Injuries can force the greatest of teams to fall apart. Going into Paly’s final pre-season game before league play against the Aragon High School Dons (3-0, 0-0), the Vikings (0-4, 0-0) were missing key offensive threats. Senior running backs Paul Jackson III and Sione Latu were unable to play due to injuries. Paly’s luck quickly went from bad to worse when an Aragon player stepped on junior starting quarterback Jackson Chryst’s achilles, taking him out of the game at the end of the first quarter.
Many would expect a team to lose hope under those circumstances Paly head coach Danny Sullivan said. Instead, the Vikings fought back and were moderately successful, at least for the first half.
“It says a lot about my kids,” Sullivan said. “They’re not going to quit.”
New faces stood out with impressive performances. Sophomore wide receiver Jamir Shepard, who ran in an impressive 50 plus yard touchdown, and junior back-up quarterback Kyle Mostofizadeh were the core of a depleted offense that produced what Jackson III described as one of “the team’s best first halves yet”.
Sullivan applauded Mostofizadeh for his ability to step in and produce for the injured Chryst.
“I can’t say enough about Kyle,” Sullivan said. “It would have been so easy for us to quit, down 14 to nothing and the quarterback goes out of the game. Instead Jamir shepard makes a play and we’re right back in it.”
Although Paly lost with a final score of 14-48, Jackson III, who was on his feet all night long despite watching from the sideline, said the team’s performance is a sign of promise for success to come.
“We started off great,” Jackson III said. “I think we’re making progress because that was one of the best first halves that we’ve played this season. If we can keep building off of that we’ll be in good shape especially heading into the league next week.”
Although the Vikings played with heart, it was a rocky road to the end of the game. Paly’s special teams fumbled the opening kickoff to begin the second half and the momentum shifted to Aragon. The team gave up two touchdowns in the form of two costly turnovers near their own end zone. Paly’s offensive drives were long ordeals; Aragon’s defense held firm and hardly budged.
The Aragon offense broke down the Viking defense with run after run, eventually pouring on four touchdowns before the midway point of the fourth quarter.
Although it was a tough loss, Sullivan is optimistic for the team’s potential in its league. According to Sullivan, a proper mindset and tackling each game at a time is the key to future success.
“We’re 0-0 right now,” Sullivan said. “So is everyone in our league. That’s one thing we know we’ve got going for us and with the way that everyone’s playing right now everything is up for grabs.”
The Vikings will fight for their first win during their first league matchup at 7 p.m. on Friday against Homestead High School at Homestead.