Palo Alto and Sacred Heart Prep opened the 2015 high school football season with impressive nonleague victories on Friday night. The Vikings rolled to a 54-28 win over visiting Sequoia while the Gators thumped host Leland, 47-7.
Palo Alto, which struggled to a 3-7 record last year, got the new year off to a good start by rushing for 405 yards.
"We do have the stable of four very good backs," said Palo Alto second-year head coach Jake Halas. "A young sophomore, Paul Jackson III, broke off a few. We have a junior, Christian Rider. A couple seniors, Tony Caballero and Shaun Pike. We just mix it up, and they all have their own attributes and they all got a lot of reps today."
Within three minutes of the first quarter, the Paly offense started flowing when senior QB Justin Hull found senior Eli Givens for a 48-yard touchdown and 7-0 lead. Hull completed nine passes for 153 yards and three scores, including a pair of 20-yard TDs to Riley Schoeben.
The Cherokees kept it close in the second quarter when running back Faavae Brown bulldozed his way in for a two-yard touchdown making it a 13-12 Viking edge going into halftime. Brown finished with 96 total yards including two touchdowns.
In the third quarter, the Cherokees took their first lead. Nick Demarco connected with Aiai Brown and took it 37 yards for the touchdown and Sequoia took a 20-14 lead. Brown was stellar and finished with 138 yards and two touchdowns.
Sequoia didn't have the lead for long, as Palo Alto scored on its second play of the drive. Paul Jackson III took off down the sideline and scored a 63-yard touchdown and the Vikings took a 21-20 lead. He led the Vikings with 145 yards on 11 carries.
Paly senior Tony Caballero-Santana ran home for a four-yard touchdown and gave Palo Alto a 28-20 advantage. Caballero-Santana was solid all game and ran for 128 yards and two touchdowns.
"Oh man, the O-line," said Caballero-Santana. "Without them, I would've had nothing so I'm glad they opened up the holes for me. They were solid and they did all the work."
Caballero-Santana and Jackson III combined for 273 of Palo Alto's 405 rushing yards.
Hull put the game out of reach in the fourth quarter by scoring on a two-yard run for a 48-28 lead.
The Vikings made it 54-28 when Caballero-Santana found space and went 36 yards for a touchdown.
"We're a lot more experienced and a lot more focused this year," said Hull. "We just have to keep practicing hard. We made a lot of little mistakes so we just need to cut down on those, learn from those and keep getting better."
Sacred Heart Prep 47, Leland 7
With seniors Mason Randall, Andrew Daschbach, Nick O'Donnell and Lapitu Mahoni leading the way on offense, the defending CCS Open Division champion Gators rolled to a convincing nonleague victory to open the 2015 season.
The triumph extended SHP's two-year winning streak to 14 straight, following last year's 13-0 season.
Randall completed 11 of 16 passes for 223 yards and four touchdowns, in addition to scoring once on a one-yard run. Daschbach and O'Donnell each caught two TD passes.
Daschbach had scoring receptions of 52 and 22 yards and finishing with four catches for 112 yards. O'Donnell gave SHP an early 7-0 lead with a 35-yard TD reception and later caught a 14-yard TD pass as the Gators rolled to a 26-0 halftime lead. O'Donnell finished with four receptions for 70 yards.
Mahoni led the ground game with 124 rushing yards, scoring on runs of 43 and one yard as SHP improved to 39-3 since the start of the 2012 season. Thomas Wine added 41 yards rushing for the Gators, who have won three straight Central Coast Section titles and four in the past five years.
Defensively, the Gators recovered three fumbles. Blake Marcus led the way with 11 tackles and one fumble recovery. Cameron Dulsky came up with nine tackles and a fumble recovery while Milan Baldini also recovered a fumble in addition to having six tackles. Zane Elsafy (eight tackles) and Brian O'Kelley (seven tackles) also stood out defensively.