Football recap: Vikings dig big hole early, drop home opener 55-14

Josh Yuen and Samuel Desré

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The Palo Alto High School Vikings (1-2, 0-0) were unable to overcome a sloppy first quarter start Friday night and ultimately fell to the faster and more prepared Archbishop Mitty Monarchs (1-1, 0-0) by a score of 55-14 during their regular season home opener.

After failing to score the entire first quarter, the Vikings finally contributed to the scoreboard when senior running back Jayshawn Puckett rushed over right guard for an 11-yard score, making the score 20-7 Monarchs early in the second quarter. Puckett would later score again in the quarter on a 22-yard rush. However, Mitty senior quarterback Brett Foley kept his team in control, leading the Monarchs to a 34-14 lead at the half. According to Puckett, the Vikings started the game with a positive and ready-to-win attitude, but were rattled as Mitty’s lead grew during the first half.

“I believe tonight our team came out with a mindset to win,” Puckett said. “But when we saw Mitty score, we let up too early and put our heads down too early and let them keep pounding the ball. We definitely have a lot of work to do especially after tonight.”

After both teams opened the game with punts on each of their first offensive possessions, the Monarchs scored the first of eight touchdowns when junior running back Derek Bauerle broke free from the defense for a 28-yard touchdown. Their next score occurred just one minute later, when Vikings junior quarterback Oliver Svirsky’s bootleg pass was intercepted by senior defensive back Adam Acevedo, who returned the ball 33 yards for a pick-six. The Monarchs offense would tack on more points before the end of the first quarter, putting the Vikings down 20 points after just twelve minutes of play.

Jayshawn Puckett runs for the end zone during the game against Mitty. Photo by Liana Pickrell

Senior tailback Jayshawn Puckett sprints away from Mitty defenders. Photo by Liana Pickrell

Vikings head coach Jake Halas noted after the game that he was pleased with his team’s competitiveness, but ultimately was outplayed by a top-notch football program from the start.

“We got beat down pretty good by an elite school,” Halas said. “We’re not ready to play at that level right now. It just so happens we’re not there yet. We will be though.”

The second half of the game opened up with two overpowering Monarch touchdowns, eliminating any chance of a potential comeback by the Vikings, and also silencing what had been a loud and active home crowd during the first half. While the rout continued to worsen, Svirsky, who was seen throughout the second half motivating his teammates to never give up, says that the team improved from last week’s 33-0 loss at San Benito in terms of overall effort.

“It’s different from San Benito,” Svirsky said. “San Benito we beat ourselves and gave up. This game, I feel like we fought and we fought until the end.”

The Vikings will look to bounce back at 7:30 p.m. next Saturday Sept. 27, when they host the Palma High School Chieftains (3-0, 0-0) at Hod Ray Field.