Football: Sacred Heart and St. Ignatius send out Division I recruits

St. Ignatius senior linebacker Xavier Russo will take his talents to Brown University after leading the Wildcats' defense in 2010. (Photo by Eric Soracco)

By Jeremy Balan

While The City lacks the punch of star power that flooded other cities across the country on National Signing Day, three football recruits from San Francisco still made commitments to play collegiately on Wednesday.

While not at the peak of college football, two Sacred Heart Cathedral players and a single St. Ignatius player signed letters of intent to NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision schools (formerly Division I-AA).

The pair of Sacred Heart players are cornerback Kyle Church and offensive lineman Daniel Stornaiuolo. Church committed to Sacred Heart University (Conn.) and Stornaiuolo will head to Sacramento State.

Sacred Heart seniors Kyle Church (left) and Daniel Stornaiuolo (right) both signed with Division I programs on Wednesday. Church signed with Sacred Heart University (Conn.) and Stornaiuolo is headed to Sacramento State. (Photo by Eric Soracco)

“It’s just fantastic, good for the program and good for the school,” said Sacred Heart Cathedral head coach John Lee. “This is the fourth year in a row that we’ve put guys into [Division I]. I’ve been here a long time, going into my 22nd year, and that’s got to be a record.”

Rival St. Ignatius also sent a recruit to the next level, in Xavier Russo, who committed to Brown University.

The playmaking linebacker chose Brown, not only to play football at the next level, but to have access to an elite Ivy League education.

“The way I looked at it, if I got injured while playing football, I wanted to be in a good school,” Russo said. “Of course Brown, being an Ivy League school, was very attractive.”

For the Sacred Heart teammates, the chance to extend their football careers were driving forces in their decisions.

“I’m really excited and it’s something I’ve been looking froward to for a long time,” Stornaiuolo said. “I’ve been looking to play ball [at the next level], and I am. I’ll be representing my city, my school and I’ll keep the Fightin’ Irish in my heart.”

For Church, the signing is a culmination of a long road, which, according to Lee, hit a speed bump in his sophomore year, when he thought about quitting football all together.

“I never though I was going to be here, but with determination and hard work, I got there,” Church said. “It paid off.”

While two of The City’s West Catholic Athletic League representatives had positive experiences on signing day, Academic Athletic Association prospects faced some disappointment.

Galileo running back Quincy Nelson, who was also garnering interest from FCS programs, went unsigned on Wednesday, but is planning on joining a solid community college program at the College of San Mateo.

Even AAA Player of the Year Christian Pulusian from Balboa, who was getting consideration from major programs like Oregon State, along with several FCS programs, went unsigned.

Both Galileo head coach Mark Huynh and Balboa coach Alvaro Carvajal noted that the biggest knock on the two players was the level of competition they played against, but both were also optimistic about each players’ future.

Ultimately, only three players from The City were signed to FCS programs, but the impact was not lost on Lee.

“Hopefully it’s an incentive to their classmates, the juniors who say, ‘Hey, that’s what I want to do,’” Lee said. “Everyone wants to [go] the Pac-10, but not everyone will. There is nothing wrong with [where they’re going]. It’s great football.”

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20 Comments

  1. thaBOBster says:

    good stuff X, u have a bright future ahead of you

  2. Basketball Fan says:

    Good for these guys. Hard work pays off is so true. Go Sac State Hornets!!!!

  3. Irish pride says:

    Congratulations to the two Irish signings. Church will be a valuable player with his capabilities at sacred heart. Stornaiuolo should be a very strong asset to the hornet offensive line, very proud of both of these young men. Go Irish!

  4. Ari Gold says:

    You know why no AAA players get D1 scholarships? Because they play in a PE league. Remember David Henderson from Washington? What did he score? 50 touchdowns in one year or something like that? Yah 50 touchdowns against your physical education class. You play against fat lazy kids or smart 5 foot 3 kids and youre going to look like a “star”. When was the last AAA guy to make it to the NFL? Bobby Shaw from Galileo? SH, SI, and Riordan always has a handful of college prospects (Jason Hill, Igor Olshansky, Donald Strickland, etc.)

