Julio Lara/Daily Journal
Hillsdale’s James Hollon looks for some running room during the Knights’ 66-14 win over King’s Academy Friday afternoon in San Mateo.
There is winning a Peninsula Athletic League Lake Division title — and there’s doing what the Hillsdale Knights did Friday afternoon.
From the opening kickoff to the sound of the buzzer at the end of the game, Hillsdale was not simply content with capturing its first division championship since 2009 and only its third since 1991. No, Hillsdale pinned its ears back and came after it like it was their birthright, like the Knights had been starving for the division crown since they first got together for workouts last spring.
After scoring seven first-half touchdowns in what was a complete blitz of King’s Academy on offense and defense, Hillsdale is going to the Central Coast Section playoffs as Lake Division champions after a 66-14 win — completing their run through the division at a perfect 5-0.
“I love these kids,” said Hillsdale head coach Mike Parodi as he fought back some tears. “They, as a group — players, coaches, parents, all the support — have worked our butts off to get to this point. These kids have fought through some adversity these past years and they made the conscious choice to get better. And they did everything we, as coaches, asked them to do. Today was just a great culmination in the league to show that we’re a pretty darn good program.”
“I’ve never been a champion. So it feels amazing,” said Hillsdale quarterback Cole Carrithers. “We’ve been working too hard not to take it. We came out knowing that we had to come out fast because we knew their defense wasn’t going to be able to keep up with us once we got going faster and faster. We knew that if they were going to play the defense they were, that we were going to be able to take deep shots.”
The first half played out exactly like Carrithers expected. Hillsdale racked up 280 yards in that first period alone behind the vintage big play that has come to define the Parodi Era of football. Seven plays into the first possession, Giancarlo Boscacci took the ball off left guard, bounced it to the outside and 33 yards later fired the first championship game salvo of the afternoon.
Then it was Carrithers’ turn to flaunt what he’s capable of from the quarterback position. First, he hooked up with Brandon Butcher on a 45-yard touchdown pass that featured a perfectly ran wheel pattern by No. 7.
Less than three minutes later, Carrithers was at it again. This time, he found Shawn Charan on a post pattern to make it 21-0.
The Hillsdale defense made its first big appearance of the afternoon on King’s next drive when John Paran intercepted the first of five Dominic Sabel passes in the game Hillsdale quickly turned that into points when Boscacci culminated a 33-yard drive with a 9-yard run — good for his second of the afternoon and a rout-starting touchdown.
“Cole was just on fire,” Parodi said. “He did a great job of finding the opening. There is going to be an open guy, the way we look at it. Someone is going to be open. He found him and did a great job. We’re so greedy. We want them all. Today, we got them all early on. It was an awesome first half for sure.”
Hillsdale stayed with its foot planted on that throttle. It added a fifth touchdown with 7:02 left in the second quarter. Boscacci scored his third touchdown, this time on a 23-yard screen pass.
After the teams traded interceptions, King’s Academy finally broke through on a nice read-option pitch executed by Sabel for a 41-yard touchdown.
But just like it did the entire afternoon, Hillsdale was chalk-full of big-time answers. On this occasion, it was Carrithers once again, dropping back, locking eyes downfield and finding Charan all alone for a 56-yard touchdown. Carrithers would add a fifth on the half exactly 12 seconds later after Salvador Hernandez intercepted a pass to give Hillsdale the ball right back. Another wheel route, once again to Butcher, was executed for a 44-yard strike and although TKA did add another score in the first half on an 80-yard pass play, Hillsdale was well on its way to victory with a 49-14 lead.
“I came in calm and collective,” Carrithers said. “I knew I couldn’t get too ahead of myself and I just did me. It worked out.”
“We looked out there. We saw what they wanted to do and we took what they gave us,” Parodi said. “We don’t care of it’s passing, running, backwards, forwards passes. Defensively, our boys played their butts off. They’ve worked hard and they deserve the things they’ve received. I’m so proud of them.”
The second half was a mere formality. The running clock would not start until the fourth quarter, but by then, Hillsdale added two more scores to its advantage. A.J. Bernal got in on the scoring fun, putting the stamp on a five-play drive with a two-yard run. Hillsdale went to Bernal a lot in the second half to ice that game. A big 45-yard run midway through the third quarter set up Hillsdale for its next score. This time, Hernandez booted a 38-yard field with 26 seconds left in the quarter to make it 59-14.
Hillsdale added one more score in the fourth quarter when Andre Fontenot ran into the end zone during running-clock time.