Pali High Football Season Ends with 35-21 Loss to Banning in City Open Division Quarterfinals
By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
On paper Palisades was the underdog going into last Friday night’s football game at Banning. However, the Dolphins hadn’t lost since their opener August 23 while their opponents had not played in almost one month.
So when Palisades drove 72 yards in 11 plays to score on its first possession all signs pointed to an upset. After that, though, the Pilots shook off the rust, controlled the line of scrimmage and relied on the quick decision making of dual-threat quarterback Jake Otto and the speed of multi-purpose back Jakob Galloway to grind out a 35-21 victory in the City Open Division quarterfinals.
“The better team won,” Coach Tim Hyde said. “The question was how we were going to block their front and stop their interior push… our size limited us at times but the kids played hard for 48 minutes and I’m super proud of them. That’s the best team we’ve played since Dorsey [in 2017].”
Teddy Suisman’s 10th touchdown reception of the season, a 13-yarder from Forrest Brock, gave Palisades a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter, but Banning answered right back when Otto hit Richard Cox in stride up the left sideline for a 52-yard score. The extra point was wide, but after forcing a punt the Pilots needed four plays to score again—the last an 18-yard strike from Otto to Andrew Gonzalez—and Galloway ran for the two-point conversion to make it 14-7.
Banning recovered a fumble by Brock inside the Dolphins’ 10-yard line, but Galloway fumbled just before crossing the goal line and Palisades recovered in the end zone for a touchback. On its next drive, Banning went 65 yards in seven plays, scoring on Galloway’s four-yard run. Kenny Cline shook off several tackles in the backfield and burst 40 yards for a touchdown to pull the Dolphins within 20-14 before halftime.
Banning put together a nine-play, 95-yard drive ending with a 10-yard run by Galloway on the first play of the fourth quarter. After Cox intercepted a pass at the 6, the Pilots drove 94 yards in eight plays, capped by Galloway’s four-yard run to push the lead to 35-14.
Brock tossed his 20th scoring pass of the season, a 14-yarder to Max Palees, with 2:49 left, but the ensuing onside kick bounced out of bounds, Banning took over and the Pilots picked up two first downs to run out the clock.
Palisades dropped to 0-7 all-time against Banning and 0-3 in the playoffs. The schools had not met in the postseason since 1980 when Banning dealt the Dolphins their worst playoff loss ever, 48-7.
“We competed like we always do but they made some great plays and we couldn’t get into a flow on offense,” Pali High co-captain and linebacker Sy Riley said. “On defense they stuffed the box with seven or eight guys and it’s hard to run the ball when they do that.”
Brock threw the ball 32 times, his most attempts in any game this season, and completed 19 for 230 yards. He finished the season with 1,737 yards passing in 11 games and a quarterback rating of 98.7.
Cline rushed 12 times for 75 yards, Palees caught nine passes for 88 yards and Riley made 18 tackles and recovered a fumble.
It ended in defeat, but Hyde’s seventh season saw the program go unbeaten in league for the first time in 32 years and win nine in a row for the first time since 1976.
“Nothing but respect for Palisades,” Banning Coach Raymond Grajeda said. “Tim [Hyde] does a super job over there and his team came to play tonight.”