PaliHi Football Has Depth Heading into 2017 Season

By Sue Pascoe

The Palisades High School football team should again be strong this year under coach Tim Hyde. Ten returning players have starter experience, including five who made all-Western League: linebacker Noah Karp, fullback Valention Steza, offensive linemen Ari Sallus and Syr Riley and running back Dakota Hamilton.

Currently, more than 50 players all vying for positions and playing time on varsity, and about 60 are competing to make the JV team.

Last year the Dolphins won their second straight Western League championship and hosted their first City Section playoff game in 20 years. They were defeated in the quarterfinals by San Pedro, 13-10, but achieved the school’s best finish in decades.

Daniel Hayes is trying out for quarterback. Photo: Drew Vaupen
Daniel Hayes is trying out for quarterback.
Photo: Drew Vaupen

“Quarterback is completely up for grabs,” Hyde said during a practice last week. Jake Manheim has graduated and his back-up, junior Tommy Beattie, is injured. Senior Jared Dodson and junior Daniel Hayes are competing for the starting position.

Hyde has a strong offensive line built around Sallus, Riley and Cole Aragon. Hamilton, who chalked up major yardage last year, will be joined in the backfield by Darion Robinson and Max Palees.

And there’s depth at wide receiver with Alex Vaupen, Cameron Bailey, Jared Dodson and Cristian Popsecu.

Since coming to Pali, Hyde has a 28-17 record. “It’s my fifth year here and we know who the guys are. We have to iron a few things out,” he said. “High school ball is exciting because you see who will step up.”

The coach said he has a handful of transfers this year, because several families moved into the area, which could help strengthen some positions.

The Dolphins are practicing on the campus baseball field—no goal posts, and yardage lines drawn on the grass with chalk—while the football field and track are under renovation. He was asked how difficult it is for his players.

“We just have to work around it,” Hyde said, noting that if the field isn’t completed by the first home game on August 31 against Sylmar, the team’s first four games will be on the road, leaving only four home games in the regular season.

Jared Dodson throws a pass. Photo: Drew Vaupen
Jared Dodson throws a pass. Photo: Drew Vaupen

Hyde was one of the City Section coaches who helped create an Open Division for football this season. The first and second place teams from this division will advance to the state tournament.

In the past, the Division One champion and the Division Two champion advanced. “Does it make any sense that the best team and the 21st best team advance?” Hyde asked.

Returning as a coach this year is Chris Hyduke, who was Hyde’s coach when he played at Redondo High School. “He was a basketball player—and not that good of one,” Hyduke joked. “But from his body type, I figured he’d make a good football player,” and so the coach recruited Hyde as a sophomore.

“He had never played before,” Hyduke said, “but he became a team captain his senior year and played both offense and defense.”

After graduation, Hyde coached with Hyduke for two seasons before joining the Marines for four years. The two stayed in touch, with Hyduke promising to join Hyde once he retired. This will be their third season together at Pali.

Click here for an interview with senior and player Dakota Hamilton or click the video below. 

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