Palo Alto, M-A hook up with traditional powers | September 7, 2018 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - September 7, 2018

Palo Alto, M-A hook up with traditional powers

SH Prep, Menlo look to continue gridiron progress

by Glenn Reeves

Palo Alto and Menlo-Atherton are both 2-0 with impressive wins over top-flight opponents. Both take on a couple more formidable foes in home games Friday night.

Sacred Heart Prep is also 2-0 with its defense leading the way and Woodside, after a 0-10 season last year, is now 3-0 after receiving word that Gunn is being forced to forfeit Friday's game due to a lack of available players.

"The health of my team is my primary concern,'' Gunn coach Jason Miller wrote Wednesday in a text message. "We have several students with injuries which need time to heal before being cleared to play. I approached administration with our dilemma, and we together determined a need to not play a game this week.''

Woodside was in a similar situation last year and had to forfeit its final game of the season.

Woodside football had this comment on twitter after learning of the Gunn forfeit:

"We're obviously bummed, and will miss the unique challenge that Gunn brought to the table. But we've also gone through it too, so we totally get it. Hoping for good health for @gunntitans moving forward. @Gunn_Ball_Coach has them heading in the right direction.''

Here's a look at Friday's games:

Palma at Menlo-Atherton, 7:30 p.m.

M-A has wins over Bellarmine (28-0) and Mitty (28-21) the first two weeks of the season. That is new territory for coach Adhir Ravipati.

"I've gone 0-2 every year I've been coach,'' Ravipati said. "Now that we're 2-0 I don't know how to react.''

This is Ravipati's fourth year as head coach at M-A. An ambitious non-league schedule contributed to those 0-2 starts. The Bears lost to Marin Catholic and Oakdale in 2015, Bellarmine and Marin Catholic in 2016, Bellarmine and Mitty in 2017.

In 2016 the team won 12 in a row after that 0-2 start and advanced to a state championship game. Now Ravipati has players who have been with him their entire high school careers.

"That team in my second year that went to state was real talented,'' he said. "This team is the team we were looking toward. This is us turning the corner a little bit. These kids know how we do things.''

M-A plays its home opener Friday against Palma, the third consecutive parochial school power on its schedule. Palma is also 2-0 with wins over Soledad and Sacred Heart Cathedral.

"Palma has a great football tradition, have had a lot of success,'' Ravipati said. "Chris Dalman was there so they ran a lot of Stanford stuff, I backs. Now they're a little bit more diverse.''

Next week M-A has a bye and then travels to Colorado to play powerhouse program Valor Christian, the alma mater of Christian McCaffrey.

"Originally we were scheduled to play Oak Grove in the fourth week and then have our bye before (Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division) play begins,'' Ravipati said. "But when this opportunity came up to play Valor Christian, their open date was our bye week. It's a good thing we have a week off before we play them.''

Justin Anderson, who was slated to play wide receiver and cornerback, will make his third start at quarterback against Palma. Ravipati is hoping to ease Feleti Malupo back into the lineup.

"Hopefully Feleti can play a little so I can play Justin some at wide receiver and defensive back,'' Ravipati said.

Highly-regarded sophomore wide receiver Troy Franklin will see his first action against Palma.

"Troy is ready,'' Ravipati said. "He had a peanut allergy flare up 10 minutes before the Mitty game was to start after eating a bagel with nut traces. His face swelled up and he broke out in hives.''

McClymonds at Palo Alto, 7 p.m.

Two-time defending state champion McClymonds had a 26-game winning streak broken last week in a 42-14 loss to Liberty.

Palo Alto coach Nelson Gifford was not pleased about the timing of the end of the streak.

"Oh no, their winning streak is over,'' Gifford said. "They're going to be hungry and get after us.''

McClymonds has a legendary athletic heritage, having produced scores of great athletes, including iconic figures such as Bill Russell and Frank Robinson.

"They're really athletic and fast,'' Gifford said. "The biggest thing I see is that they're defense is what carries them. The score indicates Liberty blew them out, but it really wasn't like that. It was a fight the entire way. Their defense will lock you up and get after you. If you're not bringing it on offense it will be a long day.''

Palo Alto is off to a great start in Gifford's first year with wins over St. Ignatius 21-14 and Half Moon Bay 45-7. Jackson Chryst has completed 30 of 49 passes (62.1 percent) for 471 yards with five touchdowns with one interception, Aiden Chang has rushed for 155 yards. Jamir Shepard has 13 catches for 213 yards and four touchdowns while Paul Thie has 10 receptions for 186 yards.

But Mack is the most athletic team Paly will have faced.

"We'll have to protect the football while trying to be as explosive as we can,'' Gifford said. "We have to figure out a way of moving the ball down the field in large chunks. They put pressure on the quarterback with their front four and play man. They take away all your underneath stuff.''

Sacred Heart Prep at Saratoga, 7 p.m.

The Gators have allowed a total of only 19 points over their first two games with wins over Carlmont (21-6) and Burlingame (15-13). They're even getting scoring out of the defensive unit as lineman Jake Davison scored a touchdown off a fumble recovery against Burlingame.

SHP's second touchdown against the Panthers came on a 95-yard kickoff return by Dante Cacchione, who was named NorCal Special Teams Player of the Week by Cal-Hi Sports.

"Defense and special teams played great,'' Sacred Heart Prep coach Mark Grieb said. "Our defense has been playing fast.''

Linemen Ben Horvath and Jack Kirkham, linebacker J.P. Frimel and safety Tommy Barnds are some other defensive players who have stood out. Barnds had two interceptions against Burlingame, as well as playing flyback on offense.

Senior Jack Moultrup and sophomore Raymond Price III have shared time at quarterback, but haven't been asked to throw much. They combined for only eight pass attempts against Burlingame.

"Both are great students of the game and are very supportive of each other,'' Grieb said.

Tevita Moimoi was the leading ball carrier.

Saratoga (1-1) is coming off a 27-13 loss to Silver Creek. The Falcons like to throw the ball out of the spread, so they will provide a different look for the SHP defense which faced two Wing-T teams to start the season.

Menlo School at Santa Clara, 7 p.m.

Menlo is looking to get back in the win column after a tough 30-28 loss to Piedmont. The Knights had a 14-2 lead at halftime before getting blindsided by Piedmont's 22-point third quarter.

"I talked to the kids about that third quarter,'' Menlo coach Josh Bowie said. "That was Piedmont's third game and our first game on the field. Injuries and illness took us out of what we normally do.''

Menlo, which was awarded a forfeit win the previous week against Mission, had only 20 available players against Piedmont, which doesn't leave much room for attrition.

"Everybody has to be ready to step up,'' Bowie said. "When one guy goes down we have to move a lot of pieces around. We'll probably bring up a couple of sophomores. We're going to battle with the guys we have.''

Santa Clara won its opener 47-0 over Prospect, then got beat 30-0 by Overfelt, Menlo's opponent next week.

"We want to see them respond after a tough first game,'' Bowie said. "We have an opportunity to improve. I know with the spirit and culture of our group that they will be ready.''

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