By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
The Palisades High football team’s milestone 2019 season seems like a distant memory, but the Dolphins are anxious to get back on the field to prove that last year’s 9-2 record and Western League title were no fluke.
The first test will be tomorrow at 6 p.m. at archival Venice—a team that will be looking for revenge after being dealt a 38-14 defeat at Stadium by the Sea back in October 2019. Palisades’ 2020 season is kicking off seven months late, but Coach Tim Hyde and his players will squeeze four games in before the April 30 deadline.
“We called up a bunch sophomores and we have 10 freshmen working out that played Pop Warner,” Hyde said. “With no junior varsity this year and no playoffs we’re using this mini season as a starting point for spring ball. We only have a couple of seniors left so we’re going to be very young.”
After losing their opener in 2019, the Dolphins reeled off nine straight victories—their longest winning streak since 1976.
Palisades hosted Hamilton in a full pads scrimmage last Thursday afternoon and the Dolphins showed plenty of rust. Hyde called the team’s effort “sloppy” and noted his team is inexperienced on the offensive line.
“Venice will be a major challenge for us again,” he said. “Their new quarterback is not the runner [Luca] Diamont was but he is a very good passer. This is the best collection of wideouts [Coach] Angelo Gasca has had in many years.”
Dylan Hassid will get the start at quarterback and has the unenviable task of trying to replace senior Forrest Brock, who transferred to City champion Birmingham.
“We have some very talented players but no seniors on the offensive line so the kids playing in April will be the same ones who’ll be playing in September. We have more sophomores playing on offense than seniors!”
Palisades’ schedule also includes league games with Fairfax and Westchester and a nonleague matchup against perennial City powerhouse Garfield.
“They keep score and we’re going to play to win,” Hyde said. “One of the strengths of our program has been preparing our guys from January to July. This year I’ve had to do it in three weeks. We had no offseason program. Other teams have that issue too. We don’t have transfers. It’s a competely new bunch and it’ll be exciting to be out there. Ninety-nine percent of the kids are going to be coming back in the fall, so we can build on our mistakes. We have no senior linemen or linebackers and instead of seven months to prepare we’ve had a few weeks.”
Palisades has beaten Venice in three of the last four meetings and 2019 marked the first time Palisades went 5-0 in league since 1987 when it won the Crosstown League under coach Jack Epstein on its way to the City 3A Division final.
“From the scrimmage I liked that the kids finally had the chance to compete against another team for the first time since November of 2019,” said Hyde, starting his eighth season at the helm. “We came out of the scrimmage reasonably healthy and we’ll have a few starters
out for Venice but we should be 100 percent for the following week.”
In addition to the loss of Brock at quarterback, Palisades lost its best lineman in Nick Calcaterra, who decided not to play along with returning center Luca Anna and senior Michael Eberlein, who would have been a starter. Juniors Nick Raddon and Jonathan Pizzante are the only returners from 2019 and Hyde expects them to provide some stability. The remaining players are from the 2019 junior varsity squad.
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