Football: St. Ignatius pounded by Granite Bay in NorCal championship game

Granite Bay senior running back John Cooley turns the corner against St. Ignatius on Friday at Sacramento State University. (Photo by Dou Her)

By Jeremy Balan

SACRAMENTO – A week after being crowned as the best team in the Central Coast Section, the St. Ignatius football team quickly faced a harsh reality on Friday night.

It is not one of the best teams in Northern California.

In their first appearance beyond CCS play in school history, the Wildcats were humbled in a 45-17 loss to Granite Bay in the Northern California Division I regional championship game at Sacramento State University.

The Grizzlies (12-3) scored in just four plays on the first drive of the game, forced a St. Ignatius three-and-out on the ensuing possession, then scored quickly again (this time on seven plays) to take a 14-0 lead with 7:26 left in the first quarter.

St. Ignatius senior running back Andrew Vollert gets wrapped up by a Granite Bay defender on Friday at Sacramento State University. (Photo by Dou Her)

The Wildcats (10-4) never got the deficit back to single digits, totaled just 226 yards of total offense (with a big chunk coming on a last-minute scoring drive with Granite Bay up 45-10) and could not stop senior running back John Cooley, who ran for a game-high 216 yards and a career-high four touchdowns on 24 carries.

“They were a good football team – very strong and fast – and we didn’t have an answer to them,” said St. Ignatius senior quarterback Jack Stinn, who threw for 138 yards and two touchdowns on 13-of-29 passing. “We came out kinda flat, and they took it and ran with it . . . We flat out got our ass kicked. It doesn’t feel too good.”

Stinn’s 55-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Joe Lang with 28 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter gave the senior 5,008 yards passing in his two-year varsity career, but that was one of the lone bright spots for the Wildcats.

St. Ignatius appeared to be back in its comfort zone after the two quick Granite Bay scores and worked its way down to the the Grizzlies’ 14-yard line with a 14-play drive, but settled for a 31-yard field goal by Michael Capitolo late in the first quarter.

The Wildcats only got one more first down in the first half and trailed 24-3 at the break.

“When we drove the field, we ran our base stuff,” said St. Ignatius head coach John Regalia. “We didn’t really feel like we needed to change anything. We just had to put a nice drive together and we did. We wanted to get more than three [points], but we got three.”

As much as the St. Ignatius offense struggled to get any momentum, it was the Granite Bay offense that dictated play.

The Grizzlies largely stayed away from their motion-sweep fly offense in favor of a straight-ahead rushing attack led by Cooley. Through gaping holes created by the Granite Bay offensive line, 12 of Cooley’s runs went for 10 yards or more. His fourth rushing touchdown, from 19 yards out, gave the Grizzlies a 31-3 lead with 4:37 left in the third quarter, then a 52-yard interception return by Aarron Knapp on the following St. Ignatius drive gave them their biggest lead of the game at 38-3.

St. Ignatius senior quarterback Jack Stinn sends a pass into the Granite Bay secondary on Friday at Sacramento State University. (Photo by Dou Her)

The Granite Bay defense also played well, limiting the Wildcats to just 88 rushing yards, led by 52 on 10 carries by St. Ignatius junior running back Elijah Dale.

“I felt like we prepared all year to play our best game tonight,” said Granite Bay head coach Ernie Cooper. “We were pretty darn close to our best game . . . I just called the stuff on the script and it worked.”

A season packed with drama ended unceremoniously for the Wildcats, but the positives of arguably the most decorated season is school history remain.

The Wildcats won their first CCS Open Division championship and their 10 wins this season tie a school record.

“Titles don’t make us winners,” Regalia said. “What makes us winners is what we do with each other, the commitment to one another, the work ethic we build and the relationships we build. These guys are winners for that – no question about it. Titles are icing on the cake.”

Scoring Summary

First Quarter
GB: 10:27 – John Cooley 23-yard run (Colin Brown kick)
GB: 7:26 – Cooley 11-yard run (Brown kick)
SI: 0:25 – Michael Capitolo 31-yard field goal

Second Quarter
GB: 8:41 – Brown 43-yard field goal
GB: 0:43 – Cooley 3-yard run (Brown kick)

Third Quarter
GB: 4:37 – Cooley 19-yard run (Brown kick)
GB: 3:53 – Aaron Knapp 52-yard interception return (Brown kick)
SI: 2:28 – Andrew Vollert 3-yard pass from Jack Stinn to Andrew Vollert (Capitolo kick)
GB: 0:42 – Taft Partridge 2-yard run (Brown kick)

Fourth Quarter
SI: 0:28 – Joe Lang 55-yard pass from Stinn (Capitolo kick)

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29 Comments

  1. BigMikeDC says:

    Holy moly these boys were big, fast & strong. The way GB played lady night, I’m not sure any WCAL team would have had a chance. unfortunately SI was a bit flat. It was a great season overall in the boys should be proud of themselves. SI’s JV had a great season too; looking forward to next year!

