As if opening the season with Bellarmine College Prep was not enough, the Menlo-Atherton football team now takes on a second West Catholic Athletic League opponent in Mitty.
"We're the first public school member of the WCAL,'' M-A coach Adhir Ravipati joked.
After winning the Central Coast Section Open Division I championship last year Ravipati put together a fearsome non-league schedule. After Friday's 7:30 p.m. game at Coach Parks Field the Bears travel to Salinas to play Palma and then to Los Gatos before beginning Peninsula Athletic League play.
"This will be another great challenge,'' Ravipati said of the Mitty matchup. "They're a WCAL team. I expect them to be physical, well-coached and disciplined. They will execute their system well and bring a lot of pressure.''
Mitty defensive end Nick Alftin, the brother of former Woodside volleyball standout Christine Alftin, has committed to Cal.
The Monarchs are coming off a 47-21 loss to a talented team from Sacramento High that piled up more than 500 yards of total offense, an almost unheard of total against a normally staunch defense. They will be smarting due to the nature of that defeat. Motivation will not be in short supply.
But after a 21-16 loss to Bellarmine, Ravipati's main focus will be directed internally, on his own team.
Some unusual factors contributed to the loss:
Starting safety D'Arius Gibson missed the game after being struck by a car just outside the school the previous day.
Running back Samson Motuliki missed the game after suffering an injury running through the banner held up by cheerleaders prior to the game.
Running back/linebacker Feleti Malupo did not play due to an injury in the team's scrimmage.
During the game, defensive linemen Dimitri Sakalia and Moala Tautuaa went down with injury, a factor that contributed to Bellarmine being able to make a fourth-quarter comeback from a 16-7 deficit against a gassed M-A defense.
"It was a whirlwind 24 to 48 hours,'' Ravipati said. "But Bellarmine outplayed us. We weren't disciplined, didn't execute. Things we'd been talking about since day one went out the window.''
Prior to the game Menlo-Atherton retired the No. 60 jersey worn by Aisea Mataele, a freshman lineman who tragically died last year.
Half Moon Bay at Palo Alto
Patterson shut down Palo Alto's ground game and Jackson Chryst's career-best 224 yards passing and two touchdowns were not enough to compensate as the Vikings went down to defeat in their season opener, 37-27.
"We didn't execute our run game at all,'' Palo Alto coach Danny Sullivan said. "We didn't block their ends. It's hard to win games when you turn the ball over five times.''
The run game, with two-time 1,000-yard rusher Paul Jackson III and Sione Latu returning, was expected to be Paly's strength this season.
Opposing teams, however, are also aware of that strength and stack the box to try to take it away.
"(Chryst) showed progress, but we still need more,'' Sullivan said. "We had so many chances to make Patterson pay for being aggressive in the box and didn't connect. We could have had 300 yards passing.''
Palo Alto plays its home opener Friday at 8:15 p.m. against defending CCS Division V champion Half Moon Bay, which opened its season with a 63-7 romp over Saratoga.
"They are excellent at what they do offensively,'' Sullivan said. "They execute at as high of a level as you can ask for, a November level and it's still August. Defensively they get 11 guys to the ball.''
So after the disappointing start at Patterson a team with the look of a juggernaut is up next.
"What I told the team is that there are two ways to go about this,'' Sullivan said. "Feel sorry for ourselves that we lost to a team we feel we should have beat, or pull ourselves up and understand if we execute we can be right there with any team we play.''
Sobrato at Sacred Heart Prep
Sacred Heart Prep turned in a promising performance in a 28-21 loss at perennial power San Benito. The Gators outgained the Haybalers 342-225.
"Our team showed some toughness and character,'' SHP first-year coach Mark Grieb said. "San Benito was a real good challenge for us and we hung with them every step of the way. We were on the 1-yard line with 2 1/2 minutes left but couldn't punch it in. I'm proud of the way we competed.''
