Sports


Bears are motivated for football game against Burlingame

 

Motivation is in plentiful supply for the Menlo-Atherton football team this week.

All M-A has to do is take a trip down memory lane to the last time they played Burlingame.

It was the final Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division game of the 2015 season on Nov. 6 at Burlingame. All the Bears had to do was win and the PAL Bay title was solely theirs to own.

Burlingame won 14-0 and captured a share of the championship along with M-A and Sacred Heart Prep.

"We've been waiting for this game for a year,'' M-A coach Adhir Ravipati said. "We went into that game over-confident. It left a bad taste in our mouth. We're looking forward to this. For the kids there is a lot of motivation. It's the job of the coaches to tap into that.''

Menlo-Atherton (3-2, 1-0) hosts Burlingame (3-2, 1-0) on Friday at 7 p.m.

M-A is on a three-game winning streak and defeated Terra Nova 28-8 in its PAL Bay opener. Burlingame is coming off a 14-7 win over Sacred Heart Prep.

"Burlingame is much better than their record shows,'' Ravipati said. "They tackle well and play their assignments with the right technique. They've been impressive to watch on film.''

Against Terra Nova the Bears turned in their best defensive game of the year, holding a traditionally explosive Terra Nova team without an offensive touchdown. Linemen Epeli Mataele and Noa Ngalu, linebackers Christian Wiseman and Stavro Papadakis and the entire secondary turned in outstanding performances.

Running back Jordan Mims was ejected late in the Terra Nova game and his status was in jeopardy for Burlingame. But an appeal filed by M-A was approved and Mims, who has rushed for 703 yards and averaged 8.3 yards per carry, was cleared to play.

"The refs saw a punch but clearly there was no punch on film'' M-A athletic director Steven Kryger told the Palo Alto Weekly.

Burlingame lost a lot to graduation off last year's team, but has been effective following its time-honored script of having numerous players share carries in its Wing-T offense.

The Panthers average 297 yards rushing per game. Alex Meredith is the team leader with 537 yards.

Palo Alto (2-4, 1-1) has a seemingly arduous task at hand with a game at Santa Clara Valley Athletic League De Anza Division favorite Milpitas on Friday at 7.

The Vikings are coming off a 35-21 loss to Saratoga. Milpitas suffered its first loss of the season its last time out, 23-13 to Los Gatos, and might be expected to take out its frustrations on Paly.

Palo Alto first-year coach Danny Sullivan has deep roots in the Los Gatos program as a player and coach.

"It would be nice to copy a page from the Los Gatos playbook,'' Sullivan said. "But where we are as a program ... We have to try to compete with these teams. This week at practice the players have been extremely determined. I've seen a spark that hasn't been there.''

Milpitas (5-1, 1-1) is without doubt the biggest team in the league with the most athleticism. The Trojans have a 49-28 win over a highly-regarded Antioch team on their resume.

"Our big-boy pants need to go on this week,'' Sullivan said. "We got hammered by them twice (40-13 and 42-0) last year. It's important to these kids, for their confidence, that we can play better then we've been playing.''

Paul Jackson III, who had 621 yards rushing through Palo Alto's first five games, did not play against Saratoga and is not expected back this week.

However, Bryant Jefferson and Jordan Schilling are expected back and possibly Troy Henderson as well. Henderson has missed the entire season thus far.

"Those are three seniors who can give us a spark,'' Sullivan said.

Sione Latu rushed for 172 yards against the Falcons, doing a nice job filling in for Jackson.

Getting the passing game going is a primary need. The team has completed 37 of 114 passes on the season, 32.5 percent.

Woodside (4-1, 0-1) is coming off a 29-28 loss to Sequoia and now has to travel to PAL Ocean favorite Half Moon Bay.

"We're obviously disappointed but we understand going into league we can't spot teams 15 points in the first half,'' Woodside coach Justin Andrews said. Sequoia led 15-0 at the half and 22-7 after three quarters. "We made it close at the end but we've got to focus on executing from the start and not allow ourselves to fall behind.''

Half Moon Bay (5-0, 1-0) built a big lead and held on against Menlo.

"They did exactly what you've come to expect from them,'' Andrews said. "They compel you to play their style of football. If you make any mistakes their style will punish you, smother you as the game goes on.''

Half Moon Bay's base formation is the spread Wing-T. A scrum formation is also utilized in most every game.

"They give you a whole lot of looks and they execute flawlessly,'' Andrews said. "We can't get lost in all the misdirection things they do.''

Sacred Heart Prep, which played in a state bowl game a year ago, dropped to 0-5 with a 14-7 loss to Burlingame in its PAL Bay opener.

"It was 7-7 with five minutes to go,'' SHP coach Pete Lavorato said. "We had a first down at the 16, but didn't score. We got it back on our 30 but fumbled. They scored with a minute to go. It was a tough game to lose. The defense played very well.''

Isoa Moimoi saw his first action of the season against Burlingame and rushed for 67 yards on 15 carries.

"He's still not 100 percent,'' Lavorato said of the leading returning offensive performer from last year's team. "But he played well, he played his heart out.''

The Gators take on Aragon (4-1, 0-0) in a home game Friday at 7.

"Aragon is very athletic,'' Lavorato said. "It's going to be a challenge. Every game is a challenge. It would just be nice to get a win. It's tough being 0-5, but it's OK. You have to look at this as an opportunity to stand up and keep playing hard. When you're winning it's easy. When you're losing, that's another story.''

Menlo School (4-1, 0-1), after a 36-27 loss to Half Moon Bay, plays at The King's Academy (4-1, 0-1). TKA lost to South San Francisco 40-7 in its opener.

SSF, after losing its first three games, two to PAL Lake teams, has turned it around in a big way with a 49-40 win over Burlingame and the rout over TKA in which mega-prospect Michael Johnson Jr. was held to 2 of 16 passing for 20 yards.

Gunn (2-4, 0-2) will look to get back on the winning side of the ledger when it plays at Monta Vista (2-4, 0-2) on Friday at 7.

After going 2-2 in nonleague play the Titans lost to two of the better SCVAL El Camino teams the last two weeks, Fremont (49-21) and Cupertino (42-14).

Etienne Daadi leads the team in rushing with 379 yards and a 5.3 per carry average. Edmond Wu has completed 46 of 90 passes for 537 yards and eight touchdowns.

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