Sports

M-A offense flexing its offensive muscle; Paly looks for a win

 
Offensive linemen Moala Tautuaa (53), Ben Makoni (58) and Ryan Buck hope to help M-A's offense continue its recent success against Burlingame. Photo by Bob Dahlberg.

It's the beginning of league play this week for Menlo-Atherton, Palo Alto and Gunn. Menlo School, Sacred Heart Prep and Woodside have byes and begin league play next week.

Menlo-Atherton travels up the Peninsula to take on Burlingame at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the lone Peninsula Athletic League opener taking place this week in any of its three divisions.


Hudson Alexander
The Bay Division has a combined 17-5 record thus far in non-league play. Burlingame (4-0) is one of three undefeated teams, along with Half Moon Bay (4-0) and Aragon (3-0).

Terra Nova (3-1) is also undefeated on the field with its one loss coming by way of forfeit administered by the Central Coast Section after a fight in a scrimmage against Moreau.

Menlo-Atherton is just 2-2, but has played a much more difficult schedule than any of the other Bay teams.

"We feel we could very easily be 4-0 as well,'' Menlo-Atherton coach Adhir Ravipati said.

M-A lost to Bellarmine (21-16) and Mitty (30-23) the first two weeks of the season before rebounding to beat Palma (30-7) and Los Gatos (56-41).

M-A's offense received a boost the last two weeks with the debut of running back D'Marshaun Payton, who has rushed for 268 yards and four touchdowns.

Senior quarterback Miles Conrad has thrown for 898 yards and eight touchdowns. Spencer Corona (26 receptions for 404 yards) and Troy Franklin (14 for 265 yards) are the top receivers.

Franklin, a freshman who also had a kickoff return for a touchdown against Los Gatos, received his first college scholarship offer this week, from San Jose State. Not bad for a freshman.

Burlingame averaged over 50 points per game in winning its first three games over Mt. Pleasant, Sequoia and Alvarez, but struggled last week before prevailing 22-16 over a South San Francisco team coming off a 35-0 loss to Aragon.

The Panthers, under veteran coach John Philipopolous, run a three running back wing-T. They are averaging 263 yards rushing per game, led by Alec Meredith (359 yards), Savaun Brown (222) and Curtis Lauti (126).

"I've always enjoyed watching coach P's team play,'' Ravipati said. "They play hard, know the system in and out and they're physical.''

Two years ago, in Ravipati's first season as head coach, M-A started out 0-3 then won five in a row before getting beat at Burlingame, 14-0.

"We were a very young team that year, establishing our foundation as a program,'' Ravipati said. "They outplayed us from start to finish. It was a very valuable learning experience for our program. We learned you've got to reset every week. It was also a testament to what they do and how they out-executed us.''

Last year was a different story. M-A got Burlingame at home and romped to a 40-14 victory in the midst of a 12-game winning streak that took the team to a CCS Open Division title and a state championship game appearance.

Palo Alto at Homestead, Friday at 7 p.m.

After three consecutive blowout losses Palo Alto begins Santa Clara Valley Athletic League play with a De Anza Division opener that on paper looks winnable against a 1-3 Homestead team.

But Paly goes into the game without Paul Jackson III, a 1,000-yard running back the last two seasons, and also most likely without starting quarterback Jackson Chryst.

Jackson, who missed the last two games with a hamstring injury, is not expected back for several more weeks. Chryst injured his Achilles tendon in the first quarter last Friday against Aragon. He was on crutches early this week.

"We're not the only team dealing with injuries right now,'' Palo Alto coach Danny Sullivan said. "The perspective of outsiders is that we must really be reeling. But I'd say our kids' confidence right now is about as high as it's been. That's a good feeling for me.''

On Saturday morning, after the 48-14 loss to Aragon, the team had its customary morning-after meeting.

"We had a real good talk,'' Sullivan said. "We put film on the back burner. The kids heard from my coaches telling them why football is so important for them. Some of my coaches have played football at high levels, at universities. And they were telling the team how playing high school football was the best time of their lives.''

A realization started to settle in.

"In a couple months that group will never be together again,'' Sullivan said. "You only get 10 opportunities. The kids are starting to take ownership. There is no discounting their effort and fire at all.''

Aiden Chang has filled in for Jackson at running back and has rushed for 137 yards on 35 carries the last two weeks,

"He has a skier's background, does not go down easily,'' Sullivan said. "He loves it, is having fun.''

Kyle Mostofizadeh took over at quarterback against Aragon after Chryst's injury and completed 7 of 13 passes for 153 yards with two touchdowns.

"He only threw one bad ball all night,'' Sullivan said. "For as little as he's gotten reps for him to step in was impressive. He was the starter on the frosh-soph last year. Playing receiver earlier this year helped him get a better understanding of our offense.''

Improvement on defense is a necessity. Palo Alto has allowed 175 points in its four losses, nearly 44 points per game.

Homestead is a wing-T running team averaging 257 yards per game on the ground and just 47 yards per game through the air. The Mustangs beat Fremont in their opener before losing to Branham, Sacred Heart Cathedral and Terra Nova.

Gunn at Santa Clara, Friday at 7:15 p.m.

Gunn (2-2) begins SCVAL El Camino Division play against one of the co-favorites. Santa Clara and Mountain View moved down this season from the De Anza Division. Gunn coach Brandon Boyd considers them to be co-favorites for the El Camino top spot.

The Bruins got off to quite an impressive offensive start this season, beating Prospect 62-7 and Overfelt 57-28. But then they were held scoreless in a 24-0 loss to a much-improved Harker team.

They have a third-year starter at quarterback in Chris Brown, who threw eight touchdown passes those first two games.

"He looks really poised with a good grasp of the entire offense,'' Boyd said. "He makes a lot of checks at the line of scrimmage. They have a lot of guys who can pop one which causes the defense to break their rules on who to guard.''

Gunn lost to Soquel in its opener and then went through a coaching change with Tony Kelly resigning and Boyd taking over. The Titans responded with wins over James Lick (49-27) and Harbor (52-20), before losing last week at Andrew Hill, 41-18.

Hudson Alexander has been a revelation for Gunn in his first year as a varsity quarterback. He has thrown for 1,232 yards and 18 touchdowns with only four interceptions. He also leads the team in rushing with 117 yards (as well as being one of the team's top tacklers on defense). Gunn is averaging 308 yards per game passing compared with just 60 yards per game rushing. Boyd would like to see a little more production out of the ground game.

"It's just getting the group to sustain blocks and maintain that equal balance,'' Boyd said.

But Santa Clara is pretty clearly the best team Gunn has faced this season.

"This will be a big challenge,'' Boyd said. "They like to spread you out, just like we do. But they've been at it longer.''

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Comments

2 people like this
Posted by geez
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 22, 2017 at 10:34 am

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by concussions
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 22, 2017 at 10:24 pm

football really important?? don't think so. we hope that parents wake up to the fact that young men are ruining their lives by playing such a high-injury prone sport including concussions that will surely affect quality of life in a few years. the coaches have a lot of hype for something that cause deterioration in these boys much earlier than normal.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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