PaliHi Beats Hamilton, 41-0: Earns
Spot in Open Division Playoffs
Palisades High football defeated Hamilton last Friday, 41-0, to finish in a first-place tie with Fairfax in the Western League. Both teams had 4-1 records, with Fairfax beating Pali (30-23) but losing to Westchester (20-14).
Palisades earned its first berth in the Open Division, which was created last year. The 7th-seed Dolphins will travel to play 2nd-ranked Eagle Rock on November 9 at 7 p.m. Venice is seeded eighth and gets to play unbeaten powerhouse Narbonne.
Pali (8-2 overall) earned the higher seeding by defeating Venice, 24-17, during league play. The Gondoliers were 7-3 overall.
According to L.A. Times Sports Writer Eric Sondheimer, this is the second year that a computer and not coaches or a seeding committee created the brackets because coaches wanted to take the human element out of the rankings. The CalPreps.com computer rankings place more emphasis on strength of schedule and opponents’ win-loss record than head-to-head matchups or common opponents.
Even though Fairfax (7-3) beat Palisades, as well as Venice (45-26), but failed to make the Open Division playoffs, Fairfax coach Shane Fox supports the computer to produce seedings. He told Sondheimer, “It’s so much better than it was. The reason I like the format is it’s 100 percent free of politics.”
Fairfax is seeded fourth in Division 1 and Westchester is seeded two, behind Dorsey.
After Friday’s victory over Hamilton, senior team captain Jack Stansell told Circling the News, “This feels great. “I’ve been waiting for this moment since the beginning of the season.”
The 6-3, 245-pound defensive end had two tackles and deflected a pass, finishing the season with five sacks and 47 total tackles (28 solo and 19 assists).
“Now we need to rest up and prepare for the playoffs,” Stansell said. “We’ll demolish any team that comes our way.”
His bravado is admirable, but Eagle Rock is hardly a pushover. The team is 8-0, having won games by scores of 56-13, 56-6, 70-0, 68-0, 53-14 and 50-14. The latter victory was against South Gate, a team Palisades beat 24-0. Eagle Rock also defeated Fairfax, 37-20, after trailing 14-0 in the first quarter.
The Dolphins must also play without starting quarterback Forrest Brock, who fractured his collarbone against University.
Pali’s first score against Hamilton came with less than five minutes left in the first quarter when junior Adam Cravens ran five yards to end a 68-yard drive. Tommy Meek kicked the PAT.
After forcing a punt, the Dolphins drove from their own 18, behind runs by Max Palees and Tayari Gloster, and reached Hamilton’s 5, where Meek kicked a field goal.
The Yankees began on their own 20, but the Palisades defenders–led by Immanuel Newell, Joe Huff and Syaire Riley (who was named defensive player of the game by MaxPreps for three solo tackles, 10 total and two sacks), stopped the Yankees cold.
Starting on its own 40, Palisades moved to Hamilton’s 33 behind Palee’s running. A defender stripped the ball out of Palees’s hand and the ball went flying, but Stansell recovered it on the Hamilton 20.
Quarterback Daniel Hayes used Gloster for two plays and the junior ran the ball from the Hamilton 16 for the touchdown. He ended the night with 101 rushing yards on 14 carries. Meek’s PAT bumped the score to 17-0.
Once again, the Yankees started on their own 20 and were forced to punt, stopped dead by defensive players Riley, David Pierre, Noah Ghodooshim and Huff.
Pali took over on the Hamilton 49. Palees ran twice down to the 18 and then Gloster broke loose for the touchdown. Meek kicked the PAT.
After Hamilton was forced into punt, the Dolphins quickly moved down field and Meek kicked a short field goal as the half ended with Pali leading 27-0.
In the third quarter, Pali began its first drive on Hamilton’s 47, and strong running by Palees and Gloster moved the ball to the 1-yard-line. Hayes scored on a quarterback sneak and Meek added the extra point.
Following an interception by junior Waka White on Hamilton’s 23, Palees ran three times and scored the game’s final touchdown, followed by Meek’s PAT.
Palees was selected MaxPreps overall player of the game, after he ran for 230 yards on 23 carries.
Afterwards, Pali Head Coach Tim Hyde said, “It was an unbelievable effort this season and a great finish.” He said that the team’s mission was to take one game at a time and that after the loss to Fairfax at home, to have back-to-back wins on the road, first against Westchester and then against Venice was a “great testament to the team.”