    • City Lights says:

      Couldn’t agree more. The haters can lay down their swords on this night. Congratulation to Saint Ignatius for winning the City its first and only Open Division championship. Those are ridiculously hard to get. You dudes have ZERO to be ashamed about.

      Any other WCAL team would have gotten rolled by GB.

      SI should have been playing MC (again) or Sutter for the D3 bowl game. The new CIF system is exciting but flawed.

  2. Roll Cats says:

    Congratulations to the Wildcats for representing San Francisco at a very high level. These boys won the Central Coast Section against all odds and did it in the Open Division. Would be very curious to know the last time a WCAL Quarterback passed for 5,000 yards in his career. I doubt it’s been accomplished often in such a run-heavy league.

    St. Ignatius will be a force to be reckoned with next year after two consecutive 9-1 JV finishes in WCAL play. A whole lot of talent still left in that program.

  3. Only a Fan says:

    SI will likely heavily rely on their running game next year. With Dale and Wollitz in the backfield they will play good defense and try to wear teams out. SHC will have a high powered offense led by White and Rasso and co. Riordan will also be solid with some big guys along with Masoli and Hall returning. City football should be solid next year overall..Now let’s play some basketball!

    • jbalan says:

      Please use the original name you posted under. It is “Only a Fan.”

      Further comments under any other name will not be approved.

    • Ari Gold says:

      I just rolled my eyes all the way to the back of my head when you said “SH and high powered offense”. Please shed some light here. Who is Logan White going to throw to? Who is going to pass block for him for more than 2 seconds? Who is going run block for Brett Rasso? Will there be any running holes bigger than the width of the football? But I like your optimism!

  4. Chris says:

    I don’t know about “high powered” but the IRiSH Offense will be better. They have a couple of Offensive line guys in the 225 range this year in Jv’s. I am hoping or assuming Jamar Shepard Jr will be on varsity next year and he could probably play a little wide receiver and RB providing if he will be ready for Varsity.

    • IC Stars says:

      I’m sure Sheppard will be ready. He ran Serra ragged until he got injured and had to leave the game.

      • wcalsf says:

        Will be interesting if Riordan will promote any one fom this year’s Frosh team to Varsity? Caston and Sanders bring a thunder and lightning approach to the RB position. Caston completely blew up the competition in ALL games on both offense and defense. Sanders is one of the fastest in the state for his age group. Verba-Hamilton was nearly unstoppable on kickoff and punt returns – ask any of the WCAL coaches. VC didn’t even go in his direction when he returned one for a TD and was called back by a questionable call. The O/D Lines return many players with some addtl size from JVs. Lack of talented and speedy skill position players, Masoli injury, thin roster and horrible coaching doomed the Crusaders this season.

      • Ari Gold says:

        We once pranked Jamar on the bus on the way to a track meet. I cant mention too many details but hair was involved. Jamar was one of my favorite teammates. One of the easiest guys to like as a player and person.

        • IC Stars says:

          He was one of my favorite players. Ran like the wind (when he wasn’t out-running his blockers and the refs weren’t calling back his 40-yard TD’s).

  5. Roll Cats says:

    I’m sure JJ will have an opinion on this one, but I assume the Sanfranpreps All-City team will be out soon and I’ll handicap that the site will go with Noah Bull, SI Middle Linebacker, as the Player of the Year. Stinn’s stats were not as good as last year, he’s already won Male Athlete of the Year, and Bull was sensational (see SI holding Bellarmine to 7 points in regulation). Stinn and Dale are both deserving, but Bull has the Manti Teo vibe and there isn’t a Johnny Manziel in this race.

    • BeeFeez says:

      Bull wasn’t even the best MLB in the city. Mark Mulligan had much better stats defensively and also played offense and special teams. Mulligan had more tackles, INT’s and FF. It’s really too bad he didn’t get the recognition he deserved since Riordan’s record was so bad.

      Mulligan was a beast.

      • Roll Cats says:

        Mulligan is a very talented player and I completely agree that it’s a shame that he didn’t get the recognition he deserves although Sanfranpreps did cover him unlike other sources. But Mulligan was a star player on a defense that gave up a ton of points whereas Bull was the star of a championship defense.

