League titles still are within reach for host of local teams | October 25, 2013 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |


Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - October 25, 2013

League titles still are within reach for host of local teams

by Ari Kaye and Andrew Preimesberger

Meaningful best describes the games facing four local football teams this weekend, all of whom still have very legitimate shots at division championships.

Sacred Heart Prep (1-0, 6-0) controls its own destiny in the PAL Bay Division and most likely will need a perfect record to win that title. The Gators will continue their march toward that goal by hosting South San Francisco (0-2, 2-4) on Friday at 3 p.m.

Menlo School (1-0, 5-1) also can control things in the Bay Division. The Knights first need to clear a huge hurdle by defeating defending champion Terra Nova (2-0, 6-0) on Friday in Atherton at 3 p.m.

Palo Alto (2-1, 3-3) still has ideas of defending its SCVAL De Anza Division crown and needs to defeat visiting Milpitas (3-0, 5-1) on Friday night in a homecoming game at 7:30 p.m.

And, let us not forget about Priory (4-0, 6-0), which is still gunning for a second straight perfect season of eight-man football in the Mission Trail Athletic League. The Panthers, who are looking for their 14th straight win over two seasons, will host Crystal Springs on Friday at 3 p.m. Priory hasn't lost since the final game of the 2011 campaign.

In other games Friday, Menlo-Atherton (1-1, 4-2) will visit Sequoia (0-2, 3-3) in PAL Bay Division action at 7 p.m.; Gunn (0-2, 1-5) hosts Homestead in a SCVAL El Camino Division game at 7:30 p.m.; and Pinewood (4-1) visits Alma Heights in a MTAL contest at 3:30 p.m.

In games last week:

SHP 15, M-A 12

Sacred Heart Prep had not faced much pressure in the early part of their schedule this season, as the Gators defeated their first five opponents of 2013 by a combined score of 211-19.

In fact, coming into Friday night's contest against PAL Bay Division rival Menlo-Atherton, Sacred Heart had not trailed in any contest for a single moment.

However, against a tough M-A squad, Sacred Heart found itself down 12-0 going into the fourth quarter. For the Gators, this would be their first true test of the season. They passed with flying colors.

Sacred Heart Prep scored 15 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, stunning Menlo-Atherton on its homecoming night.

"We never give up hope, that's an attitude from last season that's carried over," SHP senior running back Ricky Grau said. "Our coaches drill it into our heads that we can always come back and win."

With 1:42 left in the contest and M-A leading 12-7, Sacred Heart faced a fourth-and -6 from the M-A 11-yard line. With no timeouts remaining, the Gators needed a first down to continue playing.

Sophomore quarterback Mason Randall completed a six-yard pass to junior receiver Mitch Martella for a first down at the 5-yard line.

Two plays after the fourth-down conversation, junior running back Ben Burr-Kirven ran into the end zone from four yards out, to give the Gators their first lead of the game with one minute to go.

Menlo-Atherton did not succumb to defeat quietly, as senior quarterback Brian Keare led the Bears to the SHP 22-yard line.

Menlo-Atherton opted to attempt a 39-yard field goal with four seconds left that missed, sending the SHP players into a state of jubilation on the sideline.

Menlo-Atherton dominated the first half of the game, as the Bears' powerful offensive line opened up big holes for senior running back Isiah Nash, who ran for 94 yards and a touchdown in the first half.

The M-A defense was also picture perfect in the first half, holding a Sacred Heart team that averages 296 yards rushing per game, to just 18 rushing yards.

In the third quarter, an unfortunate injury for M-A changed the complexion of the game, as Nash was hurt trying to make a catch on a long pass attempt. Although Nash was able to walk off the field, the Bears' training staff took his helmet away, and Nash did not return.

Without Nash, the Bears struggled to move the ball, and the Gators' running attack finally came alive. A methodical 64-yard drive down the field, capped off by Grau's two-yard touchdown run, pulled Sacred Heart within five points with 8:39 to go in the fourth quarter.

