Football: St. Ignatius slips past Bellarmine in overtime to win CCS Open title

St. Ignatius junior running back Elijah Dale leaps into the end zone for the game-winning score against Bellarmine on Friday at San Jose City College. (Photo by Eric Sun)

By Jeremy Balan

SAN JOSE – Early in the fourth quarter of the Central Coast Section Open Division football championship on Friday night at San Jose City College, St. Ignatius senior Albert Waters came off the field and uttered a deep grunt in frustration.

The Wildcats were trailing top-seeded Bellarmine 7-0, but fellow senior Denis Shanagher turned to Waters and calmly said, “It’s all right. We have them right where we want them.”

Shanagher was confident for good reason, as the sixth-seeded Wildcats added another notch to their already-crowded belt of come-from-behind CCS playoff victories with a 13-10 overtime win over the top-seeded Bells.

St. Ignatius evened the score midway through the fourth quarter with a 1-yard touchdown run by junior running back Elijah Dale. Then, after Bellarmine settled for a field goal in the first round of overtime, Dale scored on the SI’s first play in the extra period to give the Wildcats their first CCS Open championship in school history and second straight section title.

Dale took a handoff from quarterback Jack Stinn, found an opening in the left side of the Bellarmine defense, then bounced toward the left-hand sideline and jumped past a defender as he crossed the goal line.

“Everyone just sealed their guy . . . I just took the hole. It was a huge hole and anyone could have ran it through,” Dale said.

St. Ignatius senior linebacker Noah Bull wraps up Bellarmine junior running back Gavin Lynam on Friday at San Jose City College. (Photo by Eric Sun)

Dale finished with a team-high 78 yards on 12 carries and his two scores were the difference in the game, but the St. Ignatius defense set the table.

After Dale’s first score tied the game, Bellarmine (11-2) worked its way down the field to the St. Ignatius 8-yard line with just under 3 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

Bellarmine quarterback K.J. Carta-Samuels took the first carry on first and goal to the SI 6-yard line, then standout running back Kenneth Olugbode advanced the ball to the 4 on second down. Carta-Samuels got the call again on on third down, but was met by senior defensive lineman August Peters, who stopped the Vanderbilt-bound quarterback well short of the end zone at the 3-yard line.

Facing fourth and goal with 1:17 remaining in the game, Bellarmine head coach Mike Janda elected not to kick a short, go-ahead field goal (the Bells had missed a 36-yard field goal late in the second quarter).

“We really felt like they could drive the ball in,” Janda said. “There’s a lot of things that could happen [with a field goal attempt] and we had the confidence we could get the yards.”

Instead of a field goal try, Olugbode took a toss from Carta-Samuels and cut into the teeth of the St. Ignatius defensive line. Senior defensive lineman Kevin Sullivan got to Olugbode first and slowed him down with an arm tackle, but could not bring him down. Still leaning forward, Olugbode was met next by senior linebacker Noah Bull inches away from the goal line and Bull didn’t give another inch, as Olugbode hit the turf with the nose of the football resting just short, turning the ball over to the Wildcats with 1:10 remaining. (Correction: We’ve received several calls and e-mails disputing our description of this play. Multiple players told the reporter on the field that Bull made the tackle just short of the goal line. Upon reviewing the replay, Sullivan did not miss the tackle, but in fact made the tackle on his own.)

“We’ve just been growing all year,” Bull said. “We know the defense has to step up to win games, because the offense puts points on the board . . . We just dug deep inside of ourselves.”

The Wildcats (10-3) ran three conservative rushing plays just to get out of the shadow of their own end zone and wound out the rest of regulation time, but the Bells lost the ensuing coin toss and got an immediate opportunity to score again.

High school overtime gives each team an opportunity to score from the opponent’s 10-yard line and Carta-Samuels took the first carry of the extra period to the St. Ignatius 4. Olugbode took the next carry to the SI 2-yard line – then, the Bells lost composure. Two straight false-start penalties pushed Bellarmine back to the 12-yard line, then Carta-Samuels hit Olugbode with a pass to advance the ball to the 4 again.

