Dolphins Fight Hard but Drop their Season Opener at Cleveland, 28-25
By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
Even though they trailed by three points with just over two minutes left, Palisades High players were certain they would win last Friday night’s season openerin Reseda. All the Dolphins needed to do to get the ball back and score was a stop on third-and-9 and everyone in the stadium knew what was coming: a pass.
Palisades defended the play well, flushing Cleveland quarterback Daniel Mauricio out of the pocket, but an instant before linebacker Sy Riley could sack him to send the Dolphins’ red-hot offense onto the field, Mauricio tossed the ball to the sideline, where wideout Kariem Muhammad grabbed it and got his feet inbounds for a first down that allowed the Cavaliers to run out the clock and hold on for a 28-25 victory.
The loss prevented Palisades head coach Tim Hyde from moving past Ron Price (1996-2000) into sole possession of second place on the program’s career wins list, but that was the furthest thing from his mind.
“We had two weeks to prepare for them, we knew their coach likes to run the Wing T and we watched his old film from Pasadena Marshall. We had a great gameplan,” Hyde said. “We forced them into a passing situation and if we get that stop there’s no doubt in my mind we march down and score to win the game. Give them credit… we had the play covered, their back leaks out and gets to the marker… just one of those things. We knew we’d to ground and pound, but we made some mental mistakes, we had a few dropped passes, we gave them a free possession and it all adds up. It’s a long season and if you want to be an Open team you have to go out there and earn it like we did last year.”
Riley showed why he is a captain and leader, wreaking havoc in the Cleveland backfield all night. Nobody took the loss harder than him, but he knows all of the Dolphins’ goals are still within reach.
“In the timeout right before that third-down we knew they’d throw the ball,” Riley said. “It’s frustrating… one more step and I drop the quarterback. Even though we were down we felt good at halftime. We know we can handle adversity. We did it two years ago when we came back and won here. You never know what’s going to happen so you just have to be ready for anything.”
Last year at Stadium by the Sea, Cleveland was blanked 27-0 and gained barely 100 yards in offense. This time, it took less than two minutes and only four plays to get on the scoreboard, as Muhammad beat two defenders to the edge and raced 43 yards for a touchdown.
The Dolphins drove 69 yards in nine plays, scoring on a 15-yard run by Max Palees, then took the lead, 7-6, on Tommy Meek’s extra point. It didn’t last long, as Caleb McCarty broke loose for a 61-yard gain, then a 24-yard touchdown run and the subsequent two-point conversion to put the Cavaliers up 14-7 with 10 seconds left in the first quarter.
Palisades drove to the 1-yard line on its next possession but settled for Meek’s 20-yard field goal. The Dolphins trailed 14-10 at the break.
After recovering an onside kick to begin the second half, Cleveland drove 40 yards in eight plays, scoring on Daryl Coleman’s short catch. The Dolphins answered three plays later when Eli Manheim caught a 46-yard touchdown pass from Forrest Brock, but Muhammad returned the ensuing kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown. Co-captain Tayari Gloster caught a 15-yard scoring pass from Brock and added the two-point catch to close out the scoring with 6:37 left.
Hyde was most proud of the makeshift offensive line—junior center Luca Anna, sophomore right guard Jonathan Pizante, sophomore right tackle Nicholas Raddon, senior left guard Alejandro Ventura and senior left tackle Justin Bahari: “They were the best unit on the field. Three were JVs last year and two of them found out Monday they’d be starting. Justin is the only guy with experience and that was at center.”