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Vikings conclude 2011 season with loss in CCS Championship to Bellarmine, 41-13


Senior B.J. Boyd returns a kickoff for a touchdown in Paly’s CCS Championship loss to Bellarmine College Preparatory Friday night.  Boyd added another touchdown late in the fourth quarter on a 48 yard pass from quarterback Keller Chryst.

– Matt Ersted

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The Palo Alto High School football team (10-3-0) will now have to look towards next year, having finished their season tonight, losing 41-13 to Bellarmine College Preparatory (12-1-0) at San Jose City College.

The Vikings finished their season  having reached the final of the Central Coastal Section Open Division Championship for the second straight year. Although the team still achieved a successful season by most standards, players were still disappointed that the season had to come to an end.

“I mean, we had high hopes going into the season obviously because of our success last year,” senior linebacker Brennan Miller said. “We had a good season, but it sucks to end it like this.”

For the majority of the first quarter, the two teams traded punts, playing a game of field position. However, the Bells struck first with three and a half minutes left in the quarter on a 54-yard run by senior quarterback Travis McHugh. However, McHugh missed the extra point.

The Vikings responded quickly, as senior running back B.J Boyd returned the ensuing kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown. Senior Justin Grey converted the extra point to give the Vikings their only lead of the game, 7-6. Unfortunately for Paly, that would be it’s only lead of the night.
Bellarmine focused on shutting down the passing game of the Vikings, and in large, they were successful.

“We worked really hard on it,” Bellarmine head coach Mike Janda said. “Our passing defense over the past few weeks has been massively improved, and I can’t say enough about the way our guys have rose to the challenge, Boyd is a tremendous receiver.”

On the ensuing Bellarmine drive, the Bells drove from their own 25-yard line into the red zone. On fourth and one on Paly’s 9-yard line, senior lineman Chris Martinez jumped offside to give Bells an automatic first down. On the next play from the five yard line, McHugh ran it in for his second touchdown of the game.

After another Paly drive that ended in a punt, the Bells took over from their own 20-yard line midway through the second quarter. The Bells once again marched down the field, mixing a heavy dosage of run with the occasional pass.

Facing a critical third down from Paly’s 20-yard line, the Vikings defense was unable to come up with a stop. McHugh dropped back, faked a pass, and ran up the middle untouched for a 20-yard touchdown. The converted extra point extended Bellarmine’s lead to 20-7 with two minutes left in the half.

But the Bells were not done on offense. Following a Paly three and out that saw two incomplete passes and a sack, the Bells regained possession with over a minute left in the half at their own 40-yard line. This was plenty of time for McHugh and the offense as they drove down the field, capping off the drive with a 12-yard touchdown pass.

At halftime, the Bells had a commanding 27-7 lead.

The Viking offense continued to struggle in the second half. The Bells were able to keep the Vikings’ talented running backs Morris Gates-Mouton and Dre Hill in check while keeping the pressure up on sophomore quarterback Keller Chryst. In the second half, Paly was unable to cross into Bellarmine territory until midway through the fourth quarter.

Chryst threw two interceptions on the night, both when trying to throw deep balls. However, Chryst was able to connect with Boyd on a 48-yard touchdown with three minutes left in the game.

By then, the game was well out of reach for the Vikings.  

“That was our defensive game plan [stopping Boyd],” senior Bellarmine inside linebacker Joe Gigantino said. “He [Boyd] is a really good player, a really good athlete. Our pass defense has not been doing as well. We focused on that and we had a really good game.”

The Bells had tacked on two additional touchdowns in the second half, a 23-yard run by senior running back Tim Crawley with six minutes left in the third quarter and 1-yard run by senior fullback Justin Taliaferro with nine minutes left in the fourth quarter.

The game ended on a desperation heave by Chryst that was knocked down by a group of Bellarmine defenders.

Bellarmine awaits to find out if they will be playing one more game for the state championship in two weeks. The Bells would most likely play in the Division I state championship.

“I don’t know, nothing is guaranteed, but I think we deserve a bid in terms of what we have done this season,” McHugh said. “If they call our number, we’re going to be ready to go.”

“It’s unfortunate that we lost,” Palo Alto principal Phil Winston said. “But our team is phenomenal. Look at the way they’re holding their heads up and representing Palo Alto High School. I could not be more proud of them and our coaching staff.”

The Vikings end the season with a 10-3 record. Their three losses came against Archbishop Mitty High School, Los Gatos High School and Bellarmine.

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