Football Game of the Week: SI and Sacred Heart both peaking at the right time

Sacred Heart senior running back Valentino Miles made an impression against St. Ignatius in the regular-season meeting between the two teams and has been the main offensive weapon for the Irish in the CCS playoffs. (Photo by Eric Luis)

By Jeremy Balan

As much as the rivalry, venue and circumstances of the Central Coast Section Division III football championship between Sacred Heart Cathedral and St. Ignatius on Saturday night means to San Francisco, what may be most exciting is that both teams are playing their best football of the season.

The two schools have gone on extended road trips in the first two rounds of the playoffs and have come away with an opportunity to play in the first high school football game in AT&T Park’s history.

St. Ignatius, as the seventh seed in the eight-team tournament, came from behind to upset second-seeded Aptos, then stunned tournament favorite Valley Christian of San Jose on Saturday. Sacred Heart, as the fifth seed, took down Monterey in the first round and then handled top-seeded Christopher of Gilroy in the semifinals.

St. Ignatius junior quarterback Jack Stinn struggled against Sacred Heart in the first meeting between the two teams, but has caught fire in the CCS playoffs. (Photo by Devin Chen)

“At this point in the season, for teams to make the championship game, you have to be playing your best football,” said St. Ignatius head coach John Regalia. “There’s no question [Sacred Heart] is playing very well right now and I’d like to think we’re doing some things well also.”

Both offenses have been stellar in the playoffs, led by Sacred Heart running back Valentino Miles and St. Ignatius quarterback Jack Stinn.

Miles scored all six touchdowns for the Irish (7-5) against Christopher last week and totaled 276 yards from scrimmage.

“He’s playing motivated and that’s exciting,” said Sacred Heart head coach John Lee. “He’s in a comfort zone, but I don’t want him to get too comfortable. This game is going to come down to who has the last bullet in the gun.”

The standout senior also ran for 310 yards and scored two touchdowns in Sacred Heart’s regular-season win over the Wildcats (5-6-1).

“Miles is a very good running back and [Jack] Harrington is a very good quarterback in that system,” Regalia said. “There’s a lot of different parts in their offense and Miles is a big part of that, no question. I think he showed that last week and he proved it against us in the first game.”

Stinn broke out for 328 yards and three touchdowns in St. Ignatius’ stunning, last-minute win over Valley Christian, but the first meeting against Sacred Heart was undoubtedly the low-point of his season.

The left-handed junior threw for 181 yards against the Irish, but did so on 11-of-34 completions and was under constant pressure by the Sacred Heart defense.

The St. Ignatius running game also showed signs of improvement against Valley Christian last week, but the biggest chunk of yardage came from an unlikely source.

With starting senior running back Kerry Crowley out with an injury, the Wildcats shifted fullback Dom Truoccolo to running back and the senior responded with a season-high 137 yards on 25 carries.

“I think Dom is going to be successful wherever we put him on the field because of his work ethic, his ability and because he’s a smart football player,” Regalia said. “He’s a very smart offensive player and that’s why we can throw the ball to him, that’s why he can carry the ball and that’s why he can block. We’ve used him so many different ways this season because we can.”

The Wildcats are hopeful Crowley will return for the championship game on Saturday and as a senior, the game has a special importance to him.

“It’s the last time for the seniors to play and it’s really special,” Crowley said. “It’s been our goal all year and now that it’s here, we’re ready for it.”

Lee and the Irish seniors have the same feeling, and although the first meeting between the two teams should not be sold short, Sacred Heart’s focus is on the finale.

“For most of these seniors, they’ll never play in another competitive football game,” Lee said. “It is a great memory, what happened on Oct. 21, but that’s gone. We want to create fantastic memories on Dec. 3. If we come in with an attitude that they’ll lay down for us, we’ll be sadly mistaken.”

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21 Comments

  1. GCJ 01 says:

    This will definately be a great game. Good luck to both schools as both of you show everyone what City football is all about!

  2. FAN says:

    SHC is going to win. Hands down.

  3. Name says:

    What time is the game?

  4. Irishtillidie says:

    GO IRISH

  5. Anonymous says:

    SI is going to win this one. They have something to prove and the momentum is with them. GO WILDCATS!

  6. Cats Pride says:

    Let’s go Cats- show us you’ve made big strides since the last game.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Does anyone know if the game will be broadcasted on TV?

    • Mickey Blue Eyes says:

      as far as I know the only CCS championship to be broadcast will be the one on Friday Night between Bellarmine and Palo Alto. I do not think this game will be televised although it should be IMHO

    • Anonymous says:

      The game is going to be on internet radio, go to siprep website for details.

  8. SI GRAD says:

    This will be a game for the ages. It will never happen again. I wish I could be there to see it. SH is rightfully favored after their Bruce Mahoney win, but SI has a lot of momentum. Both offenses are very good, but it’s going to come down to whether SI’s run defense can stop Valentino Miles. SH’s defense has been consistent all year, and got tons of pressure on Stinn in the Bruce Mahoney. If SI can stop Miles and protect Stinn, SI has a good shot at the upset.

    Let’s go Cats!

  9. sf fan says:

    Si has added an offensive coordinator this year who has a a year of pro experience, but most importantly, brings new ideas to a coaching staff that is usually made up of SI Grads with limited experience. Adding Stinn to the mix, with a fast pace offensive scheme, SI finally has a chance to be competitive. Maybe SI can learn from the success of this season’s football and begin to bring in coaches for baseball and basketball with real experience as well. To date, the main qualification seems to be that they graduated from SI. Time to follow the lead of the football SI and bring in coaches with knowledge from outside the control of the school.

    • GCJ01 says:

      I think that would be a good idea. Sometimes “thinking outside the box” yields success.

    • Anonymous says:

      Totally agree. Maybe the new SI Athletic Director understands the need to bring in coaches with genuine experience. Before it was just an old-boys club-if you went to SI, and maybe played a sport for SI, that qualified you for a coaching position (although playing a sport, any sport, apparently wasn’t a requirement for the AD job in the past). This ushers in a whole new era. Who knows, if the turnout is big enough, maybe they’ll schedule the Bruce M. football game here every year. That would be awesome.

  10. Aaron White says:

    Go Cats! SH will fall apart— I love my Cats Wild Baby

  11. Mitchell says:

    Jeremy, to be a real news site, you have to write articles that people will find useful and that contain all pertinent information on the event you are covering. What time is this game being played?

    • jbalan says:

      Yeah, not putting the time of the game in this particular article, even though we’ve reported it twice prior, obviously disqualifies us as a “real news site.”

      Thank you for being our journalism watch dog, Mr. Oster.

  12. city might says:

    When are people going to learn not to mess with jbalen? He will call yo ass out.

  13. SI4Life says:

    Change takes time but no doubt that SI has enough athletic talent in this class of ’13 to dominate every sport not just the big 3. The problem with coaching seems to extend to every sport. These kids deserve the best SI can offer in coaches who don’t just know how to coach but are good role models and good people not just somebody’s former school buddy, student or relative. Hopefully the school that can afford to spend a small fortune on bleachers and a press box can invest a little more effort in the coaching staff. Let’s all hope our new AD can get some priorities straight!

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