  5. SF says:

    Henderson went to Lincoln, and yes AAA is not a strong league but it’s what they have to play in. To call it a PE league is unfair to the players, the coaches, and the schools. They work just as hard with the talent they have to work with as these other schools.

  6. HSportsfan says:

    Russo had a great junior year campaign but slipped off a bit senior year Its great to see the kid go somewhere with his size and football IQ. hopefully he can make something out of it.

  7. frisco says:

    is jacob brisbane going anywhere? not to take away from these players’ accomplishments, but he was better than all three of them

  8. mjohn67610 says:

    Is Frisco the same guy who BOUGHT the ad in the Chronicle sports page on Brisbane ? There have been far better players @ SI over the years. Move on. They won what 2or 3 games.

  9. frisco says:

    brisbane was one of the hardest runners in the wcal and played with heart. he put his one hundred percent in everything he did, and carried the SI squad. I am not saying he one of the greatest players in SI history, but he does not get nearly as enough credit as he should. SI won only 2 games not because of brisbane,or russo, but for other reasons. I would go as far as saying brisbane is probably the second best back in the WCAL behind byron marshall.

  10. Bonta says:

    In response to Ari Gold, yes, Henderson’s stats might have been a little bloated do to the league he played, but I covered CCSF football both seasons he was there, and he more than held his own. First time he ever touched the ball at City, he went 95 yards for a touchdown.

    There is plenty of talent in the AAA, hell, there is probably more talent walking around the hallways at Washington, Lincoln, Mission, but what’s been the achilles in the AAA is grades. Guys not being focused on academics, household structure, support from the faculty. The public school system doesn’t get nearly the support that Riordan. SHC’s, and S.I.’s get.

    I played on a Washington team in ’99 that went 12-0, finished ranked No. 6 in the Bay Area, and had some guys play some mid-level college ball.

    The way the AAA gets referred to as a PE league is a joke. The way Pulusian and Lewis got passed over is comical, but from what I’ve seen in the last six months, the AAA has a chance to change things. With the coaching structure that those schools are starting to put in place, the off-season strength and conditioning programs, the AAA should only go up.

  11. SIFan says:

    Regarding Brisbane, really great guy and great player but he CHOSE not to play ball in college. No doubt there would have been interest in him if he had pursued it. Russo has great potential, at 6’5″ and still growing. Brown will be a perfect place for him. He’s a smart kid who wants to play ball AND get an education.

  12. Johnny Drama says:

    An athletic scholarship to an IVY League school………..best of both worlds! GO CATS!!!

  13. Johnny Drama says:

    Well…technically you’re right, but as was the case with J. Lin, there are financial incentives to play sports at an IVY. Safe to say Mr. Russo will not break the bank to attend Brown.

  14. SIFan says:

    Johnny Drama, what do you mean by “financial incentives” and who is J. Lin?

  15. Johnny Drama says:

    I mean they get a break in tuition, they don’t have to pay rack rates. I’m not insinuating any USC stuff, rather financial aid. J. Lin refers to Jeremy Lin from Palo Alto High who played basketball at Harvard and was signed by the Warriors to a 2 year contract.

  16. Tracy McCray says:

    Actually I believe it was Lenny Walls(played at Boston College then for the Broncos) from Gal, who was the last to make it to the pros after B. Shaw

  17. Anonymous says:

    lol yeah Jason Hill and Dasarte Yarnway were such amazing Hall of famers, no doubt that SI/SH/Riordan is just manufacturing those all-pros. Way to disrespect people’s careers and kid’s lives.

  18. Sports Gal says:

    Johnny Drama actually I have a kid at an Ivy School playing a sport and there are NO tuition breaks for athletes, period. We pay the same rates as everyone else, no “rack rates”. Ivy schools give aid for financial NEED only and that need means the family income is under 100k for some aid and under 60k for a full ride. Brown actually did bend the rules a bit back 10+years ago and was seriously fined. Kids attending an Ivy for sports are there because they want the best possible education and want to play Division I sports but they pay dearly for that privilege. Now, if the kid is good enough to sign with the pros after graduation then that obviously has it’s own rewards…

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