SF Preps Football: St. Ignatius can advance with a win, Serra goes for WCAL title

SF Preps Game of the Week: St. Francis (8-1, 6-0 WCAL) @ Serra (6-3, 5-1), Saturday, 2 p.m.

One of the most exciting rivalries in the entire Bay Area will be a high-profile game yet again, as the Padres and Lancers battle on Saturday afternoon with the WCAL title on the line. St. Francis would win the league outright with a road victory, while a Serra win likely creates a three-way tie for the championship, along with Valley Christian. This was a series that the Lancers dominated for the better part of four decades, including a 34-game streak that not even Tom Brady could break. Serra has now won eight of the past 12 meetings, including two last year. One of those two decided the league title and gave the Padres their first outright league championship since 1969, when Lynn Swann lined up at wide receiver. Just like 2016 and 2017, there’s a chance for a postseason rematch as the two teams could meet again in the CCS Division II field, perhaps as soon as in the semifinals. Saturday will also be Polynesian Day at Serra, meaning a massive barbecue with a full pig roast and halftime performances featuring traditional dances from players’ sisters.

Bellarmine (2-7, 1-5 WCAL) @ St. Ignatius (2-7, 2-4), Saturday, 2 p.m.

As complex as the points system that determines CCS football seeding can be, this game is quite simple: The winner is headed to the playoffs. St. Ignatius would squeak in as one of the last teams in Division III, and would travel to face Palma or Aptos, while the Bells would be the last seed in Division I and draw Wilcox or Palo Alto in the first round. Junior Wildcats quarterback Zach Taylor-Smith and sophomore linebacker Siaki Hunkin have each now played in four games for St. Ignatius, and have produced instant results, with the team going 2-2 since their insertion. Taylor-Smith’s presence means running back Mark Biggins doesn’t have to pull all of the weight for the St. Ignatius offense, and in two of their last three games, the Wildcats have broken the 30-point mark with their new weapons.

Sacred Heart Cathedral (5-4, 3-3 WCAL) @ Archbishop Mitty (4-5, 2-4), Friday, 7 p.m. @ Foothill College

While both teams are going to make the playoffs, a top-four finish in the WCAL is on the line. Sacred Heart Cathedral’s season-ending win over the Monarchs last year gave the Irish their first home playoff game in four decades, and while they’d need some help elsewhere to secure home field for a first-round game this year, there’s still important playoff positioning on the line. A win could help Sacred Heart Cathedral steer clear of Aptos and Palma in the first round, but to do so, they’ll have to stop dual-threat quarterback Shamir Bey and linebacker Joseph Vaughn, who also stands out as a star on the basketball court.

Lincoln (8-0, 4-0 AAA) @ Balboa (5-2, 3-1), Saturday, 2 p.m.

No team in the Academic Athletic Association has a tougher finish to the regular season than Balboa, with the three top teams all lined up in a row to close out the schedule. After last week’s loss to Mission, it gets no easier with Lincoln and Galileo looming, but regardless of what happens, the Buccaneers are still in good shape to reach the postseason. Last week’s loss to the Bears has them on track for the fourth seed, which means they’d likely draw Lincoln again in the opening round. Running back DeSean Crawford has two regular season games left to continue putting up video game numbers, as he already has 1,199 yards and 19 touchdowns for the Mustangs. Jovon Baker isn’t far behind at 723 and 11, and with just 72 carries, he’s averaging 10 yards each time he gets the ball.

NCS Division II Quarterfinals: No. 12 Santa Rosa (7-3) @ No. 5 Marin Catholic (7-3), Saturday, 1 p.m.

The defending NCS Division III champion Wildcats have moved up to Division II for 2018, and freshman quarterback Michael Ingrassia’s first playoff test will be against a Panthers team that finished second in the Redwood Division of the North Bay League, the lower of the two divisions. Santa Rosa’s lone league loss came to Montgomery, but the hosts certainly played the more difficult schedule over the course of the season.

Mission (4-4, 2-2 AAA) @ Lowell (1-5, 1-3), Thursday, 3 p.m.

The prep football weekend kicks off early as the Bears look to smooth out their performances as part of the playoff push. Mission has the athleticism and talent to hang with anyone in the AAA, but penalties and turnovers have been a major issue this year. Putting those problems to bed would leave the Bears in good position to beat a Lowell team coming off a bye.

Valley Christian (7-2, 5-1 WCAL) @ Riordan (1-8, 0-6), Saturday, 3 p.m.

With the result of the St. Francis-Serra game, Valley Christian is in position to finish either second or tied for first in the WCAL unless the Crusaders can pull off a stunning upset and play a bigger spoiler role than any City team has in ages. Isaiah McElvane, D’Von Lang and Thomas Dunham lead a deep rushing attack for the Warriors, but what really makes them go is their mammoth offensive line and suffocating defense, one that’s allowed no more than seven points to any WCAL opponent.

Burton (5-3, 1-3 AAA) vs. Washington (1-7, 0-4), Friday, 7 p.m. at Kezar Stadium

The Pumas will need some help to reach the postseason, but they can certainly use Friday night as a chance to get back on track. Quarterback Alfonzo Smith has a chance to shine against a Washington team that had to forfeit last week’s game to Galileo due to low numbers.

Ethan Kassel

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