Editor's note: This is part of a series of San Francisco prep football previews that will run over the next few weeks leading up to the start of the season.
The early reviews on the Sacred Heart Cathedral football team go as such: young, a bit undersized, but fast and talented at the skill positions.
“I think our running backs and receivers match up pretty well with anyone, so how our offensive line [and defensive line] plays will be real key for us,” said Ken Peralta, who was hired as the Irish's new coach in February to replace John Lee, who wasn't retained after nine years as head coach. “From what I've seen so far, there's some talent here, and that's a great feeling to have.”
SHC returns four starters on offense and seven on defense from a team that finished 2-8 overall and 1-6 in the West Catholic Athletic League last year. Peralta expects returning starter Andrew Jacobson to lead the surge on the offensive and defensive lines.
“He's going to be our point man in terms of what we do upfront,” Peralta said, referring to the 6-foot-4, 230-pound Jacobson.
Another key returner on the offensive line includes center Aidan Downes, a 5-10, 220-pound senior who is known for his consistency both in practice and on game day. Peralta had high praise for junior quarterback Logan White, who throws an accurate ball, displays poise in the pocket and is a student of the game.
“Logan has a real command of the game and gets what's in front of him,” Peralta said.
One of the Irish's top playmakers is senior running back-free safety Brett Rasso, who is just 5-8 and 165 pounds but plays bigger than his size. Elusive and quick, Rasso has the potential to be one of the most productive tailbacks in the WCAL. Another key returnee includes senior linebacker Steven Hisatake, a burly 5-9, 185-pound senior.
Hisatake, who possesses tremendous technique and a work ethic to match, is the team's heart and soul on defense. Peralta also sees vast potential in wide receivers Jordan Defiesta and Billy O'Driscoll. Zhi'ir James, one of the team's fastest players, has dynamic playmaking ability as a running back and cornerback.
Nicholas Mikovich, a senior linebacker-running back, and Nico Dizon, a 5-10, 170-pound running back-defensive back, provide the Irish with toughness and strong leadership ability. Like his previous high school coaching jobs, Peralta embraces the challenge of a quick turnaround.
“It's good to try to get things back on track and put a new spin on things,” said Peralta, who led Riordan to a 2000 WCAL title before having a highly successful seven-year run at Marin Catholic. “You ask me if I'm excited? Heck yes, I'm excited. I wouldn't have taken this job if I didn't think we could be successful. We have everything we need to get the job done. I see nothing but upside.”