Football: St. Ignatius falls to St. Francis in heartbreaking fashion

St. Ignatius senior wide receiver Mike Pia hauls in a touchdown pass between a pair of St. Francis defenders on Saturday at St. Ignatius Prep. (Photo by Eric Luis)

By Jeremy Balan

Add another tally to St. Ignatius’ season of heartbreak.

The Wildcats dropped another gut-wrenching game at home on Saturday, this time a 38-35 West Catholic Athletic League loss to St. Francis, and it came down to one play.

St. Francis senior running back Durrell Crooks turns the corner against St. Ignatius on Saturday at St. Ignatius Prep. (Photo by Eric Luis)

After St. Ignatius (2-5-1, 0-4-1) took a 35-31 lead on a 1-yard touchdown run from fullback Dom Truoccolo with 1:34 remaining in the game, St. Francis (4-4, 3-2) drove down to the Wildcats’ 25-yard line with just over 30 seconds to play.

A sack by St. Ignatius defensive lineman Kevin Sullivan put the the Lancers in a fourth-and-17 situation from the SI 27-yard line. On the next play after a St. Francis timeout, senior quarterback Colin Johnson lofted a throw to the left pylon, where senior wide receiver Braden Bishop out-leaped St. Ignatius cornerback Albert Waters and came down with the ball for the game-winning score.

“It was up and down and all over the place, but that’s all right when you come out on top,” said St. Francis head coach Nick Navarro. “In the timeout, all I said was, ‘We need a play. Go get the ball.’ Not much sophistication to it, just throw it in the air and somebody has to come down with it.”

A last-ditch-effort lateral play by St. Ignatius as time ran out was fumbled and recovered by St. Francis to give the Wildcats their third loss of the season by three points or less.

“I’m proud of our guys and their resolve, and I’m proud of their poise,” said St. Ignatius head coach John Regalia. “We have a coaching staff and players that have worked their tails off every single week and we haven’t deviated or changed anything we do, because we believe in each other and our plan. That I can’t be more proud of, representing the school after a tough week.”

The Wildcats took a 21-17 lead into the half on the strength of three touchdown passes from junior quarterback Jack Stinn to senior wide receiver Mike Pia, and appeared to take control of the game in the third quarter, when Stinn connected with tight end Travis McDow for an 11-yard score to extend the lead to 28-17 with 5:57 remaining in the quarter.

St. Ignatius junior quarterback Jack Stinn winds up for a throw against St. Francis on Saturday at St. Ignatius Prep. (Photo by Eric Luis)

Stinn finished with 255 yards and four touchdowns on 16-of-23 passing, and his favorite target was Pia, who had seven receptions for 119 yards

“He did a great job, as usual,” Regalia said of Stinn. “He remained poised and managed the game really well.”

St. Francis answered right back, through, on a 58-yard touchdown run from senior running back Durrell Crooks, who finished with a game-high 144 yards rushing on 17 carries, then the momentum shifted abruptly to the Lancers.

On St. Ignatius’ first play on the ensuing drive, Waters fumbled and the Lancers recovered at the Wildcats’ 25-yard line. Seven plays later, the Lancers pulled ahead on a 12-yard strike from Johnson to tight end Shane Artim, setting up the wild finish.

Still, Navarro and the Lancers were happy to escape with a win and seal a Central Coast Section playoff berth.

“Every team in this league has a chance to win in this league, every week,” Navarro said. “Every win helps, and this was a big one for us.”

Scoring Summary

First Quarter
SF: 9:51 — Jason Shelton 42-yard field goal
SI: 5:21 — Mike Pia 30-yard pass from Jack Stinn (Michael Capitolo kick good)

Second Quarter
SF: 5:09 — Bradon Bishop 19-yard pass from Colin Johnson (Shelton kick good)
SI: 2:42 — Pia 30-yard pass from Stinn (Capitolo kick good)
SF: 1:57 — Durell Crooks 52-yard pass from Johnson (Shelton kick good)
SI: 0:49 — Pia 20-yard pass from Stinn (Capitolo kick good)

Third Quarter
SI: 5:57 — Travis McDow 11-yard pass from Stinn (Capitolo kick good)
SF: 5:37 — Crooks 58-yard run (Shelton kick good)
SF: 2:08 — Shane Artim 12-yard pass from Johnson (Shelton kick good)

Fourth Quarter
SI: 1:34 — Dom Truoccolo 1-yard run (Capitolo kick good)
SF: 0:24 — Bishop 27-yard pass from Johnson (Shelton kick good)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Weird how they almost came out with a W over SF, yet SHC who beat SI, got demolished by SF.

