Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - August 31, 2012

Sports Shorts

A WINNER . . . The Palo Alto Knights opened the 2012 American Youth Football season on the road last Sunday with all five teams playing the always strong Sacramento Raiders. The Knights managed just one victory on the day. The three-time defending NorCal champion Jr. Midgets (11-13 years old) picked up that victory by defeating the Raiders, 14-12. Palo Alto is ranked No. 11 in the nation in the 2012 AYF Preseason Power Rankings for Division I. Palo Alto took the opening kickoff and drove 68 yards, scoring on a three-yard run by Logan Johnson with Luca Zaharias adding the two-point PAT. The Knights' offense continued to move the ball on the ground with strong running from Ben Cleasby and Jordan Schilling. It was Schilling scoring the Knights' second touchdown on a 13-yard run for a 14-0 lead. With the Knights threatening to score with 56 seconds left in the first half, a pass by Johnson pass was intercepted in the end zone and returned 100 yards for a Raiders' touchdown.

The Knights played solid defense after that and held the Raiders to 46 yards of total offense until 1:36 was left in the game. That's when the Raiders broke a 43-yard run to come within two points before the Knights shut down the extra-point attempt. The Palo Alto Jr. Midgets return 21 players from their 2011 Pee Wee team that won the NorCal championship and earned a berth to the AYF National Championships in Orlando, Fla.

Also on Sunday, the Knights' Cadets (7-9) lost in a close battle, 16-13, while the Jr. Pee Wee's, Tiny Mites and Midgets also dropped their openers. All five Palo Alto teams will return to action on Saturday against the Oakland Dynamites at Oakland Tech High, starting at 8 a.m.

OAKS' NOTES . . . The Mark Speckman era at Menlo College kicked off with a bang on Saturday, as the Oaks scored three second-half touchdowns and came away with a 28-13 nonconference victory over the University of British Columbia in Canada. Menlo trailed 13-7 midway through the third, but found a way to rattle off three rushing touchdowns, including two in the fourth quarter, to score the game's final 21 points. The Oaks (1-0) travel to perennial NCAA DIII powerhouse Linfield College on Saturday for a 12:30 p.m. kickoff. Menlo has never beaten the Wildcats and is winless in 13 chances all-time. That could change after an impressive ground attack was the story in Speckman's coaching debut for the Oaks, who racked up 230 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. Junior wide receiver Michael Alexander led the charge with three of the four scores and 84 rushing yards . . . The Menlo College women's volleyball team will be out to keep its perfect season intact when the Oaks compete in the Concordia Asics/Wyndham Hotel Labor Day Tournament this weekend in Irvine.The Oaks will take on 24th-ranked Westmont on Saturday afternoon before squaring off against San Diego Christian that night. Menlo began its 2012 season in dominating fashion this past weekend, rolling off wins in all three matches at the Holiday Inn Express Invitational hosted by UC Merced. Menlo took care of business on Friday with a three-set sweep of West Coast Baptist, before earning two hard-fought, five-set victories over Oregon Tech and Embry Riddle. The 3-0 start marks the best opening in the Menlo career of third-year head coach Daniel Rasay, as well as the best start for the program in at least 10 years.

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