Bouncing Back

Palisades safety Waka White (left) and linebacker Noah Ghodooshim (right) wrap up Taft tailback Chris Gilpin in last Thursday’s game.
Photos by Rich Schmitt/Staff Photographer

Dolphins Blank Host Taft 54-0 to Give Coach Tim Hyde His 45th Victory

By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor

Prior to last Thursday night, the last time the Palisades High varsity football team had traveled to Taft was in 1997 before anyone on the present team was born. Taft was a City powerhouse back then under Coach Troy Starr and sure enough the top-seeded Toreadors beat Palisades 28-7 in the quarterfinals of the 4A playoffs.

How times have changed.

Palisades running back Max Palees tries to leap over a Taft defender in the Dolphins’ nonleague win last Thursday in Woodland Hills.
Junior Xavier Whitfield returns a punt 47 yards for a touchdown early in the third quarter of the visiting Dolphins’ 54-0 rout of Taft.

In the last seven years while Coach Tim Hyde has brought stability back to Palisades’ program, Taft has gone through five coaching changes and the difference on the field was evident from the first snap at Hal Lambert Stadium, where the Dolphins posted their ninth shutout of the Hyde era with a 54-0 victory to vault him over Ron Price into second place on the school’s career wins list with 45.

“Tonight was all about getting the bad taste out of our mouths from last week,” said Hyde, who trails only Dick North (111 wins over 21 seasons from 1961-81) among Palisades head coaches. “We opened up the offense, kept the same O-line, went with four wides and let Forrest [Brock] chuck it all over. This week was about us getting better. That’s what the whole season is about­—getting better each and every week.”

Palisades improved to 5-1 all-time against Taft and looked like a totally different team than the one that lost to Cleveland six days before.

After receiving the opening kickoff the Dolphins marched 57 yards in eight plays, scoring on Brock’s 10-yard pass to wideout Eli Manheim.

Palisades’ Adam Cravens (right) runs for a 10-yard touchdown to give the Dolphins a 38-0 lead late in the second quarter last Thursday.

On the third play of Taft’s first possession, linebacker Noah Ghodooshim intercepted a pass in the flat and returned it 23 yards for an easy touchdown. The first turnover of the year came at a perfect time.

“In film we saw the quarterback-receiver pass was to the fullback off the leak. It was a quick read and I just took it and went off to the end zone. I thank [assistant coach] Jeremy Read for it,” said Ghodooshim, one of the Dolphins’ five senior captains. “We know how good our defense is and what happened last week, that is not how our defense performs so we wanted to show who we are. We didn’t overlook them. Our attitude was we’re 0-1 and they’re 1-0, regardless of how they won.”

Palisades cornerback Matthew Anoh (right) intercepts a pass in the third quarter of last Thursday night’s game in Woodland Hills.

Taft lost its opener to University, 34-7, but was awarded a forfeit victory a few days later because the Wildcats used an ineligible player.

A tackle in the backfield on fourth-and-one by senior defensive end Malachi Gregory gave Palisades the ball back at Taft’s 29-yard line and on the first play Brock found Max Palees over the middle for another touchdown and the Dolphins led 21-0 with 3:45 left in the first quarter.

A sack by Immanuel Newell forced Taft to punt on its next drive and Xavier Whitfield returned the kick 50 yards to the Toreadors’ 6.

Palisades head coach Tim Hyde has 45 victories in his seven seasons, moving him into second place on the Dolphins’ career wins list.

Brock rolled to his left and found Manheim in the corner of the end zone for a three-yard score to make it 28-0. Another Taft punt gave the Dolphins the ball near midfield and they drove inside the 10 before settling for Tommy Meek’s 26-yard field goal and after a sack by Vernard Harris forced the Toreadors to punt again, Adam Cravens capped a 34-yard drive with a 10-yard run to make it 38-0 with 2:05 left in the half.

“Last year I was playing behind Jake [Nadley] and Will [Janney] so I didn’t get a lot of balls thrown my way, but over the summer I worked on improving my game because I knew I was going to have to step up,” said Manheim, who didn’t catch a pass his junior year but has four receptions—three of them for touchdowns—in two games this season.

Senior wide receiver Eli Manheim celebrates his second touchdown reception in the first half of Palisades’ nonleague win at Taft.

After Taft went three-and-out to start the second half, Whitfield returned the punt 47 yards for a touchdown. Meek ended Palisades’ next drive with a 33-yard field goal and Kenny Cline added a 37-yard scoring run early in the fourth quarter. Taft didn’t get a first down until late in the third quarter. Matthew Anoh intercepted a pass on the next play.   

The margin of victory was Palisades’ widest since its 61-7 league rout of visiting Fairfax to close out the regular season in 2017.