PaliHi Dolphins Rout Sylmar, 48-7

By Sue Pascoe
Editor
Photos by Drew Vaupen

From the moment the PaliHi Dolphins walked on their new football field last Thursday evening, one could sense something was different. Maybe it was the apparent unity and focus. Maybe it was an easy confidence. But a blowout 48-7 win over Sylmar sent an early message that this team plans to go far into the City Section playoffs.

“We played a heck of a game,” said Palisades Coach Tim Hyde, whose team reached the City quarterfinals last year. “The biggest surprise was our offense came alive.”

Yet, like most winning coaches just two weeks into the season (Pali beat Cleveland, 37-28, in its opener), Hyde cautioned, “We still have a lot of things to correct.”

Senior Cameron Bailey, the 5-11, 175-pound standout wide receiver, continued to rack up yardage. He scored two touchdowns for the Dolphins.

Quarterback Daniel Hayes hands off to Max Palees in a play against Sylmar.

“I watched the defense and saw how they played,” said Bailey, who then took advantage of Sylmar’s weaknesses. He added, “I’m blessed with a good team that has my back.”

How does this team compare to last year’s Western League champions? “We need to be more disciplined, more focused,” Bailey said. “We’re trying to be in the top four [playoff seeds] and win a ring this year.”

Sylmar received the opening kickoff but was forced to punt, stifled by a defense that included two tackles by senior linebacker Noah Karp (5-9, 200 pounds), a forewarning for the rest of the game.

Pali took over on its own 45-yard-line, but with several penalties and an incomplete pass, had to punt. But Sylmar also couldn’t move the ball, and a tackle by senior Baraka Beckett (6-4, 285 pounds) helped force an- other punt from the 12-yard-line.

Taking over on the Sylmar 35, the Palisades offense came alive with a pass from junior quarterback Daniel Hayes to senior Alex Vaupen (5-8, 165 pounds) and a 21- yard touchdown run by Dakota Hamilton, but the Dolphins were flagged for a penalty and it was called back.

After an 11-yard run by Hamilton, Pali was forced to attempt a field goal. But Sylmar was called for off-sides, allowing the offense to set up once again. This time, Hamilton ran the ball 10 yards for a touchdown, and the PAT by senior Campbell Geddes was good.

After another punt by Sylmar, Pali drove downfield, aided by a long pass from Hayes to junior Cristian Popescu. This time the Dolphins had to settle for a short field goal by Geddes, making the score 10-0.

After another kick by Geddes into the end zone, Sylmar moved the ball out to its 39, but a hard tackle by sophmore Syr Riley caused a fumble that was recovered by Vincent Huey, a 5-9, 200-pound senior.

The Dolphins moved the ball to Sylmar’s 23 and Geddes kicked another field goal. Pali stopped Sylmar yet again, and then drove 33 yards for another touchdown, as Hayes sent a pass to Bailey with two minutes left in the half. The PAT gave Pali a comfortable 20-0 lead.

Once again, Sylmar was forced to punt, and this time Vaupen broke loose for a 35- yard TD run. The halftime score was 27-0.

Palisades opened the second half with a long scoring drive, sparked by runners Bailey, Hamilton and junior Max Palees (6-0, 185), and culminating with a pass from Hayes to Bailey.

When Sylmar was forced to punt, Vaupen caught the ball and made an exciting return down to the 8-yard line. Palees took the ball in for the touchdown and another Geddes PAT made the score 41-0.

Palees ran for a second touchdown from the 31-yard-line early in the fourth quarter, and the game went to a running clock.

After the game, Hyde said he was happy with the addition of Geddes, a transfer from Windward School. “He gives us the ability to get points with field goals and his kickoffs go into the end zone.”

Against Cleveland, Hayes and senior Jared Dodson alternated at the quarterback, but Hayes was promoted to starter against Sylmar. “We gave him a lot of reps this week [in practice] and decided he was our guy,” Hyde said.

Left to right: Noah Karp, Alex Vaupen, Dakota Hamilton and Cameron Bailey.

Originally, the coach thought that this would be a bruising, “black and blue” defensive game, because the Sylmar defensive front seven went toe to toe with Crespi a week earlier in a 13-0 loss.

“Sylmar’s a good team,” Hyde said. But Pali was much stronger.

The Dolphins travel to Granada Hills this Friday, September 8. Their next home game is September 22 against Huntington Park.

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