HALF MOON BAY — Before the game Friday night, Half Moon Bay honored its 21 seniors, a special class that has won two Central Coast Section championships and has its sights on one more.
The run of success elevated the program at the small coastal school into a top-tier league this season, raising questions about whether a team of 27 players could compete against the big boys.
Half Moon Bay answered that question emphatically Friday as Chase Hofmann rushed for three touchdowns and Dylan Williams booted two field goals — including a 49-yarder — to lead the Cougars to a 28-10 victory over Menlo-Atherton.
The win improved Half Moon Bay’s record to 7-0 overall and 2-0 in the Peninsula Athletic League’s Bay Division, a division that Menlo-Atherton won outright last season on its way to CCS and regional crowns and shared two seasons ago.
“I couldn’t be more proud,” Half Moon Bay coach Keith Holden said after he and his staff commended the players for a job well done. “Our kids played tough.”
The game started a little sluggish for the team that had outscored its previous six opponents by an astounding 320-29. Half Moon Bay lost two fumbles in the opening minutes but did not yield any points.
The home team eventually grabbed the lead late in the first quarter when Williams, a transfer from Menlo, drilled a 32-yard field goal to make it 3-0.
“I was at Menlo from sixth grade on, and this small town kind of caught me,” said Williams, who also returned a kickoff 75 yards and had a big run on a reverse. “How could it not? You saw the crowd here and the vibe with the team. The guys are just the best.”
A Menlo-Atherton turnover on a punt return set up Half Moon Bay’s first touchdown, an 18-yard run by Hofmann that was followed by quarterback Gavin Tomberlin’s 2-point conversion that extended the Cougars’ advantage to 11-0 midway through the second quarter.
Spencer Corona’s 40-yard field goal pulled Menlo-Atherton (4-3, 2-1) to within 11-3 at halftime, but that was as close as the Bears would get.
Williams’ 49-yard field goal widened the advantage to 14-3, and Hofmann’s 3-yard run made it 21-3.
“We just play together and as a team,” Hofmann said. “Half Moon Bay is such a great community, and everyone comes out and supports us. We just play as a family.”
Menlo-Atherton scored its only touchdown when Corona caught a short pass from Miles Conrad, spun away from a defender and dashed down the sideline before diving just inside the pylon for a 30-yard score.
Hofmann capped the scoring with a 4-yard run.
Half Moon Bay, which runs a deceptive option offense, finished with 213 yards on the ground, led by Hofmann’s 74. Tomberlin passed for 63 yards. The Half Moon Bay defense put heavy pressure on Conrad, allowing 170 yards through the air and just 75 rushing.
“I firmly believe they are a top-five team in CCS,” M-A coach Adhir Ravipati said. “Looks like Valley Christian might be in the D2 bracket. I think they have a great shot of winning Division III and going to a NorCal game and a state game. They are very good. We had seven three-year varsity players last year on our team. They’re kind of built the same way. I think they are poised to make a big run.”
The outcome snapped Menlo-Atherton’s four-game winning streak, was the Bears’ first loss in the Bay Division since November 2015 and sends Half Moon Bay into a showdown next Friday at Aragon, which also improved to 7-0 on Friday with a 14-8 win over Burlingame.
“I think it’s awesome that we made it up here, and we’re earning our respect out here in the ‘A’ league and having fun with it,” Hofmann said. “This one is great until tomorrow when we start up with new schemes for Aragon.”