An early postseason exit in 2016 sparked an offseason of hard work and dedication for the Palo Alto High School football team (0-1, 0-0), in hopes of more successful 2017 campaign.
The Vikings (4-7, 3-3) finished fourth in the De Anza League last season, clinching the last CCS playoff spot, but lost in the first round of CCS to league rival Los Gatos High School (8-4, 6-0), 31-6.
According to head coach Danny Sullivan, the team went through rigorous offseason work to prepare this year for league play.
“We went through spring practices towards the end of the school year last year to stay familiar with our skills and schemes,” Sullivan said. “We then went through a six-week summer strength and conditioning program to make sure that our kids’ bodies are ready to go for the season ahead.”
With the loss of the Viking Class of 2017, the bench and younger players must find a way to fill the holes left by the graduated seniors.
“One of the benefits to filling the voids left by last year’s important senior class is that we return 15 starters from last season,” Sullivan said. “More experience for our younger players will help us out drastically. We will miss those seniors from last year because they were an integral part in setting the standards for trying to get this program back to a better place.”
The Vikings begin their season with a tough stretch of games, including a non-league game against Archbishop Mitty High school (0-1, 0-0) on Sep. 8 and a league game against Los Gatos (1-0, 0-0) Oct. 6 on the road.
“If we are to be successful, our energy and focus levels need to be extremely high because we are going against some very good teams,” Sullivan said.
Junior starting quarterback Jackson Chryst and Jackson III are set to make an impact for the Vikings this season.
According to Chyrst, young talent must step up to compete at a high level.
“In order to successful in … league we have to be consistent and disciplined in all phases of the game,” Chyrst said. “My expectations for the team are very high, we got all the talent, it’s now time to put it together.”
According to Sullivan, the team has the potential to finish first in the DAL and make a deep run into post season.
“We need every single player to make an impact in order for us to be successful this season,” Sullivan said. “With the talent that we have on the roster, there is no reason why we can’t be in the mix to compete for a league title. The players know it as well.”
Paly kicked off the 2017 season on Aug. 25 with a 37-27 preseason non-league loss against the Patterson High School Tigers (1-0, 0-0).
The Vikings will face the Half Moon Bay High School Cougars (1-0, 0-0) at 7 p.m. on Friday at Paly.