        Time for another Heisman analogy…The award doesn’t and won’t go to a player on a losing team. Manti’s team is in the Championship and that’s why he was up for the award. Bull’s team won the championship, and is extraordinarily deserving.

        I hate that it comes down to that because a player shouldn’t be penalized for playing on a losing team, but it does. Maybe Mulligan’s stats were better because Riordan’s offense couldn’t hold on to the football and was on the field a whole lot longer. No disrespect though as I think Mulligan will get a first team all-city nod as he deserves it.

        • BeeFeez says:

          Good point, Roll Cats. However, that “good player/bad team” theory cuts both ways. It’s much easier to produce when you’re surrounded by talent. When you have D-linemen getting pushed back into you, it’s harder to make those plays. SI clearly had an advantage on the line, both sides.

          The mental part of the game cannot be discounted here. How much harder is it for a player to battle when his team is getting blown out and keep playing hard? I think it says as much about Mulligan’s character and heart as it does of his ability. Mulligan had 40 more tackles than Bull. Mulligan had 4 picks to Bull’s 1. Mully had 4 FF to Bull’s 2.

          I really appreciate Bull’s High School career, but you simply can’t overlook or diminish Mulligan’s stats in comparison. Also, keep in mind that Mulligan was playing iron man football. How much fresher and more productive would Mulligan have been if he got to rest while the offense was on the field?

          In the Riordan/SI game, Bull had 8 tackles. Keep in mind that Riordan was running dives all day. Three inside LB’s for Riordan had more than Bull.

          This isn’t the Heisman trophy and nobody is required to overlook production for individual honors based on team success. Mulligan deserved to be the WCAL Linebacker of the Year and certainly deserves recognition for his production over less productive players. I say it’s much more difficult to produce on a losing team with little to play for than it is to play for a contender.

          Bottom line, both seem to be very good players and young men of character. Both are worthy of accolades and deserve to be honored.

    • JJ says:

      As good as Noah Bull is, I don’t think he will win player of the year. don’t you think Stinn will win it? Except the game vs The Green Bay Packers last Friday he would’ve completed about 75% of his passes if his receivers didn’t drop any of his balls. 5,000 yards passing for his career. Most exciting player in SF. Seems like a lock to me.

      • Ari Gold says:

        Brett Rasso hands down. He put together a fantastic statistical season with a QB that couldnt throw, a line that couldnt block, virtually no WRs, an offensively inept head coach who ran him into the ground, and with the defense having 8 in the box every snap. Sure Stinn looks great with all those weapons and an offensive line that kept his jersey clean. Try doing that with nothing.

        • JJ says:

          Rasso was a beast at RB, and even when he played linebacker, but POY will go to a winning team. Most of the 1st place votes will go to Stinn and the 2nd and 3rd place votes will be evenly distributed between Bull, Vollert, Waters, and Rasso.

          • JJ says:

            And Antoine Porter and the RB from Lincoln

            • Roll Cats says:

              Brett Rasso will be a legit Male Athlete of the Year candidate, and he should draw consideration for Player of the Year, but I still can’t see this award going to a player on a losing team.

              JJ, the award could very well wind up in Stinn’s hands, but I don’t think your comments about the 75% completion rate are too accurate and furthermore, a drop is a drop and close doesn’t count in football…However, 5,000 career passing yards is a phenomenal stat that should get some more attention.

              Noah Bull was the heart and soul of a championship defense, led the Wildcats in tackles, and turned in a playoff campaign that city football fans will remember for a long time to come. Just like Manti, stats can’t quantify how outstanding Noah was this season.

          • Ari Gold says:

            Stinn cant win this because JBalan is saving the him the award for Baseball MVP. And as you said, Rasso played defense. A two way player totally more valuable that a one way.

        • BeeFeez says:

          I second the nomination of Rasso. That kid can’t be more than 160 lbs, and 150 of that is heart. Everyone knew the ball was going to Rasso and he flat balled.

          • Chris says:

            Rasso is only like 5’7 and 150 lbs. He played offense and defense like mulligan of riordan but Rasso scored touchdowns. He is no where as big as mulligan but has the heart and drive to will himself to success. Rasso was like Barry Sanders like Detroit.

        • Deebo says:

          The Irish Offensive line had some solid players on it. When is the all city team being released?

    • Kezar for Keeps says:

      There is a Johnny Football in this race. His name is Antoine Porter.

  6. Pablo says:

    Congradulations to SI on a tremendous season, surely coach of the year, It was a great achievement for a City team to win the CCS Open Division, it can only bode well I hope for all City football, finally some respect is deserving. I can only hope that a few personnel changes on the Irish Coaching Staff may convince the more than several players currently sophomores and juniors to come back into the program.

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