Running its season record to 9-0, the Palisades High football team crushed Fairfax 51-0 last Friday night and seized another Western League championship.
But on Homecoming night at Pali’s sold-out Stadium By the Sea, the true heroes were the parents of Fairfax football players.
That afternoon, LAUSD announced that it didn’t have bus drivers available to transport the Fairfax players. Palisades Head Coach Chris Hyduke told CTN after the game, “We didn’t know if we were going to have a game.”
According to a LAUSD spokesperson, “This is a districtwide shortage [of drivers]. We have a workforce shortage in general. Uber and Lyft have had an impact on bus drivers.”
LAUSD finally agreed to let parents drive their kids if they would sign a waiver and they did.
“A big shout out to the Fairfax parents,” Coach Hyduke said. “They wanted their kids to play, and we wanted them to play.”
Since it was homecoming night, Pacific Palisades Community Council President David Card, who played for the Dolphins back in the early ’60s, tossed the coin as other former players and the PaliHi and Fairfax captains looked on.
Although Fairfax received the opening kickoff, Palisades scored first when a Fairfax fumble bounced back into the endzone and went out of bounds, giving Palisades a 2-point safety.
Fairfax kicked off and Moses Ross returned the ball 15 yards to the Fairfax 45. A holding penalty against Pali moved the ball back 15 yards, but then sophomore quarterback Sammy Silvia led a four-play touchdown drive, with leading rusher Daniel Anoh scoring. Giovanni Ferrero’s PAT was good, the first of seven.
Pali’s defensive team stopped the Lions cold, with key tackles by Trinity Camden, Matt Fahn, Christopher Washington, Jack Babala and Josiah Christopher forcing a punt.
Starting on Pali’s 40, Silvia soon passed to Ross, who completed a 50-yard scoring play to make the score 16-0.
Fairfax drove downfield until Amari Yolas intercepted a pass on the Palisades one-yard-line. Sophomore Josh Russell ran for 16 yards, but the Dolphins were then forced to punt to start the second quarter.
Fairfax again drove deep into Palisades territory, but Savyour Riley intercepted on the 11. After a short pass completion to Eli Ghodooshim, Anoh broke loose for 33 yards, and a pass from Silvia to Ross moved the ball to the Fairfax 13. Silvia then passed to Xaxier Smith for the touchdown.
Pali completed its first-half scoring when Anoh ran 8 yards to hike its lead to 37-0.
Following the second-half kickoff by Fairfax, Amari Yolas broke into open territory and raced 78 yards for the touchdown.
Pali’s second team played most of the second half and another sophomore quarterback, Roman LaScala, capped a 75-yard scoring drive by passing to fellow sophomore Brandon Sanford.
LaScala completed all five of his passes for 56 yards and Silvia completed 10 out of 14 for 167 yards.
Anoh, who hopes to break the school rushing record before the playoffs end, ran for 140 yards on just 13 carries. Meanwhile, senior Moses Ross caught four passes for 98 yards.
The Western League title has already been decided because unbeaten Palisades defeated second place Venice 33-13 early in league play.
Coach Hyduke said that he’s looking forward to the regular season finale this Friday at Westchester (2-6 overall) at 7 p.m. “It will be a physical game. Westchester should show us how tough we are,” he said, and predicted, “We should win the game.”
After that, the Dolphins should be seeded in the top four going into the first round of the Open Division playoffs. Hyduke noted that Birmingham played a tough non-league schedule, and San Pedro and Banning were still ranked ahead of Pali. But, “We have a nice offensive line and if we stay healthy . . .”