How far has the Menlo-Atherton football team come since its season opener?
Look no further than Friday's final score. All the rest is mere commentary.
The Bears dominated from start to finish in a 21-0 win over Bellarmine in a Central Coast Section Open Division I semifinal at M-A.
Contrast that with the season opener when Menlo-Atherton lost to Bellarmine, 34-20, at San Jose City College.
“It shows how far this team has come since the first game,’’ Menlo-Atherton coach Adhir Ravipati said. “It speaks volumes about our kids.’’
Menlo-Atherton (10-2) has become known best for a prolific offense. The Bears have scored 35 points or more eight times during their 10-game winning streak. Friday, it was the defense’s time to shine. They took away the run and forced Bellarmine to put the ball up in the air way more than the Bells wanted.
“We wanted payback,’’ sophomore defensive line standout Noa Ngalu said. “The first time we played them we didn’t have any experience. Since then we’ve gotten better and better.’’
Linebackers Stavro Papadakis and JP Gray had sacks on back-to-back plays. Ngalu blocked a punt.
“We made adjustments after looking at film,’’ Papadakis said. “We rolled down our safeties. Our coaches gave us a great scheme.’’
So the Bears evened the season series with Bellarmine, and in doing so advanced to the CCS Open Division I championship game against Milpitas, a 35-28 winner over San Benito. This game will be held at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 25, at Independence High in San Jose.
“It’s very satisfying to do it against a team that played in the state (finals) last year,’’ Papadakis said. “A team with Bellarmine’s history and what they’ve done in the past.’’
M-A took the opening kickoff and drove 80 yards in seven plays with Aajon Johnson scoring on an 8-yard run.
Bellarmine (7-5) responded with a 10-play drive that ended on an incomplete pass on a fourth-and-four play. M-A took over and hit the Bells with the bomb on the first play, a 78-yard touchdown pass from Johnson to Mekhi Blackmon.
A 24-yard touchdown run by Jordan Mims with 3:54 left in the third quarter closed out the scoring.