Week 2 Football Preview: Sacred Heart Cathedral looks to remain City’s only undefeated team

Sacred Heart Cathedral football players raise their helmets during the Star Spangled Banner on Sept. 3 at Terra Nova High School in Pacifica. (Photo by AJ Canaria)

By Jeremy Balan

The first two weeks of the football season have been trying for The City’s teams, going a combined 3-16-1, but optimism is holding out on Ellis Street.

Sacred Heart Cathedral alone is responsible for the majority of the wins, as the Fightin’ Irish are the only remaining unbeaten city team at 2-0.

Both road wins were impressive, over Terra Nova in the opener and Justin-Siena of Napa last week, leading to the Irish’s best start since 2007, when they started 3-0.

“The early success we’ve had is due to a great melding of seniors and juniors,” said Sacred Heart Cathedral head coach John Lee. “You see it at practice and on campus.”

A big part of the Irish’s success has been a resurgent offense led by senior quarterback Sean Murphy.

Sacred Heart Cathedral averaged just over 14 points per game in 2009, but the offense has averaged 38 points in its first two games this year.

“We’ve really started well and we’re coming out with a lot of fire,” Murphy said. “Our defense has gotten a lot of turnovers and our offensive line hasn’t allowed a sack yet. That’s huge.”

Murphy has been at the head of the attack, with 444 yards and four touchdowns on 29-of-45 passing in the two wins, along with two rushing touchdowns.

“He has really stepped up,” Lee said of Murphy. “I’ve coached some good quarterbacks, but he comes to me on his own and asks if we can watch game film before school at 7 a.m. That just doesn’t happen a lot.”

The Irish will get another test in St. Mary’s of Berkeley on Friday, a team that went 8-3 last season and lost its opener to a tough Christian Brothers team.

St. Mary’s also has a connection to The City, in second-year coach Keith Minor, who had a six-year run at Balboa prior to his stint at St. Mary’s.

“They’re well-coached,” Lee said. “They’re fast, but don’t have a lot of numbers. We know that to be successful we have to control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.”

After two road games to open the season, the Irish return to Kezar Stadium for their first home game and begin a stretch where they play six of their final eight games at Kezar.

“It feels great and the kids are excited to play [at home],” Lee said.

The Irish should be favored to win again on Friday, but the St. Mary’s game will be their final warmup before they open West Catholic Athletic League play on Oct. 1 against 2009 regular season co-champion Archbishop
Mitty of San Jose.

“Nothing is guaranteed in life,” Lee said. “If we continue to buy into what we’re doing, it will allow us to compete in the [WCAL], but we know it’s a meat grinder.”


Redwood (Larkspur) at Lowell, 3:30 p.m.
After a 69-13 dismantling at the hands of Paradise in their opener, the Cardinals will again be underdogs hosting a 1-1 Redwood team. Redwood is coming off a disheartening loss as well, 38-0 against Windsor on Saturday.

St. Ignatius at Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland), 7 p.m.
The Wildcats opened with one of the toughest schedules in the first two weeks, but should get a minor reprieve in Bishop O’Dowd, who they beat 44-2 last season. The Dragons are 1-0, however, and appeared considerably improved in a 59-10 win over Alameda on Saturday.

Burton at De Anza (Richmond), 7 p.m.
After two away losses, the Pumas hit the road again and will have a good opportunity to collect their first win against De Anza. The Dons are also 0-2, losing by a combined 82-6 this season, and have lost 21 consecutive games.

Washington at Oakland, 7 p.m.
The Eagles and Wildcats will be arguably the most balanced matchup of the week. Both teams are winless, but Washington will look to make an improvement on last week’s 21-14 loss to El Camino of South San Francisco.

Marshall at Santa Clara, 7:30 p.m.
Marshall struggled against Richmond in Week 0 and should face another test against Santa Clara. After finishing 1-9 last year, Santa Clara played South San Francisco tough in a 13-12 loss in the opening week.


Stuart Hall vs. Trinity Christian (Monterey) @ Treasure Island, 1 p.m.
The Knights will try work out the kinks from their opening 52-2 loss to Crystal Springs Uplands and appear to have a better shot against Trinity, which went 1-7 last season.

Moreau Catholic (Hayward) at Galileo, 1:30 p.m.
Galileo and running back Quincy Nelson will undoubtedly rack up the offense, but whether the Lions’ defensive unit (which struggled against Sequoia last week) can stop Moreau Catholic will be the key to a Lions’ victory.

Analy (Sebastopol) at Balboa, 2 p.m.
The Bucs will host their first home game after two unsuccessful trips to the East Bay, but it will be a considerable upset if they overtake the visiting Tigers.

Lincoln at El Camino (South San Francisco), 2 p.m.
The Mustangs have showed their youth in their two blowout losses against San Marin and Tamalpais and will face a run-heavy El Camino attack that beat Washington 21-14 last week.

Mission at Drake (San Anselmo), 2 p.m.
If Mission continues to improve on its first two losses, they could have a shot at taking down the Pirates.

Inderkum (Sacramento) at Riordan, 3 p.m.
Riordan’s struggle on defense will likely continue against Inderkum, which went 13-0 last season before falling to Del Campo in the CIF-Sac-San Joaquin Section Division III title game. The Tigers scored 63 points in each of their two wins this season.

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