Dolphins Clinch Share of League Crown with 38-0 Shutout of Hamilton
By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
After clinching at least a share of the Western League title for the fourth time in five years last Friday night, the Palisades High football team’s celebration was subdued. Oh sure, there were handshakes and hugs and some of the seniors lingered afterwards to take pictures after their final regular season game at Stadium by the Sea. For the most part, though, the Dolphins took their eighth straight victory in stride, because this season they want the league trophy all to themselves and that will only come with another win tomorrow night at Fairfax.
The 38-0 shutout marked the third time this season Palisades held its opponent scoreless and it was achieved in a fashion much more to Coach Tim Hyde’s liking than the prior game at University.
“We’ve gone 10 consecutive quarters without allowing a point going back to the second quarter against Venice,” Hyde said. “The objective tonight was to play good clean football and we did that.”
When Palisades won the coint toss co-captain Sy Riley declared the Dolphins would defer to the second half and Tommy Meek boomed the opening kickoff into the end zone for a touchback.
Hamilton gained only seven yards on its first three plays and had to punt, setting the Dolphins up at their own 40-yard-line. They needed five plays to score, the last a two-yard run by Kenny Cline, and Meek’s extra point made it 7-0 four minutes into the game.
Hamilton went three-and-out on its second series and Meek ended the Dolphins’ ensuing drive with a 42 yard field goal.
On the second play of the Yankees’ next possession, linebacker Noah Ghodooshim read a swing pass in the flat, picked it off and trotted 15 yards for a score to put the Dolphins up 17-0. It was his second interception for a touchdown this season and nearly identical to his first one at Taft.
“We were practicing for that all week,” said Ghodooshim, one of the 31 seniors honored during a pregame ceremony. “It was a quad where I come out of the box and I knew it would be a bubble screen or a streak. When I saw it was the screen I just reacted and he threw it right to me.”
Hamilton was forced to puntfor the third time and the kick was shanked, setting Palisades up at the Yanlees’ 27. Five plays later Cline was in the end zone again on a two-yard run and the lead was 24-0. Hamilton punted and the Dolphins marched 75 yards in six plays, taking a 31-0 lead on a two-yard pass from Forrest Brock to Eli Manheim with 7:54 left in the second quarter.
Hamilton punted for the fifth time but just when it appeared the Dolphins would score again Jordan Johnson recovered a fumble at the Hamilton 22. However, the Dolphins got the ball back two plays later when lineman Andy Lopez pounced on a loose ball of his own at the Yankees’ 21.
Brock threw four straight incompletions to turn the ball over on downs but Hamilton had little time to work with and gained three yards in two plays before heading to the locker room after being held to 15 yards of offense in the first 24 minutes.
Palisades put the game away on its first drive of the second half, capped by Brock’s 12-yard pass to Max Palees and Meek’s kick was the last point of the night.
Jaxon Bell took over at quarterback in the fourth quarter and safety Alec Barron intercepted a deep pass over the middle and returned it 45 yards up the sideline but the play was called back on a penalty. The Yankees drove to the Dolphins’ 30 with eight minutes left, but Palisades held and kept the ball until the final minute.
The victory kept Palisades in first place in the league standings and one win away from their first undisputed league crown in more than three decades. The Dolphins’ win streak is their longest since reeling off eight in a row in back-to-back years (1999 and 2000) under former coach Ron Price.
“Senior Night hit me when I gave that rose to my mom,” said Ghodooshim, whose brother Eli is on the JV team. “I love my team, I love this program. The Cleveland loss was a reality check. We want to go 5-0 in league. This is nice but I know there’s more in store.”