Football: Sacred Heart Cathedral’s playoff hopes vanish with loss to Valley Christian

By Graham Henderson

Sacred Heart Cathedral needed a win against Valley Christian at Kezar Stadium on Friday night to keep any playoff hopes alive.

But wins don’t come easily against the league’s top team, as Valley Christian (9-1, 6-1) was able to hold off a late rally by the Fightin’ Irish (5-6, 1-6) to clinch an the West Catholic Athletic League championship with a 45-28 win.

Sacred Heart Cathedral junior Viliami Uikilifi returns a kick in the fourth quarter against Valley Christian on Friday at Kezar Stadium. (Photo by Tawnya Gray)

The combination of the Warriors high-scoring offense and a defense that stopped the Sacred Heart running game it its tracks was too much for the Fightin’ Irish to overcome.

“We gave up some big plays [from] time to time, but we bent, we didn’t break,” said Valley Christian head coach Mike Machado. “We won a league championship. That was one of the goals we had and we accomplished that.”

The Warriors offense was a threat both in the air and on the ground. Senior quarterback Zach Vaiana threw for 183 yards on 7-of-10 passing, and junior running back Byron Marshall carried the ball 18 times for 143 yards.

“The guys did a great job,” Machado said. “It’s the same cast of characters that do it every time for us.”

Marshall’s big game was bittersweet, however, as he got ejected on one of the last plays of the game for his second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

The Valley Christian defense was only part of the problem for the Fightin’ Irish running game. Standout running back Valentino Miles remained sidelined with a leg injury.

“It’s definitely tough,” said Sacred Heart head coach John Lee. “We have a couple kids out tonight, but that’s not an excuse.”

With Miles missing, the Fightin’ Irish turned to Jordan Gomes, who carried the ball nine times but was held to just 14 yards. Harry Libarle led the Irish with 31 yards on three carries, although nearly all the yardage was from a single 27-yard run, the longest running play the Fightin’ Irish had all night.

With the run game shut down, the Sacred Heart offense was left in the hands of senior quarterback Sean Murphy, who threw for 195 yards on 13-for-26 passing, but also threw three interceptions.

“Miles didn’t practice all week. We knew he was probably going to be out, so we were going to have to throw the ball and open them up a little bit,” Murphy said. “But I didn’t make some of the throws and a couple of bounces just didn’t go our way.”

Murphy did lead a brief rally in the second half, however.

With the Fightin’ Irish down 38-14, Murphy ran in a touchdown, and then made a perfect onside kick for Steffan Sanguinetti to recover.

The resulting drive ended on a failed fourth down conversion, but just three plays later, Warriors quarterback Vaiana fumbled in the end zone, allowing Conor Hurley to recover and cut the Warrior’s lead to 38-28 with 3:39 remaining.

But Murphy second onside kick of the game didn’t go as well as the first, and went out of bounds, dashing any chance of a Sacred Heart comeback.

“I definitely saw some light the whole game,” Lee said. “It’s just been frustrating all year with our inability to finish. We have to get back in the weight room and reevaluate things.”

Scoring Summary

First Quarter
VC: 7:29 — Jarrod Lawson 60-yard run (Phil Ramirez kick good)

Second Quarter
SH: 11:16 — Harry Libarle 8-yard pass from Sean Murphy (Murphy kick good)
VC: 9:24 — Lawson 75-yard pass from Zach Vaiana (Ramirez kick good)
VC: 4:36 — Brain Fobbs 38-yard pass from Vaiana (Ramirez kick good)
VC: 0:33 — Fobbs 20-yard pass from Vaiana (Ramirez kick good)
SH: 0:23 — Zachary Tapel 95-yard kickoff return (Murphy kick good)

Third Quarter
VC: 7:43 — Lawson 20-yard run (Ramirez kick good)
VC: 0:37 — Ramirez 32-yard field goal

Fourth Quarter
SH: 9:21 — Murphy 3-yard run (Murphy kick good)
SH: 3:39 — Conor Hurley fumble recovery in end zone (Murphy kick good)
VC: 1:24 — Byron Marshall 4-yard run (Ramirez kick good)

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17 Comments

  1. NorCalSportsFan says:

    Pre CCS rules, I believe Marshall will have to sit out first playoff game.

