The 2011 edition of the Skull Game is shaping up to be a memorable clash.
It marks the exceedingly rare football game in which the champions of the Peninsula Athletic League’s top two divisions meet in a regular-season finale.
Terra Nova went 5-0 to win the top-tier PAL Bay Division for the third straight year. Half Moon Bay clinched the mid-level PAL Ocean Division by going 5-0.
So although tonight’s annual Coastside battle at isn’t a PAL title game, it will be very intriguing to see which program (and division) claims supremacy by night’s end.
As both Terra Nova and Half Moon Bay have secured berths in the Central Coast Section playoffs, the Skull Game will be played for bragging rights, an improved postseason seed and maintaining momentum.
Terra Nova has enjoyed a strong edge in the rivalry recently, winning all but two years since 1997. But , prevailing 34-10 to vault itself into the postseason.
This year, Terra Nova (7-2) enters the Skull Game on a six-game win streak. None of those victories was more impressive than a 35-0 thumping of Menlo-Atherton in a first-place PAL Bay showdown a week ago. The Tigers figure to be the favorites in the CCS Division III playoff bracket; they won the championship last year and lost in the final in 2009.
Half Moon Bay (6-3) took its lumps early in the season, going 1-3 in a challenging non-league slate. But the Cougars streaked to an undefeated title in an Ocean Division that many pundits feel is stronger than the Bay Division. Half Moon Bay averted a co-championship with Aragon by downing the Dons 21-20 on the road last week.
The Cougars have the look of a team that could contend for the CCS Division IV championship. Half Moon Bay fell in a thrilling semifinal to Carmel last year.