Football Game of the Week: WCAL showdown in the Sunset

The St. Ignatius defense has shared the spotlight with its lauded offense in recent weeks. (Photo by Doug Ko)

By Jeremy Balan

The default platitude in the West Catholic Athletic League and Central Coast Section football discussions this season has been pretty simple.

Bellarmine remains the king until someone knocks it off.

For the first time in a long time — maybe the first time since it left the Academic Athletic Association in 1968 1967 — St. Ignatius has an opportunity to take the crown as the top team in the WCAL and in the CCS when the Wildcats host Bellarmine on Saturday.

Both teams come into the game undefeated in WCAL play, but the Bells, which won the league title last season, claimed the CCS Open Division championship and went on to lose to Santa Margarita in the Division I state title game, haven’t lost a league game since Nov. 5, 2010, and have a five-year win streak against St. Ignatius.

“Both teams are 4-0 in league,” said Bellarmine head coach Mike Janda. “The winner of this ballgame has the inside track to win the championship, so it’s tremendously important to both teams.”

That inside track, for St. Ignatius, would be for its first outright WCAL football title in school history since 1967 (the Wildcats split a league title with Serra in 2006). The Wildcats would still have to get past Serra and Mitty in the final two games of the season, but the first step is Bellarmine.

“We’re not looking at winning out. Honestly, we’re just looking at this week,” said St. Ignatius head coach John Regalia. “What our guys are good at is focusing on what is at hand.”

The Wildcats haven’t shown much difficulty scoring this season, but it has been the recent defensive resurgence that has been most noticeable in recent weeks. St. Ignatius held St. Francis and Riordan to a combined 234 yards of total offense in the past two weeks, and even though neither team can be classified as an offensive powerhouse, it is a stark departure from last year’s stop unit that struggled mightily throughout the WCAL season.

Regalia credited the Wildcats’ scout offense, which shifts every week to imitate their upcoming opponent, for the defensive improvements.

“Our defense has improved over the course of the season because of our scout offense,” Regalia said. “When our defense is showing good things on the field, our scout offense guys take pride in that and they should.”

In SI’s 54-14 loss to Bellarmine last season, the Wildcats allowed 421 yards rushing to the Bells’ double-wing offense.

“It’s assignment football,” Regalia said of defending against the double-wing. “It’s being disciplined, pursuing the football and being excellent tacklers. We have to match the physicality of that with our defense.”

Last season, the Bells’ passing game was essentially a wrinkle and they only threw three times against St. Ignatius, but this season, they have arguably the best dual-threat quarterback in the league.

Junior quarterback K.J. Carta-Samuels, listed at 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds, is in his first varsity season and has been as effective in the passing game as he has been in directing the double-wing.

“He’s a first-year starter, so he’s still learning and there has been some excellent improvement every week,” Janda said. “We have to pass, because certain defenses take certain things away. You have to have something else to go to.”

Listed as a pro-style quarterback by, the junior has only played seven varsity games, but already verbally committed to play college football at Vanderbilt.

“They have their double-wing stuff and their pro-style stuff,” Regalia said. “They have a quarterback that’s a tough runner, that can throw the ball, is a great leader and is a junior. I don’t think they’re versatile because of him, but he allows them to be more versatile.”

Even though the Wildcats technically were the home team in the Bruce-Mahoney game against Sacred Heart Cathedral at Kezar Stadium earlier in the season, this week also represents the unofficial WCAL home opener for St. Ignatius. The Wildcats haven’t played on their home field in the Sunset since a 31-7 non-league win over Menlo-Atherton on Sept. 15.

“There’s definitely going to be the comforts of home, but once the whistle blows, we’re still playing football between the lines,” Regalia said. “That doesn’t change.”

Other Games


Galileo vs. Marshall @ SOTA, 2 p.m.
The Phoenix (1-7, 0-4) have been mathematically eliminated from postseason contention, but need to win out and get help to keep slim postseason hopes alive and can play spoiler to the Lions (1-5-1, 0-3), which also still have a distant chance to sneak into the Academic Athletic Association playoffs.


Lowell vs. Washington @ Kezar Stadium, 7 p.m.
The yearly Battle of the Birds rivalry game has the most significant postseason implications of any matchup this weekend. Whichever team wins will have the inside track to lock down the third seed in the AAA playoffs. The Cardinals (3-3, 2-1) are currently in third place, while the Eagles (2-5, 2-2) sit in fourth, with only league-undefeated Mission remaining on their schedule.

