By Jeremy Balan
The Sacred Heart Cathedral offense was certainly effective in its win on the road against Riordan on Saturday, but it was the Irish defense that was dominant — and they seem to be getting better every week.
The Irish defense held the Crusaders to just 48 yards through three quarters and 134 overall in a 35-7 rout, to clinch the Stanfel Cup for the fourth consecutive year.
“That the key to our defense. Pressure, period,” said Sacred Heart senior linebacker John Morello. “We’ve got guys playing with fire every week, guys who want to come out here and play for each other. That’s why we’re doing so well.”
The Irish (4-1, 1-1 in West Catholic Athletic League) applied constant pressure to the Riordan (1-4, 0-2) backfield and sophomore quarterback Zach Masoli, who was sacked three times. The Riordan ground attack was also limited to just 27 yards rushing.
“The whole point of this defense is to attack and that you don’t know where we’re coming from,” said Sacred Heart head coach John Lee. “If we can continue to do that to league opponents, that takes them out of their game, and puts the ball in our hands.”
When the Irish did have the ball, they moved it impressively on the ground, led by standout senior running back Valentino Miles’ 153 yards and three touchdowns on just 15 carries. Miles also led the Irish in receiving, with 64 yards on four receptions.
“We just try to get him the ball in space, anyway we can,” Lee said.
All of Miles’ scores came in the first half, and after a 24-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Jack Harrington to tight end Villami Uikilifi with 5:46 remaining in the third quarter extended the lead to 35-0, Sacred Heart removed its offensive starters. Harrington threw for 133 yards on 10-of-16 passing.
“Sacred Heart has a really good team. That’s all it is,” said Riordan head coach Richard Sweeney. “We did not do very well up front and part of it was a credit to them, but part is that we’re not where we need to be yet.”
Sacred Heart may have rested its offensive starters, but the first-team Irish defense remained in until the end, and in the fourth quarter, the Crusaders finally put together a solid drive.
Masoli, who had thrown for just 43 yards on 4-of-13 passing through three quarters, came alive on the Crusaders’ lone scoring drive going 3-of-3 through the air for 64 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown strike to senior D.J. Harvey.
“We’ve got some playmakers, but we just have to get better,” Sweeney said. “That’s really all it is.”
For the Irish, every win is crucial in terms of Central Coast Section playoff eligibility, but with an upcoming game on the road against St. Francis, which is currently 1-4, no team will be taken lightly.
“It’s still St. Francis. It’s not like they’re getting smacked by 70,” Lee said. “We’re going to go down there on Friday night and it’s a great setting. We’re going to be focused and we’re going to be healthy.”
SH: 7:00 — Valentino Miles 2-yard run (Jack Harrington kick good)
SH: 1:58 — Harrington 2-yard run (Harrington kick good)
SH: 4:33 — Miles 1-yard run (Harrington kick good)
SH: 0:08 — Miles 4-yard run (Harrington kick good)
SH: 5:46 — Villami Uikilifi 24-yard pass from Harrington (Harrington kick good)
R: 6:05 — D.J. Harvey 10-yard pass from Zach Masoli (Jose Rodriguez kick good)