Recap: Paly defeats San Benito 28-7 in first game of season
by Drew Keller
Published September 14, 2013
The Palo Alto High School football team (1-0-0) kicked off the 2013 season Friday night with a 28-7 victory over San Benito High School, elating the thousands of spectators who packed into the new Viking Stadium to see the first home game of the season.
The Vikings showed strength on both offense and defense, scoring 21 unanswered points in the first half and only giving up a single touchdown to the Haybalers with 1:23 left in the fourth quarter.
Senior quarterback Keller Chryst, one of the top-ranked high school quarterbacks in the nation, had a strong game, throwing two touchdown passes: an 8-yard throw to senior fullback Andrew Frick in the first quarter and a 30 yard pass to senior wide receiver Malcolm Davis in the second quarter. Chryst did face strong pressure from the Haybalers’ defensive line, who sacked him twice in the first quarter and again in the fourth.
Chryst also played a key role in one of the most talked-about plays of the night in the second quarter, when he dodged and broke multiple tackles then managed to get off a pass to senior tight end Tully McCalister, who ran 50 yards for a touchdown. Paly received a holding penalty on the play, causing the touchdown to be reversed.
“It’s definitely good to start off like this,” Chryst said. “Our guys played hard all through the game, like Andrew Frick. … [Wide receiver] Keyshawn [Johnson] stepped up and it was just a great game, a win.”
Palo Alto’s coach, Earl Hansen, was also pleased with the efforts of the team, which lacks 16 graduated seniors from last year.
“As a young team I thought [our performance] was excellent,” Hansen said. “Overall I think we got better as the game went on … [Next week] we’re gonna focus on the details that we didn’t do this week, and hopefully we can get better on those.”
Friday night’s game was the first played at the remodeled Viking Stadium, and so included several special pre-game events: a huge American flag was spread across the field during the playing of the national anthem and flares were lit, followed by the coin toss by San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh.
The large crowd responded enthusiastically, and grew only more celebratory as the game progressed.
“I feel great,” said senior Jonathan Kosaka. “This is a great way to start the season and an awesome way to open the new field.”
The team has high expectations to meet; in 2010, the Vikings won the Division I state championship, lost in the Central Coast Section championship in 2011 and won the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League championship last year before losing to Serra High School in the first round of the CCS playoffs. The team hopes to match its past performances this year.
“Hopefully at the end of the season we can have done something big,” Chryst said.
The Vikings’ next game is Saturday, Sept. 21 at Foothill College, where the team will be facing the Archbishop Mitty Monarchs (1-0-0).
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