As the Hillsdale football team gathered in the far end zone at Mills High School following its latest league win, head coach Mike Parodi began the celebration by jumping into a frenzied group of Knights.
To most teams every win counts the same in the standings, but Parodi and Hillsdale have embraced a different approach to the 2013 Peninsula Athletic League Lake Division season. It’s one that has them at 3-0 and in control of their own destiny.
“It was a championship game,” Parodi said. “You have to keep winning to be the champion. So, this was one of those steps along that process. We have the three teams that are equal to us or higher in ratings. We have to beat them. One down. We have El Camino next week. It’s another championship game. We can’t wait.”
There was no let up in Hillsdale Friday afternoon. Despite the fact they turned all ball over three times — a couple that could have been most costly since they occurred deep in Mills territory — the Knights fought for all 48 minutes and came away with a big 27-7 win over the Vikings.
“It was ugly, it was nasty, it’s what a championship game should look like,” Parodi said. “Nobody said championship games, or tough games like this, were going to be pretty. But it’s who’s is going to persevere through and still find a way to make the plays even when it’s not the way it’s supposed to be all the time. So I thought these kids absolutely played their butts off and made the plays that mattered at the times that mattered.”
The Hillsdale defense came up with another solid effort to save an offense that moved the ball effectively throughout but allowed Mills to hang around by gifting them the ball. But, with ball in hand, the Vikings only managed one touchdown drive that came to start the fourth quarter. It was a 76-yard, five-play march that finished with a Victor Beglitsoff 35-yard touchdown catch.
But before then, Mills only had 110 yards of total offense — 60 of which came in a third-quarter drive that ended with an interception.
“Just controlling the line of scrimmage,” said Mills head coach Mike Kreiger when asked about the key to the ball game. “Our base offense is based on us blocking the front five guys and we worked on it all week and the result we get is unblocked people. It’s easy to play defense that way.”
Extraordinary field position to start the game following a punt return and a personal foul penalty allowed Hillsdale to jump ahead 6-0 on its first drive of the game. Giancarlo Boscacci did the honors from six yards out on fourth down. It was the first of two touchdowns the Knights scored with a turnover on downs staring them right in the face.
“We’re winning games,” Parodi said. “If we have the ball they can’t score. So, we’re going to go for it on fourth down. I have nothing but faith in my kids that they’re going to get it done and they have the faith in themselves, which is more important.”
The Knights overcame a turnover on the Mills doorstep and added a touchdown to their lead right before halftime on a 14-play drive that covered just 52 yards. Once again, on fourth and goal, Parodi went for it and Cole Carrithers rewarded his faith, tossing a pass in the back of the end zone on a nice touch that Brandon Butcher corralled beautifully, getting one foot in bounds for the score.
The Knights added to the lead three drives into the third quarter when Carrithers found a wide open Shawn Charan all the way across the field to complete a 57-yard drive with nine second left in the period that put the Knights up 20-0.
Mills then did its best to make things interesting. The Vikings began to click a bit and Beglitsoff’s acrobatic touchdown gave them a little life.
But that life lasted just a few seconds when, on the first play of the responding drive, Boscacci burned them for a 74-yard touchdown run.
“We knew there was some time left and with the score the way it was, it was a little shady there,” Parodi said. “And [Boscacci], just like he did two weeks ago against Carlmont, he just did what he does. He’s a special player.”
Boscacci finished with 124 yards rushing and 141 total from scrimmage.
“We have certain plays that we run well and when we run them we seem to do pretty well,” Kreiger said. “But penalties, turnovers, 75-yard runs, it’s very difficult to win a football game like that.”