Football preview: Vikings to host Santa Clara in homecoming game

Josh Yuen, Author

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The Palo Alto High School football team (2-5, 1-2) will seek to rebound from last week’s blow-out loss against the Los Gatos Wildcats (6-1, 3-0) as it hosts the Santa Clara Bruins (2-5, 0-3) this Friday at Hod Ray Field in the Paly homecoming game.

After regaining confidence with a 41-35 victory at Monta Vista (1-6, 0-4) on Oct. 17, the Vikings were trounced right from the first snap last week, 49-7. The Wildcats outscored the Vikings 42-0 in the final three quarters, as the Vikings defense surrendered 256 rushing yards and five touchdowns on the ground. This week, head coach Jake Halas emphasized moving on from last week’s disaster and focusing on the pass-heavy offense of Santa Clara.

Junior receiver Oliver Svirsky cradles in a pass during the Vikings 20-19 loss against Wilcox. The Vikings return home this Friday to take on the Santa Clara Bruins. Photo by Josh Yuen.

Junior receiver Oliver Svirsky cradles in a pass during the Vikings 20-19 loss against Wilcox on Oct. 17. The Vikings return home this Friday to take on the Santa Clara Bruins. Photo by Josh Yuen.

“To win a football game, you have to be able to stop the run and run the ball,” Halas said. “Obviously, we had a heck of a time shutting down Los Gatos’ running game. Having said that, we’re playing a team that throws the ball 75 percent of the time, so even though they do have a running game, they throw the ball a lot. That’s what we’re focusing on more. But if they want to run the ball, we have to stop it.”

The Bruins, still winless against league opponents, are coming off of a break-out 54-14 victory over the Lynbrook Vikings (0-7, 0-3) from the El Camino League. Despite a disappointing performance last week, junior wide receiver and captain Eli Givens said that the Vikings’ mindset has not wavered from its winning attitude.

“We’re just going to continue onto this week’s game and forget about last week’s,” Givens said. “Our mindset is to just win this week. Again, finish plays and make every play count and win.”

When asked about potential rainy weather forecasted for Friday evening, Halas said that his team is eager to build off of previous success that they have had in bad weather.

“We’ve had great success in bad weather games since I’ve been here,” Halas said. “I like it. The kids like it. We’re looking forward to it.”

Although the contest will have a more ceremonial vibe to it due to homecoming activities, Givens accentuated that the team is treating it just like any other game.

“It’s just another game to play,” Givens said. “It’s another chance to get the W [win].”

The Vikings and Bruins kick off at 7 p.m. this Friday, Oct. 31 at Hod Ray Field. All fans are encouraged to wear as much black as they can to display their Paly spirit, according to senior Livi Clarissa Musil. If you are not going to be at the game due to Halloween festivities, check The Paly Voice Friday night for our liveblog of the game.