By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
It seems like yesterday the Palisades High football team took on Westchester in its last official game. That was April 30 and two and a half months later the Dolphins were back on the field at the Royal Rumble 7-on-7 Passing Tournament in sweltering heat last Saturday at El Camino Real High in Woodland Hills.
The delayed 2020 season due to COVID-19 led to virtually no offseason for Palisades after going 3-1 in the spring. Now, they are right back in camp and after being in every game at the Culver City 7-on-7 a week before, the Dolphins were looking for a better result.
The tournament featured a Lineman Relay, a Pizza Eating Contest and a Tug-O-War, but the Dolphins’ appetite was whetted by a berth in the championship game—an unlikely scenario after the squad finished 2-2 in pool play. With temperatures rising, Palisades played a total of seven games in seven hours and wound up with a 4-3 record. Games were 20 minutes in length and teams were given three plays to get a first down and another four plays to score on the 40-yard field.
After upsetting Encino Crespi 20-13 in their early morning opener the Dolphins battled Campbell Hall into overtime (14-14) before losing on total yardage. Next they lost to Eastlake of Chula Vista, 14-8. They wrapped up pool play with their best effort yet, beating Wilmington Banning convincingly, 22-6, in a rematch of the 2019 City Open Division quarterfinals when the host Pilots prevailed, 35-28.
After a half-hour break for lunch, the Dolphins learned they were seeded No. 5 in the eight-team single-elimination playoff bracket. In the quarterfinals they took on Crespi in a rematch of their pool play matchup and once again the Dolphins prevailed, 14-6.
In the semifinals, Palisades faced tournament host El Camino Real and quarterback Dylan Hassid found receiver Kwazi Estes for a pair of touchdowns passes and another to Moses Ross to give the Dolphins an 18-0 lead. The Conquistadors answered with two scores of their own, but time ran out and Palisades found itself again taking on Eastlake, this time for all the marbles.
Eastlake scored first, but Palisades stopped the Titans inside the 5-yard-line on their next possession. Eastlake scored again with three minutes left to seal the 15-0 victory, but as Dolphins co-coach Chris Hyduke said afterwards: “We grew today.”
Dylan Hassid, who was thrust into the starting quarterback role prematurely in the spring when returner Forrest Brock transferred to Birmingham, showed poise in the pocket and tossed 14 touchdowns, several of the spectacular variety to sophomore wideout Kwazi Estes and several more to Josh King, Moses Ross and Xavier Smith. Cornerback Savyour Riley made three dazzlng interceptions on defense.
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