Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - September 21, 2012

Palo Alto, Gunn renew their football rivalry

by Keith Peters

Over the past nine years, Palo Alto has beaten Gunn in their annual football rivalry by an average score of 40-9. Not surprisingly, the Vikings have won all nine.

That streak will be on the line when the teams meet on Friday at Palo Alto's Hod Ray Field in a nonleague tussle at 7:30 p.m.

At stake for Paly is not only the streak, but its reputation as the dominant football program in the city. The teams have met 47 straight years, with the Vikings winning 34 times. Gunn last won (40-19) in 2002. Paly finished only 5-5 that season while the Titans went 7-3.

Palo Alto comes into Friday's game with a 1-1 mark following a 28-27 setback to Mitty last week, whle Gunn is 2-1 after its 35-28 loss to Capuchino. More telling than those results is one number — 494. That's the amount of rushing yards the Titans gave up to running back Justin Ewing.

That brings up the question, can the Titans stop the Vikings?

Paly senior running back Matt Tolbert gained 111 yards on 15 carries against Mitty after getting 221 the week before in a win over San Benito. He leads a rushing attack that is averaging 213 yards a game.

If Tolbert and his mates aren't enough to deal with, Gunn will be facing one of the top young quarterbacks in the Bay Area in junior Keller Chryst. He was credited with 338 yards on 18-of-37 passing with two touchdowns last week. He has thrown for 569 yards and six touchdowns in just two games. Junior wideout Malcolm Davis appears to be this season's B.J. Boyd after his nine catches for 241 yards last week. The Vikings are averaging 497.5 yards a game.

If Gunn coach Dan Navarro isn't concerned, he should be. The Titans need to be at their very best to keep this one close. Navarro, in his second season at Gunn, has enjoyed success against Paly in the past during his days as head coach at Mountain View. He beat the Vikings six times with one tie, with a noteworthy 32-9 win in 1980 when Jim Harbaugh was a junior QB for the Vikings.

Unfortunately for the Titans, they appear outgunned and outmanned despite early success this season.

Palo Alto is in its 103rd year of playing football while Gunn is in its 48th.

In other local prep games Friday:

Menlo-Atherton (1-2) looks to rebound from back-to-back lopsided losses in its first home game of the season as the Bears take on South San Francisco (1-2) at 3:15 p.m. M-A dropped a 31-7 nonleague decision to host St. Ignatius last week as the Bears gave up 454 total yards.

On Friday night, Priory (2-0) will visit Alma Heights Christian (6:30 p.m.) in eight-man action. The Panthers romped to a 54-6 win over El Sobrante Christian last week behind two TD passes and one rushing score from quarterback Tom Latta.

Menlo School, meanwhile, will put its 2-0 record on the line at Half Moon Bay (1-2) in nonleague action at 7 p.m. The Knights are averaging a gaudy 58 points a game, but should be tested for the first time by the Cougars of the PAL Bay Division.

On Saturday, Sacred Heart Prep (3-0) will play host to King's Academy after scoring a school-record 70 points in a shutout of woeful Los Altos last week. The Gators, who got 187 rushing yards from backup Ricky Grau, are averaging 42.6 points a game and giving up only three per outing.

This weekend

Many of the top girls' volleyball and water polo teams in the Central Coast Section will congregate on the Menlo School campus this weekend for a pair of tournaments -- the annual Chris Chandler Invitational and the 18th annual Amanda MacDonald Girls Water Tournament.

The two-day MacDonald water polo event includes 2011 CCS Division I finalist St. Francis, 2011 CCS Division II finalist Los Altos, 2011 CCS Division II semifinalist Burlingame, 2010 CCS Division I champ Menlo-Atherton, and 2010 semifinalists St. Ignatius and Castilleja. Also in the mix is 2011 North Coast Section Division II runner-up Campolindo.

The Gold Division title match will be Saturday at 2:50 p.m., followed by the Blue Division finals at 4:10 p.m.

The volleyball includes 2011 CCS Division V champ Castilleja and runner-up Prior plus CCS Division IV champ Soquel. Action begins at 8:30 a.m., with pool play ending at 1:30 p.m. With Menlo playing San Mateo and Priory facing San Benito. The championship match is set for 5 p.m. Menlo finished second in the tourney last year.

In a tuneup for the tournament, junior Marine Hall-Poirier led the way with 14 kills as Priory kept its recent win streak intact with a 25-9, 25-11, 25-20 nonleague victory over visiting St. Thomas More on Wednesday. Senior Briana Willhite added 12 kills and joined with Hall-Poirier to hit over .500. Stephanie Brugger hit a season-high .670 and the Panthers added nine service aces.

Girls' golf

One day after winning its first-ever league match, Gunn made it two straight as sophomore Anna Zhou fired a 1-under-par 36 and junior Jayshree Sarathy added a 41 to pace the Titans to a 228-408 romp over visiting Lincoln in a Blossom Valley Athletic League dual match on Wednesday at the par-37 Palo Alto Municipal Golf Course. Tiffany Yang added a 44 for the Titans (2-0, 4-1) while Lianna McFarlane (53) and Sandra Herchen (54) rounded out the scoring. Gunn will face Sacred Heart Prep on Monday in a nonleague match at Sharon Heights CC.

Water polo

Senior Bret Hinrichs poured in five goals to pace the Sacred Heart Prep boys to a 10-3 victory over host Valley Christian in West Catholic Athletic League action on Wednesday. Senior goalie Will Runkel needed only seven saves to help the Gators improve to 2-0 in league (4-3 overall).

In Atherton, juniors Camile Zelinger and Morgan McCracken each scored three goals as host Sacred Heart Prep overpowered Valley Christian, 14-2, in a WCAL match. The Gators (2-0, 4-3) also got eight saves from junior goalie Kelly Moran.

In Mountain View, Menlo-Atherton had a better record than St. Francis at last weekend's St. Francis Invitational, bu that meant little to the Lancers on Wednesday as they toppled the Bears, 12-5, in a nonleague match. M-A (4-2) kept the match close at halftime before St. Francis (5-2) scored five goals in the third period to pull away. Bears' goalie Sierra Sheeper was under fire throughout the game and came up with 15 saves. Jenna Swartz scored three goals and Jessica Heilman added two.

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