After finishing the regular season with an impressive 9-1 record, sixth-seeded Palisades High succumbed to third-seeded Banning in the City Section Open Division playoffs last Friday night in Wilmington, 35-21.
The Pilots’ stadium was five times the size of the Pali’s Stadium by the Sea and was packed. About one fifth of the stadium held the band, drill team and banner carriers, who kept the noise of support going for the entire game.
By contrast, about 50 Palisades supporters were huddled together on the opposite side of the field.
Banning not only benefitted from the hometown crowd, it had a quarterback, a running back and a receiver who challenged the Palisades defense with their talent.
In the Daily Breeze game story (“Banning Gets Back to Football and Defeats Palisades Behind Jakob Galloway’s 3 TDs”), Banning’s senior quarterback Jake Otto was quoted: “If they’re not stopping (Jakob) Galloway, they have to stop me and if they stop me, they have to stop (Richard) Cox. It is a real hard offense to stop when you have three guys like that, who are real dynamic.”
In an odd development, Banning hadn’t played since October 18 after having a bye week sandwiched around a forfeit victory over Narbonne. (Narbonne had won five straight City Section Open Division championships but was banned this year following transfer rule violations).
The game began well for the Dolphins, who kicked off and stopped the Pilots without a first down. Following a punt, the Pali offense drove 73 yards in 11 plays for a touchdown. Quarterback Forrest Brock relied on runner Max Palees before finally passing 13 yards to Teddy Suisman for the six points. Tommy Meek’s PAT was good.
Banning quickly struck back, needing only four plays to score on a 52-yard pass play. The PAT failed and the score was 7-6 with less than five minutes remaining in the first quarter.
Unable to move the ball beyond their 39, the Dolphins punted and Banning drove 60 yards for another touchdown, mainly behind Galloway’s running. Whenever the sophomore had the ball, he seemed to bounce off defenders and just kept running. A two-point conversion made the score 14-7.
After an exchange of fumble recoveries, the Dolphins punted and Banning drove downfield and scored on a run by Galloway. The PAT failed once again.
On the kickoff, Pali’s Brandon Forrest picked up the ball on the 10 and ran it back to the Dolphins’ 32. Brock passed to Suisman for a long gain to Banning’s 44, and two plays later Kenny Cline ran for a touchdown. The PAT was good, and the Dolphins trailed just 20-14 at halftime.
Near the end of the scoreless third quarter, Pali punted, and the Pilots started on their own 5, but moved the ball all the way downfield for a touchdown and a two-point conversion to take a 28-14 lead.
On their next possession, the Dolphins drove to the Banning 13, only to suffer an interception at the 5. The Pilots once again marched the length of the field in seven plays to score their final touchdown.
After Pali’s Jared LaViolette recovered an onside kick and ran to Banning’s 45, Brock passed to Suisman, Isaias Alegria and Palees, who scored in the final three minutes. Meek’s PAT was good.
After the game, Pali Head Coach Tim Hyde said, “It was a hell of a game. We competed; we did some good things on the field.
“We were two plays away from the quarterfinals. We made a couple of mistakes, but they were just stronger than us,” Hyde said. “I can’t wait to celebrate all these guys and all they’ve accomplished during the season.”
This was the first year since 1987 that PaliHi (5-0) was the outright Western League champion.
Banning will now host seventh-seeded Crenshaw, which upset second-seeded San Fernando last Friday, 26-23, with a fourth-quarter TD.