After snapping a four-game losing streak with a 14-13 win over Terra Nova, Sacred Heart Prep takes a road trip several blocks from campus to Menlo-Atherton for a Friday night matchup between Athertonian institutions.
SHP (2-4, 1-1 PAL Bay) goes into this one as a decided underdog. The Gators haven't beaten M-A since a 31-21 win in 2014. Even in 2015, when they went on to win NorCal and CCS championships, M-A pulled out a 17-14 victory in the head-to-head matchup.
"We've played different styles of games with them,'' SHP coach Mark Grieb said. "Some years we've been able to move the ball against them, other years they've shut us down. One thing has remained the same: they beat us.''
M-A (4-2, 1-0) has won four in a row this season, the latest being a wild 47-46 win at Half Moon Bay in which Matt MacLeod completed 25 of 29 passes for 391 yards and four touchdowns. He's thrown 19 touchdown passes on the season with two interceptions and 47 for his career against four picks.
"He's the best quarterback in the Bay Area,'' admittedly biased M-A coach Chris Saunders said.
The Bears have scored 30 points or more in every game this season, so offense is not their issue. Opposing teams, however, have scored 44 or more three times.
Injuries played a part last Friday, and Saunders said he expects linemen Dane Fifita and Semisi Vainikolo back this week as well as linebackers Andrew Buck and Sosaia Pongi.
"It goes deeper than that,'' Saunders said of the injuries. "We've got to do a better job defending the run, making tackles. It was tough watching film. Even when we were doing everything right their quarterback was bouncing off guys.''
Sacred Heart Prep has played lower scoring games, scoring 104 and allowing 113 points in six games. The team's four losses are by a combined 17 points.
Keeping the game low scoring and close might not be all that easy against M-A.
"Their receivers can turn a normal play into a big touchdown,'' Grieb said. "We will need to protect the football, execute, be disciplined and handle their physicality and speed. They're in a league of their own.''
Menlo School at Aragon, Friday, 7 p.m.
Menlo (6-0, 2-0) passed one test with a 55-21 win over Hillsdale and now faces another one in an Aragon team that has won four in a row after starting 0-2.
"I wouldn't even recognize that team that lost to Homestead,'' Aragon coach Steve Sell said of a lopsided loss in the season opener. "We have different personnel and what we're doing on offense is different.''
Going back to the Wing-T the program utilized for years, Aragon rushed for over 400 yards last week in a win over Carlmont. Lead back Solomone Hokafonu has scored 15 touchdowns this season.
"He can score from anywhere on the field,'' Sell said.
Menlo's defense will also need to keep an eye on running backs Ivan Nisa and Alan Tanielu and wide receiver Lloyd Waller.
"Their front line is five monsters who can move,'' Menlo coach Todd Smith said. "They're the most physical team I've seen.''
Menlo, with its prolific passing attack, has scored 286 points in six games, an average of 47 per outing, while allowing fewer than 10 points per game.The only relatively close game Menlo has played was a 15-6 win over Terra Nova. The other five games have all been blowouts.
QB Sergio Beltran has completed 77 percent of his passes for 1,668 yards with 30 touchdowns and four interceptions.
"We're going to go Air Beltran on them,'' Smith said.
Los Altos at Saratoga, Thursday, 7 p.m.
Los Altos (3-2, 2-0) is tied for first place with Cupertino in the SCVAL El Camino Division after a 34-7 win over Gunn, and now prepares itself to face an unusual, to say the least, stretch of the schedule. The Eagles go to Saratoga on Thursday before playing two make-ups of postponed games next week at home, Monday with Fremont and Saturday against San Lorenzo Valley
That's three games in nine days.
Against Gunn, the Los Altos defense turned in a staunch performance against a team that was scoring over 50 points per game in its previous four games. Linebackers Lance Kluge and Leo Goebel along with defensive ends Rafael Arce and Fady Youssef were singled out for special mention by coach Dave DeGeronimo.
On offense, sophomore QB Jimmy Flynn threw a pair of touchdown passes to Cole Rafferty and Min Park rushed for 162 yards.
