Brandon Forrest returned the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown and it was off to races for the visiting Palisades High Dolphins as they routed University, 31-0, last Friday to take sole possession of first place in the Western League.
Pali is now 3-0 (7-1 on the season) and Venice and Fairfax are both 2-1, after Venice crushed Fairfax 63-32 on Friday.
After Forrest’s TD run, Tommy Meek’s PAT and a 38-yard field goal by Meek gave Pali a 10-0 lead in the first quarter, the question wasn’t whether the Dolphins would win, but rather by how much.
Late in the quarter, the Dolphins drove 55 yards for another touchdown, with quarterback Forrest Brock passing 9 yards to Jared La Violette for the TD, following some good runs by Max Palees, Kenny Cline, Isaias Alegria and Brandon Forrest. Junior Sebastian Burt-Conway kicked the PAT.
After the Wildcats were once again forced to punt, Pali marched 80 yards to score again, this time on a 35-yard pass from Brock to Teddy Suisman. Meek’s PAT pushed the score to 24-0.
The teams went scoreless in the third quarter, and the night’s scoring ended with a 55-yard scoring drive, capped off by Isaias Alegria’s 12-yard dash. (The junior was named offensive player of the game by MaxPreps, after he finished with 61 yards on eight carries.)
Pali’s two key defensive players, Syaire Riley and Noah Ghodooshim, helped make it impossible for the University offense to gain any traction. The two were chosen by MaxPreps as the defensive (Ghodooshim) and overall player (Riley) of the game. Riley was credited with five solo tackles and five assists. Ghodooshim had four tackles and three assists.
It was a lackluster game, especially in the second half, and the Dolphins looked tired. Rightly so, they had defeated rival Venice at home just four days earlier (the game had been moved from October 11 to October 14 because of smoke from brush fires).
“Today was hard,” Palisades Head Coach Tim Hyde told his players after the game, acknowledging the two games in five days. “I know that.” But he reminded them that no matter who they played, “If you want to win a championship, you have to play 100 percent.”
He told his players they lacked focus and that “You didn’t respect them [University] enough to give them your best.”
Hyde’s team should handily beat Hamilton (1-2) at home this Friday at 7 p.m., followed by a tougher game against Fairfax a week later. Westchester, which lost to Pali in the league opener, walloped Hamilton last Friday, 60-28.
“We have two weeks to go to be undefeated in league,” Hyde said, and then added, “I want a home game in the open division.” (In last year’s eight-team open division playoffs, the Dolphins were ranked seventh and had to travel to second-seed Eagle Rock, losing 24-21.