By Jeremy Balan
After a heart-wrenching loss on the road against Archbishop Mitty in its West Catholic Athletic League opener last week, a single question stands out for Sacred Heart Cathedral — Will the Irish be able to bounce back?
Trailing 26-7 to Mitty in the second quarter, the Irish (3-1, 0-1) battled back and cut the lead to 33-32 on a last-second drive in the fourth quarter, but fullback Harry Libarle’s inside run came up just short on the following two-point conversion and the Irish left with a loss.
“I know they’re going to come back,” said Sacred Heart Cathedral head coach John Lee after the loss. “They could have quit at 26-7 and they didn’t. We’re gonna get ’em.”
It may not get any easier for the Irish, who will host Serra (2-2, 0-1) on Saturday at Kezar Stadium.
Don’t let Serra’s record fool you, the Padres only two losses, albeit lopsided, came to Bay Area powers De La Salle and Valley Christian.
“There’s still a lot of football to play, but those two teams could arguably be representing Northern California in state title games,” said Serra head coach Patrick Walsh.
Still, Walsh will not be taking the Irish lightly, especially their offense, led by senior quarterback Sean Murphy and junior running back Valentino Miles.
“I’m impressed with their quarterback,” Walsh said. “He leads the offense well, he’s an accurate passer and makes plays with his legs. He stood out the most on film. On any football team playing right now, with successes or failures, first you look at the coach and then you look at the quarterback.”
The Padres defense has been suspect in their two losses, allowing 45 points to De La Salle and 52 to Valley Christian last week.
“We have 10 new starters on defense and we’re having trouble tackling great athletes,” Walsh said. “Those issues are not going away in this league. They have a great running back in Miles and some great receivers. The Irish are scary this year.”
Lee also highlighted defense as a key, specifically stopping the Padres’ double-wing offense.
“We definitely have to stop their offense,” Lee said. “They run that tight double-wing and it’s tough to stop. They’re a good team and we’re going to give them the proper amount of respect. In this league, on any given day you can lose to any team.”
The loss against Mitty could hurt the Irish’s playoff chances if they can’t pick up a few key wins in the WCAL, but Lee feels his team will be ready perform on Saturday.
“They reacted very positively [to the Mitty loss],” Lee said. “We can’t fall in love with ourselves and there is no arrogance or cockiness. They did not like the way [the loss] felt.”
Balboa @ Galileo, 3 p.m.
Both teams cruised against less-talented opponents in their AAA openers, but this could be the league’s most closely contested game. Both teams feature standout running backs in Galileo’s Quincy Nelson and Balboa’s Greg Warren. Both ran for 200 yards or more last week.
Mission @ Burton, 3 p.m.
Mission’s dominating win over Lowell was the lone upset last week, and the Bears (1-3, 1-0) figure to handle their business again this week against Burton (1-4, 0-1), which lost to Galileo 49-6 last week.
Lowell vs. Washington @ Kezar Stadium, 7 p.m.
Lowell (0-3, 0-1) will have to make significant improvements offensively to upset the Eagles (3-1, 1-0), who have a stable of talented running backs in Jeremy Jetton, Galen Hall and Peter Tran.
Stuart Hall @ Crystal Spring Uplands (Hillsborough), 1 p.m.
The Knights (1-2, 0-1) will head to Crystal Springs for its homecoming game and figure to be considerable underdogs again against the Gryphons (3-1, 2-1) who trounced the Knights 52-2 in both teams’ opener.
Lincoln vs. Marshall @ School of the Arts, 2:30 p.m.
Both teams will be looking for their first wins of the season, but Lincoln showed signs of improvement last week against Washington and figures to win here.
St. Ignatius @ Riordan, 2:30 p.m.
After a disheartening loss to Bellarmine last week in its WCAL opener, St. Ignatius (1-2-1, 0-1) looks to get back on track against Riordan (0-4, 0-1), which fell 42-10 to St. Francis in its WCAL opener. The Crusaders are still struggling with their stop unit, allowing over 49 points per game.