Sacred Heart Cathedral vs. Mitty (San Jose) @ Foothill College (Los Altos Hills), 7 p.m.
The Irish (1-6, 0-4) will look to capture their first WCAL win of the season and end a startling trend against the Monarchs (5-2, 2-2). With a limited roster, Sacred Heart has been losing a war of attrition. In first halves this season, the Irish have been competitive, only being outscored 77-75, but in second halves, they have been outscored by a staggering margin of 124-17.

Riordan @ St. Francis (Mountain View), 7:30 p.m.
The Crusaders’ (3-4, 0-4) already-uphill battle to capture their first WCAL win of the season took a hit when standout junior quarterback Zach Masoli was ruled out of this week’s game with a hand injury. Junior Chris Hall, the Crusaders’ top wide receiver, will be likely be Masoli’s replacement under center against the Lancers (3-4, 2-2).


Stuart Hall vs. Woodside Priory (Portola Valley) @ Treasure Island, 1 p.m.
The Knights (4-1, 3-0) have had plenty of success during their first season in the Mission Trail Athletic League’s 8-Man Division, averaging over 50 points per game, but will get their toughest test against the Panthers (5-0, 3-0), which have also dominated league competition.

Balboa vs. Mission @ SOTA, 2 p.m.
The Bucs’ (1-5, 1-2) will still have an outside shot for a AAA playoff spot if they lose to the Bears (4-2, 3-0), but an upset over a rested Mission squad coming off a bye last week, would make things significantly easier.

Woodland Poly @ Lincoln, 2 p.m. (CANCELED)
The Mustangs improve to 7-1 with their second straight forfeit win. The Buffaloes (0-4) are in their first year of varsity competition and informed Lincoln head coach Phil Ferrigno last week that they wouldn’t be able to field a full team.

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  1. JJ says:

    I’d hate to be Lincoln right now. 2 games cancelled in 2 weeks. They are either gonna be rusty or well-rested when they play Mission. If they lose, rusty. Win, well-rested.

  2. SI Sports Radio says:

    SI SPORTS RADIO: It’s a showdown for first place in WCAL varsity football. Bellarmine
    visits SI this Saturday, Oct 27 on JB Murphy Field. Both teams are 6-1 overall and 4-0 in the WCAL.

    Can’t make it to the game and want to listen to it at home or on the go? Then log on to SI Sports Radio on your computer, smart phone, iPad, or iPod Touch starting at 115pm on Saturday.

    Click here to listen http:/​/​​client/​siprep.portal# or type into your browser.

  3. SJ says:

    Sorry Jeremy, you have it wrong. SI won the WCAL crown in 1968 (first year in the league) by going undefeated. We were led by WCAL Player of the Year Bobby Giorgetti (who later played at USC)

    • jbalan says:

      According to the WCAL history packet, Serra won in 1968. The only SI football championship listed in that packet was a split title in 2006 with Serra.

      • JJ says:

        There could be an error somewhere in the packet because how come when I look at the # of WCAL championships we have in football, SI has 2, yet when you look at the years, SI’s name is only named once in varsity football?

    • jbalan says:

      OK… We may be close to an answer. From what I’ve gathered from SI folks, they say that they won in 1967, the inaugural year of the WCAL. I haven’t been able to confirm this with the WCAL, but the 1967 season does not show up in the WCAL record book for some reason.

    • jbalan says:

      We’ve confirmed now with multiple sources that SI won the 1967 WCAL title. I apologize for this mistake.

      • IC Stars says:

        You should contact Kevin Donohue at I caught an error on the history section myself.

        • Lance says:

          You are all correct, SI won title 1967. I’m starting to sense there may be a conspiracy in omitting the Cats 67 title. You do know Donohue was the Serra Round Ball coach and AD for 20 plus years before becoming the WCAL Commish.

          JJ get Oliver Stone on the horn pronto!

  4. FootballSupporter says:

    SI should beat Bellarmine if the defense can negate that frustrating scrum style cut block o-line scheme that the Bells run. SI seems to have the linebackers that can hold the middle and have the D-down line spread out and come in from the sides to squash the flare. I can’t believe that no one has figured the Bells’ blocking scheme and not beat it – if the Bells want a pile up in the middle give it to them and have the defense push them all together and then control the outside.
    If Bellarmine can “stump the Stinn” then look out SI.

  5. manifest Destiny says:

    Watch out for all the news articles and buzz surrounding this game. The Wildcats have been in the run for it before with three games left on many occasions over the years. There is a bit of a Jesuit rivalry here but Bellarmine usually has come out on top in the big games. Cross ypur fingers. If they win the road will have to go through Serra for the title (at Serra). Last game against Mitty may also be a tough one for the Cats. WCAL football. We will see. Go Wildcats.

