By Jeremy Balan
A remarkable year in San Francisco high school sports was marked by lengthy championship droughts coming to an end, epic runs through the playoffs and one historic football game at AT&T Park.
Here are the top 25 moments from City high school sports in 2011.
1. Football: St. Ignatius wins historic CCS title over rival Sacred Heart Cathedral
The stars were aligned to have an unprecedented Central Coast Section championship football game at the unmatched venue of AT&T Park, but despite the circumstances leading up to it, the game came down to a bounce.
With the game tied in the third quarter, a botched snap caromed off Sacred Heart Cathedral quarterback Jack Harrington and St. Ignatius junior linebacker Danny O’Malley scooped up the ball and ran 50 yards for the game-winning score in a 21-14 St. Ignatius victory in front of 12,000 fans at the Giants’ home venue on Dec. 3.
2. Baseball: Washington completes undefeated season, triple crown
Call it the Triple Crown, call it the Trifecta, call it whatever you want — there wasn’t a need for a name, because it hadn’t been done before.
With a 4-1 win over Balboa in the Academic Athletic Association baseball championship on May 12 at AT&T Park, Washington became the first school in history to win a AAA championship in football, boys basketball and baseball in the same school year.
After allowing the lone Balboa run in the third, Washington junior pitcher Dane Vande Guchte didn’t allow a hit in the next three innings to secure the win.
3. Football: Miles breaks out for over 300 yards in SHC’s runaway win over SI
Sacred Heart Cathedral running back Valentino Miles got the Irish started on the right foot in the first quarter against rival St. Ignatius and boy, did he finish.
The standout senior ran for 230 yards in the second half and finished with a staggering 310 yards on 26 carries in a resounding 38-14 Irish football win on Oct. 21 at Kezar Stadium, ending a five-game losing streak for Sacred Heart in the first leg of the Bruce-Mahoney series.
Miles also scored the first TD of the game on a 28-yard catch and scored on a 43-yard run in the third quarter.
4. Football: Mission ends 57-year championship drought with Turkey Day win over Washington
It was only fitting that the unlikeliest of AAA champions would win in one of the most unlikely ways possible.
After a dizzying sequence of events in the fourth quarter, Mission clinched its first AAA football title since 1954 with a 12-7 win over defending champion Washington at Kezar Stadium on Nov. 24.
Down by a point in the fourth quarter, Mission quarterback Davon Hargraves handed the ball to running back Algeron Malbrough on an apparent sweep to the right, but Malbrough tossed the ball to speedy junior Antoine Porter on a reverse and Porter beat a surprised Washington defense to the pylon for the game-winning score.
5. Football: St. Ignatius shocks Valley Christian to advance to CCS title game
St. Ignatius not only won the CCS championship game against Sacred Heart Cathedral, but it had a charmed run through the playoffs.
The Wildcats started with a come-from-behind win over Aptos, then took down heavily favored Valley Christian in spectacular fashion Nov. 26.
After surrendering a 14-point fourth-quarter lead, the Wildcats came within a point of the Warriors on a touchdown pass from quarterback Jack Stinn to tight end Travis McDow with 30 seconds left. Then, instead of tying the game with an extra point, the Wildcats converted a two-point conversion on another pass from Stinn to McDow to punch their ticket to the title game.
6. Boys Basketball: SI clinches Bruce-Mahoney trophy with thrilling win over Sacred Heart
St. Ignatius senior guard Johnny Mrlik had eight of his game-high 15 points in the fourth quarter of the Wildcats’ 42-40 win on Jan. 11 at USF, but the game will likely be remembered for the points Sacred Heart Cathedral left on the floor.
The Irish shot 3-of-11 from the free-throw line, including five key misses in the fourth quarter, and senior shooting guard Martin Folan’s 3-point attempt from the corner with 35 seconds remaining touched every part of the rim, swirling in and out on two full rotations.
7. Boys Basketball: Washington ends 29-year championship drought
Washington guard Brendan Glapion and Mission guard Antoine Porter each had a game-high 27 points, but it was Porter’s last-second 3-pointer at the buzzer that fell short, securing a 75-72 boys’ basketball win for the Eagles on March 4.
Glapion, later named AAA Player of the Year, connected on 14-of-16 free throw attempts and had seven rebounds, leading the Eagles to their first AAA title since 1982.
8. Boys Soccer: St. Ignatius’ wild WCAL playoff run
The St. Ignatius boys soccer team only scored one goal in both the West Catholic Athletic League semifinal against St. Francis and the championship game against Bellarmine, but that’s all it needed.
