Senior Aidan Israelski returns a kickoff in a game against Half Moon Bay last season. Israelski, a captain, is poised to make a huge impact in his final season. Photo by Pam McKenney.
Last season’s record: 11-2
Returning seniors: 18
Major losses: Evan King, Hayden Pegley, Roberto Alarcon, Charlie Ferguson, Jack McNally
By Connor Van Ligten
Menlo fans will remember last season as one of the best in recent memory for Knights football. The team silenced doubters with an impressive 11-2 record, reaching the CCS championship where they lost in a heartbreaker to Half Moon Bay. This season, the team is looking to prove 2016 was no fluke and leave the CCS championship as winners this time around.
This year’s Menlo team boasts an experienced roster, with more than half of the team returning players, and many experienced upperclassmen ready to bring the heat. Senior JH Tevis, DE/OG and UC Berkeley commit is ready to contribute to the Knights’ strong defensive attack. On the other side of the defensive line, senior Cooper Stewart looks to wreak havoc on opposing offenses as a weak-side defensive end this year.
After getting some reps in 2016 as signal-caller, senior Emilio Simbeck is entering this season as the Knights starting quarterback. Senior Aidan Israelski will show off his dynamic athleticism on both ends of the ball as a receiver, running back, and cornerback.
In total, the Menlo defense features a whopping nine returning starters, at every position except the safeties. Senior Brody LaPorte hopes to make an impact as a free safety, while junior Dillon Grady will show off his speed and grit as a running back, strong safety, kicker and punter. Not to be neglected, junior Kevin Chen is ready to wow spectators as a wide receiver and a defensive back.
The Knight’s 2017 schedule will put them to the test, featuring tough games against powerhouses such as Piedmont in week 3, King’s academy in week 5, and Hillsdale in week 9. Those games, however pale in comparison to the hardest gridiron matchup, which is against the mighty Palma squad in week 4.
Most important of all, however, is the annual Valpo Bowl against sworn rival Sacred Heart Prep on November 3rd. After flipping the switch on the Gators last year, the Knights are looking to once again defeat their rivals in what should be a heated contest at Foothill College.
The Knights currently sit at 1-1, losing to East Nicolaus 16-9 in their season opener on August 25, and bouncing back with a 56-6 blowout win at home on September 2 against the Stevenson Pirates.