For the first time in decades, Palisades High football players began the season with targets on their chests. Every game they play is another test, and that was the case again Friday night at Hamilton.
Two weeks after topping archrival Venice to avenge a 36-0 loss in the spring, the Dolphins equaled a school record with their 11th straight victory and cleared the last big hurdle in the quest for a second straight Western League crown by handing Hamilton its first defeat, 63-7.
Palisades (8-0) is enjoying one of its best seasons under new coach Chris Hyduke and 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, quarterback Sammy Silvia, a sophomore, has thrown nine touchdown passes and only two interceptions.
Hamilton (6-1) 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 took the field.
Moses Ross returned the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown for Palisades. On Hamilton’s third play from scrimmage, Palisades’ 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 first half — and the Dolphins jogged to the locker room up 49-0.
Paced by senior Daniel Anoh, who has emerged as one of the best running backs in the City Section, the Dolphins remain on track for a top-four seed in the Open Division playoffs.
Anoh, who began the game having run for 947 yards (an average of 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 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.”
Palisades not only established itself as the new bully on the block in its league, but it also served notice that it will be a tough out for whoever it meets in the postseason.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.