This time, Janda elected to kick a field goal, and junior Grant Bush nailed a 20-yarder to give the Bells a 10-7 lead and set up Dale’s game-winning score.

After a touchdown on the first possession of the game, where Bellarmine ate up nearly 8 minutes of game time on a 14-play, 75-yard scoring drive, it appeared the contest would be a repeat of the Bells’ 35-28 regular-season win over the St. Ignatius.

In that game late in October, St. Ignatius could not stop the Bells double-wing rushing attack in the final minutes and Bellarmine wound down the final 3:56 of game time while clinging to a one-score lead to seal the victory.

But the initial score ended up being Bellarmine’s only touchdown and the Wildcats limited the Bells to just 246 yards of total offense.

“I can’t put it into words,” Peters said. “Last year, we had a similar experience. We got gashed by [Sacred Heart Cathedral] in the regular season, then turned it on in the championship. We knew we could do it and there’s too much will on this team not to come away with a win. We’re pretty good at making it dramatic.”

Part of the Bells’ offensive struggles were undoubtedly due to the loss of standout senior running back Joey Sanfilippo, who left the game in the first quarter with a calf injury and never returned. The San Jose Mercury News also reported before the game that the Bells suspended four players for the title game.

“We’re a full team and when one player goes down and another player is not able to play, another guy has to step up,” Janda said. “I thought our guys battled their hearts out – I thought they did it the whole game. We just came up a little short tonight.”

The Wildcats had struggles of their own offensively until the fourth quarter.

In their four possessions in the first three quarters, three went into Bellarmine territory, but none led to points. Two drives ended with missed field goals and another was stalled after a fake punt that would have resulted in a first down was negated by a penalty.

That all changed when the Wildcats got the ball on their own 29-yard line with 11:31 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Stinn, who has orchestrated several go-ahead scoring drives in his varsity career, completed one pass to receiver Joe Lang on the drive, but mostly took a back seat to Dale. The junior had six carries for 40 yards on the game-tying scoring drive and capped it with a 1-yard score with 6:49 remaining.

Stinn lacked the pinpoint accuracy he displayed in previous weeks, but still threw for 119 yards on 6-of-13 passing.

“They stayed with it,” said St. Ignatius head coach John Regalia. “We stayed in the moment and we stayed in each play. Our guys just kept competing.”

The win ended a six-game Bellarmine win streak in the series between the two teams and makes the Wildcats eligible for a CIF Regional Bowl Game, but for now, the Wildcats will relish being the best team in the Central Coast Section.

“Right now, we’re living in the moment,” Regalia said. “Our moment was this week, preparing for a great team in Bellarmine . . . Now we’re in the moment, coming out on top in a great game.”

Scoring Summary

First Quarter
B: 4:05 – K.J. Carta-Samuels 2-yard run (Grant Bush kick)

Fourth Quarter
SI: 6:49 – Elijah Dale 1-yard run (Michael Capitolo kick)

Overtime
B: Bush 20-yard field goal
SI: Dale 10-yard run

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47 Comments

  1. wcalsf says:

    Congrats SI! Way to represent SF football!

  2. WCAL Alum says:

    Again. Great coverage. Congratulations to Cats. Two section title in a row for football (including one Open). Unpresendented(sp).

  3. Crusader 88 says:

    Congratulations to St. Ignatius. The defense stepped up big time after that first drive, bent but not broken. Good luck in the Nor Cal regional. I’m assuming they will get the D1invite. Perhaps vs. Granite Bay of the SJS.

  4. BigMikeDC says:

    One comment on the Refs… Lets look at their entire body of work for this game. The high number of non-calls (horse collar on Stinn when he fumbled, a number of blocks on the back, the pass interferences ….), coupled with the calls that were made; the line-man down field calls (even though the players were not a part of the play. At one pt, the penalties called were 10-2 against SI. For sure, SI had some dumb penalties. Call a fair, consistent game refs. It’s the kids game.

