Menlo Varsity Football Remains Undefeated After Homecoming Game


Players prepare to walk onto the field following a performance of the national anthem by the Menlo Chorus. Staff photo: Lexi Friesel.

Lexi Friesel, Social Media Director

“We put in the work, and we’re not going to allow Hillsdale to come onto our field and win on homecoming,” quarterback Sergio Beltran said.

Beltran’s words rang true when it came time for the anticipated Saturday afternoon homecoming game. Beneath crowded stands filled with cheering alumni, students, parents and other supporters, the Menlo varsity football team was victorious against the Hillsdale Fighting Knights. Hillsdale and Menlo both went into the game with similar records: Menlo holding an undefeated 5-0 record and Hillsdale being 4-1, narrowly losing 13-14 in their season opener against Terra Nova High School. The Fighting Knights also defeated Sacred Heart High School in their Week 4 matchup. Sacred Heart handed Menlo their only loss of the previous 2020 season.

The game began fairly close. Despite losing the coin toss, Hillsdale started off strong and made solid progress up the field. A few incomplete passes turned the ball over to Menlo. During their first possession, Beltran made a pass to wide receiver Carter Jung, scoring the first touchdown of the game for the Knights. 

After a missed 2-point conversion, the first-quarter score was set: Menlo: 6, Hillsdale: 0.

The second quarter raised both teams’ tallies to put Menlo ahead at halftime with a score of 28-14. After the Menlo defense successfully pushed the Hillsdale offensive team into their own endzone, middle linebacker Aidan Housenbold tipped the football to tight end Cort Halsey to score a touchdown for the Knights. The two-point conversion attempt was successful after a catch by wide receiver Robby Enright. 

Wide receiver Ben Banatao scored his first touchdown off of a two-yard pass, and Housenbold was successful in making the two-point conversion. Halsey then went on to score his second touchdown toward the end of the half. The Hillsdale Fighting Knights also had two seven-point touchdown drives during the second quarter. 

After a homecoming halftime float parade, the spirit was high and the Menlo Knights continued to fight to retain their lead. With strong plays on both offense and defense, Menlo added three touchdowns to the record and halted all but one Hillsdale attempt on defense. The Knights started the half strong with a 77 yard gain, and Beltran finished the possession with a touchdown of his own.

“The long drive really set the foundation for the rest of the second half,” head coach Todd Smith said. 

The Beltran-Enright power duo completed two touchdowns: one during the third quarter and a second during the fourth. Halsey remained a key player for the Knights on both sides of the ball and scored his third touchdown in the fourth quarter off of a pass from quarterback Jake Bianchi. The game was set: Menlo: 55, Hillsdale: 21.