George Pahulu Was Impressed With Menlo-Atherton Football In Its Season-Opening Win Over Half Moon Bay •
George Pahulu first approached SportStars about covering Tongan and Samoan athletes for the magazine back in 2017. He’s covered several games for us since then under the series name, “Pahulu’s Point Of View.” With football finally back for a quick spring season, he’s returned to sending us occasional breakdowns. For his first game of the season, he watched Menlo-Atherton football defeat Half Moon Bay 36-20 on March 19.
Here’s his report.
DATE: Friday, March 19, 2021
MATCHUP: Half Moon Bay @ Menlo-Atherton
GAME INFO: The game was Menlo-Atherton football’s season opener. Half Moon Bay was coming off a victory against Burlingame on March 12. Evidently the Bears had too much firepower despite a comeback from the Cougars to win 36-20.
PLAYERS I CAME TO SEE: I showed up to watch Tongan football student-athletes from M-A junior running back Thomas Taufui and senior lineman David Sulunga. The Bears’ star receiver Troy Franklin has already enrolled at University of Oregon after being recruited hard by both Alabama and University of Washington. Franklin helped pave the way for college recruiters to check out M-A skill players like junior wideout Jalen Moss. Moss is being recruited throughout the Pac-12 and has a bright future ahead of him.
• M-A strikes quickly as quarterback Matt MacLeod threw a 55-yard pass to Moss 7-0 with 11:21 remaining in the opening quarter.
• MacLeod struck again on a scramble play and threw a pass on the run to junior receiver Johnny Barbie who juked his way past Cougars defenders on his way to the end zone. That score put the Bears up 20-0.
• MacLeod pushed the lead to 30-0 with a 60-yard TD throw to junior receiver Jeremiah Earby right before halftime.
• The size of both the M-A offensive and defensive lines was quite noticeable with Tongan student-athletes all over the place.
• HMB didn’t give up. Peter Valdez punctuated the visitors’ 20-point second half with a late fourth-quarter touchdown.
• Thomas Taufui had six carries for 39 yards. He left the game midway through the first half once Menlo-Atherton had built its big league..
• Moss had three receptions for 76 yards and 2 TDs
• MacLeod completed 11 of 14 passes for 311 yards, 4 TDs and no interceptions.
• M-A’s defensive line led by tackle Fale Mosely had two sacks and shut down Half Moon Bay’s vaunted run game.
While the school’s athletic footprint continues to grow, Menlo-Atherton graduates have made major impacts in rock music. Alumni include Grateful Dead singer/guitarist Bob Weir as well as Fleetwood Mac members Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingam.
With California high school football in the spring, Troy Franklin made a good choice to forego his senior season. No need to jeopardize his football career. But at the same time I know he will miss playing with his teammates. With Tongan assistant coach Jesse Fifita in his fifth year to keep our Tongan student-athletes grounded, this was a good first victory for head coach Chris Saunders.
Till’ next time. Ofa Atu.