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Twenty-three players no problem for this team

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By DARREN SABEDRA

Half Moon Bay isn’t a big team. It just plays big.

Last week, coach Keith Holden had 23 players in uniform for a road game at Palo Alto on one of the hottest days in years.

The game was over in the first quarter.

Just as the Cougars did a week earlier against Saratoga, they delivered a quick knockout, scoring 27 opening-quarter points on the way to a 48-7 victory.

Half Moon Bay beat Saratoga 63-7 in Week 1.

Two games. Two “A” league opponents. Two victories by a combined score of 111-14.

What’s going on out there on the rim of high surf?

“It starts with our kicker,” Holden said, dead seriously. “He can put the ball in the end zone, so teams end up starting at the 20, which is a nice convenience, and our defense has been getting stops.

“We get a three-and-out, they punt it and we get a decent return, so we’re starting about midfield. That’s been one of our recipes, with our kicker and defense playing well. We were short fields the whole night.”

The kicker is Dylan Williams, a transfer from Menlo.

“He’s a Division I talent,” Holden said. “He’s a real good one.”

On defense, safeties Chase Hofmann and Hayden Von almen and ends Arron Baird and JoJo Weinberger have led what Holden described as a team effort.

On offense, Hofmann has been in the end zone so much, he might have to start paying rent. The senior running back ran for five touchdowns and 125 yards on Friday, giving him eight touchdowns through two games. He also blocked a punt.

Quarterback Gavin Tomberlin has thrown for 242 yards and three touchdowns.

Half Moon Bay has won Central Coast Section Division V championships in each of the past two seasons. A promotion this year to the Peninsula Athletic League’s Bay Division — an “A” division — means the team will be in a CCS Open Division for the playoffs, should it qualify.

In spite of his team’s enormous margins of victory, Holden said he isn’t worried about the players getting complacent, calling them a special group.

“I’d say in the past, I’d humble our teams, rip them in film, so on and so forth,” he said. “These guys I don’t really feel like I have to.”

Half Moon Bay plays three consecutive “C” division teams — Capuchino on Friday, then El Camino and Mills — before opening its Bay schedule at home against Burlingame on Oct. 6.

The Cougars play defending Bay champion Menlo-Atherton on Oct. 20. M-A is the division’s only winless team, losing close games to Bellarmine and Mitty of the West Catholic Athletic League.

“I’ve been honest with these kids,” Holden said. “After these ‘C’ league teams, which we still have to do everything right, it’s going to get a lot tougher. We see the scores Burlingame’s putting up. We see what Aragon is doing.

“We see what Sacred Heart Prep is doing. M-A might be 0-2, but 0-2 in the WCAL. They competed in both of those games. Terra Nova beats up on someone. We know the league is pretty talented.”

The size of Half Moon Bay’s roster has fluctuated in recent seasons, reaching the mid-40s in some years.

Holden cited the school’s relatively small enrollment (975), demographics and fear of concussions as reasons for the small team this season.

He added one more theory.

“I also think in this day and age where everyone wants things to come easy, football is a grind,” he said. “It’s tough, and we demand a lot out of our kids. I don’t think a lot of people want to do that.”

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