The Palo Alto Vikings knew they would likely have to defeat three West Catholic Athletic League powers to win the Central Coast Section Open Division title.
It wasn't a hard feat to see happening after an undefeated regular season. But few thought the Vikings would roll through the Open Division in such impressive fashion.
Palo Alto capped a dominant playoff run with a 21-14 win over Valley Christian on Friday night at San Jose City College. The Vikings (13-0) topped three WCAL teams en route to the title, outscoring Archbishop Mitty, Bellarmine College Prep and Valley Christian 69-24.
"Everybody was saying the West Catholic teams were the best, but we beg to differ," senior lineman Kevin Anderson said. "We were the top seed, but almost every week we felt like we came in as the underdog, and we always executed. It showed that you don't have to be a private school to win the Open Division, or CCS."
The win gave the Vikings their first CCS title since 2007 and puts them in prime position for a trip to a state bowl game.
"We've done what we're supposed to do," Palo Alto coach Earl Hansen said. "It's out of our hands now."
Not much escaped the grasp of the Vikings' defense in the postseason, especially in the first half Friday night.
Palo Alto held the Warriors (11-2) to four first downs and 53 yards through the first two quarters.
Palo Alto's B.J. Boyd (14 carries, 127 yards, TD) and Dre Hill found significantly more success as the Vikings established the run on their first two drives, setting the stage for senior quarterback Christoph Bono.
On fourth-and-15 from Valley Christian's 33 in the first quarter, Bono (214 passing yards, two TDs) stood tall against a strong pass rush and hit a sprawling Maurice Williams in the right corner of the end zone. It was the only time either team sniffed the end zone in the opening half, and the Vikings headed into the locker room with a 7-0 lead. Palo Alto went up two touchdowns late in the third quarter when Bono hit Williams on a short screen pass that went for a 78-yard touchdown when Williams juked one defender and sped down the sideline untouched.
"It was too wide open for me, with my speed," said Williams, who caught four passes for 130 yards.
The Warriors struck right back, scoring on an 8-yard run by Byron Marshall. The junior running back had 22 receiving yards and a 16-yard run on the drive and finished with 120 total yards and two touchdowns.
Palo Alto pushed the lead back to two scores on the ensuing drive, when Boyd, a junior running back, took a handoff and broke through multiple defenders at the line before outracing several defenders to the pylon for a 66-yard touchdown.
Valley Christian responded with a long drive, but Vaiana was picked off at the goal line when Bill Gray came down with a tipped ball.
"The defense was great tonight, and they've been this good all season," Hansen said.
The Vikings reached into their deep bag of tricks moments later. After lining up to punt at midfield, Davante Adams defied Hansen's wishes and took a direct snap 31 yards for a first down.
"Coach told us not to do it, but it was wide open," Adams said with a smile. "I knew he would kill us if we failed."
The play allowed the Vikings to run down much of the remaining clock, leaving Valley Christian little time to work with. Marshall added a late TD, but T.J. Braff recovered an onside kick to clinch the title.
For more on high school sports, see Alex Pavlovic's After School blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/highschools.
Valley Christian 0 0 0 14 -- 14
Palo Alto 7 0 7 7 -- 21
PA — Williams 33 pass from Bono (Bono kick)
PA — Williams 78 pass from Bono (Bono kick)
VC — Marshall 8 run (Ramirez kick)
PA — Boyd 66 run (Bono kick)
VC — Marshall 1 run (Ramirez kick)
Records — Valley Christian 11-2; Palo Alto 13-0.