The first thing you should know about Friday’s football game between Hillsdale and El Camino is that the kick off has been changed to 7 p.m.
And that’s important, one, to get there on time and two, because no game on the Peninsula Athletic League docket belongs under the lights and lure of primetime more than this Lake Division matchup.
As El Camino head coach Mike Turner put it, “this is the game. This is pretty much the division’s championship game.”
Turner isn’t kidding. The Colts and Knights know there’s much more at stake than just a single W today. Simply put, if Hillsdale wins, they’ll be 4-0 in Lake play with one game to play and all but lock up a trip to the Central Coast Section playoffs as the champions — especially if Carlmont helps them out and takes down the King’s Academy Friday night.
But if El Camino wins, they’ll be 3-1 with a very winnable game against Jefferson of Daly City left on the schedule. The win would form a potential three-way tie atop the standings with the Knights and the King’s Academy. And If that tie stays all the way through the season’s end, the Colts own the tiebreaker by virtue of beating both teams they’re tied with.
So to recap, yes, Friday night’s primetime showdown is pretty much for all the division and CCS marbles. And hence, it’s the Daily Journal Game of the Week.
“This is a big one,” Turner said. “We’re looking forward to it. We’ve had a good week of practice and we’re ready to go.”
“It’s all we’ve been talking about this week,” said Hillsdale head coach Mike Parodi. “It’s another step in the process. We’ve been talking about winning a league title as our ultimate goal all year long. That’s the big picture. But also, we’re taking it one week at a time. What are we going to do this week to be plus-1? Our mission this week is to be just a little bit better than El Camino.”
Hillsdale has carried this philosophy throughout the season — with Parodi drilling into this players the idea that every game, no matter who’s on the other sideline, is a championship game.
“And that’s not going to change,” Parodi said about Friday’s game against El Camino. “We truly keep it day to day, week to week. On Monday, it’s how are we going to be better today. On Tuesday, it’s how are we going to get better this day. We’ve challenged the kids (for this game). The schemes are going to be important [Friday night] but this truly is an athlete’s game. And they love it. This is your chance to go out and prove you’re a better athlete and do what you need to do to win this game.”
Parodi added that, by now, the Knights and Colts know exactly what’s coming schematically. In Hillsdale, you have a team that loves to spread out a defense and wear you out that way. And in El Camino, you have one of the more physical teams, not just in the Lake, but the entire PAL. So with the guessing games aside, the best players will shine Friday night.
“They’re physical, they’re fast, they’re athletic,” Parodi said. “They definitely have the best athletes in the Lake year in and year out. And they have great coaching on top of that. When you put that together, that’s a tough combination to combat.”
But Hillsdale is no slouch in that department either. Especially not this year with the emergence of Giancarlo Boscacci, the superstar running back who has come up huge during games against Lake contenders like Carlmont and Mills. Not only can the Knights throw it, but with a back like Boscacci, they can turn you on the ground as well.
“We just have to take of business,” Turner said. “On defense, it’s about playing fundamentally sound. Hillsdale loves to put pressure on you, spread you out, so you definitely have to out there and pretty much cover 53 guys. And you have to be to run with them and minimize the big plays that you’re going to give up.”
After Week 1, Turner admits his players were a dejected after a loss to Mills.
“It was like, holy smokes,” Turner said. “It was a shock to us that we didn’t play very well. But I always felt like, in the back of my mind, if we played well and took care of business, that we’d be in it and get to play in the championship game. It took the wind out of our sails, but I’m really proud of the way our guys fought back. And guess what? We have an opportunity to get back into the race and be where we want to be.”