By Rick Eymer
Palo Alto Online Sports
Devonte Piper got his yearly touchdown out of the way and now the Menlo-Atherton senior wide receiver is hoping his team can continue its unbelievable resurgence.
The last month has not been kind to the Bears' football team, opening the season with three rather lop-sided losses.
Those bad vibes are history following Menlo-Atherton's stunning 34-6 victory over host San Mateo in a nonleague football game Friday.
"It feels great to contribute," said Piper, who caught three passes for 67 yards, including a magical reception, just off the top of the grass and between two San Mateo defenders, that helped set up the Bears' first touchdown.
Piper also rushed 10 yards for a score in the third quarter, meeting his would-be tacklers head on and muscling his way into the end zone with them.
Remarkably, Piper and junior quarterback Willy Fonua have not had much of a chance to work together. Fonua suffered a mild concussion in M-A's first game against Wilcox, sat out the loss to Los Gatos and had three days of practice before taking on Jefferson.
"I think that's the first time he may have ever thrown my way," Piper said. "It's OK because we came together as a team and we've been working hard in practice. Coming off three losses, we had to get this win."
A healthy Fonua helped. He threw for 138 yards on 12-of-14 passing and a touchdown. He also rushed for another score.
Fonua combined with six other running backs to gain 211 rushing yards, led by Taylor Mashack's 60 yards and Cameron Moody's 54 yards.
"During the bye week we worked on individual attitude," Fonau said. "The past few games we were too quick to put ourselves down. We had to concentrate on mentally preparing for San Mateo."
It was by far the best defensive effort of the season by the Bears. They kept San Mateo out if the end zone until late in the game.
The Bearcats managed a few big plays, but only one resulted in a San Mateo touchdown.
"We played like a team," M-A linebacker Semisi Tuitupou said. "The coaches set the tone and we had a lot of fun playing with each other. San Mateo is a good team and we had to prepare for them."
Even after the Bears (1-3) first drive ended with a fumble, there was no frustration, no outward appearance of getting down on themselves.
M-A simply brushed the pieces into the nearest trash can and returned to the task at hand.
Stas Della Morte caught a 16-yard touchdown on the heels of a bad snap on a punt attempt. Mashack and both Taylor Mashack and Charles Washington scored for the Bears.
Austin Clarence's interception set up the final touchdown. Luke Pinkston added a quarterback sack, helped by the pressure applied by Russell Gurman.
M-A hosts Kings Academy on Thursday at 7 p.m.