Chris Viehweg has had every reason in the world to give up on football.
But it’s moments like Friday night’s twilight celebratory sprint toward a jubilant crowd at Kezar Stadium, following St. Ignatuis’ 44-14 win over rival Sacred Heart Cathedral, that kept the Wildcats’ tailback coming back for more. The senior — who couldn’t play last year and has suffered through lung contusions, stress fractures in his back, a pulled quad and most recently, a bruised foot during his prep career — ran for 154 yards and two touchdowns to help St. Ignatius (4-0) improve to 51-24-7 in the football leg of the Bruce-Mahoney series, The City’s oldest rivalry.
“There’s no better high and no better feeling in the world than making that run over to the stands,” Viehweg said. “There’s been some injuries and there were some doubts as to whether I’d come back to play. But there’s no better feeling than that moment right there.”
The merriment in the St. Ignatius half of the approximately 6,500 fans started almost immediately after game began, as the Wildcats took the opening kickoff and embarked on a six-play, 50-yard drive that culminated in Abe Waziri’s 15-yard touchdown pass to Kiyoshi Smith. Sacred Heart (3-1) then mishandled the exchange on the second play of its opening possession and St. Ignatius lineman Leland Quinn fell on the ball at the Irish 29. Four plays later, Viehweg dived into the end zone after a 10-yard run to put St. Ignatius up 14-0.
“That was huge for our momentum to force that early turnover,” Quinn said. “And once [Viehweg] scored I could feel our spirits rising.”
Viehweg was a part of another momentum-changing play in the second quarter, when he ran a fake punt 32 yards after it appeared the Irish would get the ball back. That paved the way for two more touchdowns and the Wildcats led 28-0 at the half after forcing three turnovers and outgaining Sacred Heart 226-56 over the first two quarters.
The Irish came out fired up after halftime as tailback Dasarte Yarnway (113 yards, two touchdowns) scored a 53-yard touchdown on their opening drive to make it 28-7. Sacred Heart then recovered a Viehweg fumble and drove down toward the St. Ignatius end zone, but was stuffed on fourth-and-1 play from the Wildcats 21-yard line.
Waziri (13-of-19, 138 yards, three touchdowns) then found Gabe Bruno with an 18-yard scoring strike to regain the momentum for St. Ignatius. Viehweg essentially sealed the outcome with a 40-yard run down the left sideline with 4:59 left in the fourth quarter that put the Wildcats ahead 42-14.
“I’m proud of the waywe came out in the second half,” Sacred Heart coach John Lee said, “but give SI credit. They’re a great team.”