  2. Honor and Love says:

    What showed on the board Can Not reflect all the set backs SI suffered this past week, particularly on Friday. I’m very proud of the way the Cats played today; St. Francis gave them a run for it and pushed them. life doesn’t hand you things. What SF did gave SI a chance to show great pride in a rebuilding SI community — the 2011 Cats did it. Thank you guys for playing for the community as a whole. Don’t let up for the rest of the season, SI, there’s something to prove.

  3. Ari Gold says:

    Wow! St. Francis kicker Jason Shelton 42 yard FG! Impressive!!

    • GCJ01 says:

      Of all of the things you could’ve commented on regarding this game, you facinate yourself with kicking a field goal. Oh wait…that’s right…kicking is your facination!!!!!

      • Ari Gold says:

        I’m commending the kicker. Since a good number of you commenters say I have a negative flavor with my comments, then you hate when I say something positive about a high school athlete? Like what Pete Carroll said to Jim Harbaugh “what’s your deal?”

        • GCJ 01 says:

          Your negative “flavor” seems to mostly be against the AAA and NOT the WCAL. So you giving props to a WCAL team is not surprising. I’m not hating on your comment at all. However, your facination with kicking is a little interesting to say the least.

          • Ari Gold says:

            @GCJ01, you seem very bright and aware of the tone I usually set. Im going to get over this kicking thing but for now I’m poking fun at the kicking aspect, or should I say, non-kicking aspect of AAA teams in recent games. Ive seen this trend many many many years and wondered why most teams cant even field a half decent player that can just concentrate on kicking a PAT.

            If a guy can kickoff a football say the ball travels 40 yards, then a 20 yard extra point try should be a cinch. All the missed 2 pt conversions are the perverbally “leaving points on the field”. But anyways of course its the coach’s choice to choose to go for 2. Thats fine, but not when for instance youre up by 6 touchdowns. Thats classless. Put yourself in the other coach’s shoes when the opposing team does that or goes for an onside kick when the game is out of hand.

            Yes one object of high school sports is teaching competition. But above competition is showing sportsmanship. Thats all I’m going to say about this kicking thing. Im through with the thoughtless criticism regarding kicking. If you dont get it, then you dont get it.

            • GCJ01 says:

              Ari Gold: The smartest thing you said was that you’ll drop the kicking thing. Let’s hope you do it because there’s more to football than kicking. Maybe you didn’t get that part…but now, it seems that you do. I’m proud of you!

              • Ari Gold says:

                @GCJ01… save your petty meanless pride. football is a game of offense, defense and special teams. Kicking is an important part of the game which translates into field position and points. If you ask ANY coach if special teams is important, I doubt you will get one that will say he doesnt care about it. That its a team sport and every aspect of the game contributes to a team winning.

                And Im partial because when I played, I was only on the punt team. And I relished every chance I got on the field and helped contribute whatever I could even though it didnt show up in the boxscore.

            • G Police says:

              “perverbally?” I think you mean, [Missing 2 pt conversions is proverbially “leaving points on the field.” ]

  4. Sag Mode says:

    Jeremy Balan who do you think is the most talented football team in all of san francisco? Private or public it dont matter

    • jbalan says:

      I’ll weigh in on this, if it settles everyone down a little bit.

      This year, the Catholic Schools are above the AAA schools across the board.

      From what I’ve seen in all the games I’ve watched this year, Mission and Washington could probably hang with Riordan for a while, but would still lose. There is no doubt in my mind Sacred Heart and SI would have big, lopsided wins against any AAA team.

      Feel free to pick apart anything I just said.

      • Anonymous says:

        Jbalan Since WASH beat Mission 28 to 7 and you think Mission could hang with Riordan for a while it sounds like WASH could beat Riordan.
        Since you’ve seen all these teams all play this year, I’d be interested in
        In why you think the WCAL city teams are better than WASH, In particular the “lopsided”ones. Thanks

        • jbalan says:

          I was only talking about Mission’s line in relation to Riordan. The Mission line is considerably bigger than Washington’s. Obviously Washington showed they are the better team at this moment.

          Sacred Heart and SI are just so far above any AAA programs this year, including Washington, and there are a couple of reasons.

          The first is size and athleticism on the offensive and defensive lines. In some cases, the Sacred Heart and SI linemen probably outweigh the average AAA linemen by over 100 pounds. That type of mismatch would be very hard to overcome for any football team. Size is also on the WCAL teams’ side at almost every position.

