Football Preview: St. Ignatius carrying momentum from 2011 flourish

St. Ignatius seniors (from left) Noah Bull, Jack Stinn and Albert Waters have a legitimate shot to bring an outright WCAL title to the Sunset for the first time in school history. (Photo by Devin Chen)

By Jeremy Balan

If momentum can be carried through the nearly nine-month-long football offseason, it would be hard to find a team that has more of it than St. Ignatius Prep.

The Wildcats capped a whirlwind Central Coast Section playoff run with a win over eternal rival Sacred Heart Cathedral in the Division III championship game in front of an estimated 12,000 fans at AT&T Park.

St. Ignatius eliminated a 14-7 halftime deficit to beat the Irish 21-14, but at that point, comebacks were old hat. In prior playoff games on the road against Aptos and Valley Christian, the Wildcats needed last-minute scores to prevail.

The St. Ignatius offense will again run through senior Jack Stinn, who was the best passing quarterback in the WCAL last season. (Photo by Devin Chen)

“To have three competitive games like that, that are so thrilling toward the end — they were just amazing,” said senior quarterback Jack Stinn. “We saw last year, the games we would lose in the final two minutes, we were beginning to win.”

Now, with the most talent returning of any West Catholic Athletic League team within San Francisco’s borders, the Wildcats are considered contenders in one of the best leagues in the state. The WCAL coaches even voted St. Ignatius third in their preseason poll, only behind powerhouses Bellarmine and Serra.

“Our program has had some success,” said St. Ignatius head coach John Regalia. “Now it’s how we deal with that success and how we build on it.”

The face of the St. Ignatius offense will again be senior quarterback Stinn, who led the almost entirely run-first league in passing yardage last season.

Along with shifty senior running back Albert Waters, the leading returning rusher from last season, and a pair of big targets at wide receiver (seniors Andrew Vollert and Matt Emery are both around 6-foot-5), scoring shouldn’t be a problem for the Wildcats in 2012.

The most significant point of concern last season, however, was the St. Ignatius defense, specifically its inability to stop the run in a league that does it better than any other.

Against league opponents with elite running games last season, (Serra, Valley Christian, St. Francis, Sacred Heart Cathedral and Bellarmine) the Wildcats allowed over 37 points per game.

“The WCAL has always been [a running league], and last year was a great example of it,” Regalia said. “Every team has an excellent run scheme and a very good running back, and they’re well coached. That’s something that we have to be ready for.”

Senior linebacker Noah Bull led the WCAL in tackles last season and will be a leader on the St. Ignatius defense that struggled to stop the run in 2011. (Photo by Devin Chen)

Leading the defensive charge will be senior Noah Bull, who led the WCAL in tackles last season. Waters will also help out at cornerback, along with his duties at running back.

“Our defense, as a whole, needs to stop the run,” Bull said. “We don’t know how far we can go, but we’re not going to put a lid on it. Every day we’re going to remind ourselves to keep working and getting better.”

With so many question marks in the WCAL, which will still be the strongest league in the CCS, the door may be open for St. Ignatius to win its first outright league football title in school history (the Wildcats split a title with Serra in 2006).

If they can win a WCAL title — and that is a big if — along with an undefeated run in a tough non-league slate that includes a stout Marin Catholic squad, the Wildcats could also be a part of another first. They could be a part of the inaugural regional bowl games, which are now the only route to the state championships.

“We have the potential do that, but potential doesn’t always work out the way you want it to,” Stinn said.

2012 Schedule – WCAL games in bold

Week 0: Sat. 9/1 – @ Marin Catholic (Kentfield), 1 p.m.
Week 1: Fri. 9/7 – @ Terra Nova (Pacifica), 7 p.m.
Week 2: Sat. 9/15 – vs. Menlo-Atherton (Atherton), 1 p.m.
Week 3: (Bye)
Week 4: Sat. 9/29 – @ Valley Christian (San Jose), 7 p.m.
Week 5: Fri. 10/5 – vs. Sacred Heart Cathedral @ Kezar Stadium, 7 p.m.
Week 6: Fri. 10/12 – @ St. Francis (Mountain View), 7:30 p.m.
Week 7: Sat. 10/20 – @ Riordan, 1 p.m.
Week 8: Sat. 10/27 – vs. Bellarmine (San Jose), 1 p.m.
Week 9: Sat. 11/3 – @ Serra (San Mateo), 2 p.m.
Week 10: Sat. 11/10 – vs. Mitty (San Jose), 1 p.m.

