Prep football: Gunn looks to build on its solid start

Spencer Corona has 16 catches over M-A’s first two games. He has also kicked three PATs and two field goals, sent kickoffs into the end zone on a regular basis for touchbacks and played defensive back. Photo by Bob Dahlberg.

Named head coach mid-week following Tony Kelly's resignation, Brandon Boyd became a winner in his debut as Gunn rallied for a 49-27 win over James Lick.

"When the guys got the news that Tony would not be with us they were down for a couple of days,'' Boyd said. "And then Friday night they went down big, 19-0, and battled back. A couple plays went our way. I'm proud of the way they battled. After the win they were excited over the top, through the roof. We're going to try to ride that wave.''

Gunn (1-1) plays host to Harbor (1-1), Friday at 7 p.m.

"The biggest thing for us will be stopping the run, gang tackling,'' said Boyd, the defensive coordinator before being promoted to head coach.

The Titans have received big performances on offense out of quarterback Hudson Alexander and receiver DJ Barnes. Alexander has thrown for close to 300 yards in each of Gunn's first two games. Barnes has 20 receptions for 309 yards. He scored three touchdowns and had three two-point conversions in the win over Lick.

Boyd said the offense hasn't changed much since the coaching change.

"A few new wrinkles,'' he said. "It's all about athletes in space making plays, spreading teams out and running between the tackles.''

Boyd, a 2008 graduate of Palo Alto High, went on to play at Menlo College. He is the older brother of BJ Boyd, an outfielder for Double-A Midland in the Oakland A's organization. Brandon made the trip to Frisco, Tex., to watch his brother play in the Texas League All-Star game. And all BJ did was go 3 for 4 with 3 RBIs and get named All-Star game MVP.

Menlo at Piedmont

After two games it has become apparent that Menlo School's defense has a chance to be very good this season.

The Knights have allowed 22 points over those first two games in large part due to their experienced defensive front.

Defensive linemen Ty Corley, JH Tevis, Mafi Latu and Cooper Stewart and linebackers Xavier Dickinson and Baily Deeter are all returning starters.

After a 16-9 loss in a defensive struggle against East Nicolaus, Menlo got it going on offense in its home opener against Robert Louis Stevenson with a 56-6 victory.

Menlo got a big lift from Aidan Israelski, who did not play against East Nicolaus. On his first touch he returned the opening kickoff 83 yards for a touchdown against Stevenson. He added two rushing touchdowns later in the game.

Menlo (1-1) plays at Piedmont on Friday at 7 p.m.

"They're a really well-coached team with some big boys on the offensive line and talented skill players,'' Menlo coach Mark Newton said. "The key for us will be executing our assignments in all three facets and focusing on details.''

Mitty vs. Palo Alto at Foothill

Palo Alto got off to a nightmarish start last Friday against Half Moon Bay and never recovered.

"In terms of shooting ourselves in the foot in the first quarter we couldn't have done any worse than what we did,'' Palo Alto coach Danny Sullivan said. "We dropped two touchdown passes, had a punt blocked and had a 7-yard punt go out of bounds at our own 12-yard line.''

Half Moon Bay built a 41-0 lead on its way to a 48-7 final. A sobering result for Palo Alto in its home opener.

"I've been trying to wrap my head around it,'' Sullivan said. "We are not 48-7 worse against Half Moon Bay. They're very good, but we should have played better. We need to start games better. That was just a perfect storm for Half Moon Bay last Friday night.''

Another storm could be in the forecast for this Friday when Paly takes on Mitty at Foothill College. Mitty is coming off a 30-23 win over Menlo-Atherton as sophomore quarterback Shamir Bey ran for four touchdowns.

"He's a tremendous athlete,'' Sullivan said. "The most frustrating thing in football is to defend a running quarterback. He is able to use his legs in a way we don't often see in this area.''

Menlo-Atherton at Palma

After losing a pair of tough games to West Catholic Athletic League powers Bellarmine and Mitty, the Menlo-Atherton football team will take on another traditionally strong parochial program in Palma for a 7:30 p.m. game at the Salinas Sports Complex.

