Football: Vikings unable to overcome slow start at Wilcox

Marvin Zou and Finn Mennuti

Junior Jamir Shepard stiff-arms a defender after catching a pass from senior Jackson Chryst. The Palo Alto High School football team outscored Wilcox 21-14 in the second half but still came up short, losing 35-21. Photo: Finn Mennuti

The Palo Alto High School Vikings football team (5-1, 1-1) fell to the Wilcox Chargers (6-0, 2-0) on Friday, losing 35-21 in a close battle between the teams that both entered the match undefeated.

Paly and Wilcox headed into this game as the two highest ranked teams in the De Anza Football League, according to MaxPreps.

Since the two teams were closely ranked, the game was expected to be close throughout. However, Wilcox got off to a blazing start, scoring the first three touchdowns of the game and going up securing a 21-0 lead early in the first half.

Chargers senior Ryan Cooper Jr. caught the first touchdown pass of the game from senior Alex Adame to make it 7-0. A few minutes later, junior Paul Rosa then quickly made it 14-0 after running for a 20-yard touchdown; the Chargers added on another touchdown midway through the second quarter when Adame connected with junior Isaiah Flores.

The Vikings struggled to move the ball down the field constantly in the first half. Their sole touchdown in the first half happened with just 2:28 left, when senior Jackson Chryst connected with junior Jamir Shepard to narrow the lead to 21-7.

The Vikings’ defensive struggles from the first half carried over early into the third quarter, as Chargers senior Gabe Herrera scored a touchdown while carrying multiple Viking defenders over the goal line to make it 28-7.

However, despite being down 21 points midway through the third, the Vikings rallied back, scoring 14 straight points to cut the lead to just seven points.

The effort for a comeback wasn’t enough, however, as the Vikings were unable to score for the rest of the game. The Chargers sealed the game when Rosa caught a touchdown pass from Adame with four minutes left in the game.

Chryst said the first half struggles hindered the chances of the Vikings’ winning this game, as digging themselves into a 21-point deficit proved to be too high a mountain to scale.

Chryst had three total touchdowns on the night and was able to move the ball much more efficiently in the second half.

“I think the team had trouble in the first half because we weren’t ready for Wilcox’s aggressiveness,” Chryst said.

Senior Wes Walters said the Chargers were one of the toughest offensive teams Paly has faced so far this season.

“Wilcox’s offense is hard to stop because they are always adjusting and always changing it up, so our defense had to keep switching as well,” Walters said.

With this being the first loss of the season for Paly, Walters says the team is focused on moving on to the next game and taking advantage of every future opportunity.

“We are just going to move onto the next game and learn from this game’s mistakes,” Walters said.

Chryst echoed this statement.

“The mindset for the team is to capitalize [on] every chance we get,” Chryst said.

The Vikings will get a chance to rebound from this loss next week, when they will face Cupertino at 7 p.m. Friday at Palo Alto High School.