It was homecoming night at Pacific Palisades High School on October 21, when the Dolphins faced Westchester. Pali was 6-2 on the season and 3-0 in league and needed a win to stay tied for first place with Venice in the Western League.
The final score saw Pali on top 40-26, setting up the championship game at the Stadium by the Sea on October 28.
Comets kicked off and Palisades received the ball on their own 27-yard line. Less than a minute in the game, quarterback Roman La Scala handed off twice to Christopher Washington and completed two passes to Amari Yolas, and the Dolphins scored their first touchdown. Kicker Kellan Ford made the first of four PATS.
Westchester scored its first touchdown four minutes later: Pali blocked the PAT.
The Dolphins received the kickoff on their own 20-yard-line and worked steadily down the field. On the Westchester 28, La Scala went to Washington, who carried it to the 10-yard line. On the next play Washington took it in for a touchdown.
Westchester fumbled on its next possession on the 23-yard line, and defensive end Immanuel Robinson (6’2”, 210 pounds) recovered and ran it in for a touchdown. The Comets blocked the PAT and the score was 20-6.
After the kickoff, the Comets ran the ball back to their own 35, but a bad snap left them scrambling to regain possession, which they did on their own three-yard line. They managed to move it back to the 16, but were forced to punt.
The Dolphins took over on the Westchester 37-yard line. Passes to junior Sean Grier, who had 102 yards for the game, moved the ball to the red zone. A fake from the quarterback to Savyour Riley left the end zone wide open for La Scala to coast in.
Junior Evan Nehrenberg (200 lbs. 6’3”) sacked Comet quarterback, midway in the second quarter forcing Westchester to punt again.
Starting on the Dolphin’s 40, La Scala had two quick handoffs to Washington, who is credited with 18 carries and 91 yards for the game. La Scala passed to Yolas, who scored his second touchdown five minutes into the second quarter.
PaliHi scored its final touchdown of the half, and the game, with a pass from La Scala to Grier.
With five minutes left in the half, Westchester, starting on its 22-yard line, responded with a touchdown, but the extra point attempt was no good.
With under two minutes left in the half, Westchester scored again, but missed a two-point conversion. The score at half was 40 to 18.
It seems that the Palisades team felt they were done after the first half.
Even as the Comets came back fighting, making first downs and moving the ball, Palisades had “checked out.” The Dolphins didn’t have a first down in the third quarter and no points in the second half.
After the game, Head Coach Chris Lyduke told players, “We got a win: it wasn’t pretty. There was a lack of focus, a lack of concentration.”
He told CTN “We just went through the motions the second half.”
With the upcoming game with Venice on October 28 at 7:30 p.m., Lyduke promised, “This will be a good old championship football game.”
Venice beat University 43-8 on Friday. Both teams are 4-0 in league and have 7-2 record overall. This Friday night will also be Senior Night at Pali.
The Dolphins will face one of the toughest quarterbacks in the league with Venice’s Paul Kessler (220 lbs. 6’5”) a senior, who is averaging 195.4 passing yards per game. He is flanked by two seniors, running back Robert Lamar and receiver Rashawn Jackson. Jackson is averaging 84 receiving yards per game, and Lamar, who has 486 total rushing yards, average 8 tackles per game.