Sacred Heart Prep on the road for its league football opener | News | Palo Alto Online |


Sacred Heart Prep on the road for its league football opener


Sacred Heart Prep, Menlo School and Woodside play league openers Friday after having had byes last week. Menlo-Atherton, Palo Alto and Gunn, who played their league openers last week, have byes this week.

Sacred Heart Prep (1-3) begins its Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division schedule with a 7:30 p.m. game at Aragon (4-0).

David Schmaier
“Aragon has a lot of talent,’’ Sacred Heart Prep coach Mark Grieb said. “There’s a reason for that record. Defensively we’ve got to slow down their running game and challenge their top receiver.’’

The receiver Grieb references is Davion Cox, part of a talented pair of wideouts that also includes Donaven Robinson. Aragon, which has averaged 35 points per game in wins over Aptos, South San Francisco, Palo Alto and The King’s Academy, has also gotten outstanding production from quarterback Gabe Campos and running backs Camron Grant and Paul Lautaimi.

“(Campos) is very accurate and super slippery,’’ said Steve Sell, now in his 18th year as head coach at Aragon. “Grant could be a double-digits guy this year in both touchdowns and sacks.’’

Sacred Heart Prep, since a 42-6 win over Sobrato in the second week of the season, lost to Hillsdale and McClymonds.

“Offensively we’ve got to be able to toe the line of scrimmage and finish plays, be good with the ball,’’ Grieb said. “We’ve got to keep getting better. We’ve had some injuries, but you can’t make excuses. Football is a physical game.’’

Quarterback Brad Yaffe has completed 46 of 90 passes for 542 yards for SHP. John Willard leads the team in rushing with 283 yards, followed by Tevita Moimoi (178 yards), Brian Tinsley (163 and Yaffe (100).

The bye week allowed linemen Jake Davison and Alex Henske to return from the injured list, a development Grieb hopes will pay dividends Friday.

The King’s Academy at Menlo School, 3:15 p.m.

Traditionally associated with offense and the passing game, Menlo School’s strength this season is its defense. The Knights (3-1) have allowed only 58 points so far in four games with half of those scored in their 29-14 loss to Palma.

So improvement offensively is what head coach Mark Newton is focused on heading into Friday’s PAL Ocean opener.

“We want to continue to progress with our run game and our passing game,’’ Newton said. “We’ve played great defense this year, and we want that also to continue.’’

When The King’s Academy visits on Friday, Menlo will welcome a very familiar opposing coach. Pete Lavorato is in his first year at TKA after heading the program at neighboring Sacred Heart Prep for 14 years. TKA is 0-4, but has turned in a competitive performance in each of its last three games.

Sell came away impressed after Aragon’s 38-24 win last week.

“They’re really good,’’ Sell said. “I told Pete after the game, `I can’t imagine a better 0-4 team in the section. If they get into the playoffs they’ll advance.”

Lavorato has installed the fly offense he used at SHP. He has a speedster at flyback in Kamau Carlisle. But the team lost power running back Demonte Aleem, who rushed for 277 yards the first two weeks of the season. He is no longer enrolled at the school.

“For me, this is a little bit of a new experience,’’ Lavorato said. “But it’s all fun. I’m enjoying myself. It’s good to change sometimes. It’s high school football, getting the kids to understand about life and what’s important.’’

Cal commit JH Tevis leads the Menlo defense with 13 tackles for loss and six sacks.

Offensively, QB Emilio Simbeck has completed 43 of 77 passes for 562 yards and four touchdowns. Aidan Israelski leads the team in rushing with 165 yards and in receptions with 11.

David Schmaier has 10 catches for a team-high 207 yards. Dillon Grady has 116 yards rushing, five interceptions, a team-high 22 total tackles and has booted 12 PATs and one field goal without a miss.

Hillsdale at Woodside, 7:30 p.m.

It would be hard to imagine any team welcoming its bye week more than Woodside did. The Wildcats played the final two games before their bye week with only five available offensive linemen. And when one got injured late in the Christopher game, Woodside coach Justin Andrews tried to move his H-back to tackle. But that move wasn’t allowed due to the No. 82 uniform that player was wearing. So with Woodside trailing 41-14, the game was called with three minutes left on the clock.

“That was a much needed bye week,’’ Andrews said. “We’re getting a couple of linemen back, which will be huge. A very productive bye week.’’

One of the linemen returning to action this week is Christian Ochoa, a player Andrews terms the team’s “anchor and rock of our offensive and defensive line.’’

Due to the attrition on the offensive line, Woodside’s run game has had a great deal of trouble getting untracked, leaving the burden of offensive productivity on the shoulders of junior quarterback Joseph King, who has thrown for 953 yards and eight touchdowns.

“Joe is real happy to see Christian back,’’ Andrews said.

Woodside goes into PAL Ocean play 0-4 and faces a 4-0 Hillsdale team right off the bat. But that’s nothing new for the Wildcats. The last three teams they’ve played -- Carlmont, Leigh and Christopher -- are all 4-0. They led against Leigh until the final minute before losing 35-29.

“We were competitive in the first half against Christopher,’’ Andrews said. “Injuries piled up at the end. Now that we’re up to a whopping six offensive linemen I expect us to compete against Hillsdale. It’s just a matter of if our guys are conditioned enough and lucky enough that injuries don’t change the game.’’

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