Dolphins Host Defending Champ Fairfax in Football Fest Friday at Stadium by the Sea
By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
After a successful nonleague slate in which it defeated four City Section Division I opponents, the Palisades High football team enters Western League play with something to prove, starting Friday night in its “Football Fest” against defending champion Fairfax at Stadium by the Sea.
The Dolphins (4-1) had a bye last week, giving them extra time to stew over their 14-13 loss at Brentwood in which the Eagles scored two late touchdowns to win the first “Sunset Showdown.”
Now Palisades turns its attention to a Fairfax squad that won nine games and made the quarterfinals of the City’s inaugural Open Division playoffs last fall.
The Lions (3-2) are led by quarterback Scott Harris, who passed for 1,919 yards and 18 touchdowns and ran for 253 yards and seven scores as a junior last year. He has picked up right where he left off and threw for 727 yards in the team’s first four games this season. Harris is complemented by running backs Kendrell Ross and Jordan Reed and wideouts Andrew Cox and Jesse Ramirez.
Fairfax beat Palisades 14-7 in hardfought battle last fall, but that was then and this is now.
“They have a great returning quarterback and excellent offensive skill kids,” Pali High Coach Tim Hyde said. “We have a lot to prepare for this week.”
Palisades is seeking its third league title in six seasons under Hyde. In 2015 the Dolphins finished in a three-way tie for first with Westchester and Venice and the following year they shared the title with Venice after beating the host Gondos 14-7 in their regular season finale. Palisades was third last year behind Fairfax and Venice, which both made the Open Division. Palisades settled for the No. 3 seed in Division I and lost in the quarterfinals to No. 6 Dorsey, the eventual runner-up.
“They have two receivers who are extremely fast, they easily have the best running back and best quarterback we’ve seen,” Hyde said of Fairfax. “Their offensive line averages over 280 pounds and they have two huge huge defensive tackles and the best middle linebacker in the league. A victory would be a huge accomplishment to start league.”
Palisades has had a balanced attack, led by senior quarterback Daniel Hayes (43-of-72 for 583 yards and five touchdowns) and running back Max Palees (74 carries for 519 yards and four scores).
A huge part of the Dolphins’ early success has been the stellar play of senior receiver/defensive backs Jake Nadley and Will Janney. Nadley leads the team in receptions (16) and interceptions (5) while Janney has 13 catches (three for touchdowns) along with four interceptions and three pass deflections.
Junior linebacker Sy Riley has a team-best 44 tackles (nine for losses) and an interception return for a touchdown and kicker Tommy Meek has made all three of his field goal attempts and is 14-of-17 on extra point tries.
“We face a gauntlet these next three weeks—Fairfax, Westchester and Venice all in a row,” Hyde said. “These games are going to decide league so we have to keep a tough mental mindset.”
Palisades’ JV squad outscored its league foes 200-7 last year, including a 45-0 shutout at Fairfax. The Lions handed Palisades its last league loss in 2016, spoiling the Dolphins’ homecoming, 7-3.
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