The Palo Alto High School football team (3-6, 2-3) looks to finish out its regular season with a critical victory when it faces the Saratoga High School Falcons (4-5, 2-3) this Friday on the road with potential Central Coast Section playoff implications at stake.
After a solid 55-26 win at the Homecoming game against the Santa Clara High School Bruins, the Vikings suffered a bitter defeat against the Milpitas High School Trojans on Senior Night, 47-7.
Meanwhile, the Falcons are coming off of a tough 42-6 loss on the road at the hands of the Los Gatos High School Wildcats.
With the Vikings and Falcons possessing identical league records (2-3) heading into the final regular season game of the season, it is likely that the winner of the contest will advance to the first round of the CCS playoffs, and the losing team’s season will be over.
Senior running back and team captain Jayshawn Puckett stressed consistency as the top priority for getting the decisive victory.
“I would like to see the team as a whole stay consistent each quarter,” Puckett said. “This game is a must-win game because we want to compete for CCS.”
Vikings head coach Jake Halas emphasized that this Friday’s game must be treated as a playoff matchup.
“People have been projecting that we go into the playoffs,” Halas said. “We’re treating it as a playoff game. I told my players that if the projections are correct, we just keep playing until we lose.”
During last week’s blow-out loss against Milpitas, several players were disciplined with minimal playing time due to a lack of focus and commitment during practice over the course of the past few weeks. Junior running back and linebacker Tak Nishi is excited to have key players back for Friday’s big game.
“I’m happy to have the guys we didn’t have last week back to play our final regular season game and get to the playoffs,” Nishi said. “This game will decide if we go to CCS or not, so we’ll be working hard this week in practice to get the win.”
Halas agreed with Nishi on the importance of practicing hard.
“I need 100 percent attendance, participation, dialed-in mentality and focus this week,” Halas said. “That’s what I really want. We have to have that. One hundred percent attendance in practice. We still have not had that consistently this year. I want to see a strong work week.”
The Vikings and Falcons kick off at 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 14, at Saratoga High School.