With a 26-21 victory over Scotts Valley, the Knights advanced to play Gilroy in the CCS Division V championship game. Staff photo: Bella Scola.
By Casey Kline
Menlo defeated the Scotts Valley Falcons 26-21 in the CCS Semifinals behind an impressive performance from senior quarterback Emilio Simbeck.
Scotts Valley got ahead early, scoring the first touchdown. The Falcons led 21-14 at the end of the third quarter.
With eight minutes left in the game, Simbeck threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to junior receiver Kevin Chen. The Knights missed the extra point that would’ve tied the game.
Menlo stopped Scotts Valley’s drive and got the ball back facing a 21-20 deficit. Simbeck led the Knights on a drive down the field, with senior receiver Luke Anderson making two crucial third-down catches, the first of his football career. With Menlo on the Falcons’ 41-yard line and less than two minutes left in the game, Simbeck threw a ball to Chen near the end zone and Chen leapt and pulled the ball in with only his left hand and was tackled on the three-yard line. Senior running back Jake Shiff ran the ball into the end zone to give Menlo the lead with one minute left.
Sophomore Jaden Richardson made a clutch tackle on the kickoff to pin Scotts Valley inside their own 20-yard line and Menlo’s defense held on to win the game.
Quarterback Emilio Simbeck finished the game with 265 passing yards and two passing touchdowns along with 107 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown. Senior linebacker Baily Deeter led Menlo’s defense with eight tackles, including one tackle for loss. Deeter combined with senior Jason Okoro for Menlo’s only sack of the game. Junior safety Dillon Grady had his ninth interception of the season.
Menlo will play Gilroy High School in the CCS Division 5 championship at Westmont High School this Friday at 7:00 p.m.