By Jeremy Balan
Sacred Heart Cathedral junior running back Brett Rasso said earlier in the season that he didn’t need to play like last year’s standout tailback Valentino Miles.
Rasso felt that he needed to carve out an identity of his own, but the standout junior looked a whole lot like Miles in Sacred Heart’s 35-14 win over Riordan on Friday night at Kezar Stadium, giving the Irish the Stanfel Cup for the fifth straight season.
Rasso ran for a season-high 197 yards on 33 carries and tied Miles’ school record with five rushing touchdowns. Former Irish running backs Jamar Sheppard and Dasarte Yarnway are also tied for the same record.
“I’ve been wanting the game to be in my hands like this the whole season and all the credit goes to my line,” Rasso said. “They did a tremendous job and we played on a cloud today.”
Rasso scored on runs of 17, 23, 9, 5 and 1 yards, and has apparently settled into a rhythm since Sacred Heart head coach John Lee decided to play him exclusively on offense two weeks ago. Rasso had three runs of 22 yards or more and exhibited an ability to evade and break through tacklers.
“He’s not that big of a guy, but he’s crafty and makes guys miss,” Lee said. “If you miss a tackle, he’s going to make you pay.”
Rasso was not alone in his breakout performance, as sophomore quarterback Logan White also had his best game of the season. White – who started the season as Sacred Heart’s backup quarterback, but was pushed into the starting role with the injury to senior Jerry Peralta – threw for 180 yards on 10-of-15 passing and also ran for 39 yards on seven carries.
“Personally, this is the most comfortable I’ve felt,” White said. “I’m getting more comfortable with making reads and getting the protection right. Everything is getting slower on each play and in each game.”
Earlier in the season, White frequently threw deep downfield, but rarely connected. Against the Crusaders, he was accurate in the mid- and close-range passing game, but also had three completions over 20 yards.
“His improvement is really amazing,” Lee said of White. “A couple of weeks ago, all he was worrying about was the big play. He got away with that in [junior varsity] last year and probably got away with that in Pop Warner, but these are different guys. They’re bigger, stronger, faster. If we nickel and dime them, things will open up, and they did tonight.”
Riordan (3-6, 0-6) responded to Rasso’s first score on Sacred Heart’s opening drive with a 13-yard touchdown run from backup quarterback Chris Hall, but struggled again without starter Zach Masoli, who was not playing for the second week in a row due to a hand injury.
Sacred Heart (2-7, 1-5) scored 21 unanswered points in the second quarter to take a 28-7 lead into the halftime break and Riordan was never within single digits again.
Running back Tre’ Gunter was the only viable offensive threat for the Crusaders, and the senior accounted for 162 of Riordan’s 234 total yards. Gunter rushed for a team-high 152 yards on 13 carries and his big runs of 50 and 49 yards set up both of Riordan’s scores. He also caught one of only two Riordan completions.
“They played well tonight and we did not play well, and that’s really the bottom line,” Riordan head coach Richard Sweeney said curtly.
The win also gives the Irish extended life in the Central Coast Section playoff race. Sacred Heart will likely still need help (non-league opponents winning league titles or reaching certain win totals could yield extra bonus points toward a CCS berth), but would have had no hope for a postseason appearance with a loss to Riordan.
SH: 6:16 – Brett Rasso 17-yard run (Maxwell Tenhoff kick)
R: 4:44 – Chris Hall 13-yard run (Angel Hernandez kick)
SH: 9:58 – Rasso 23-yard run (Tenhoff kick)
SH: 7:43 – Rasso 9-yard run (Tenhoff kick)
SH: 2:41 – Rasso 5-yard run (Tenhoff kick)
R: 4:21 – Arcelio Reybol 17-yard run (Hernandez kick)
SH: 0:54 – Rasso 1-yard run (Tenhoff kick)