by Pete Borello
It appears Palo Alto's chances of reaching the postseason depend on back strength--as in strong efforts from running backs Steve Torgersen and Sam Milroy. That's what it took to beat Milpitas last week and that's what it likely will take to overcome Saratoga this Friday. It won't be easy to run against a stout Saratoga defense when the teams meet under the lights at Los Gatos High--kickoff is 7:30 p.m.--but it will be necessary.
"We have to be able to run," Paly coach Earl Hansen said. "We have to run the ball well to be a winner."
Even though the Vikings are 2-2 in De Anza Division play (3-4 overall), they are not out of the playoff picture. The division title may be out of reach, but Paly still could earn an at-large bid. This probably will require winning the final three games on the schedule.
And Torgersen and Milroy are key players in Paly's quest for a Central Coast Section berth. They proved that by accounting for most of the offense in the Vikings' 21-20 Homecoming win over Milpitas (0-3 division, 4-3 overall) last Friday.
Torgersen, a junior halfback, arguably had the most important outing of his career as he rushed 18 times for 107 yards and two touchdowns. Milroy, a senior fullback, had 16 carries for 65 yards and a touchdown. He also was the team's leading receiver with four catches for 20 yards. In all, this duo totaled 192 of the 220 offensive yards Paly gained on the cold, overcast afternoon.
The Vikings' passing game was nearly nonexistent. Senior quarterback Peter Hansen completed seven of 13 passes for 31 yards and tossed a pair of interceptions. Hansen, however, had little time to throw against an aggressive Milpitas defense that blitzed with regularity. Linebacker Dawlyn Flowers pedaled in for three of the Trojans' four sacks and chased Hansen from the pocket a few other times.
While Paly's offensive line had trouble keeping Hansen on his feet, it provided Torgersen and Milroy with plenty of holes--especially inside.
"Our strength was running off tackle," Milroy said. "We decided to take advantage of it until (Milpitas) figured it out, but I don't think they ever did."
Junior tackle Scottie Powell and senior tight end Dan Millman were responsible for creating the majority of the running lanes.
"Those guys blocked their tails off," coach Hansen said. Milroy and Torgersen also made some nice blocks for one another.
"We both try hard to block for each other," Torgersen said. "It's something we really take pride in."
And to think, their effort almost went for naught. That's because Milpitas nearly snatched the game away on the final play of the day.
The Vikings appeared to have the victory in hand when Torgersen's 4-yard touchdown run gave them a 21-14 lead with 1:18 remaining. But the Trojans refused to give up, as quarterback Adam Perez quickly picked his way down field by completing several out passes. He capped the drive by connecting with Joey Robinson on a 9-yard pass at the goal line as time expired. Paly defensive back R.J. Jones leveled Robinson as he made the catch, but the receiver still was able to get into the end zone.
Milpitas then went for two points and the win, but tight end Steve Tammores dropped the conversion pass at the back of the end zone. This was followed by a huge sigh of relief from the Vikings, who will take any win they can get at this point.
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