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Half Moon Bay looks to reverse Bay Division history

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History hasn’t been kind to Half Moon Bay’s football team when it enters the Bay Division of the Peninsula Athletic League. In three earlier moves up to the highest of three PAL divisions — 2012, 2006 and 2002 — the school of 950 students has gone a combined 2-13.

But by early accounts, the 2017 Cougars look pretty historic. Coming off back-to-back Central Coast Section titles, the team is 5-0 and has outscored opponents by an absurd count: 281-14. The Cougars play Friday against Burlingame (4-1).

“We’ve seen most of these seniors since they were in Pop Warner,” Half Moon Bay coach Keith Holden said. “We’ve known for a long time they were going to be good. In my opinion, this is the most talented team we’ve ever had, but that doesn’t mean we’re rolling through the Bay” Division.

Holden has perspective. He is a 1992 Half Moon Bay graduate, a two-way all-league lineman, who helped start a streak of five league crowns in 1990. As Matt Ballard’s offensive coordinator starting in 2002, the Cougars began rolling and won their first CCS crown in 2005.

But moving up to the Bay Division then and now is big step. Defending champion and NorCal champion Menlo-Atherton is 3-2, and Aragon-San Mateo, Burlingame and Terra Nova-Pacifica are a combined 13-2.

Half Moon Bay is led by 6-foot, 185-pound senior running back Chase Hoffman, who has rushed just 41 times but for 367 yards and a Bay Area-best 16 touchdowns. His also the team’s top tackler from his safety spot.

His brother, Tristan Hofmann (177 yards rushing, three touchdowns), is one of the few freshmen to start in the program. He’s also an inside linebacker and backup quarterback to Gavin Tomberlin (31-for-43, 626 yards, eight TDs, no interceptions).

Other standouts are wide receiver-safety Hayden Von Almen (6-3, 178) and all-purpose senior Dylan Williams (5-9, 155), a transfer from Menlo School-Atherton. Williams, whose specialty is kicking (he might walk on to a Division I program), had a kickoff return and two punt returns for touchdowns in a 62-0 win over Mills-Millbrae.

With just 28 players on the roster, health is obviously a big key.

“We just need to play to our ability and let the chips fall where they may,” Holden said. “I’m quite sure there will be no regrets with this team. They’ll play the to the very best of their ability.”

Half Moon Bay has won Division V titles the past two seasons. Both Division IV and V CCS champions have not qualified for the state-bowl tournament.

Because the Cougars play in a Class A League, they need to win only one Bay game to qualify for the Division III Open Division. The champion of that automatically qualifies for the state tournament.

written by Mitch Stephens-SFGate.com

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