Paly starts title defense with win

Palo Alto won the CCS Open Division title in 2010 en route to winning the CIF Division I state title. This year, the Vikings took two losses in the regular season but moved into the semi-finals on Friday night with a 20-6 win over Leland. The Vikings got two touchdown catches from BJ Boyd to overcome a 6-0 halftime deficit.
Leland: Tim Mclaughlin 40 yard field goal 3-0 Leland with 6:01 left in the first quarter
Leland: Tim Mclaughlin 24 yard field goal 6-0 Leland with 11:43 left in the second quarter
Palo Alto: Keller Chryst to BJ Boyd for 37 yards (PAT Good) 7-6 Palo Alto with 3:40 left in the third quarter
Palo Alto: Dre Hill 1 yard run (PAT Good) 14-6 Palo Alto with 11:00 left in the fourth quarter
Palo Alto: Chryst to Boyd for 42 yards (PAT no good) 20-6 Palo Alto with 7:44 left in the fourth quarter
The 6-foot-3, 215 pound sophomore has already generated quite a bit of buzz and on Friday, you saw glimpses of it in his first ever playoff game. Chryst went 9-for-28 for 172 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions, but made a pair of very good touchdown passes in the second half. Some of the strengths for the 2014 prospect include working through his progressions, touch on the downfield pass and a solid play fake game. Expect to hear more from him the rest of the playoffs and the next two years.
Hill leads solid ground attack: Hill teamed with Boyd last year to form the running attack complementing the passing game. This year, the running game has Hill leading the show with 26 carries for 137 yards and a touchdown against Leland. He had just two negative runs on the night and did a better job in the second half of hitting the hole quickly to better finish his runs. The Vikings' ability to have a solid running game to support Chryst is vital for a potential title defense.
Boyd makes big plays: While he was limited in the return game due to Leland keeping the ball away from him, Boyd still made plays on offense with five catches for 117 yards and two touchdowns. He was targeted 10 times total. On both of his touchdowns, Boyd ran vertical down the sideline to get behind the defense.
Santini lives up to the billing: We have seen Santini in three different camps over the course of his career, but this is the first time in an actual football game. The 6-foot-1, 216 pound Boise State commit was all over the field on defense in shooting the gaps well, chasing down plays from the backside and being a sure tackler in space. He made a handful of real impact plays in easily tallying double digit tackles. On offense, he had 17 carries for a team high 80 yards. "Once he gets going, he's tough to stop," Palo Alto head coach Earl Hansen said. Boise State has made a living on getting really sound football players into its program and it looks to have hit another one in this department with Santini.
Lack of balance hurts Leland: Leland finished with negative yards passing in rarely putting stress on Palo Alto's defense outside of the running from Santini. The Chargers were averaging 194 yards per game through the air behind quarterback Jason Habash, but struggled to get separation downfield and time to throw.
Other top contributors: For Palo Alto, linebacker Austin Braff had 31 yards receiving and made numerous plays on defense and defensive line Tory Prati made a couple of nice plays. For Leland, Tim Mclaughlin added to his kicking duties with strong play at linebacker while Jeff Carnduff had two interceptions. The Leland defensive line also was active on Friday night, especially in the first half.
Can Paly return to Open Division finals?: The Vikings will need to beat St. Francis-Mountain View this week to reach the CCS Open Division finals for the second straight year. Both teams have shown the ability to grind out the tough running yards, but which team can stretch the field with the pass could prove victorious next week. Also, how Paly defends Braden Bishop and the Lancers guard Boyd will be another important factor to watch.