Against St. Francis, it was a wind-aided corner kick from senior Sean Prior that went directly into the net, then against Bellarmine, junior Shane Slosar headed in a crossing pass from Aaron Gallagher to upset the top-seeded Bells.
9. Cross Country: University girls win third-straight state championship
Led by senior Bridget Blum’s runner-up individual finish in Division V, University won its third-straight girls cross country state championship and ninth overall on Nov. 6 at Woodward Park in Fresno.
The Red Devils added to their record-breaking haul of state titles with a team time of 1 hour, 36 minutes and 39 seconds.
10. Girls Volleyball: Balboa wins first AAA title
Balboa finally put an end to its dreaded girls volleyball championship drought on Nov. 10, and did it against the AAA’s best team.
With a 25-23, 25-16, 15-25, 25-15 win over Lowell at Kezar Pavilion, the Buccaneers clinched their first AAA title in school history and ended what was an undefeated league season for the Cardinals.
The Bucs were led by a match-high 15 kills from Cynthia Ngan.
11. Boys Volleyball: SI wins first WCAL and CCS title
In the three prior meetings against Bellarmine during the regular season, St. Ignatius couldn’t get a win — not a match, or even a single game.
But the Wildcats came through in the most important match of the year, upsetting the top-seeded Bells 31-29, 21-25, 16-25, 26-24, 15-13 on May 5 to clinch their first West Catholic Athletic League championship in school history.
The Wildcats then rode that momentum in the Central Coast Section Division II playoffs, taking down top-seeded Mt. Madonna to clinch their first CCS title in school history on May 17.
12. Boys Basketball: Lincoln honors Gragnani in win over Jordan
After the tragic death of head coach Mike Gragnani earlier in the week, the result of Lincoln’s 64-30 win over Jordan on Jan. 7 didn’t seem all that important.
The familiar stomping and trademark scowl that led Gragnani to 287 wins in 15 years of coaching at Redwood of Larkspur, Berkeley and Lincoln, were visibly absent, and the way the Mustangs came out in their first game since his death showed the boys and new head coach Matt Jackson are not immune to emotions.
Lincoln spotted Jordan a 9-8 lead early in the game before pulling away for the victory.
“I almost broke out in tears when the kids ran out on the court,” said Jackson, who was the junior varsity coach before Gragnani’s death. “We weren’t ready to play and I wasn’t ready to coach. The moment of silence turned into a quarter of silence.”
13. Baseball: International wins BCL Central title in walkoff fashion
International was down by two runs heading into the bottom of the seventh inning, and it felt eerily familiar.
For the second season in a row, International took an undefeated Bay Counties League Central record in the the league championship, and for the second year in a row they trailed 4-2 late in the title game.
But the Jaguars would not be denied this time, rallied to tie the game and senior Clay Bloszies reached on an error in the final at bat, scoring fellow senior Brian Benavides to win the game.
14. Boys Soccer: Lowell comes back to beat Lincoln for second-consecutive AAA title
So many of Lowell’s wins in the past two seasons have been blowouts, but the Cardinals were pushed to the brink in the AAA championship game on Nov. 12.
The Cardinals rallied back from an early 1-0 deficit, then withstood a frenetic push from Lincoln in the final minutes of a 2-1 win at Boxer Stadium.
The win not only gave the Cardinals their second-consecutive AAA title, but also extended their league win streak to 38 games.
15. Football: St. Ignatius storms back to shock Aptos in CCS playoffs
The Wildcats rallied back from a 24-7 third-quarter deficit to beat Aptos 35-31 on the road in the first round of the Central Coast Section Division III playoffs on Nov. 19.
Senior fullback Dom Truoccolo put the Wildcats up for good on a 3-yard touchdown run with 38 seconds remaining and junior linebacker Noah Bull sealed the game with an interception on Aptos’ first play of the ensuing drive to cap the furious St. Ignatius comeback.
16. Softball: Roddy goes deep twice in Lowell’s AAA championship win
In AAA softball’s recent history, there is no rivalry quite like the battle between Lowell and Washington.
The teams have met in the last three championship games, but Lowell got a leg up on May 18 and did so with an exclamation point, routing the Eagles 11-1 in five innings on Wednesday at San Francisco State University.
Leading the way was Lowell senior first baseman Chloe Roddy, who went 3-for-4 with five RBIs and two two-run home runs.
17. Boys Volleyball: Galileo wins first AAA title
After winning the first game against Lincoln in the AAA championship on May 13, Galileo hit rock bottom.
