Palisades routs Hamilton to close in on Western League title

Palisades routs Hamilton to close in on Western League title

For the first time in decades, Palisades High football players began the season with targets on their chests. Each and every game they play as if they have another test to pass — and that was the case again Friday night at Hamilton.

Two weeks after topping archival Venice to avenge a 36-0 loss in the spring, the Dolphins equaled a school record with their 11th consecutive victory and cleared the last big hurdle in the quest for a second straight Western League crown by handing Hamilton (6-1) its first defeat, 63-7.

Palisades is enjoying one of its best seasons despite having a new head coach, Chris Hyduke, and a new offensive coordinator, Rocky Montz. Hyduke had been the team’s defensive coordinator under previous coach Tim Hyde, who moved to the East Coast over the summer.

Since taking over for starter Dylan Hassid, who suffered a foot injury in the fourth game of the year, sophomore Sammy Silvia has thrown nine touchdown passes and only two interceptions.

Hamilton administrators rented banks of floodlights so that the showdown could be played at night but the visiting Dolphins turned the lights out early, scoring two touchdowns before their offense even took the field. Former Palisades head coach Ron Price and his son Chuck are now assistants at Hamilton.

Moses Ross returned the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown. On the Yankees’ third play from scrimmage Amari Yolas returned an interception 23 yards for another score. Ross caught touchdown passes of 82 and 41 yards from Silvia — the second with 12 seconds left in the second quarter — and the Dolphins jogged to the locker room with a 49-0 lead.

Paced by senior Daniel Anoh, who has emerged as one of the best running backs in the City Section along with Jakob Galloway of Marine League frontrunner Wilmington Banning and Dijon Stanley from Granada Hills, the Dolphins are off to an 8-0 start and they remain on track for a Top Four seed in the Open Division playoffs.

Anoh, who began the game with 947 yards rushing (an average 12.1 yards per carry), surpassed the 1,000-yard mark by halftime, scoring his 16th rushing touchdown on a 30-yard scamper. He is still on pace to break the school record of 24 rushing touchdowns in a season set by Terence O’Neal in 1998.

“We wanted to show everyone we’re as good as our record says,” said Anoh, who is also in pursuit of the school single-season rushing record of 1,965 yards set by Innocent Okoh in 12 games in 2016. “We are a complete team, we can score in every way — offense, defense and special teams — and we’re not going to stop until we win City.”

Savyour Riley capped the Dolphins’ scoring midway through the fourth quarter by returning a blocked punt for a touchdown. Palisades not only established itself as the new bully on the block in its league, it served notice that it will be a tough out for whoever it meets in the postseason.

In 2019, Palisades won its first outright league title since 1987, when the Dolphins finished 5-0 in the Crosstown League en route to reaching the City 3A final behind record-setting quarterback Perry Klein.

Counting their final three games in the spring, the Dolphins’ streak is their longest since 1976, when they won their first 11 games before falling to Reseda Cleveland in the City 4A semifinals under their first head coach, Dick North.

Hamilton last won the league title in 2015 led by senior quarterback Armani Rogers, who accounted for 24 touchdowns and 1,864 yards. He would go on to play three seasons at UNLV and is now at Ohio University.

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