          The second is quarterback play. Gevandian is solid and probably the best in the AAA, but not the polished products that Stinn and Harrington are. Also, for Sacred Heart, there isn’t a back like Valentino Miles in the AAA, that has his burst through the hole or his size and tackle-breaking ability.

          The third, and maybe most important, is depth. The WCAL schools have a load of talent below their starting players, the AAA programs do not. The top-flight AAA players would be good in the WCAL, but it’s the strength the WCAL teams have at every position and second and third backups that gives them a considerable edge. A lot of AAA schools have such low numbers, they barely have a full second-string team.

          There are also factors like fundamentals, technique, discipline and schemes, that give the WCAL schools an edge, but they aren’t as big of factors as the major ones I talked about in depth.

          • Ari Gold says:

            Yeah, exactly what Jeremy said, except when I say it, its more demeaning. All you clueless AAA fans can eat those apples that Jeremy just served.

            • Anonymous says:

              OK Jeremy – well thought out explaination and based on your that observation of both leagues I’d have to agree with you.

            • GCJ 01 says:

              Well it does help that SI and SH can bring in kids from OUTSIDE of the City!!!! If they had players that ONLY resided within City limits, they wouldn’t have the advantage that they do!

              • Ari Gold says:

                @ GCJ01 …Sounds like sour grapes. I was fortunate and eternally grateful for my parents to send me to private school. One of the biggest decisions you have for your kids is to put them in the best learning situation. Public schools are fine, but if you have a chance and the resources to send your kids to private school, I’m sure 100% of the time you will send them to private school. Dont hate on something that SI and SH have no fault on. If kids want to go to there and have the grades, then they’ll go.

              • Anonymous says:

                Ari – your comments are interesting but it’s a little over the top on the hating thing. I don’t think GC was placing fault on these schools rather he was just bringing up an advantage that exists in these schools. Facts are facts. He doesn’t like that advantage no doubt, neither do I. However when WCAL fans belittle AAA sports as they so often do on these comment boards, that advantage does tastes pretty sour indeed..

                I’ve read a lot of your comments and you seem to have a thing for AAA.
                Why don’t you stick to the WCAL pages and let us peasants “eat cake”

  5. AAA fan says:

    Jbalan what about soccer? In my humble opinion, Lincoln or especially Lowell could roll with the BCL-BCS crowd. What do you think? I’m not sure you’ve seen Lowell play well yet since u only saw the sloppy Lowell- Lincoln game and the SFI blowout. But still.

    • jbalan says:

      I think the top teams from the AAA and the BCL City teams are at a pretty even level, but the big difference between the two is depth. The dropoff for the bottom half of the AAA considerably steeper than the BCL.

      I actually wish they would have played more non-league games against each other, but the AAA just has so many teams, they don’t really have many open dates.

      • Lowell player says:

        Yay, finally some supportive words about the AAA! And yeah I play for Lowell and other than a couple games, our season is soo boring. And nit only is it no fun to play only three or four competitive games each year, it halts development, because playing teams that are struggling to even have enough guys on the field doesn’t make anyone better. Hopefully next year well play more exhibition matches, but when we play two games a week it’s really hard to fit them into our regular season and people get hurt from overuse.

  6. WCAL Fan says:

    Friday Night Lights this weekend at SI.

  7. AAA says:

    I play for the AAA, and for me, I wonder, what is up with WCAL schools? I see there style of play and of course its different from our schools way. But I’m telling you, just because we’re smaller in size and numbers, doesn’t necessarily we aren’t that great of a team. Looks can be deceiving, but we are trying to make the most out of what we can. We practice hard, we condition, and we work hard but in the end, everyone just throws us these comments about AAA getting killed if we played in the WCAL. Sure we might not be a school that can afford new equipment, or we don’t have the best players, but we’re still trying to play. I see all these comments comparing AAA schools with WCAL schools, and it makes me just feel bad just even going to a San Francisco public school. Are we that bad?

    • anon says:

      Being a former AAA athlete and now a coach, it saddens me that a student is forced to look up on his own talent because his hard work is not enough in the eyes of a few people. It’s truly sad to see adults tearing apart high school kids even though many of them are trying their best.

      • WCAL Fan says:

        Not all of us WCAL think the way some of the people on this posts. We need to uplift all kids whether they are playing in AAA or WCAL. Regardless, we need to bring up our schools from the City. These kids play and practice hard.

