Football matchups of interest this week include Palo Alto playing on Thursday against its first public school opponent; a rivalry game taking place under the lights at Los Altos; the best team in Northern California visiting St. Francis and Menlo-Atherton taking part in the Honor Bowl at Liberty High in Brentwood.
Here's a look at this week's matchups:
Pioneer at Palo Alto, Thursday 7:30 p.m.
Originally scheduled for Friday, this game was moved to Thursday due to the referee shortage being felt across the prep football landscape.
Students are not dismissed at Paly until 4:10 p.m. on Thursday, so the starting time for the junior varsity game has been changed from 4:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. and the varsity game from 7 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Paly is coming off losses to WCAL opponents St. Ignatius and Serra. Pioneer won its opener last week 42-0 over Gunderson.
Josh Butler, Palo Alto's leading rusher the last two years, sat out the first two games with a leg injury. He is expected to play against Pioneer. The Vikings also missed safety Rocky Leitch against Serra and during that game WR/DB Leon Unga suffered a broken collarbone.
"Such a tough break for a great kid, a hard worker who was part of our three-man rotation at corner and wide receiver,'' Palo Alto coach Nelson Gifford said of Unga. "Now the question becomes, who is willing to step up and make plays?''
In Butler's absence, Paly received a contribution from Tobey Lau, who started the school year in Hawaii. Public schools in Hawaii have still not received the go-ahead to start playing football. Lau had already missed an entire season due to the pandemic, and his father, a Paly graduate, didn't want his son to go through a second year of distance learning and no football. So he made the move to the mainland, Lau enrolled at Paly and received eligibility clearance to play football.
"We have to cherish the opportunity to play and recognize how special it is to be out there,'' Gifford said.
Mountain View at Los Altos, Friday 7 p.m.
These schools are natural rivals, members of the same school district. But Mountain View is a program on its way up, in the SCVAL's De Anza Division, while Los Altos is in the El Camino Division.
"That stuff doesn't matter,'' Mountain View coach Shelley Smith said. "It's a rivalry game, a big game for both schools.''
"We're big underdogs,'' Los Altos coach Dave DeGeronimo said. "We're going to do our best to try to close that gap.''
The players on the two teams are plenty familiar with each other.
"They went to elementary school and middle school together, played Little League baseball together,'' Smith said.
Lights were installed at both campuses prior to the 2020 season, so this will be the first night game at Los Altos in a traditional fall football season.
Mountain View is 1-1 after beating The King's Academy 31-0 and losing to Mitty 35-34.
Mountain View has played eight full quarters of football, while the Eagles have played a quarter and a half. Their season opener at Independence was called due to bad air quality with six minutes left in the second quarter. Los Altos was leading 13-0 at that point and received credit for the win. Then the home opener with San Lorenzo Valley was postponed until Oct. 22 due to covid issues at SLV.
So Los Altos has been hit by the double whammy of the virus and bad air quality already in a season that is only two weeks old.
Los Altos will need to find a way to deal with the Mountain View ground-based offense that had a lot of success against the defensive fronts of two teams from top leagues, TKA of the PAL Bay, and Mitty from the WCAL.
"The best way to do it is to get first downs and keep their offense off the field,'' DeGeronimo said. "Our one advantage is having extra time to prepare for them. We will use every advantage we can and give it everything we've got. It should be a fun night.''
There's also a trophy at stake.
"The Pride Trophy,'' Smith said. "It's similar to the Axe.''
De La Salle at St. Francis, Friday 7:30 p.m.
The Lancers had an easy time of it last week in their season opener, beating up on Oak Grove 55-0.
Forget about anything easy this week. De La Salle, which hasn't lost to a Northern California team in nearly 30 years, has outscored its first two opponents by a combined 120-22. Last week DLS rushed the ball 62 times for 609 yards in a 68-6 win over Monterey Trail.
"They're going to contest everything you do,'' St. Francis coach Greg Calcagno said. "And perform with great execution everything they do.''
