It was supposed to be a hard-fought showdown: Hamilton (6-0) versus Palisades (7-0), with the eventual Western League championship on the line. Hamilton even rented floodlights so that the game could be played on a Friday night.
But then the game began, and it was basically over within two minutes as the Palisades Dolphins scored two touchdowns without even running a play from scrimmage and rolled to a 63-7 victory.
Receiving the opening kickoff, senior speedster Moses Ross returned the ball 90 yards for a touchdown.
Then on Hamilton’s third play, junior Amari Yolas intercepted a pass and ran 23 yards for the touchdown. The PAT kick by Giovanni Ferrero was good, and he would finish the night with nine of them.
Hamilton’s fortunes continued to wither as sophomore quarterback Sammy Silvia led the Dolphins downfield, with leading rusher Daniel Anoh breaking loose for a 29-yard run before Silvia scored from the one to make the score 21-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Hamilton advanced into Pali territory, but senior Liam Herrera recovered a fumble on the 26, and Silvia completed a 23-yard TD pass to junior Kwazi Estes. On Pali’s next possession, Silvia connected with Ross, who broke loose for an 82-yard TD run.
Unable to move the ball, Hamilton attempted to punt, but it was blocked by a Palisades defender Matt Fahn. Starting on the Pali 41, Silvia handed off twice to senior Anoh, who scored from the 30.
Hamilton drove downfield until senior Johnny Babala intercepted a pass and returned it to the Warriors’ 47. Silvia passed to Ross for 16 yards and then again to Ross for 31 yards and a touchdown, right before halftime, making the score 49-0.
In the third quarter, Silvia began handing off to sophomore Josh Russell, who ran for a touchdown and finished the night with 53 yards in just four carries.
Hamilton’s woes continued when senior Angus Gilchriest blocked a punt and junior Savyour Riley returned it 28 yards for a touchdown.
Once again, the Palisades defense was smothering, led by senior Jack Babala and juniors Riley, Yolas and Toby Manheim.
Ross, who runs track for Pali (100 and 200), said he’s been playing football since he was six, first Pop Warner, then the Snoop Dog Youth Football League. In addition to his speed, he has nice lateral motion and can read the field. He caught two passes for 122 yards against Hamilton.
“We played one of our better games today,” he said, noting that the team was putting in the hard work and it was paying off. He was asked about his mind set on the field. “The TD is home,” he said, noting that once he has the ball, he runs it home.
Anoh, a slippery little runner who is tough to tackle, ran for 146 yards in just nine carries, for a 16.2 average, as he pursues a school record in rushing yardage. He has 1,093 yards and the record is 1,965 with two league games plus the playoffs still to play.
Silvia completed 5 of 9 passes for 155 yards and three touchdowns as Palisades once again displayed a balanced offensive attack.
Head Coach Chris Hyduke said, “I’ve coached for 40 plus years, and it’s amazing how ‘loose’ these kids are ‘like a bunch of kittens in a basket,’ but once they’re on the field they’re focused and play really well.
“They dominated tonight and met all expectations.”
Palisades will host Fairfax (2-4 record this season) for its homecoming game this Friday night at 7 p.m. The Dolphins remain third-ranked in the City, behind Banning (Wilmington) and San Pedro.
Head JV Coach Ray Marsden took his team to Hawthorne on Thursday night and won 38-0. Few of the City schools are fielding a JV team, which has forced Marsden to seek out other schools for his team to play.
“My kids will have a year of playing – and the experience – and then move up to varsity,” Marsden said, noting that the lack of JV preparation will hinder City varsity teams next year.