The top-seeded Lions were dominated by Lincoln in the second game and allowed the Mustangs to even the match with a 25-12 win, but rallied back to win the final two games en route to a 25-21, 12-25, 25-23, 25-21 victory, clinching their first AAA championship in school history.
18. Football: Miles scores six touchdowns to send Sacred Heart to CCS final
Valentino Miles had another night to remember in the Central Coast Section Division III semifinals on Nov. 25 against Christopher in Gilroy.
Miles totaled 143 yards rushing on 26 carries, gained 133 yards on five receptions and scored every touchdown in Sacred Heart’s 42-23 win over the top-seeded Cougars at Gilroy High School.
While the final score seemed lopsided, Sacred Heart was trailing 17-14 at the half, but Miles only needed the first play from scrimmage in the second half to give the Irish the lead.
The play looked ordinary at most in development, as Sacred Heart quarterback Jack Harrington threw to Miles on the left wing behind the line of scrimmage.
With five defenders clustered in front of him and no blockers, Miles juked the first defender, broke a tackle, stepped over another, broke another tackle, then outran the rest of the Christopher defense down the left sideline for a 67-yard score.
19. Girls Basketball: Sacred Heart stuns SI in CCS title game
After trailing for most of the first half, St. Ignatius cut what was an 11-point deficit to 34-32 midway through the third quarter, but what happened next may have signaled the arrival of the City’s next big star in girls basketball.
The response came from Sacred Heart Cathedral freshman guard GeAnna Summers-Luaulu, who connected on her last five shots from the floor and had 14 of her game-high 20 points in the second half, as the Irish pulled away steadily in a 64-48 win over St. Ignatius in the CCS Division III finals on March 5 at Santa Clara University.
20. Girls Soccer: Lowell wins 14th consecutive AAA title
Like it did for the entire season, Lowell left no doubt which team was superior in the AAA girls soccer championship against Lincoln on May 7 at Boxer Stadium.
Behind four goals from standout junior forward Alejandra Sanchez, the Cardinals won 6-0 in dominating fashion, sealing an undefeated league season and their 14th-consecutive AAA title.
21. Boys Basketball: Sacred Heart Cathedral wins third-consecutive CCS title
After Burlingame retook the lead with just over 7 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, it appeared the Panthers were primed to break Sacred Heart Cathedral’s stranglehold on the CCS Division III championship.
Instead, the Irish played near-perfect defense down the stretch, holding Burlingame scoreless for the rest of the game, and ended on a 10-0 run to clinch their third-consecutive CCS title with a 41-32 win on March 5 at Santa Clara University.
22. Boys Basketball: St. Ignatius stuns Mitty
The Monarchs, which went on to win a Division II state championship in 2011, only lost two games last season and one came at the hands of the Wildcats on Jan. 13.
Johnny Mrlik lead the Wildcats with 16 points, Stephen Domingo added 15 and SI held standout Mitty forward Aaron Gordon to just seven points in a physical, grinding game that saw bodies flying all night long.
23. Swimming: Lowell AAA dominance, Vu smashes records
They may have gone about it in completely different ways, but it was business as usual for the Lowell boys and girls swimming teams in the AAA finals on April 30 at City College of San Francisco.
The boys team won its 15th-consecutive title by edging second-place finisher Washington 111-104, while the girls trounced the competition en route to their 22nd-consecutive title, outscoring second-place finisher Lincoln 170-48.
While Lowell claimed the team titles, Lincoln’s Jared Vu stole the spotlight on the individual side.
The sophomore broke two of his own AAA records in the 100-yard butterfly (53.39 seconds) and the 200-yard individual medley (1:59.06). Vu’s time in the 200-yard individual medley marked the first time in AAA history that a swimmer has broken the 2-minute mark.
24. Boys Soccer: SFI dominates first varsity event
As a first-year athletic program, so much about San Francisco International is unknown, but it would be difficult to envision a better beginning.
The Huskies’ boys soccer team, playing in the school’s first varsity event, routed Marshall 7-0 on Aug. 25 at the Crocker Amazon Soccer Fields.
SFI junior Osmar Zapotecas tallied three goals and Medhani Berih, a playmaking midfielder, added three assists.
25. Baseball: Stuart Hall wins first BCL West title
Stuart Hall got its first two batters of the game to score and would not put another run across for the rest of the game — fortunately for the Knights, that was enough to clinch their first Bay Counties League West baseball championship in school history.
Riding another standout performance from sophomore starting pitcher Ben Carrasco, the Knights held off Marin Academy the rest of the way to win 2-1 on May 21 at Skyline College.
Additional reporting by Bonta Hill, Joey Gulino, Harold Abend and Ryan Kuhn.