Before the football season began Palisades High junior varsity coach Ray Marsden predicted his team would win a 6-0 type game.
It didn’t take long for the Dolphins to prove him prophetic as they did just enough to blank Sylmar 8-0 in last Thursday’s season opener at Stadium by the Sea — and Marsden couldn’t have been more proud of his players’ grit and determination.
“We had guys dropping like flies… we lost our center, our tight end and our backup tight end,” Marsden lamented. “Our depth issue got exposed but we won it with defense. I couldn’t ask for more from these guys.”
Palisades scored the only points it would need on a 65-yard pass from quarterback Noah Karp to tight end Liam Mathers early in the second quarter. Mathers dislocated his hip running to the end zone and was out for the rest of the game.
“It was a seam pass over the middle,” Karp said, describing the play. “It was a quick snap, I saw the linebackers came in, I threw it over the top and he caught it.”
Kaie Heninger added some insurance by taking an off tackle pitch across the goal line for the two-point conversion.
“Those points were huge because I knew even if they scored at the end of the game, they’d have to score again just to tie,” Marsden said.
The contest was mostly an exercise in futility as the teams traded punts and fought for field position the majority of the afternoon — a far cry from last year’s opener when the Dolphins scored on all seven of its offensive possessions in a 60-6 rout of Marshall. However, the starting quarterback (Jonah Manheim), the two top running backs (Innocent Okoh and Stone Maderer) and the leading wide receiver (Pierre Kaku) from a year ago are now all on varsity.
“We’re not an offensive juggernaut, but we’ll take a win any way we can get it and in the final analysis it doesn’t matter how many points you score — you just have to score more than the other team,” Marsden said. “We have a lot of things to fix, but all things considered I’m happy.”
Nine starters played both ways Thursday, including Karp, who admitted he was exhausted at the end.
“I was cramping up in both legs, but winning is the greatest feeling ever,” he said. “I’m not the only one going both ways — a lot of us are and that’s fine with me. I love the contact, it doesn’t bother me. I just want to play.”
Sylmar threatened to score in the final minute, driving inside the Dolphins’ 30-yard line. However, a third-down pass was broken up by Rayne Camden and a fourth-down pass was deflected by Chris Howard with 35 seconds remaining.
Palisades had the previous week off because Sierra Canyon didn’t have a JV team. Sylmar, meanwhile, had lost its first game to Crespi. The Dolphins have a bye this week and host Canoga Park on Sept. 18.
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