The first two months of the high school football season — from the beginning of training camp in August through the first five weeks of the regular season — have led to this point: the beginning of league play. Now the quest begins for a league championship.
Serra and the West Catholic Athletic League started league play last week and now the Peninsula Athletic League jumps into it. While there are a few PAL teams that will have byes this week, 12 of the 18 teams in the PAL will face off against one another in division play.
So who are the favorites? The Bay Division could be one of the better leagues in the Central Coast Section, despite the fact it doesn’t get a lot of respect from the rest of the leagues in the section. But I would put Terra Nova, Sacred Heart Prep, Menlo-Atherton, Menlo and Sequoia up against nearly any team between San Francisco and King City and like the chances of the PAL team coming out on top.
Top to bottom, the games among the Bay Division teams this season could be as even and as competitive as we’ve ever seen. As they say, on any given day ... .
It would be difficult to choose any one must-see game, as nearly every game in Bay Division play this season would fit in that category. If I had a few games that must be circled, I’d say they would be Terra Nova at Menlo School Oct. 25, Terra Nova at Sacred Heart Prep Nov. 8 and Menlo versus Sacred Heart Prep Nov. 15 at Sequoia High School.
The Ocean Division, at this point, appears to be a two-team race between Aragon and Burlingame. Those two teams are a combined 7-1, while the other four teams in the division are 4-13.
San Mateo and Woodside, however, have played arguably the toughest non-league schedule of the group, so it remains to be seen if there is a benefit to that. The combined record of the Bearcats’ opponents is 12-11, with Gunn (1-4) and Berkeley (2-3) the only teams under .500. Woodside’s has been even tougher, with a combined record of 13-6 and losses to Bay Division teams Sequoia and Sacred Heart Prep.
The championship of the Ocean could be decided as soon as next week when Burlingame travels to Aragon for a 7 p.m. start Oct. 18.
The Lake Division should be as competitive as the Bay Division, as nearly every team has a shot at winning the division title. Having seen the El Camino-Aragon matchup earlier this season, I would say the frontrunner for the championship would be the Colts. They appear to have the grind-it-out offensive style and fly around defensively to make things tough on the rest of the division. Mills, however, might have a say in that. The Vikings are off to a 3-1 start this season, just like El Camino. They have the most prolific offense in the division during non-league play, averaging more than 37 points per game.
Carlmont, Hillsdale and King’s Academy all figure to have a say in who wins what as well. All three are 2-2 so far this season and, with a few breaks, Hillsdale could easily have a 3-1 record.
Games to watch in this division include El Camino at Mills 3 p.m. Friday and King’s Academy at Hillsdale Nov. 8.
Tomorrow in the Daily Journal, we will more closely break down each team in each division to give fans a better primer on what to expect in PAL play this season.
A lot of people may think of athletic trainers as first responders when it comes to injuries on the football field.
Actually, usually the first people to know there is a problem are the referees. At the high school level, not only are referees there to officiate the game, they are also imperative to the safety of the players.
Last Friday night during the Sacred Heart Prep at Woodside football game, a Gators player suffered a broken leg. Official Mike Mancini was the first person on the scene, at the player’s side before the play even ended.
Mancini, a former head coach at Sequoia, said he heard the bone snap and immediately tried to take the player’s mind off the injury. Mancini said he asked the kid’s name, which was the same as his.
Trainers were on the scene moments later and luckily paramedics were at the game and began to stabilize the injury as soon as possible as everyone waited for the ambulance.
If not for the quick reactions of Mancini and the paramedics, the whole situation could have been a lot worse.
Nathan Mollat can be reached by email: email@example.com or by phone: 344-5200 ext. 117. He can also be followed on Twitter @CheckkThissOutt.