Calcagno is speaking from past experience. The two teams played every year from 2017 to 2019 with DLS coming out on top by scores of 31-7, 33-15 and 48-0
A problem everyone faces as a game with De La Salle approaches is how to simulate the veer offense the Spartans run in practice.
"You watch film and try to emulate it the best you can,'' Calcagno said. "If you can't get up for this game what can you get up for?''
Andrew Hill at Gunn, Friday 7 p.m.
After being held without a touchdown against Monterey, Gunn got its double-wing ground game going against Sequoia, rushing for 411 yards in a 49-28 victory.
"It's such an inexperienced group,'' Gunn coach Jason Miller said of his team. "They're improving day by day, play by play. We want to mature into a more physical team as the season wears on.''
Against Sequoia all four backfield members contributed. Kevin Green carried 14 times for 155 yards, wingback Filippi Montes seven carries for 106 yards, quarterback James Lambert nine for 98 and fullback Jack Oralevich seven for 52.
Andrew Hill lost its season opener last Friday to Cupertino, 33-13.
"They're athletic and tall like they recruited a basketball team,'' Miller said.
Aragon at Woodside, Friday 7 p.m.
Woodside is 1-1 after defeating a Rancho San Juan team playing its first ever varsity game, 22-14. Wide receiver Marco Parodi caught two touchdown passes and had 135 yards in receptions. Linebacker Anthony Colocho was in on 12 tackles, seven solo.
Aragon is 0-2 following lopsided losses to Homestead (52-6) and Leland (45-13).
But Aragon, a member of the mid-level PAL Ocean Division, is surely looking at the game against Woodside of the bottom-tier PAL Lake as an opportunity to right itself and break into the win column.
"We're definitely anticipating a challenge,'' Woodside coach Justin Andrews said. "Their first two games were against pretty solid teams.''
Aragon, during a five-year stretch in the mid-2000s, was the dominant program in the entire Peninsula Athletic League. The current state of the program is illustrative of how difficult it can be to maintain a high-level program at a public school.
"At Woodside we've gone through similar challenges,'' Andrews said. The Wildcats made CCS championship game appearances in 1996 and 1999 and won a CCS title in 2004 with Julian Edelman playing quarterback. "Demographics have changed, we're not getting the number of football kids we used to get.''
Capuchino at Sequoia, Friday 7 p.m.
Sequoia, in dire need of defensive improvement, has allowed 119 points in its first two games.
Coach Rob Poulos scheduled three of his four non-league games against teams from the PAL Ocean, hoping his team would fare well in those games and earn an opportunity to move up next year from the Lake to the Ocean.
Capuchino is 1-1 after losing to Burlingame from the PAL Bay, 35-0, and beating El Camino, a PAL Lake team, 41-3.
Mission (S.F.) at Menlo School, Saturday 2 p.m.
The Menlo aerial attack has put up incredible numbers the first two games of the season. Quarterbacks Sergio Beltran and Jake Bianchi have each completed 78 percent of their passes. They've combined to throw for 801 yards with 16 touchdowns as opposed to one interception. Menlo has scored 112 points in wins over Sequoia and The King's Academy while allowing 18, for an average score of 56-9.
Expect more of the same Saturday as Mission (0-2) has yet to score a point in losses to Oakland Tech (42-0) and Armijo of Fairfield (6-0).
Menlo-Atherton vs. Pleasant Valley (Chico), Saturday 4 p.m. at Liberty (Brentwood)
The Bears are participating in the Northern California Honor Bowl, a fundraiser for wounded veterans, in one of four games being played at Liberty on Friday (Campolindo vs. Liberty-Brentwood, 7 p.m.), and Saturday (Clovis East vs. Heritage, noon), (M-A vs. Pleasant Valley, 4 p.m.) and (Clayton Valley vs. Liberty-Bakersfield, 7:30 p.m.).
M-A is 0-2 after losses to Bellarmine and Tualatin of Oregon. The Bears are averaging 37 points per game but are allowing an average of 50 per contest.
Pleasant Valley, which went 4-1 last spring and had four 10-win seasons in a six-year span between 2014 and 2019, is coming off a 38-21 loss to Yuba City.