Dolphins Roll to 35-0 Halftime Lead over Uni En Route to 10th Consecutive Win
By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
Last Friday night’s matchup with University at Stadium by the Sea was what coaches often refer to as a “trap game”—one in which a vastly superior squad overlooks an undermanned opponent with a more “important” game looming. That was the challenge facing Palisades’ varsity football team all week, but by the end of the first quarter it was clear the Dolphins had not taken the Wildcats for granted—in fact, they looked as sharp as they have all season in a 55-0 rout that kept them undefeated and on track for a high seed in the City Section’s Open Division playoffs. Palisades’ second shutout of the season also marked the team’s 10th win in a row dating back to the spring and the Dolphins’ 13th straight triumph over University. The Wildcats last celebrated victory against Palisades when they prevailed 42-14 in the Dolphins’ first year under Coach Kelly Loftus, whose players started the current streak with a 19-14 win at home the following fall. Palisades has had three head coaches since then. In fact, over the last 14 years (the two teams did not play in the shortened season last spring), Palisades has outscored University 451-154—an average margin of victory of 23 points per game. The Wildcats have not managed a point in the last three meetings, getting outscored 121-0.
As he had in the previous game against Venice, Moses Ross got the Dolphins on the scoreboard first with one of his two touchdown receptions (giving him five over the last two games) from quarterback Sammy Silvia, who continues to perform at a high level while filling in for injured starter Dylan Hassid.
The score got out of hand quickly, limiting Daniel Anoh’s touches, but the Dolphins’ star running back still managed to amass 89 yards in six carries with one touchdown—moving him to within nine of the school record for rushing TDs in one season set by Terence O’Neal in 1998. Anoh is also in pursuit of the school record for rushing yards in a season with 947 through seven games. Innocent Okoh is the current standard-bearer with 1,965 yards in 12 games, which he accomplished his senior year in 2016. Anoh is averaging over 12 yards per carry.
Fellow tailback Barrett Gordon added 45 yards and one touchdown in six carries, Josh Russell had 25 yards in two carries and, much to the delight of his fellow offensive linemen, 6-foot-2 inch, 260-pound senior Corey Ehrlich carried the rock three times in garbage time, lumbering for 25 yards and moving the chains with a bruising 14-yard rumble up the gut.
Silvia targeted five different receivers, finding Anoh once for a nine-yard pickup; wideout Xavier Smith three times for 53 yards and a touchdown; Kwazi Estes three times for 39 yards and touchdown; Eli Ghodooshim twice for 20 yards and Moss twice for 73 yards and two scores.
Palisades is off to a 7-0 start for the first time since 1976 when the Dolphins reeled off 11 wins in a row before falling to Cleveland 28-21 in the City 4A semifinals.
Palisades held its ground at No. 3 in the City rankings behind only Marine League rivals Wilmington Banning and San Pedro. The four highest-ranked teams at the end of the regular season get to begin the playoffs at home.
Defensive end Matt Fahn led the Dolphins in tackles with six (one solo) versus University. Toby Manheim, Kenneth Ruiz, Trinity Camden and Liam Herrera each had five while linebackers Angus Gilchriest, Josh King and Jack Babala all had four tackles. Cornerback Marcus Brown returned an interception 38 yards for a touchdown, Ruiz caused a fumble and Jovon Alexander had a pass deflection.
Kicker Giovanni Ferrero made seven of his eight extra-point tries. He has been successful on 20 of 22 PATs and three of his four field goal attempts this season.
It has been a successful campaign for first-year head coach Chris Hyduke, who took the reins from Tim Hyde over the summer. Hyduke had served as Hyde’s defensive coordinator in 2019 when the Dolphins captured their first outright league title since 1987. Hyde, who moved across the country to accept a head coaching job at a school in New Hampshire, guided the Dolphins to eight winning seasons and brought a physical style of football back to a program that had not won an upper division playoff game since 1997.
Having taken care of business against University (1-4), the Dolphins can finally set their sights on tomorrow’s showdown at Hamilton. Both teams enter the contest undefeated. The winner moves into sole possession of first place in the Western League with two games left. The Yankees (6-0) have posted nonleague victories over Narbonne, Manual Arts, Hollywood and St. Monica and league wins against University (56-13) and Westchester (14-8). Kickoff is Friday at 7 p.m.
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