The Palo Alto High School football team is looking forward to tonights 7 p.m. season opener against a strong Patterson High School team after the departure of former coach Jacob Halas, and the arrival of former Arizona State University quarterback Danny Sullivan.
With the support of a new, experienced staff and the addition of young talent, the Vikings look to rebound from a disappointing 2015 season (5-7, 3-3).
According to Sullivan, the team aspires to reach the same goal as previous years: win the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League title and defeat rival Los Gatos High School.
“Our goals are very simple, winning the SCVAL title is the No. 1 one goal for the 2016 season,” Sullivan said. “After that beat Los Gatos, a team that no player on this Viking squad has ever beat.”
The Vikings suffered critical blows to the team’s roster over the off-season, losing star wide receiver Eli Givens and former starting quarterback Justin Hull to graduation.
The team will also be without captain and third-year varsity lineman Troy Henderson III due to a knee injury sustained at a scrimmage against Terra Nova High School. However, according to Henderson, he is confident the team will be able to fill his shoes.
“Senior lineman Alec Cohen-Schisler will be taking over my spot until I return and I am confident in his skill to take over the right guard position because he has the heart of a lion and the drive like I’ve never seen in anyone else,” Henderson said.
Henderson said he hopes to heal soon so he can re-join the team on the field, just in time for league games.
“I am extremely disappointed I will not be able to play with my brothers under the the lights the first couple of games, but it has given me motivation to get well so I can go back and play and finish my senior year strong,” Henderson said. “If I get through my physical therapy and work hard to heal up, I should be back in 3-4 weeks just in time for League games.”
The team has filled the vacant positions with up and coming upper and underclassmen talent such as senior and sophomore quarterbacks Jordan Schilling and Jackson Chryst. Chryst is the younger brother of former Paly quarterback star Keller Chryst. The Vikings are confident in the abilities of veteran junior running back junior Paul Jackson who accumulated over one-thousand rushing yards and ten rushing touchdowns during the 2015 season as a sophomore, according to Max Preps.
Senior lineman Peter Snodgrass said the veterans have all shown significant improvement over the offseason and are prepared for a productive 2016 season.
“Since last year, every single returner has become faster and stronger through our extensive offseason program,” Snodgrass said. “Our offensive line has become an even more cohesive unit and our running backs have really developed well. Our quarterback has also shown great strides since last year.”
Senior starting quarterback Jordan Schilling envisions the team not only improving as football players, but as people as well.
“I think the team is different because everything is new, but we have adjusted fast and look good,” Schilling said. “We have made a lot of adjustments, but I am really proud of every player and how fast we have come together.”