The promise of this year’s annual rivalry “Skull Game” between Half Moon Bay and Terra Nova should have San Mateo County football fans elated.
Both teams are in the upper Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division for the first time since 2012. Unlike that season, when Half Moon Bay fizzled to finish in last place, this year figures to see each squad contending for a Central Coast Section playoff berth.
If last Friday’s games are an indicator, both figure to have serious contenders for Bay Division Offensive Player of the Year as well.
Terra Nova quarterback Nate Gordon enjoyed an epic first quarter in which he threw for over 200 yards en route to finishing a 63-21 win over Scotts Valley 17-of-26 passing for 309 yards and five touchdowns. Half Moon Bay running back Chase Hoffmann, in a 48-7 win over Palo Alto, carried 17 times for 125 yards rushing and also went for five touchdowns.
Now, Hoffmann and Gordon have been named co-Daily Journal Athletes of the Week.
While archrivals on the field, the two have plenty in common. Not only are they both impact players. They each come from the first families of their respective football cities.
Gordon’s older brother Anthony set Terra Nova’s all-time leading passing record in 2014. The record previously belonged to their uncle, Greg Reynolds, who in 2003 broke the same record held by their father Ryan.
Hoffmann is the older brother on his family tree. His younger brother Tristan, already fitting into the Half Moon Bay varsity scheme, is the first freshman in generations to crack the varsity roster as a freshman. And like the Gordons’ father Ryan was Mr. Tiger in his playing days, the Hoffmanns’ father Breen was Mr. Cougar in his.
“[Hoffman’s] dad Breen is in the Hall of Fame at our high school,” Half Moon Bay head coach Keith Holden said. “I grew up in Half Moon Bay, so he was the name you always heard growing up. It was like heroic tales of Breen Hoffmann.”
In Half Moon Bay’s second straight win to start the year, Hoffmann didn’t account for as many yards as Gordon in Terra Nova’s game. But the senior Cougar made up for it in other facets of the game. He flew in from his strong safety position to record nine tackles on defense, including a clutch stop, after Palo Alto had advanced inside the HMB 5, for no gain. He also produced a critical blocked punt in the first half that defined HMB’s explosive performance.
“To me the biggest play he made was blocking the punt,” Holden said. “When he blocked that punt, everyone was fired up about that.”
With Half Moon Bay coming off back-to-back PAL Ocean Division championships, the buzz heading into the 2017 season was the wonder of how the Cougars would adapt to the upper Bay Division. Now, with HMB outscoring two opponents, Saratoga and Palo Alto, by a cumulative score of 111-14, the buzz has quickly shifted to wondering how the Bay Division will contend with the Cougars.
“We are what we are,” Holden said. “We’re a small school … and time will tell how we fit in. But Chase will fit in just fine.”