PaliHi Outplays Cleveland, 27-0
“I’m super proud of my kids, they played with a lot of energy,” said Palisades High coach Tim Hyde, after his football team opened the season on August 10 by beating last year’s City Division II finalist Cleveland, 27-0, at home.
Hyde has 48 players on his roster, but only 17 seniors, many of whom have never started or played in a varsity game.
Thus, the Dolphins must contend for the playoffs with many inexperienced players on the field.
“We have some good football players, good athletes, but a lot of young kids,” said Hyde, who is beginning his sixth season. “It’s a whole new crop and it’s exciting to watch them play.
“But,” he added, “we’re still trying to figure out who we are.”
Last year, Pali had one of best offensive lines in the City Section, but only one starter returns–TJ Michel, a 285-pound senior. Senior Anthony Viramontes, who had never played center before, started against Cleveland.
Another key returnee is quarterback Daniel Hayes, who was effective last season as a junior, helping his team finish third in the Western League behind Fairfax and Venice. The Dolphins reached the quarterfinals in the Division I playoffs.
This could be a great season for Pali fans as they watch their team gel into another playoff contender.
Against Cleveland, there were fumbles and bad snaps—but there were some great catches, interceptions and tackles. It will be interesting to watch this team develop, not only this season, but next year, because most of the starters are juniors.
“I only played a handful of guys, maybe a quarter of our offense,” Hyde said. “I’m still trying to get the right mix.”
Pali kicker Tommy Meek, a junior, started the game by kicking the ball into the end zone. Right off the bat, fans knew that last year’s kicker Campbell Geddes, who was named All-Western League kicker of the year, wasn’t going to be missed.
After a scoreless first quarter, Palisades scored its first touchdown of the season about halfway through the second quarter when Hayes passed 26 yards to senior Jake Nadley. Meek made the PAT and the score was 7-0.
In the second half, Pali seemed to settle in, become more focused, and it paid off. Less than two minutes in the third quarter, junior running back Max Palees, a first-team Western League selection last year, took a handoff from Hayes and sprinted 55 yards for a touchdown. Meek’s PAT made the score 14-0.
After an interception by Will Janney just minutes later, the Dolphins took over on the Cleveland 46. Hayes passed to senior wide receiver Cristian Popescu for 16 yards, and then ran 30 yards himself for a touchdown. The PAT was blocked.
Once again, the Palisades defense was strong, led by junior linebacker Syaire Riley, and Cleveland was unable to move the ball into Pali territory.
Early in the fourth quarter, Hayes led another touchdown drive. Starting at the Cleveland 20, he handed off twice to junior Tayari Gloster, who carried it to the five-yard- line. Hayes then took the ball in for the touchdown and the PAT was good. took it in for the touchdown.
Nadley, one of four captains this year, was asked about scoring the first touchdown of the season. “It felt amazing, here with the crowd and their reaction and celebrating with my teammates,” he said.
He added, “We have a new energy this year, a new work ethic and it paid off.”
The other three captains are Riley, Jack Stansell and defensive back Will Janney, who was named to the Western League first team as a junior.
“We have been practicing so hard,” Palees said, explaining the Dolphins victory. About his long touchdown run he said, “I had great blocking, and then it was just reaction and cutting back.”
PaliHi travels to Sylmar this Friday….The next home game is August/September against Granada Hills, the traditional “Charter Bowl” showdown. The JV teams play at 4 p.m. and the varsity kickoff is 7 p.m.