The Gators rushed for 234 yards and averaged 5.7 yards per carry. Juniors Tommy Barnds (75 yards), John Willard (58) and Brian Tinsley (53) led the way. Quarterback Brad Yaffe completed 12 of 22 passes for 108 yards.
"Our line did a great job against a tough front seven,'' Grieb said of center Jake Davison, guards Nick Schlotter and Liam Shaughnessy and tackles Jack Kirkham and Robby Thompson. "We're capable of being a multi-threat offense.''
SHP plays its home opener Saturday at 10:30 a.m. against Sobrato, a 38-0 loser to Christopher in its first game.
The SH Prep frosh-soph game will be played at 8:30 a.m.
"We have done everything possible to be prepared for the weather (additional shade, additional trainers, doubling up on ice,water, etc.)," Sacred Heart Prep Athletic Director Frank Rodriguez wrote in an e-mail. "The officials will also manage the game in an appropriate manner allowing additional water breaks throughout."
Stevenson at Menlo School
Menlo School found itself embroiled in a defensive struggle in its opener, a 16-9 loss to East Nicolaus. Getting the offense going will be a big priority when Menlo hosts Robert Louis Stevenson in its home opener Saturday at 10 a.m.
"We made first-game mistakes, and it sounds a little cliche, but we've been focusing on fundamentals this week, and in a few places making sure we're working as one,'' Menlo coach Mark Newton said.
Emilio Simbeck completed 12 of 27 passes for 138 yards against East Nicolaus, a 13-1 team a year ago. But the Knights managed only 86 yards rushing. Dillon Grady was the top ball carrier with 49 yards on eight carries. Newton came up with a musical metaphor to elucidate the situation.
"(Against East Nicolaus) we did a little improvisational jazz, and we had some guys go off on a Miles Davis riff,'' Newton said. "So we need to make sure we are working as one -- more like an orchestra.''
Menlo's defense limited East Nicolaus to 238 yards total offense. Linemen JH Tevis, Mafi Latu and Ty Corley and linebackers Xavier Dickinson and Baily Deeter all stood out in what Newton termed, "a collective effort.'' Grady had a team-high nine tackles from his safety position.
Stevenson will be playing its first game and has a new coach in Kyle Cassamas, who just took over in July. So the team is a bit of a mystery. But the Pirates went 6-4 in 2016 and made the CCS playoffs for the first time in 16 years.
Carlmont at Woodside
After a loss to one PAL Lake team, Capuchino, in its season opener, Woodside takes on another, Carlmont, on Friday at 7:30 p.m. And strange as it might seem, PAL Ocean member Woodside, which had only 21 players suited up in the 26-13 loss to Capuchino, probably goes in as the underdog against Carlmont, which is coming off a 49-6 win over Arroyo.
Woodside coach Justin Andrews said he has fewer players on this year's team than ever before.
"Last year was a weird year,'' Andrews said. "We didn't have many juniors on the varsity and the JV team didn't have many sophomores. I hope this predicament passes through and we get back to the numbers we had.''
Junior quarterback Joseph King, a returning starter, passed for 207 yards and ran for 104 against Capuchino, accounting for 311 of the team's 358 yards of total offense.
"We had a lot of inconsistency with our offensive line play making for a sluggish performance by our rushing offense,'' Andrews said. "'We need to clean up a lot of things in-house. We have a lot of inexperienced players, not just new to varsity football but new to football. Hopefully they learn from their first football action and we can clean up mistakes.''
James Lick at Gunn
Gunn coach Tony Kelly has resigned, reportedly due to health reasons, one week into the 2017 season.
Brandon Boyd has been named the acting head coach for Gunn's home game Friday at 7:30 p.m. against James Lick.
Gunn fell just short last week against Soquel in a 28-25 loss. Lick, the only school in Santa Clara County to have produced a Heisman Trophy winner (Jim Plunkett, also Stanford's lone Heisman winner), has fallen on hard times. The Comets got beat by Harker, 77-6, in their home opener.
Hudson Alexander, in his first start at quarterback for Gunn, threw for 306 yards. DJ Barnes caught 11 passes for 134 yards.