By Jeremy Balan
KENTFIELD — After a thrilling one-point game in their 2009 matchup, one word summed up St. Ignatius’ loss to Marin Catholic — disappointment.
St. Ignatius struggled mightily on the offensive side of the ball in the 28-14 loss on Saturday in Kentfield.
The Wildcats (0-1) were shut out and limited to 105 yards in the first half and fumbled the ball a staggering eight times in the game.
“I am especially disappointed,” said St. Ignaitus head coach Steve Bluford. “We did a good job of getting some points [late] and continuing to fight, but clearly, as the scoreboard showed and anybody watching the film or scouting us will see, we have a lot of work to do.”
Most of the fumbles were on the transfer of the ball from center to quarterback, due in part to the loss of starting center Houston Ford, who was missing due to a concussion.
“It was a problem,” Bluford said. “We probably had 10 or 12 uncomfortable snaps, including the ones we put on the ground.”
Along with the fumbles, St. Ignatius was held back considerably by the play of starting quarterback Jeff Farlow, who threw for 48 yards on 4-of-13 passing, before being replaced by backup Luke Pappas late in the third quarter.
Pappas made his presence felt immediately, scrambling for 13 yards on his first two plays and connecting with running back Jacob Brisbane for a 55-yard score on his third play with 21 seconds remaining in the third quarter, cutting the Marin Catholic (1-0) lead to 21-7.
Pappas threw an interception on the next drive, but ended with 121 yards on 7-of-12 passing in just over a quarter of play.
“We’re going to grow from this, but in the second half we played so much better,” Pappas said.
Marin Catholic responded just two minutes later on a 29-yard run by quarterback Christopher Tewhil to put the game out of reach.
St. Ignatius would tack on another score with 3:23 remaining, on a 1-yard run by Brisbane.
Bluford was happy with Pappas’ performance late, but would not acknowledge whether he would be replacing Farlow as the starter.
“He did a good job,” Bluford said. “He’s got a lot of work to do as well, but clearly the game was not won or lost because of Jeff. Luke did a good job of coming in and doing what our second quarterback should do. Get in and get some work in.”
Pappas also wouldn’t say whether he thought he would take over the starting role, but said he would be prepared.
“I missed a lot of the summer and coach thought that Jeff was the better guy for today,” Pappas said. “Whenever I’m called on, I’m ready to go.”
The St. Ignatius rushing attack was just as stagnant as the passing game, as standout running back Zac Shuller was constantly hit in the backfield and was held to 62 yards on nine carries. Forty of those yards came on one run in the second quarter.
Even though St. Ignatius’ offensive struggles were key, Marin Catholic was just as sloppy with six turnovers in the game. St. Ignatius just couldn’t capitalize.
“Just about everything that you could want to accomplish offensively, we did not accomplish,” Bluford said. “We have several issues offensively that we have to get cleaned up. We have more than just [the quarterback] position to worry about.”
For Marin Catholic, the defending CIF-North Coast Section Division III champion and state finalist, the opening game was a solid test, but head coach Mazi Moayed was happy to escape with a win.
“We were fortunate, especially with the mistakes we made,” Moayed said. “We put the ball on the ground too much and we have to do a lot better job with that.”
MC — 5:29: Christopher Tewhill 4-yard run (Greg Brewer kick)
MC — 0:35: Darush Badgett 10-yard run (Brewer kick)
MC — 10:00: Tyler Scott 27-yard pass from Jared Goff (Brewer kick)
SI — 0:21: Jacob Brisbane 55-yard pass from Luke Pappas (Will McKee kick)
MC — 10:31: Tewhill 29-yard run (Brewer kick)
SI — 3:27: Brisbane 1-yard run (McKee kick)
Photo slideshow by AJ Canaria