By Jeremy Balan
Sacred Heart Cathedral imposed its offensive will for the third consecutive week and remained The City’s only unbeaten team with a 49-27 win over St. Mary’s of Albany on Friday at Kezar Stadium.
The Fightin’ Irish (3-0) amassed 490 total yards, including 327 yards on the ground, and didn’t punt once in the game.
“We’re darn happy about that,” said Sacred Heart head coach John Lee. “We can move the ball and throw the ball. To get out of the preseason undefeated going into league, hopefully it’s a confidence builder.”
The early success can be attributed largely to the Irish’s veteran offensive line, which still hasn’t allowed a sack this season and has opened up huge running lanes for Irish running backs.
“The O-line is just doing a great job,” Lee said. “They’re coming off the field saying, ‘We can score every possession.’ We do nothing without them.”
The most significant benefactor of the line’s play on Friday was junior running back Valentino Miles, who had a game-high 170 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 21 carries, despite not having a carry in the fourth quarter.
“They call themselves the trench mob,” Miles said of the offensive line. “They showed it today, because I was busting loose in the middle. I have to say thanks to the trench mob.”
Miles also scored on a 22-yard screen pass from quarterback Sean Murphy to put the Irish up 35-19 with 1:01 remaining in the first half.
“He’s just a go-to kid and he’s getting better with every rep,” Lee said. “He’s learning, listening and he wants to learn. He brings to us a phase to the game that balances off the passing game.”
Overall, the passing game wasn’t a huge strength for the Irish, as Murphy had two interceptions and seemed to be more imposing running the ball, with 103 yards on 10 carries and two touchdowns on the ground.
When Murphy did connect, however, the plays often resulted in big gains. Murphy threw for 163 yards on 9-of-17 passing and four of those completions went for more than 20 yards.
“He had a couple of mistakes,” Lee said of Murphy. “He’s growing, but he should have had five or six more completions.”
St. Mary’s (0-2) remains winless, but showed flashes of promise and was only down 21-19 midway through the second quarter until Sacred Heart rallied for 28 unanswered points.
“They’re a good squad,” said St. Mary’s head coach Keith Minor, who coached at Balboa prior to his stint with the Panthers. “We were in the game and we know we can play with them, but we just didn’t tackle well. They took it to us.”
The final score might not reflect favorably on the Irish defense, but the stop unit appeared improved, limiting the Panthers to 264 yards of total offense and just 98 rushing yards. The Panthers’ point total was aided considerably by five Irish turnovers.
The Irish lost three fumbles and two interceptions, and muffed four punt returns.
“We went from no turnovers in our first two games to [five] turnovers,” Lee said. “If we do that in the [West Catholic Athletic League] everybody will take advantage of that. We have to have better ball security.”
Sacred Heart Cathedral enters a bye week with their WCAL opener against Archbishop Mitty of San Jose coming on Oct. 1, but one thing the Irish have showed in their fast start is confidence.
It’s that confidence they hope will surprise some league foes this season.
“We’re looking to shock the world,” Miles said. “A lot of people don’t expect us to do big things this year. We’re ready to put SH back where it’s supposed to be.”
SH: 9:16 — Sean Murphy 8-yard run (John Harrington kick)
SM: 7:16 — Chris Carnegie 15-yard pass from Francisco Torres (Josh Espinoza kick)
SH: 5:36 — Valentino Miles 7-yard run (Harrington kick missed)
SH: 1:32 — Murphy 3-yard run (Murphy run on conversion)
SM: 7:34 — Torres 2-yard run (Taylor Thompson kick missed)
SM: 5:47 — Chance Moses 20-yard run (Conversion failed)
SH: 3:17 — Miles 4-yard run (Harrington kick)
SH: 1:01 — Miles 22-yard pass from Murphy (Harrington kick)
SH: 3:43 — Miles 1-yard run (Harrington kick)
SH: 11:37 — Murphy 1-yard run (Murphy kick)
SM: 8:32 — Carnegie 10-yard pass from Torres (Issac Richard III run on conversion)
Slideshow by AJ Canaria