The Palo Alto High School football team (4-6, 3-3) is set to face the Salinas Cowboys (6-4, 4-2) in its first Central Coast Section playoff game of the season at 7 p.m. on Friday in Salinas.
According to head coach Jake Halas, the mental side of the game will be the biggest challenge for the team.
“We feel that we are the more physical team and playing the type of schedule that we played this year, I feel confident with the matchup,” Halas said. “Our players need to play with confidence. We had a good week of preparation which will ensure that our kids will play fast.”
The Vikings are preparing for a fast-paced game, according to senior quarterback Justin Hull.
“We’ve been focusing a lot on their offense and how quickly they run their plays,” Hull said. “This whole week, the coaches have been doing a great job trying to simulate their pace and we should be prepared.”
Staying focused and in-tune to the game will help the Vikings stay competitive, according to senior wide receiver Eli Givens.
“My goal is to not give up on any play and not give up on my teammates,” Givens said. “I’ve played with some of these guys for four years now and I know we aren’t leaving any field without a fight.”
According to Hull, the lack of support from fans may impact the game.
“A big challenge for this game is going to be the long drive and being able to come out strong in a very rowdy environment,” Hull said. “Our coaches have warned us about their very vocal student section and have emphasized that we have to do our own thing and not worry too much about them.”
Halas has high hopes for the team’s effort, something that will be carried through the game by players and coaches alike.
“The only thing that I predict is that Palo Alto Football will play extremely hard and regardless of the outcome, I know I’ll be proud of my guys,” Halas said. “For all but a few seniors, the playoffs are unchartered territory. They’re excited to play in the post-season and the energy is great. Our goal is to play every snap from the first whistle to the final horn as hard as we possibly can.”