  2. IC Stars says:

    In spite of the score, VC was not impressive, especially with run defense and special teams. I can only imagine the scoring if Valentino Miles played. When he sees a hole, he’s gone.

  3. SH Fan says:

    Let’s give credit to all the SHCP boys that played well last night. This is a team sport and all these boys played well together.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Hey IC Stars, quit living in woulda coulda shoulda world. They had Miles all season and still only beat terrible Riordan. If Miles was playing, VC would not have tanked it like they did last night. It’s safe to say that VC was looking past SHC, as a league title was a foregone conclusion. if you claim they were not impressive after racking up 45 points, then you must also think you’re school was damn near dead!!!!! Hahahaha….thank god those city wannabes didn’t make the CCS. Stick to basketball, where you MAY have a shot at beating SI……whiner!

  5. IC Stars says:

    I forgot that two of the VC scores were on no-call holdings. If I could see it, the zebras should have. and Safely Anonymous, the way the WCAL went this season, SHC could have beaten anybody. It’s obvious you weren’t at the game.

  6. Anonymous says:

    So many excuses SHCP. Riordan could have beat anyone in the WCAL, but did they? No. Because they terrible. Same goes for SHCP

  7. Anonymous says:

    DeJaVu – VC Marshall is AGAIN out the first round of playoffs for an un-sportsmanship ejection during the last game. Can’t wait to hear the reasons. 1. “He is a very passionate young man” or 2. “The zebras called ticky-tack penalties”. Sorry guys there is no valid excuse for un-sportsmanship like conduct for ANY player. This type of incident really puts into question the young man’s character.

  8. IC Stars says:

    “So many excuses SHCP. Riordan could have beat anyone in the WCAL, but did they? No. Because they terrible. Same goes for SHCP”. Right. A “terrible” team that beat Riordan 55-6, came this close -||- to beating Mitty who (as far as I’m concerned) beat VC and out-gunned playoff-bound Terra Nova.

  9. IC Stars says:

    RE: “I definitely saw some light the whole game,” Lee said. “It’s just been frustrating all year with our inability to finish. We have to get back in the weight room and reevaluate things.” Yeah, like not being intimidated by a pathetic team like SI.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Sacred Heart lost 6 games. There’s no excuse for that. If they lost like 2 there could maybe be an excuse. People need to stop lying to themsleves. They were pretty good this year but nothing special.

  11. IC Stars says:

    RE: “Sacred Heart lost 6 games. There’s no excuse for that. If they lost like 2 there could maybe be an excuse. People need to stop lying to themsleves. They were pretty good this year but nothing special.”

    No excuses, but with a little luck and determination, there’s a CCS berth right there. Take a look at Division III and see if Terra Nova doesn’t run away with it.

  12. cityfball463 says:

    The funny thing is, you all aren’t the ones out on the fields putting in the work. You sit here on your computers talking about how bad they are and the excuses. You do what you do, sit at home on the computer and wish you could still compete. Give them some credit for putting up a great season and a good competitor.

  13. IC Stars says:

    Sorry Cityfball463 but if it were a “great season” for SHC, there’s win over the other City teams, at least two other peninsula league teams and winning the CCS D-III. They did work hard and so did the coaches but John Lee was right, SHC had trouble finishing their drives. The JV’s finished 7-3 on the season, so it bodes well for next season’s varsity. The Frosh were 1-8. They have some skill players and a good quarterback. I suspect they’ll be much better at the next levels.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I just wanted to say great sesaon for all the kids who played in WCAL. Top running backs in the WCAL if nubers talk Marshall is #1 But with that being said then #2 is Miles But if Miles doesn’t miss two games due to injury then number 1 would be Miles VC enjoy the playoffs SCH will be back to fight next season.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Although SHC only had one league win, they were in every ball game. I look forward to some more league wins next year and hopefully we can overcome our mental block and beat SI. GREAT YEAR IRISH

  16. Shcp Concerned Alum says:

    The problem with the SHCP vars isnt all of the players fault, some of which can be placed on the coaches who consistenly try and ride certain players on the team and build something around them instead of looking at all the talent the team posses. Coach John Lee still needs to learn how to use all of his assets instead of focussing on one player.

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