  5. Purple hammer says:

    Congradulations

  6. Chris says:

    Congrats to SI…That is a huge win. Maybe one day SHC can do this. See this SHC athletic directors, it is time for the two of you to step up your game and look for pieces and better facilities closer to home to attract football talent. Last year, SI coaching staff and team stepped up and constantly changed things to keep opposing teams from predicting what SI would do, this is why they beat SHC in CCS. Looks like they did it again this year to the Bells. Much to be proud of, and what a great thing for those kids to be have this under their belt for the rest of their lives! Go SF, way to take one away from San Jose!

    • in the know says:

      “this is why they beat SHC in CCS”? Really? They won because of a scoop and score. That wasnt a blow out game.

      Congrats to SI on this win. Glad a city school took it away from the Bells. No matter what school wins, I root for city schools first, the other WCAL schools second.

      • Chris says:

        In the know. They did win with that a scoop and the game was not a blow out I agree. But they took advantage and used their size by running the big back Dom almost every play tiring out the SH defense. That was not SI’s strategy for the Bruce Mahoney game where they lost.

        • Loyola bid says:

          The offensive coordinator at SI is Curt Hagfeldt, former NFL player, and designer of their offensive game plans. It’s not a coincidence that since Hagfeldt has been there at SI, the football team has won the big playoff games when given enough time to prepare. Obviously, the defense won this game and the players have to execute no matter how great a game plan is designed.

          • New commenter says:

            SH obviously needs new coaching throughout the program. Whether SI won off a scoop and score or not last season (but they did). SH still has shown that even with a loaded class like the class last year, they still cant win a championship. Somethings holding them back…

            • jbalan says:

              “Fan” is not an acceptable screen name. It’s been used by too many people, too many times. Please select another name on future comments.

            • Jell says:

              Gino Benedetti is the offensive coordinator and calls all offensive plays for SI. He played for SI and Arizona State. Hagfeldt helps out but Benedetti designs and leads the offense. I just want to make sure that Benedetti gets the credit he deserves for the SI turn around.

          • thedudeabides says:

            Gino Benedetti is SI’s Offensive Coordinator, not Curt Hagfeldt…

            • Roll Cats says:

              Curt Hagfeldt is the QBs Coach and Gino Benedetti is the OC. Hagfeldt’s son will likely take over for Jack Stinn next year after leading the JV squad to a 9-1 record. Called up for the playoff run as well.

              Both coaches have made the SI offense a complex and well oiled machine. Under Regalia, it looks like the roster has most of the guys playing one way which also explains how SI is able to have so much variety in the playbook. Guys can work 5 days a week on offense instead of 2 1/2.

              It is hard to think of a team with better offensive balance than the Cats at the high school level.

  7. Elena says:

    Senior defensive lineman Kevin Sullivan was actually the one to take down Olugbode on the goal line. That was cleat to everyone at the game and everyone watching the game on TV at home.

    • jbalan says:

      Bull and Peters both told me the exact same thing, that Sullivan made first contact with an arm and Bull made the tackle.

      • IC Stars says:

        They easily could have called him in. Of course Bellarmine could easily have kicked a chip-shot FG to win it and play defense for a minute.

        • Golden Boy says:

          But they didn’t and SI won. How does that make you feel sir?

        • Lance says:

          IC I’m not a big fan of SI, but this is good for the other non-San Jose teams in the WCAl. To be able to go into their neck of the woods and win a Open CCS title in what amounts to a home game. It will be really sweet when a non-San Jose team can win both WCAL & Open CCS titles in the same season. This will take a really dominate team. I only hope if this happens that the CCS will allow the non-SanJose WCAL team play closer to like in the lower CCS.

          • IC Stars says:

            I can see that side too…. and Golden, It definitely feels much better with the blue trophy than the red (2nd Place) one.

          • Johnny Drama says:

            I told myself I would not gloat but after reading all the whining on here….. but “fugetaboudit” !!

            First to @Lance, in case you were not aware, here in San Francisco, we don’t think too highly of you Serra types, so the feeling is mutual. I will say that Serra, who has the largest area with not much competition, to pull kids from, has done a decent job fielding good teams, but as of late they have come up a bit short. This will be another bridesmaid year for the Pads in the 2 major sports but hey, you still have baseball. But I would like to thank you on behalf of the Wildcat Nation for tenderizing the Bells for us. I am ecstatic that we have bragging rights over YOU guys for 12 months in football.