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18 Comments

  1. fan says:

    I see you Albert waters. Do your thing man!!

  2. JJ says:

    Anyone go to the scrimmage against WASH? If so, who looked good besides the “3 Horsemen” mentioned above?

  3. Ari Gold says:

    Where were these photo’s taken? Out on a wheat field?!?!? Bull with a graffiti-laden background??!?!? What message are we trying to send here? Does Victor have a marksalot or a Kryon can in his backpack?

  4. Roll Cats says:

    The picture of Noah Bull might be one of the best photographs this site has ever displayed

  5. Cats pride says:

    SI vs MC should be a duel of two great QB’s, especially with MC’s Goff commited to Cal next year.
    Playing the Bells and Serra in back-to-back weeks will be tough though. Go Cats!

    • JJ says:

      Historically, SI doesn’t really do that well when the Cats go to Marin to play MC. SI’s defense have never been their strong suit. Whenever SI won any championships in football or did well in league, it was usually their offense which led them. I expect alot of high scoring games this year like 42-38 type scores.

  6. Josh Weinstein says:

    I was at the scrimmage Saturday between SI vs. Washington. If they kept score the final would have been around SI 42 Washington 7. SI has two tall WR’s at 6’5″ with Vollert and Emery. They completely outsized the smaller Washington DBs. And SI has an electric addition at running back, junior Elijah Dale who tore up the WCAL on the JV level last year. Think a Barry Sanders style slashing runner sideline to sideline with Frank Gore power up the middle. Al Waters made some nice catches out of the backfield and made some solid tackles and broke up passes in the secondary.

    Overall, SI’s defense looked stout but they are still untested until they face Marin Catholic. But on the offensive side of the ball, this team is improved. Stinn looked sharp. mobile, and threw accurately into small windows.

    • T Day Boy says:

      Give Washington another week to prepare and they would compete. SI isn’t as talented as people see them. SI run defense was getting destroyed by Washington running back and the pass defense wasn’t that great either.

      • Ari Gold says:

        It was a “scrimmage”. I seriously doubt SI used their money plays against Washington. You can give Washington 100 weeks and they still would not beat SI.

      • Big EZ says:

        are you trying to say 1 week of preparation would make up 35 points? get real – everyone knows the WCAL is a superior league to the AAA. no AAA team could compete with the level of competition WCAL teams face.

      • BigMikeDC says:

        TDB – which scrimmage did you attend?

      • JJ says:

        Aren’t you the same guy who claims that you are an alum of Mission High? Yet, all your posts seem to insinuate that you are a staunch supporter of WASH. Based on your posts, you are either the water boy of WASH or the guy who washes the WASH uniforms after the games.

        ….thanks for the nice recap, Mr. Weinstein.

        • T Day Boy says:

          I like wash because their program stands for something. Just like I don’t have to be from sanfrancisco to be a 49ers fan.

    • BigMikeDC says:

      Playing a scrimmage does not tell us anything. Offense will be excellent. Defense needs to bend, not break. Assuming they maintain the historically strong disipline, they should have a good season.

  7. SI Sports Radio says:

    Listen live to the SI vs. Marin Catholic game on SI Sports Radio this Saturday, Sept 1 at 145pm. Kickoff has been moved to 2pm. MaxPreps ranks Marin Catholic #7 and SI #10 in the Bay Area. You can listen to SI Sports Radio on a computer, smart phone, iPad, and iPod Touch.

    http://client.stretchinternet.com/client/siprep.portal#

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