The Palo Alto High School Vikings football team (4-5, 3-3) fell to the Los Gatos Wildcats (6-3, 5-1) Friday night, 35-21, on their Senior Night, the last home game of the season.
Despite trailing by only two touchdowns at the end at halftime, a Viking comeback was out of reach largely due to injuries that forced key seniors, quarterback Keller Chryst and fullback and inside linebacker Andrew Frick, out of the game midway through the third quarter.
“It was a tough game,” Paly senior offensive tackle and defensive end Jack Anderson said. “We had some very bad luck with two of our leaders going down like they did. But Hansen said he was proud of how tough we played despite all of that bad luck.”
Fortunately for Chryst, who has committed to playing Division I football for the Stanford Cardinal next year, his injury currently does not appear to have long-term effects.
“Keller has a minor concussion, he should be alright,” Anderson said.
The Vikings started the game strongly, with Chryst’s 57-yard pass to sophomore wide receiver Eli Givens to open the first drive of the game. The drive ended on a Frick rushing touchdown to put the Vikings up 7-0 with nine minutes left in the first quarter.
However, the Wildcats responded quickly, tying the score up two and a half minutes later with a 30-yard rushing touchdown.
With less than four minutes left in the first quarter, Los Gatos ran in 10 yards for another touchdown to take the lead for the first time of the night, 14-7.
After a key, 29-yard run by Frick, the Vikings scored two minutes after the Wildcat touchdown when senior wide receiver Keesean Johnson ran the ball in for a touchdown, putting the score at 14-14 which is where it remained at the end of the eventful first quarter.
Less than four minutes into the second quarter, the Wildcats took back the lead with a touchdown making the score 21-14. Eight minutes later, Los Gatos made a 38-yard run for another Wildcat touchdown to increase their lead, 28-14.
With 3:27 left in the half, Chryst went down after a collision with a Los Gatos defender and was replaced by sophomore Oliver Svirsky.
Despite an impressive 20-yard run by senior wide receiver Malcolm Davis, the Vikings failed to score and the half ended with the Wildcats up, 28-14.
The resilient Vikings opened the second half with an onside kick, recovering the ball at the Wildcat’s 39 yard line.
Svkirsky held his own with a run to the 28-yard line for a Viking first down. A few plays later, sophomore fullback Shaun Pike ran the ball in for a touchdown to make it a one-scoring game of 21-28.
Unfortunately for the Vikings, Frick was pulled out some minutes later due to a knee injury and the third quarter ended with the Wildcats up, 28-21.
With less than nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the Wildcats ran in for a touchdown from the 36-yard line, increasing their lead to 35-21.
After the Los Gatos quarterback was sacked by the joint effort of senior offensive end Justin Rittman, senior strong safety Tully McCalister and junior corner back Chioke Bryant-Anderson, the Wildcat defense sacked Svirsky and the Vikings were unable to score again.
With the exception of Chryst who will be at Stanford next year, this was the last home game in Palo Alto for the team’s 14 graduating seniors.
In their final league match, the Vikings will face the Santa Clara Bruins (2-7) at 7:15 p.m. next Friday at Santa Clara High School.