Slow start dooms Vikings in Homecoming game

Emma van der Veen and Jackson Doerr

Senior quarterback Justin Hull runs the ball into the end zone for a touchdown. The Vikings' fell to the Los Gatos Wildcats on Friday night at Viking Stadium, a devastating loss for Paly's homecoming game.
Senior quarterback Justin Hull runs the ball into the end zone for a touchdown. The Vikings fell to the Los Gatos Wildcats on Friday night at Viking Stadium for Paly’s Homecoming game due to poor execution, according to Head Coach Jake Halas. “We had a lot of drops again and some breakdowns on defense,” Halas said. “It just didn’t go our way, and that is the difference when you play a top team like Los Gatos.” Photo by Cooper Lou.

The Palo Alto High School football team (3-5, 2-2) fell to the Los Gatos Wildcats (4-3, 3-1) last Friday night in the Vikings’ Homecoming game by a score of 42-20.

Overall, the Vikings’ performance was strong, but minor mistakes led to a frustrating loss.

“We just couldn’t finish in the red zone,” head coach Jake Halas said. “It’s not that we played badly, it’s just that when you play a team like this, there’s little room for error. You can’t make a single mistake against these teams.”

In a disappointing start for the Vikings, Wildcats’ senior tight end Miles Beach and junior running back Jordan Howell scored two touchdowns in the first three minutes of the game. The Vikings managed to climb back, scoring a touchdown in the final minutes of the first half, cutting the Wildcat’s lead to 28-13.

“We had a rough first three possessions,” junior center Peter Snodgrass said. “Things weren’t going our way, but we fought back.”

Paly came back with an astounding trick play, in which senior quarterback Justin Hull pitched the ball to sophomore running back Paul Jackson III, who connected with senior wide receiver Eli Givens in the end zone for a touchdown.

Paly was unable to gain the lead, despite having multiple chances near the goal line.

“They had two fourth downs, and they scored on those plays,” Halas said. “That’s the difference in the game. We didn’t score when we were down there at the 1 yard line.”

According to Givens, Paly’s rough start was a large factor in their defeat.

“At the beginning, we gave them too big of a head start,” Givens said. “We put ourselves into a big hole and we had to dig ourselves out.”

The Wildcats were focused on physicality and execution, coming back from a tough loss last week, according to head coach Mark Krail.

“We all challenged ourselves to get back up and play the game we liked to play,” Krail said.

The Wildcats’ success was not due to a lack of effort from their opponents, according to sophomore running back Paul Jackson III.

“We went all out,” Jackson III said. “They had a lot of big plays, and we just couldn’t match them.”

According to Halas, the Vikings can bounce back in their next game, in which a victory would lead them to the playoffs.

“We’re just going to rally together,” Halas said. “Next week is Senior Night,and it’s our last home game. If we win one of our last two, we go to the playoffs.”

Paly’s final home game, Senior Night, is against the Homestead Mustangs (3-4, 1-2) at 7 p.m. next Friday at the Viking Stadium.