        • Ari Gold says:

          This haves vs have nots comparison can be blamed on two names: St. Cecilia’s and St. Brendan’s. Feel free to throw in other uber wealthy catholic middle schools into that pot.

    • ARHS Stats says:

      It is not you and your teammates are that bad, but the teams in the AAA that came before you played ball at a much higher level of play and with more Division I College talent.

      And a lot of people remember AAA teams playing at that level with Division I College talent on the AAA teams playing Division I College talent on Riordan and Saint Ignatius.

      Back before the 1950’s, the AAA and the OAL formed a Post Season Tournament called the Tournament of Champions, which was later turned into the State playoffs arround 1980 or so. In the 1950’s the AAA and the OAL were the best leagues arround the Bay Area.

      In the late 50’s the Catholic Athletic League was formed with Riordan, Serra, St. Francis, Bellarmine, Bishop O’Dowd, St. Joseph’s, St. Elizabeth’s, and St. Mary’s playing against each other until the West Catholic Athletic League was formed in 1967. All of these teams have had really great basketball teams, since that time.

      When I went to Riordan, back in the early 1980’s, the AAA had some teams in basketball that were as good or better than most of the WCAL teams.
      Washington, Wilson, Lincoln,and McAteer had some of these teams.
      There were always some AAA teams ranked in the top 20 teams for the Bay Area by Merv Harris and the San Francisco Examiner (not the Examiner of today)

      When Riordan had really good basketball teams, back in the late 1980’s, Riordan beat 7 out of 9 AAA teams played, but only won 16 games and lost 7 games over 11 years against the AAA from the 1980 season to the 1990 season. And these were some of the best AAA teams each year during this time and had some Division I College talent.

      In the last 14 years, Riordan has won 20 games and lost 3 games against the AAA. And the AAA teams may have made or won the AAA playoffs, but I don’t think there would be many people who would say these AAA teams had more than a few Division I College talent playing for them. And Riordan did not have the overall talent, that Riordan had almost every season in the 1980’s.

      Riordan has played a lot of AAA basketball teams over the years, here is a list by year:
      1980 Lincoln, Balboa, Balboa (Crusader Classic Championship Game)
      1981 Balboa, Lincoln, McAteer (CC), Washington (CC), Lincoln (Crusader Classic Championship Game)
      1982 Lincoln, Balboa (Crusader Classic Third Place Game)
      1983 Balboa (Crusader Classic Championship Game), Lincoln
      1984 Washington (CC), Lincoln (CC), Lincoln, Balboa
      1985 Washington (CC), Lincoln
      1987 McAteer (CC)
      1988 WIlson, Washington (CC), Lincoln (Crusader Classic Championship Game)
      1989 McAteer, McAteer (Nor-Cal Quarter Final Game)
      1990 Balboa
      1994 Washington, Lowell, Wilson
      1995 Washington, Balboa (Gridley Championship Game), Burton (CC)
      1996 Lincoln, Washington (CC)
      1998 McAteer (CC), Galileo (Crusader Classic Championship Game), Lincoln, Washington
      1999 Lincoln (Crusader Classic Championship Game)
      2000 McAteer
      2001 McAteer, McAteer (Nor-Cal Championship Game Div III)
      2002 Mission, Burton (Burlingame Third Place Game)
      2003 Marshall (CC), Burton
      2004 Marshall (CC)
      2006 Lincoln (CC)
      2008 Mission (CC)
      2009 Mission (CC), Lincoln
      2010 Balboa, MIssion (CC), Lincoln
      2011 Mission (CC), Wallenberg, Balboa

      (CC) means a Crusader Classic tournament Game

      • WCAL Fan says:

        Thanks for the schooling Stat Man. Below is the schedule for the Crusader Classic. Come out and watch a game in a great SF gym and get some good food at the Crusader Grill.

        11/30/2011 TBA (H) Crusader Classic Archbishop Riordan
        12/01/2011 TBA (H) Crusader Classic Archbishop Riordan
        12/02/2011 TBA (H) Crusader Classic Archbishop Riordan
        12/03/2011 TBA (H) Crusader Classic Archbishop Riordan

        I’m sure they will be some AAA teams participating.

        • jbalan says:

          Mission will be in it, but that’s the only AAA team, as far as I know.

