By Jeremy Balan
The Bruce-Mahoney football game between St. Ignatius and Sacred Heart Cathedral is at the center of a 117-year rivalry and a tradition dating back to 1945, that draws thousands of fans every year to Kezar Stadium.
It’s no wonder why the game is our featured game of the week.
“It’s for bragging rights in The City,” said Sacred Heart head coach John Lee. “Every time you lose, you feel like you’ve let down the baseball and basketball programs. We want to live up to our end of the bargain.”
St. Ignatius historically dominates the three-sport competition, leading 44-19, but the football game is even more lopsided toward the Wildcats at 44-13-5.
St. Ignatius (1-6-1, 0-5) has won the last four meetings between the two teams, but the tide could be turning this year, as Sacred Heart Cathedral (4-4, 1-4) comes in as a significant favorite.
The Irish have been competitive all year in West Catholic Athletic League play, while St. Ignatius has struggled mightily. Still, Lee is not willing to take the Wildcats lightly in a game that could not only earn the Irish bragging rights, but a CIF-Central Coast Section playoff bid.
“I’d be lying to say I didn’t want to go back to the postseason,” said Lee, who has won one Bruce-Mahoney game in his seven years at Sacred Heart. “Records go out the window [for this game]. I have to figure they’re going to think they’re going to be playing the spoiler. They don’t want to see their cross-town rival in the playoffs.”
The game is important for the Irish’s playoff chances, but Lee knows its impact on the communities of both teams.
“Not only is it important to the kids, it’s the alumni,” Lee said. “They come out of the woodwork for this game. I mean, guys from the ’40s and ’50s. It’s about the richness of our two schools’ traditions and the City and that goes into all facets of life.”
While Sacred Heart clings to postseason hopes, St. Ignatius’ season has been trying on and off the field.
The Wildcats remain winless in WCAL play and have been outscored 170-44 in five league games, but also have to deal with the loss of coach Steve Bluford, who left the team midseason for undisclosed reasons.
“It’s been like every other week this year,” said St. Ignatius interim head coach John Regalia. “The players and coaches are working hard. That hasn’t changed all season.”
Regalia wouldn’t comment on how the team has been impacted by Bluford’s absence, but stressed the importance of the game.
“Obviously this one is a rivalry game and it’s a little different,” Regalia said. “Both schools understand the significance. The game speaks for itself.”
Burton @ Lowell, 2 p.m.
Burton (3-5, 2-3) needs a win against Lowell (0-7, 0-5) to keep its playoff hopes alive and force a potential showdown with Balboa in the final week of the season, which would decide the fourth and final playoff spot.
Galileo @ Lincoln, 2 p.m.
Galileo (5-4, 4-1) received its first loss of the season at the hands of Mission last week, but it’s hard to imagine the Lions falling to winless Lincoln (0-9, 0-5), even without standout running back Quincy Nelson.
Marshall @ Washington, 2 p.m.
The loss of Nelson at Galileo could also impact Washington (6-2, 4-1), which now looks primed to secure the AAA’s second seed. Washington figures to win handily here, but the Phoenix (2-6, 2-3) should not be counted out entirely. Marshall still has an outside chance to get the final playoff spot if they pull of back-to-back upsets over Washington and Mission in the final two weeks.
Stuart Hall vs. Anchorpoint Christian (Gilroy) @ Treasure Island, 1 p.m.
Stuart Hall’s (3-4, 2-3) inaugural season has largely been a success, but the Knights will face their toughest test in their season finale against powerhouse Anchorpoint Christian (8-0, 4-0). The Warriors haven’t lost a game since 2007, have outscored opponents 468-120 this season, and have scored more than 70 points three times this season.
Balboa vs. Mission @ SOTA, 2 p.m.
Mission (5-3, 5-0) cliched a playoff after last week’s win over Galileo, but would clinch first place with a win over Balboa (3-6, 3-2). The game is immensely important for the Bucs, who are clinging to the fourth and final playoff spot in the AAA.
Riordan @ Serra (San Mateo), 2 p.m.
Riordan’s (1-7, 1-4) chances against Serra (5-2-1, 3-1-1) are significantly slim, as it appears the upset win over St. Ignatius earlier in the season will be the lone bright spot for the Crusaders this year.