The first two weeks of the football season have been trying for The City’s teams, going a combined 3-16-1, but optimism is holding out on Ellis Street.
Sacred Heart Cathedral alone is responsible for the majority of the wins, as the Fightin’ Irish are the only remaining unbeaten city team at 2-0.
Both road wins were impressive, over Terra Nova in the opener and Justin-Siena of Napa last week, leading to the Irish’s best start since 2007, when they started 3-0.
“The early success we’ve had is due to a great melding of seniors and juniors,” said Sacred Heart Cathedral coach John Lee. “You see it at practice and on campus.”
A big part of the Irish’s success has been a resurgent offense led by senior quarterback Sean Murphy.
Sacred Heart Cathedral averaged just over 14 points per game in 2009, but the offense has averaged 38 points in their first two games this year.
“We’ve really started well and we’re coming out with a lot of fire,” Murphy said. “Our defense has gotten a lot of turnovers and our offensive line hasn’t allowed a sack yet. That’s huge.”
Murphy has been at the head of the attack, with 444 yards and four touchdowns on 29-of-45 passing in the two wins, along with two rushing touchdowns.
“He has really stepped up,” Lee said of Murphy. “I’ve coached some good quarterbacks, but he comes to me on his own and asks if we can watch game film before school at 7 a.m. That just doesn’t happen a lot.”
The Irish will get another test in St. Mary’s of Berkeley on Friday, a team that went 8-3 last season and lost its opener to a tough Christian Brothers team.
St. Mary’s also has a connection to The City, in second-year coach Keith Minor, who had a six-year run at Balboa prior to his stint at St. Mary’s.
“They’re well-coached,” Lee said. “They’re fast, but don’t have a lot of numbers. We know that to be successful we have to control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.”
After two road games to open the season, the Irish return to Kezar Stadium for their first home game and begin a stretch where they play six of their final eight games at Kezar.
“It feels great and the kids are excited to play [at home],” Lee said.
The Irish should be favored to win again on Friday, but the St. Mary’s game will be their final warmup before they open West Catholic Athletic League play on Oct. 1 against 2009 regular season co-champion Archbishop Mitty of San Jose.
“Nothing is guaranteed in life,” Lee said. “If we continue to buy into what we’re doing, it will allow us to compete in the [WCAL], but we know it’s a meat grinder.”
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