After the Sacred Heart touchdown, it appeared as if M-A might put the game away with a long touchdown drive of its own, but M-A fumbled the ball at the Sacred Heart 45-yard line. The Gators' Nic Collazo recovered, and suddenly SHP had new life.

Burr-Kirven finished with 19 tackles, 10 solo, and had a sack. Paul Westcott finished with 11 tackles.

Menlo 42, Sequoia 10

The Knights racked up 376 yards on offense and won their fifth straight with a dominating win over the host Cherokees. In four of its past five games, Menlo has won by at least 32 points and is now averaging 48.6 points a game this season.

"Forty-two points is nice but we feel like there's always more that we can get," said senior quarterback Jack Heneghan. "We fought really hard and we'll use this tape to continue improving."

Heneghan had 173 yards and three touchdowns in the first half alone and totaled 284 passing yards and four touchdowns in the game.

The Menlo defense was superb in the first half. The Cherokees' offense had only 53 yards, three points, and turned the ball over three times.

"Our defense was incredible," said Menlo head coach Mark Newton. "Our first level was able to disrupt which enabled our second and third to make the plays."

Heneghan hooked up with senior wide receiver Graham Stratford for an 18-yard touchdown to put Menlo up 35-3 midway through the fourth quarter. Stratford had his best game of the season, finishing with 135 yards and three touchdowns.

"Hopefully our defense will continue to improve the way they did tonight," said Newton. "We need to be more consistent on offense and keep improving our defense."

Palo Alto 55, Saratoga 21

The Vikings' offense finally woke up with a season-high scoring effort in a SCVAL De Anza Division victory over host Saratoga last Friday night.

Senior quarterback Keller Chryst threw for four touchdowns and senior Malcolm Davis rushed for three more as the Vikings bounced back from last week's three-point loss to Wilcox.

Davis, moved to tailback to bolster Paly's up-to-now weak rushing game, gained a career-high 179 yards on only 13 carries. He had scoring runs of 38, 19 and 62 yards — the last one giving Paly a 48-7 lead in the third quarter.

Chryst had TD passes of 57, 15, 19 and 16 yards — all to different receivers. He completed 13 of 21 passes for 240 yards. Eli Givens caught three passes for 79 yards and one TD.

On defense, sophomore defensive back Justin Hull returned an interception 20 yards for a score. Connor Scheel had 11 tackles with Tully McCalister adding nine plus an interception. The Vikings had seven tackles for losses as they held the Falcons to 59 rushing yards.

Priory 58, Trinity Christian 52

With Priory's perfect season at stake, running back James McDaniel scored from five yards out in overtime to lift the Panthers to a crucial victory over host Trinity Christian in MTAL action Saturday in Monterey.

In a showdown for first place in the MTAL, Priory scored 18 unanswered points in the fourth quarter — the last points coming on Will Latta's five-yard scoring run to tie the game at 52 with just 30 seconds left to play.

Trinity Christian (4-1, 6-1) had grabbed a 28-20 halftime lead and stretched it to 46-28 after three quarters, before Priory put up 24 points in the final period to force overtime.

McDaniel, who missed the two previous games due to undisclosed reasons, carried 24 times for 303 yards and scored on runs of 65, 65 and five yards. Latta added 77 yards on 19 carries with TD runs of 25, six and five yards in addition to adding two conversions.

Brandon Zarringhalam returned a kickoff 79 yards for a touchdown in addition to intercepting two passes for Priory.

Los Altos 41, Gunn 27

In SCVAL El Camino Division action, Gunn grabbed an early 7-0 lead but that disappeared in a loss to host Los Altos as the Titans fell to 0-2 in league (1-5 overall).

Sean Lydster led Gunn with 13 carries for 95 yards and one touchdown. He also had three catches for 26 yards as quarterback Noah Riley completed nine of 17 passes for 134 yards. Forest Larson added 81 yards on the ground on 10 carries as Gunn ground out 233 yards.

On defense, Dietrich Sweat had 12 total tackles, two sacks and forced a fumble. Guy Kasznik recovered a fumble and intercepted a pass.

Gunn, however, suffered three interceptions and lost two fumbles. Los Altos threw for 336 yards and finished with 433 yards of offense.