119 yards on 13 total carries and three touchdowns in a 43-7 romp over El Camino.

Thus, while the young local quarterbacks find their respective grooves, running backs evidently will carry the offensive load for the time being.

Whether that continues could be determined this weekend when Week 2 gets rolling with more nonleague action.

Menlo School (1-0) will host Mission (San Francisco) on Friday at 3:15 p.m.; Sacred Heart Prep (1-0) will play at the same time against host Riordan; Pinewood makes its season debut by hosting Stuart Hall at 4 p.m.; and Gunn does the same by visiting McClymonds in Oakland at 7 p.m.

On Saturday, Priory (0-1) will attempt to bounce back from last week's 40-8 season-opening loss to Stuart Hall by traveling to face Anderson Valley in Boonville at 1 p.m. Menlo-Atherton (1-0), meanwhile, will play host to always tough Los Gatos at 2 p.m.

Palo Alto (1-0) will have a bye week after opening impressively with a 28-18 win over visiting San Benito last week.

If there were any questions about how Palo Alto would start the season after winning the CIF Division I state championship last year, Boyd answered them on the first play of the 2011 season as he returned the opening kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown and Paly raced out to a 28-0 lead.

After a three-and-out from San Benito, Boyd added a second touchdown with a 62-yard run on the team's first play from scrimmage to put Paly up 14-0.

Junior wide receiver Jayshawn Gates-Mouton hauled in touchdown catches of 19 and 10 yards in his varsity debut from sophomore quarterback Keller Chryst in the second quarter to round out the scoring for the Vikings.

Chryst, a transfer from North Carolina, made his Paly debut with eight completions in 23 attempts for 109 yards, two TDs and one interception. Gates-Mouton caught six passes for 72 yards in his debut.

Palo Alto could have scored more points, but had two touchdowns called back by penalties.

Meanwhile, Menlo-Atherton played its first night game under its new permanent lights and rolled to a 43-7 nonleague victory over El Camino.

Fonua threw for three touchdowns and Moody returned a kickoff 90 yards to highlight the offensive explosion for the Bears. Moody added a 24-yard TD run and one from a yard out that gave M-A its final margin of victory.

Mashack added a 60-yard TD run in the first quarter to help spark the Bears to 22 points in the opening period. He finished with 71 rushing yards on just three carries to lead the Bears to 211 yards on the ground. Blake Olsen caught a 40-yard scoring pass from Fonua, who also tossed a three-yard TD pass to Richard Cornew.

In Santa Cruz, Menlo School rode the wave of a fourth-quarter rally for a thrilling 19-18 last-second win over host Santa Cruz.

"Our defense did a great job; that was the key to keeping us in the game all night, " Menlo coach Mark Newton said.

After Santa Cruz grabbed a 12-0 lead at halftime and improved it to 18-12 in the fourth quarter, Menlo began engineering its comeback.

With 42 seconds left, Menlo senior Chris Reed ran the kickoff to the Knights' 35. Bradley, a junior, completed a pair of long passes to junior Connor Stastny and senior Tommy Ford to get down to the Santa Cruz 30.

Sophomore quarterback Jack Heneghan came in and connected down the middle with Reed, who got the Knights to the 2-yard line. With 5.7 seconds left, Mayer scored behind senior Spencer Buja and junior Wyatt Rouser. Junior Timmy Costa added the PAT, and the Knights walked away with the win.

"We played a lot of guys in different spots," Newton said. "We'll be able to take away a lot of teaching points — to improve, and there's a lot they did well."

It was Mayer, who also tied the game 12-12 with a 60-yard run with 5:46 left in the fourth quarter.

On Saturday, McCool had a career day to pace Sacred Heart Prep to a 39-0 blasting of San Lorenzo Valley. He had an 80-yard TD run just before halftime that gave the Gators a 33-0 lead. A few minutes earlier, McCool ran it in from 43 yards out to make 27-0. All of McCool's yards came in the first half.

Larson made his starting debut at quarterback for SHP and responded with 95 yards and two touchdowns on 6-of-14 passing. Ryan Gaertner caught a 15-yard scoring pass and Duke Moran latched on to an 18-yard TD reception.

Sacred Heart's defense also rose to the challenge, holding SLV to just 67 yards of total offense in the first half. Luke Quinton, who didn't play football last season, was among the defensive standouts for SHP. Luke Thomas and Fatu Tupou, both defensive ends, also contributed to the big shutout.

NOTES: Palo Alto is ranked No. 21 in the state in the California Top 50 by Cal-Hi Sports. Among the reasons why were running backs Dre Hill and Boyd, who combined for 1,719 yards and 18 touchdowns last season, plus four of five returning offensive linemen from last season's 14-0 team. The only other CCS team among the top 21 is Bellarmine, which is ranked 18th.

-- James Huber contributed


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