It's hard to believe that football has been a big deal at Pinewood School in Los Altos Hills for a decade now, but it has. The Panthers had always been known foremost for basketball, at both the boys and girls level.
Perhaps they still are, but football is catching up.
"Eight-man football is a great sport to start the school year," said Pinewood coach Matt Irvin, who has held that position for six years. "It's fast, exciting, creative and fun.
"We have 70 boys in the entire school, and 20 of them are playing football," Irvin said. "You hit the ground running."
Pinewood finished 6-2 overall last season, but only 3-2 in the Mission Trail Athletic League; something Irvin hopes to improve. The key position is quarterback.
"Quarterback Jaeden Bailey is getting better and better each week," said Irvin. "We've been working hard in the off-season and I think he's poised to have a great season."
Irvin listed his other most versatile/key players as Jackson Haun, Connor Riches and Frank "Bo" Fick.
"Also having a great camp have been Casey Bates (DL/OL), Marcus Fox (WR/DB), and Shaun Murphy (WR/DB)," Irvin said.
Also figuring to contribute are sophomore Austin Farhoudi, junior Max Banning and Alex Dagman.
Irvin, who himself played 11-man football in high school (Addison Trail High in Addison, IL), says that he's having a blast with the 8-man game.
"It's a lot like Arena Football," Irvin said. "Quick and high scoring. Size isn't the big factor: it's more a game of quickness. I'm looking forward to a fun season."
Next game: Mission Prep (San Luis Obispo) at Pinewood, Friday, Sept. 1 at 4 p.m.
Woodside Priory (1-0)
The Panthers are led by explosive running back/defensive back Keyshawn Ashford, and if his first game is a true indication of his talent, the rest of the league should be very afraid.
Ashford, a senior (and son of East Palo Alto Phoenix Academy head coach Stephen Ashford), ran for 153 yards and four touchdowns last Friday in Priory's season opener, a 72-0 win over Cornerstone Christian of Antioch.
Ashford also grabbed a 55-yard TD pass from quarterback Adrian LaValle, who was 3-of-7 for 149 yards and two touchdowns.
Also looking to make an impact for Priory this season will be running backs Jaeden Barker, a junior, and Owen Tidmarsh, a freshman. Senior receiver/defensive back Stephen Aderoboye also caught a 55-yard TD pass in Friday's win.
Junior Matt George will contribute at several positions.
Next game: Stuart Hall (San Francisco) at Woodside Priory, Friday, Sept. 1 at 3 p.m.
East Palo Alto Phoenix Academy (0-0)
"We had a lot of leaders leave last year," said head coach Stephen Ashford, whose son, Keyshawn Ashford, plays for Woodside Priory. "So it's a rebuilding year. But we have lots of talent."
Leading the way will be junior running back Sal Rodriguez. Also, sophomore quarterback Morrise Law, senior defensive tackle Josue Perez, freshman wideout/quarterback Deonte Mckeanfirst and senior tight end Santiago Pacheco are sure to make an impact.
"Getting the kids excited about football and giving 100 percent effort, while keeping their grades up, is the number one thing right now," Ashford said. "Our motto is: 'We All We Got'."
Next game: Roseland Collegiate Prep (Santa Rosa) at The East Palo Alto Phoenix Academy, Friday, Sept. 1 at 7 p.m.