But this looks like it might be a down year for the Chieftains, who graduated 33 seniors off last year's 10-4 team.

They lost their opener to St. Francis 40-6. But then again off early-season results the Lancers could stake a claim to being the best team in the CCS.

"They are better than that score indicated,'' M-A coach Adhir Ravipati said of Palma.

The Bears are 0-2, the same record they have had after their first two games in each of Ravipati's previous two seasons as head coach. Last year they went on a 12-game winning streak that took them all the way to the state finals.

"I can't win openers,'' Ravipati said. "That's one thing that has eluded me as a coach.''

Mistakes have proved to be costly in the first two games this season.

"We could easily be 2-0,'' Ravipati said. "We left a lot of points on the field. We have not played consistent assignment-sound football. People need to remember we're a young football team. It takes time to grow and develop. That's what early-season football is for.''

Spencer Corona has 16 catches over M-A's first two games. He has also kicked three PATs and two field goals, sent kickoffs into the end zone on a regular basis for touchbacks and played defensive back.

"We've been running him ragged leaving him on the field so much,'' Ravipati said.

Freshman receiver Troy Franklin scored his first touchdown against Mitty and has 10 receptions over the first two games.

Nick Anderson has been a most pleasant surprise. He returned the opening kickoff of the season for a 98-yard touchdown against Bellarmine, which squib kicked the rest of the game. He got his hands on two kicks against Mitty and had a 68-yard kickoff return and a 26-yard punt return.

"Nick's a special athlete,'' Ravipati said. "These have been his first snaps of high school football."

Anderson was ineligible last year after transferring from El Camino, but won a Junior Olympics national championship in the 110 high hurdles competing for the East Palo Alto Greyhounds.

"As the year goes on he will be a bigger and bigger part of what we do,'' Ravipati said.

Hillsdale at Sacred Heart Prep

Sacred Heart Prep is expecting a more competitive game this week.

The Gators had an easy time of it in a 42-0 win over Sobrato their last time out in a game that was halted midway through the second half due to high temperatures.

They host Hillsdale (2-0) on Saturday at 3 p.m. and the Knights are a team SHP knows something about.

"They are a very talented team,'' SHP coach Mark Grieb said. "They have good guys up front and excellent skill players. Their quarterback is tough and accurate. He throws a good ball. They run well and are sound on defense. We'll have to play well to win.''

Hillsdale has dropped down from the Peninsula Athletic League's Bay Division to the Ocean Division this year. Last year as a member of the Bay the Knights defeated SHP 16-13.

In the first two games this season Sacred Heart Prep's defense faced a predominant running team in San Benito and then shut out overmatched Sobrato. Hillsdale has a balanced offense. Nick Hulman has rushed for 326 yards and Jeremy Teteak has thrown for 342.

"Team defense and tackling,'' Grieb said when asked what the emphasis in practice has been this week. "And then finishing plays on offense, protecting the football. I anticipate it being a close game."

Woodside at Leigh

After a pair of losses to "C" division teams, Capuchino and Carlmont of the PAL Lake, Woodside travels to Leigh on Friday night to take on an "A" division team.

"I feel the "C" division teams we played were both pretty competitive and physical in their own right,'' Woodside coach Justin Andrews said. "Leigh has got great numbers and some decent playmakers. We will have our work cut out for us.''

Leigh (1-0) beat Branham 29-24 and then had a bye last week. The Longhorns went 8-3 a year ago.

Woodside quarterback Joseph King has passed for 449 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 149 yards, averaging 7.1 yards per carry. But he hasn't gotten much help. The other four players to have official carries have combined for 133 yards on 43 attempts (3.1 yards per carry).

Andrews pointed to a patchwork offensive line as being part of the problem.

"Unforeseen circumstances with our roster have made things more challenging,'' he said. "Some of the kids we're relying on are without a lot of experience. Guys with a deer in the headlights look at first, not understanding just how football works. I saw some improvement the second half against Carlmont. I'm hoping as we play more games into the season that they start figuring it out.''

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