        • ARHS Stats says:

          2011 CRUSADER CLASSIC – Varsity Tournament
          53rd CRUSADER CLASSIC

          At Archbishop Riordan High School
          November 30th, December 1st, 2nd, & 3rd

          Home Team Visiting Team

          Wednesday, November 30th
          Game 1 6:30 P.M. Sir Francis Drake vs. Burlingame
          Game 2 8:00 P.M. Archbishop Riordan vs. Mission
          Thursday, December 1st
          Game 3 6:30 P.M. St. Mary’s (B) vs. Righetti
          Game 4 8:00 P.M. Castlemont vs. San Ramon Valley

          Friday, December 2nd
          Game 5 3:15 P.M. Loser Game #4 vs. Loser Game #3
          Game 6 4:45 P.M. Loser Game #2 vs. Loser Game #1
          Game 7 6:30 P.M. Winner Game #4 vs. Winner Game #3
          Game 8 8:00 P.M. Winner Game #2 vs. Winner Game #1

          Saturday, December 3rd
          Game 9 12:30 P.M. Loser Game #5 vs. Loser Game #6
          Game 10 3:30 P.M. Winner Game #5 vs. Winner Game #6
          Game 11 6:30 P.M. Loser Game #7 vs. Loser Game #8
          Game 12 8:00 P.M. Winner Game #8 vs. Winner Game #7

          * Final round Archbishop Riordan will still wear white as the home school irregardless of bracket position

          2011 PURPLE AND GOLD CLASSIC – Junior Varsity Tournament

          At Archbishop Riordan High School
          November 29th, 30th, December 1st & 3rd

          Home Team Visiting Team

          Tuesday, November 29th
          Game 1 3:15 P.M. Junipero Serra vs. St. Mary’s (B)
          Game 2 4:45 P.M. San Ramon Valley vs. Burlingame
          Game 3 6:30 P.M. University (SF) vs. James Logan
          Game 4 8:00 P.M. Archbishop Riordan vs. Sir Francis Drake

          Wednesday, November 30th
          Game 5 3:15 P.M. Loser Game #2 vs. Loser Game #1
          Game 6 4:45 P.M. Loser Game #4 vs. Loser Game #3
          Thursday, December 1st
          Game 7 3:15 P.M. Winner Game #2 vs. Winner Game #1
          Game 8 4:45 P.M. Winner Game #4 vs. Winner Game #3

          Saturday, December 3rd
          Game 9 9:30 A.M. Loser Game #5 vs. Loser Game #6
          Game 10 11:00 A.M. Winner Game #5 vs. Winner Game #6
          Game 11 2:00 P.M. Loser Game #7 vs. Loser Game #8
          Game 12 5:00 P.M. Winner Game #8 vs. Winner Game #7

          • ARHS Stats says:

            Corrected Crusader Classic Schedule

            2011 CRUSADER CLASSIC – Varsity Tournament
            53rd CRUSADER CLASSIC

            At Archbishop Riordan High School
            November 30th, December 1st, 2nd, & 3rd

            Home Team Visiting Team

            Wednesday, November 30th
            Game 1 6:30 P.M. St. Mary’s (B) vs. Mission
            Game 2 8:00 P.M. Archbishop Riordan vs. Burlingame
            Thursday, December 1st
            Game 3 6:30 P.M. Castlemont vs. Sir Francis Drake
            Game 4 8:00 P.M. San Ramon Valley vs. Righetti

            Friday, December 2nd
            Game 5 3:15 P.M. Loser Game #2 vs. Loser Game #1
            Game 6 4:45 P.M. Loser Game #4 vs. Loser Game #3
            Game 7 6:30 P.M. Winner Game #4 vs. Winner Game #3
            Game 8 8:00 P.M. Winner Game #2 vs. Winner Game #1

            Saturday, December 3rd
            Game 9 12:30 P.M. Loser Game #6 vs. Loser Game #5
            Game 10 3:30 P.M. Winner Game #6 vs. Winner Game #5
            Game 11 6:30 P.M. Loser Game #7 vs. Loser Game #8
            Game 12 8:00 P.M. Winner Game #7 vs. Winner Game #8

            * Final round Archbishop Riordan will still wear white as the home school irregardless of bracket position

    • Don L. says:


      I wouldn’t even worry about what others are saying about the AAA or the teams. The fact that you, your teammates and the rest of the AAA are out there competing should be good enough but yet others seem to like “looking down” at the AAA.

      Like anon (who posted before me), I am a former AAA athlete (cross country / fencing) and don’t understand why people feel to constantly compare the current state of the AAA to the past. While I am devoted follower of Wallenberg (especially basketball), I cheer for all AAA teams during the pre-season and post season in all sports.

      To all AAA athletes, keep your heads up and be proud of what you do out in the fields and courts.

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