            To @IC Stars and @Chris, and all SHC supporters (except @Ari, he gets a personal note later in this broadcast), the Nation would like to thank you for all your holiday cheer. I’m sure SI winning the inaugural OPEN title has given you all the same joy your jealousy and clear feelings of inferiority have given us. Please keep it coming because the Nation gets a kick out of it. And to @IC, I respect your knowledge of WCAL history so I have a question for you. Am I correct that SI won the inaugural WCAL football and basketball title and now the inaugural CCS Open title? So when you look at the record books, SI will be at the top for eternity, correct? And don’t worry, as long as Sacred Heart Prep does not return to the WCAL, your 2nd to last position in all time WCAL titles is nice and safe. SHC has 7 and SHP has 5, even though they have not been a WCAL member since when? Well, not including water polo.

            To my main man @Ari. I know you are infatuated with banners and trophies so I am sure I can set up a visit with the last 2 CCS Football trophies on our beloved campus. Think of it as an early Christmas gift. I know people so I am certain I can make this happen. Or if you’d like to wait, you can visit our trophies when you drop off the BM trophy. I understand your feelings though, so in hindsight, even though I was rooting for SHC last year, I guess I am happy they lost the State game against a better Alemany team. Thanks, I feel better getting that off my chest. The good news is SHC still has girls volleyball so trophies and banners are still a possibility.

            So keeping in the holiday spirit, I would like to wish all members of the SFP community a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year and give you all the gift of our CCS Open title over the bells. I am sure this will bring you much joy for years to come.

            • jbalan says:

              Sorry to rain on your parade Johnny, but it wasn’t the inaugural Open Division championship.

              • Johnny Drama says:

                HaHa..thanks Jeremy, I am no historian by any means but it’s the first time for something this year correct? It just sounded better this way!

              • jbalan says:

                It’s the first Open Division championship for SI. I believe the first Open tournament was in 2004.

            • ARHS Stats says:

              It is not the inaugural C.C.S. OPEN Division Football Championship.

              Valley Christian won the first C.C.S. Open Division Football Championship in 2004.

              • Golden Boy says:

                Was the format not changed this year making it mandatory for teams to play in the open? Didn’t Serra opt down last year ? I recall they caught some grief over it and this year teams were not given an option? U may be wrong but I was under the impression this was the case this year forward.

              • jbalan says:

                You are correct. There was no opting out this season.

              • Golden Boy says:

                I meant I may be wrong. My iPhone autocorrect is to blame.

              • Johnny Drama says:

                Thanks @Golden Boy, I knew something was a first this year. So we won the inaugural no opting out Open division football championship..which means this is the first time all the top qualifiers HAD to participate….Nice! Makes it a bit sweeter! HaHa

            • Ari Gold says:

              Drama, every squirrel finds a nut once in its lifetime. The Open Division title may be the only one SI wins for another 35 years. But they deserved it. I despise coaches that run the same four plays the whole game. Its not entertaining and I’d rather watch snails race.

              Dale was the difference on two plays. Obviously the game winning TD run and that one play where he looked like he was going to be stopped for no gain and kicked it to another gear to the outside and got like almost 8 yds.

              Im on total Bellarmine hater mode right now so I’ll finish it off by saying if all your formations on offense have you lined up like your QB is going to take a knee, you are not going to hang any major sectional or state banners.

            • Billy says:

              Congrats to you Johnny and fellow SI nation. The only consolation to Serra was the absolute thrashing and domination during league 47-21. You won the Open but were still short in league. You may have the some bragging rights for CCS, but you are still owned by the Padres.Was at the game in san Mateo, Cats wanted no part of Serra.

            • Lance says:

              Johnny Drama look at you. With that Stray Cat strut. it was our pleasure to “tenderize” the Bells as you say. Good luck in the play-in game. Your in unchartered territory for SI. Next year you will be the hunted. There will be no sneaking up on WCAL and Open level opponents. Will see how you react.And as Billy mentioned 47-21 this year and no WCAL title. You caught lightening again this year. Good luck the rest of the season.