Saratoga (1-5, 1-1), which had a bye last week, lost to Gunn 49-0 its last time out.
Los Gatos at Palo Alto, Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Palo Alto is coming off a bye and hopes, after getting some players healthy, to give the Los Gatos juggernaut a competitive game. The closest margin of victory for Los Gatos (7-0, 3-0) in any of its seven wins this season has been 21 points.
"As good a team in the CCS as there is,'' Paly coach Nelson Gifford said. "It's a tall task. We have to play at the level we're capable of. We can't shoot ourselves in the foot.''
The Vikings (3-3, 1-1) started the season 0-2, won three in a row including a 63-13 win over Santa Clara in their SCVAL De Anza Division opener, then was flat in a 39-18 loss to Homestead.
Los Gatos beat Santa Clara 35-0 and Homestead 37-0 the past two weeks.
"This whole year has been up and down,'' Gifford said. "I have to do a better job. It all starts with me.''
Lynbrook at Gunn, Friday, 7 p.m.
After suffering its first El Camino Division loss since 2019, Gunn (4-2, 1-1) will look to bounce back against an improved Lynbrook team.
After three consecutive last-place 0-6 fall seasons in divisional play, Lynbrook (3-4, 1-2) got a win over Monta Vista last week. Running back Michael Wu has already gone over the 1,000-yard mark rushing in six games.
Neither team passes much. Gunn is averaging 273 yards rushing and 48 yards passing per game.
"The physicality Los Altos played with was too much for our young line,'' Gunn coach Jason Miller said of his team's loss last Friday. "They kept us off the field, gave us very few chances and made our offense stagnant. Still, all our goals are in front of us.''
Mountain View at Homestead, Friday, 7 p.m.
The Spatans had a battle on their hands last week before pulling out a 21-14 win over Santa Clara.
"Give Santa Clara a lot of credit,'' Mountain View coach Shelley Smith said. "They played their best game of the year and we didn't play our best game. We've got to put it behind us.''
Mountain View (4-2, 2-1) is tied for second place in the De Anza Division with Wilcox. Homestead (3-3, 1-1) is tied with Paly, a half game behind.
Both teams run a Wing-T offense.
"We have to be at our best to compete with them,'' Smith said. "Homestead's coach thinks he can take it to us. We're very similar on offense although we might be out of the 'gun a little more. We know their offense pretty well and they know our offense pretty well.''
Mountain View is averaging 269 yards per game rushing. Leo Navarro has a team-best 534 yards on the ground and 9.1 yards per carry. QB Jackson Steffen has passed for 11 touchdowns and has yet to throw an interception. Steffen also has rushed for 440 yards, Min Kant for 395 and Dillon Daniels for 301.
Riordan at St. Francis, Friday, 7 p.m.
St. Francis (5-0, 3-0) has to make sure it doesn't look past Riordan to next week's rivalry game with Bellarmine.
Riordan (4-2, 1-2), under the direction of former Sacred Heart Prep defensive coordinator Mark Modeste, has only lost to Serra and Bellarmine.
"They're pretty physical and have some talent,'' St. Francis coach Greg Calcagno said.
The St. Francis offense has come to revolve around running back Viliami (JuJu) Teu, who rushed for 284 yards in the win over Valley Christian. Teu has 942 yards rushing on the season and has gained 185 or more in each of the last four games.
San Mateo at Sequoia, Friday, 7 p.m.
This is a matchup of the two unbeaten teams in PAL Lake Division play. But San Mateo (6-0, 2-0) will go in as a clear favorite.
"They're very impressive with a couple of defensive linemen who look like monsters,'' Sequoia coach Rob Poulos said of Semisi Latu (6-2, 280) and Titi Fungavaka (5-11, 290). "On offense they run downhill. We'll need to stop that fullback (Tevita Kioa) and keep him from wreaking havoc.''
Sequoia (2-4, 1-0) has a divisional win over Mills, 27-0. San Mateo beat Mills last week 34-0.