Friday night will be an unprecedented evening in San Mateo as all four of the city’s high schools simultaneously host football games for the first time ever.
Aragon, Hillsdale and San Mateo all shared sets of temporary lights before the San Mateo Unified High School District installed permanent lights at all member schools this year, and Serra brings in lights for one game a year.
It couldn’t come at a better time. The four schools are a combined 17-3, and all are competing for league titles.
“The lights have been great,” said HIllsdale head coach Mike Parodi. “We have a night practice every Wednesday, so it allows us to have study hall sessions and for players to go to teachers’ offices. It allows us to start practice later and get some good academic work done.”
Hillsdale has rolled to a 5-0 start and won its first PAL Ocean Division game last week, shutting out Woodside 49-0. The Knights will host Sequoia (2-3, 0-1) at 7:30.
Hillsdale has outscored opponents 187-43 thus far behind an offense led by quarterback Jeremy Teteak and running back Nick Hulman. Teteak has completed 34 of 60 passes for 677 yards and 11 touchdowns while throwing just one interception. His top target has been Joey Sabel, who has hauled in 13 passes, including eight for touchdowns. Hulman has stood out in a crowded backfield. The senior has 103 carries for 851 yards and nine touchdowns. He’s been so dominant that a 124-yard performance against Independence was his lowest single-game output of the season. Hulman has also been a standout linebacker, anchoring the defense alongside Noah Fitzhugh.
“We didn’t expect we’d get off to this kind of start,” said Parodi. “I thought we’d hit a few early bumps in the road.”
San Mateo’s matchup with Carlmont may not be a battle of unbeatens after Jefferson upended the Bearcats last week, but it’s still a key game for the PAL Lake Division title. San Mateo’s defense allowed just 28 points in its first four games before Jefferson (4-1, 1-0) scored 31 in the first half, though the first of those scores was a pick six. The Bearcat defense got down to business in the second half, allowing just one first down as the offense made a valiant comeback effort but ultimately fell short. With the win, Jefferson established itself as the third horse in the Lake title race to go along with San Mateo (4-1, 0-1) and Carlmont (5-0, 1-0). The San Mateo defense may be facing its toughest test yet this Friday with the tandem of running back Demarii Blanks and tight end Jason Lloyd.
Serra (3-2, 2-0) is once again in the hunt for the West Catholic Athletic League title, and unlike last year, the Padres have come out of the gates hot. Serra has outscored opponents 93-0 over its first two league games, including a 48-0 throttling of Bellarmine last week — the largest margin of victory the Padres have ever recorded in the series. Even with Leki Nunn graduated and at San Jose State, the Serra offense is still a force to be reckoned with. Behind QB Luke Bottari (55-90, 786 yards, 7 touchdowns), running back Isiah Kendrick (47 carries-284 yards) and receivers Patrick Nunn (21 catches-312 yards, 2 touchdowns) and Shane Villaroman (14-163, 2 TD), there’s still tons of firepower in the blue uniforms. A resurgent Mitty team will make its way to Serra tonight, led by sophomore quarterback Shamir Bey. Mitty (4-1, 2-0) will look to avenge last year’s CCS championship loss to the Padres and beat Serra for the first time since 2014. It’s sure to be a festive atmosphere, as Serra’s annual night game typically features all sorts of entertainment courtesy of the fire department, often including pregame fireworks.
Perhaps the best game of all will be at Aragon, where the Dons will host Terra Nova. Neither team has lost a game on the field, with the only blemish on either schedule being a season-opening forfeit by the Tigers. It’ll be Aragon’s ground attack against Terra Nova’s passing game in a clash of offenses that have averaged over 35 points per game. Paul Lautaimi established himself in his sophomore year and now gets the bulk of the carries for the Dons, whereas Nate Gordon excels in the pocket for Terra Nova. He has completed 78 of 106 passes for 1217 yards (304.3 ypg) and 14 touchdowns while throwing just two interceptions. The Aragon secondary, led by Davion Cox’s four interceptions, will need to be in its best form. While Menlo-Atherton and Half Moon Bay were the preseason favorites in the PAL’s top league, the Bay Division, Aragon and Terra Nova have certainly established themselves among the contenders.
Friday will be a special night in San Mateo.
“It just feels right,” said Parodi. “It’s real football. We’ve worked toward [the lights] since 2013, and it’s been a long haul, but it’ll be great for generations to come.”
Prep Focus writer Ethan Kassel covers high school sports throughout the Bay Area. If you have a story tip, game to watch or player to track, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.