Teammates have begun to call Raymond Elie “Little Vick” in reference to Atlanta Falcons’ star quarterback Michael Vick. The nickname fit last Friday night, when the Palisades High junior signal-caller ducked under and stepped around numerous pass rushers in leading the Dolphins to a resounding 33-21 victory over host South Gate. It was Palisades’ first win in three games this season. “Don’t forget this feeling,” PaliHi head coach Leo Castro implored his players afterwards. “It’s a wonderful feeling to win a football game. It’s a feeling you want to get used to. If you get used to it, you have a winning attitude. You believe you’re going to win.” The victory was the Dolphins’ second in two seasons under Castro, their first on the road, and ended a nine-game losing streak dating back to their fourth game last year against Monroe. Ironically, Palisades takes on Monroe next–at Stadium by the Sea on Friday night. Against South Gate, Elie proved most effective when he ran out of the pocket, gaining 57 yards and scoring what proved to be the game-winning touchdown on an 11-yard scramble midway through the third quarter. When he wasn’t using his legs to frustrate the Rams, Elie was inflicting damage with his arm. He completed only five of 18 passes for 91 yards, but two of his throws went for touchdowns against a confused South Gate secondary. Palisades used a no-huddle offense on its first possession and scored in just three plays. After an incompletion on first down, Elie found Henry Argueta down the right sideline for a 24-yard gain, then connected with Ryan Henry for a 36-yard touchdown and a quick 7-0 lead. “We worked on that all week in practice,” Henry said of the no-huddle. “We wanted to come out and hit some quick passes right away to get the defense guessing. “When you have a quarterback who can run like Raymond, it forces the other team to commit extra guys to him and their defense had a hard time adjusting.” Henry played a stellar game on both sides of the ball, catching two touchdown passes and intercepting two passes by South Gate senior quarterback Daniel Kozasky. “They were isolating me to one side and I just read the quarterback and broke on the ball,” Henry said of his interceptions. “I’m confident I can beat any wide receiver man-on-man.” Robert Gillett returned a punt 66 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter and caught a 17-yard touchdown pass from Elie for the Dolphins’ final score. In between, he rushed for 50 yards in eight carries. Marquise Coleman and Dajuan Cofield rotated at tailback and also contributed. On defense, senior Christian Clark wreaked havoc in the Rams’ backfield, making eight solo tackles, sacking Kozasky three times and forcing a fumble. Defensive tackles Evan Lambkins, Mitchell Schwartz and Marsden Burton controlled the line of scrimmage. As good as their first victory felt, Henry said the Dolphins won’t be satisfied with one win–they want and expect many more before the season is over: “It’s all about earning respect and getting better every week. We were in this same position [1-2] last year and ended up not winning another game. There’s no way we’re going to let that happen again. All we’re focusing on now is getting even.” Monroe defeated Pali 20-10 last year in North Hills but the Vikings are 0-3 so far this season and have been outscored 122-28 by Fairfax, Canoga Park and Taft. Still, Castro and his staff are not taking Monroe lightly. “They’re going to be hungry for a win, so we have to be prepared for a real determined team,” Castro said. “We have a chance to begin league play with a winning record and that’s what we can do if we win these next two games. These are really big games for us to keep the momentum going.” Even without leading rusher Peter Gonzalez (358 yards and five touchdowns), who had been injured the previous week and was held out for the Palisades game, South Gate (1-2-1) rushed for 176 yards and had 14 first downs to Pali’s 11. But the Dolphins made all the big plays on offense and scored on their first three possessions of the second half. After Henry returned his second interception to the Rams’ 17-yard line late in the fourth quarter, Palisades was penalized and had to settle for a 42-yard field goal attempt by Esteban Moreno, who missed wide left. The Dolphins were penalized 11 times for 105 yards. The Palisades-Monroe frosh/soph game kicks off at 4 p.m. Friday and the varsity follows at 7 p.m.
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