After a touchback on the opening kickoff Menlo-Atherton lined up for its first play from scrimmage at the 20-yard line. A bad snap from center resulted in quarterback Miles Conrad being tackled in the end zone for a safety, giving Mitty a 2-0 lead.
What a start. And what an indication of what was to come.
Flash forward to the fourth quarter. Menlo-Atherton was trying to rally from a 30-23 deficit. Conrad connected with Spencer Corona on a 34-yard pass completion and with freshman Troy Franklin on a 29-yarder, giving the Bears a first down and goal at the Mitty 1-yard line.
On the first play, another ground-ball snap. Conrad picked it up and tried to still execute the play, a handoff to the running back. But with the timing of the play off there was a fumble on the exchange, Mitty recovered, and the Monarchs held on for the win.
Menlo-Atherton is now 0-2 after a second consecutive game in which a West Catholic Athletic League opponent made far fewer mistakes. But 0-2 is not unfamiliar for the Bears. Last year they started 0-2 and then reeled off 12 wins in a row, capturing Peninsula Athletic League, Central Coast Section and Northern California championships in the process.
“We’ll be OK,’’ M-A coach Adhir Ravipati said. “We scheduled this way so we could get better. We’ve had two learning lessons. A lot of guys have gotten valuable playing time that will help us in the long run.’’
M-A never led in the game, trailing 16-3 in the first half, battling back to tie 16-16, then trailed 30-16 in the second half before making its late rally.
The bad snaps were a huge problem throughout the game. M-A got great results when it was able to run its offense. Running backs Jhavante Hill (nine carries, 95 yards) and Kilifi Leaaetoa (eight carries 94 yards) tore off big runs. Conrad threw for 305 yards. Favorite receiver Spencer Corona had 12 catches for 184 yards. He also kicked two PATs and a 23-yard field goal. Franklin had five catches for 89 yards and a touchdown.
Huge offensive numbers. But there were was also the matter of an incredible minus-108 yards from scrimmage as the result of bad snaps and other botched plays.
“It was not just a second-string center,’’ Ravipati said. “We were playing our third-string center. We made a lot of little mistakes that came back to bite us.''
Mitty sophomore quarterback Shamir Bey rushed for 150 yards and all four Mitty touchdowns.