By Jeremy Balan
The Sacred Heart Cathedral and St. Ignatius football teams didn’t exactly finish their respective seasons with a flourish, but both teams have new life in the Central Coast Section playoffs.
The City rivals received CCS playoff bids in Division III on Sunday, with Sacred Heart holding the fifth seed and St. Ignatius earning the seventh seed.
Both will have to travel deep into the south end of the section, with Sacred Heart (5-5) facing fourth-seeded Monterey (8-2) and St. Ignatius (3-6-1) taking on second-seeded Aptos (9-1).
“It’s great for the City to have two teams in and hopefully there will be three soon,” said St. Ignatius head coach John Regalia. “It’s exciting for the program and for the guys to be able to have the honor to play in the postseason and that we’ve earned our way to get there.”
The two schools will face relative unknowns in the far-away opponents, but what is known is their records. Aptos dominated the Santa Cruz Coast League en route to a league championship and Monterey finished in a three-way tie for first place in the Monterey Bay League.
“We know absolutely nothing about them,” said Sacred Heart Cathedral head coach John Lee. “I met their coach today and he seems like a very nice guy. From what I’ve seen on film, they have some good athletes, but they have some things that we can take advantage of and I’m excited about that.”
While Sacred Heart and SI both have low seeds, the elephant in the bracket is another WCAL rival. Valley Christian of San Jose chose not to opt up to the Open Division this year, and will be the favorite to win the Division III championship as the third seed.
The Warriors (5-5) will take on Burlingame (5-5) in the first round, and will face the winner of Aptos-St. Ignatius. Valley Christian routed Sacred Heart and only beat SI by three points in WCAL play, but Lee is somewhat relieved both league foes are on the other side of the bracket.
“It’s awesome there are three WCAL teams in there, but they’re going to knock each other off before we get to see either of them,” Lee said.
Both teams have only one CCS title in school history, with SI winning a Medium School title in 2006 and Sacred Heart winning a Small School championship in 2008, but the overwhelming feeling from both coaches was the joy of extending their season.
“I love our chances,” Lee said. “We have to go down there to their back yard and that’s a long bus trip, but as long as we’re in the playoffs, we’ll gladly drive.”
Complete Division III Bracket
(6) Burlingame [5-5] @ (3) Valley Christian (San Jose) [5-5], Saturday 7 p.m.
(7) St. Ignatius [3-6-1] @ (2) Aptos [9-1], Friday 7 p.m.
(5) Sacred Heart Cathedral [5-5] vs. (4) Monterey [8-2] @ Monterey Peninsula College, Friday 7 p.m.
(8) Del Mar (San Jose) [7-3] vs. (1) Christopher (Gilroy) [9-1] @ Gilroy, Friday 7 p.m.