              Ps. Nicholas how was the Toto’s pie?

              • JJ says:

                This coming from a guy who said SI had a zero chance in making a regional bowl game not too long ago and predicted a 6-6 record for SI.

              • Johnny Drama says:

                If Jeremy approves, I may ponder changing my commenting name to Stray Cat. I like the sound of that.

                In order to catch lightning, you have to be ready and able to do so. I believe you make your own luck and the Cats didn’t win a CCS Open title by catching lightning. I have always said a WCAL title is more impressive than a CCS title, but look at the field in this years Open. It was much stronger than the WCAL this year from top to bottom. Paly, OG and Palma are good programs and an upgrade over Riordan and SHC. So an argument can be made that a CCS Open title is as difficult to come by as a WCAL title, especially since it was an All WCAL semi final. I would like to hear JB’s and Stats’ take on this.

                And Lancen, you didn’t win a WCAL title either and your coach showed us what NOT to run close to the goal line…so once again thanks. As my man Ari states, it’s about titles, and in football, we have the largest prize of any WCAL school this year. Ask Bellarmine if they would trade their WCAL title for the Open one………

                The kids have played great and have represented our school and our city with class. We are extremely proud of them and hope they can continue the great ride for a couple of more weeks.

                GO CATS!

              • Lance says:

                J D glad you liked the Stray Cat moniker. All joking and ragging aside. Good luck to the Cats. Like I mentioned before I think SI winning was very good for the rest of the WCAL. Hopefully, the double wing is faded out. I truly hate that offense.In a close game it shows its limitations.

                And as for you JJ. The Cats were a surprise.I must admit I was way off in how they would do this year. There is no substitute for titles WCAL & or CCS. For now all I can do is acknowledge the Cats, lick my wounds, and savior the shellacking the Padres gave to SI again.Good luck to the Cat’s vs Granite Bay

              • Ari Gold says:

                It possibly could be SI’s only ever OPEN title. They have the makings of putting together alot of D1 or D3 titles together. An Open title would be in SHC’s case, a pipe dream. Thats fantastic SI! You’re finally athletically known for something else other than a Lacrosse school.

              • Lance says:

                JJ I was wrong on the Cats final record.Scoreboard JJ. But JJ, in your heart of hearts did you honestly feel the Cats had a chance of going to the regionals and a chance for state after being dismantled by 26 points for their 3rd loss? I could see that ARHS STATS(The Terminator) would know the minutia of who qualifies for the state play in game.But STATS is the exception. Most people including jbalan a few weeks ago were not sure a 3 loss team would get in.Seriously, good luck to the Cats. I want to see them beat Granite, smoke out Poly(Snoop reference) and then it could be said SI 2012 div 1 champion who happened to lose by 26 to the hated Padres in November

  8. manifest Destiny says:

    Great game. To beat the top ranked Bells in a Championship game at San Jose City was no small accomplishment for the SI team. This was as good as the Valley Christian playoff game last year.

  9. wcal says:

    When is the last time SI had more AA kids on their football roster than Riordan, let alone over twice as many!
    Congratulations to the coaching staff and players.

  10. Katie says:

    Thanks for the clarification on that fourth down goal line stand and tackle by Sullivan. Great job by the whole D line during the whole game! Go Cats.

  11. Paul ODriscoll says:

    Congratulations to SI this is huge for City Football! Sully was a stud! The Irish need a coach with the wisdom of Regalia! And an AD with some vision! Proof is in the results given the correct coaching and vision our Boys in the City can play with anyone!
    Pablo

    • manifest Destiny says:

      Yes Sullivan has had a great year despite an injury. He is a City product. I am very proud of SI and the great season. You might want to check the roster before you go overboard with the City boys claim. Go Cats!

  12. Cats Pride says:

    SI will be playing granite bay

  13. BigMikeDC says:

    Another away game for the Wildcats – no problem!

  14. Ari Gold says:

    Hey the AAA should let Bellarmine join the league since they dont like to kick 20 yard FGs to win games and only have 4 plays in their playbook! They would be a perfect member!

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