  6. Chuck Nan says:


    I just wanted to clarify one more thing that I have seen reported erroneously in several other blogs and articles.

    This is the first time SI has started 4-0 in WCAL play since their inaugural season of 1967. As you may recall Sacred Heart left the WCAL to become an independent in football only for about 20 seasons. In 2006, SI defeated SH in the week prior to commencing league play.

    A quick look at MaxPreps can make one think that the SH contest was league. I initially made that mistake, as well. There is no asterisk indicating a league game. So, the Cats started 3-0 before loosing to Serra.

    I noted that the WCAL Record Book started at 1968 for its list of football champions. I notified them at the start of the season. It is ironic that the omit SI in 1967, both their first year in the WCAL and only outright crown.

    SI came very close to an outright title in 1976. They officially tied the Bells 15-15 and “lost” on the controversial California Tie Breaker. SI led 15-0 with five minutes remaining. K.C. Murphy and I will talk about this in length and detail during tomorrow’s broadcast.

    • Lance says:

      Good info Chuck. Was Fouts the QB on that 1967 team?

      • JJ says:

        Dan Fouts was a junior in 1967, so SI must’ve lost to Serra when he was a senior.

        • Lance says:

          JJ did Fouts start as a junior on the 1967 SI team?

          • JJ says:

            Actually, I’m just guessing that he was a junior during the 1967-68 season because I think he graduated Oregon in 1973? Unless Fouts enrolled at Oregon for 5 years? There’s really not much on the internet regarding Dan Fouts HS career.

            • ARHS Stats says:

              Yes, Dan Fouts was the SI Starting QB in 1967 as a Junior.

              The WCAL Player of the Year in 1967 was SI RB Bob Giorgetti.

              Giorgetti ran for 1333 yards on 255 carries. He also scored 23 TDs on the season and scored 138 points.

    • KC Murphy says:

      Chuck, I just got off the phone with Gene Clancy, number 72 for the Cats, back in 1976, my classmate and roommate at Santa Clara the next 4 years. He found all the newspaper clippings from that season. SI started the season 4 – 0 in WCAL play. We beat Riordan, SH (in the league for football then), Serra, Mitty to start 4 – 0. We lead the Bells 15 – 0 at half time. Claudio Cippola (I just saw him at game one of the World Series) hit Dennis Murphy for 11 yards. Lou Kolenda came on to kick the point after. The Bells jumped offsides, bringing the ball half the distance to the goal. We went for 2 and made it. Just before half time, Murph ran it in from 3 yards, and we lead 15 – 0. Troy Forte scored 2 touchdowns in the 2nd half, but the Bells missed one of the point afters. It was 15 – 13 late. SI expected an on-side kick, but the Bells kicked it deep. The kick was a great kick, as it rolled and rolled, but was not going to make it to the end zone. The SI back man finally picked up the kick inside the 5, and tried to out run the Bells coverage. He retreated back into the end zone, and was tackled for a safety. The game ended in a 15 – 15 tie.

      The tie-breaker. Bells win toss, SI on offense from the 50. Cats run a play, gain a yard or two. Bells run a play, made a couple yards back. Cats run for a yard, then the Bells. It comes to the 4th and final play for the Cats and Bells. Si is on their own 49 1/2 yard line. Claudio throws a pass for I believe Brian Sampson, ball tipped, Brain dives, incomplete. Bells celebrate, and run to the bus. They never ran their own 4th play!!!! The could have jumped, fumbled the snap, lost yards, but they never ran the play. I have another amazing fact about that game, but all you WCAL fans will have to listen to tomorrow’s broadcast on SI Sports Radio to find out. Jeez, I remember that game like it was yesterday, but I can’t seem to remember where I put my glasses.

      Go Cats, can’t wait for tomorrow.

  7. Lance says:

    Was at the SI v Bells game. SI hung tough. Very impressed with Vollert and Stinn.But, say what you want about this being a ” rebuilding year” year for Bellarmine, until they get knocked off they will be the team to beat again in 2013. I was very impressed with the SI JV team. They have a lot of talent which bodes well for SI in 2013 again.

    Hey JJ met some nice people on the SI side.

    • JJ says:

      Bellarmine’s always been the team to beat, the past 35 years. St Francis used to be tough too, but they have faded into the middle of the pack, while Serra has surged past them. I was at the game too. Bellarmine pretty much runs the same offense like Serra. boring but efficient.

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