Knights lose game and possibly another running back | News | Palo Alto Online |


Knights lose game and possibly another running back

Miles Conrad threw for a pair of touchdowns in the loss to Aragon. Photo by Bob Dahlberg.

That audible thud you heard on Thursday night was Menlo School falling from its perch as a Peninsula Athletic League Ocean Division unbeaten -- and how it landed was not pretty.

Oh, Menlo had already clinched the division before its 42-27 loss to host Sequoia at Terremere Field. At 4-1, the Knights finished with the top record in the Ocean.

Dillon Grady
The King's Academy came to the aid of their fellow Knights by knocking off the Hillsdale Knights, 44-43, in overtime on Thursday.

The teams combined to score 67 points after halftime, leaving Hillsdale with a 3-2 mark and a second-place tie with both TKA, which won four of its last five games under former SHP coach Pete Lavorato, and South San Francisco.

The question for Menlo is what manner of walking wounded will they be in the CCS playoffs?

"We're really banged up, and it's unprecedented," said Menlo head coach Mark Newton, whose team lost its most talented and versatile player just before halftime. That would be junior Dillon Grady, who left with a leg injury and never returned.

"We're in the playoffs, but what kind of team will we be?" Newton said. "We'll see."

Menlo took a 13-0 lead, believe it or not, led by Grady. The running back/kicker/safety does just about everything for his team -- indeed he's their engine. And when he got hurt it was like the entire vehicle ground to a halt, with all four wheels springing off the chassis at once.

For one thing, Menlo's running game became non-existent. Grady had 78 yards on 14 carries in the first half, but after he went down the Knights got only 19 yards on the ground the rest of the way.

That meant more passing -- and that part of Menlo's game was not razor sharp on Thursday. Emilio Simbeck was 16-of-41 for 215 yards and three touchdowns, but he also threw three interceptions, and in one stretch completed only one of 10 passes.

Sequoia (5-5 overall, 2-3 Ocean Division) also collected two fumbles -- one of which was ripped from a Menlo running back in full stride by Robert Marticorena and taken 25 yards for a TD, with 37 seconds remaining in the first half.

That gave Sequoia a 14-13 lead -- Menlo had gone up 13-0 on Grady's two field goals (32 and 31 yards) and a four-yard TD pass from Simbeck to David Schmaier.

But it only took about one minute to lose that advantage.

Sequoia's first interception set up a one-yard TD run early in the third quarter, giving the Cherokees 21 unanswered points. Menlo never regained the lead.

Menlo's Jack Pimlott scored on a 17-yard pass from Simbeck late in the third quarter, tying it at 21 (Landon Smith's reception from Simbeck earned the two-point conversion).

Sequoia scored the next three touchdowns, each following good punt returns and a fumble recovery, putting the game out of reach.

Smith, at safety, was Menlo's defensive standout with seven tackles -- two of those in the backfield for losses.

Newton said that the exact nature of Grady's leg injury wasn't yet determined. Grady had ice on his shin and was on crutches following the game.

Grady became a running back only after starting back Aidan Israelski, who has missed the past four games, was hurt and became unavailable for the rest of the season.

Aragon 21, at Menlo-Atherton 18

Miles Conrad threw for a pair of touchdowns, including a 50-yarder to Joey Olshausen, and Spencer Corona kicked a field goal but M-A lost to visiting Aragon on Thursday night in a PAL Bay Division regular season finale.

The Dons' quarterback Gabe Campos also threw for a pair of scores and 5-8, 140-pound Guadalupe Hernandez kicked a pair of field goals.

Aragon (9-1, 4-1) can finish no lower than second and could wind up as a co-champion should Sacred Heart Prep upset unbeaten Half Moon Bay on Friday afternoon.

The Bears (6-4, 3-2) also advance into the CCS playoffs as the third-place team.

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