ATHERTON — Menlo-Atherton High has the top-ranked defense in San Mateo County. And Friday's outing, 117 yards allowed in a 20-6 win over Half Moon Bay, won't do anything to hurt the Bears' defensive ranking.

But with the toughest part of the schedule coming up — Terra Nova, Aragon and Woodside the next three weeks — M-A will need to get in sync offensively if it harbors any hopes of a 10-0 finish.

That's right, 10-0 is still within the realm of possibility. After going 1-9 last year, the Bears improved to 7-0 (4-0 in the Peninsula Athletic League's Bay Division) with the win over Half Moon Bay.

First-year coach Bob Sykes thinks his team will be ready for the challenge.

"Our guys might've been looking ahead today," Sykes said. "But when they needed to dig deep their character showed. Next week we're going to have to play four quarters of football against Terra Nova."

M-A took a 14-0 lead at halftime, scoring on a 71-yard counter by Maurice Hanks in the first quarter and a 7-yard run by Saia Haatoa in the second quarter. The Bears outgained the Cougars 239-23 over the first two quarters. Latani Moimoi was in on three sacks in the first half.

In the second half, Half Moon Bay (2-5, 0-4), with just 20 guys in shoulder pads and helmets, battled M-A on even terms.

But Half Moon Bay coach Matt Ballard, after winning the Central Coast Section Small Schools championship last year, is not satisfied with coming close.

"Everyone makes excuses for us," Ballard said. "But you only play with 11 at a time. Our kids are not happy with that. We still expect to win, not just get moral victories."

The Cougars started the season 2-1 but have lost four straight since Bay Division play began.

The question of whether the Cougars would ever be able to score against the M-A defense was answered in the fourth quarter when Nick Trautman guided them to a 71-yard scoring drive. Trautman ran for 15 yards, then connected with Joe Pedalino on a 10-yard pass and Derek France on a 44-yard completion to the M-A 2. Pedalino scored on the next play to cut the deficit to 14-6.