Bruce-Mahoney Game: Sacred Heart Cathedral (2-3, 0-2 WCAL) vs. St. Ignatius (0-5, 0-2), Friday, 7 p.m.
The oldest private school rivalry west of the Mississippi River is back on Friday, and it’ll be tough to outdo last year’s drama. After making five red zone stops last year and winning the baseball game on a walk-off wild pitch to win the tri-sport series, the storied trophy is held by the Fightin’ Irish for the first time since 2012. The winner of the football game has gone on to win the trophy in each of the last nine years, so while there are opportunities to win the trophy even with a loss Friday night, it’s certainly optimal to win the first leg.
That’s not the only thing at stake, though. St. Ignatius and Sacred Heart Cathedral have both faced Valley Christian and defending state champion St. Francis so far in WCAL play, meaning that this Friday’s game is critical for playoff chances. The WCAL gets four automatic postseason berths, but the league typically ends up sending six teams with the at-large bids available. Last year, SHC edged out SI, thanks largely to the 21-14 win at Kezar.
The Wildcats may be winless so far this season, but it would be difficult to find a winless team in the entire nation that’s faced a tougher schedule. That includes a seven-point loss to longtime powerhouse Palo Alto and a five-point loss to Gonzaga Prep in a trip to Spokane, and those five opponents are a combined 21-6.
The battle between SI running back Mark Biggins and SHC running back Anthony “Speedy” Heard will be one of the most exciting showdowns under the lights and fog, but there will be also intrigue surrounding the quarterback position for the Irish. Sophomore Cian Dowling, who transferred from St. Ignatius, became eligible last week, and while he was subjected to trial by fire against St. Francis, he’ll certainly have tons of attention this week.
Mission (3-2, 1-0 AAA) @ Galileo (4-1, 1-0), Friday, 3 p.m.
With Galileo beating Burton convincingly to open AAA play last week, it looks like a three-way race for the AAA title, with two of the three contenders going to battle on Friday afternoon at Galileo’s George White Field. Last year’s meetings between the Bears and Lions were two wildly different games, with Mission opening up a big early lead en route to a 40-36 win that helped the Bears seal the regular-season title, but Galileo got the last laugh with a 50-28 win in the championship game, part of the Lions’ unprecedented state championship run.
This year’s clash will have lots of familiar faces from last year, with Galileo’s ‘Big Five’ of Yarvell Smith, Ronald Fox, Jimmie Edwards III, Michael Duran and Reese Bickart set to battle against Mission’s attack of Jelani Al-Malik and McKinley Oliver. With Lincoln looming next week, this two-week stretch could easily determine the fate of the Bears’ season.
San Marin (4-2, 2-1 MCAL) @ Marin Catholic (3-3, 1-0), Saturday, 2 p.m.
Typically one of the biggest games in the MCAL, this year’s showdown lost a bit of its luster with San Marin’s early loss to a Terra Linda team that the Wildcats beat 35-6 last week.
Baxter Trophy: Riordan (1-4, 0-2 WCAL) @ Serra (3-2, 2-0), Saturday, 2 p.m.
If results against mutual opponents are to be considered, things certainly look promising for Serra. The Padres have won the last two meetings for the Baxter Trophy and look to win a third straight, and they come in to this one red-hot. Serra turned games against both Mitty and Bellarmine into blowouts finished with a running clock, while the Crusaders lost to those same two teams over the past two weeks. WCAL defenses have made things difficult for a Riordan offense that put up remarkable numbers in non league play, and with Davidson commit E.J. Lahlouh back from injury for Serra, Saturday will be no easier. Serra’s rushing game has found a new solution in Nate Sanchez, who has racked up four rushing touchdowns in the past two weeks.
Burton (4-1, 0-1 AAA) @ Lowell (0-3, 0-1), Saturday, 2 p.m.
Facing a winless Cardinals team that’s been shut out in back-to-back weeks, including a 46-0 loss to Balboa last week, gives Burton and quarterback Alfonzo Smith an opportunity to get back on track after last week’s shellacking at the hands of Galileo.
Washington (1-4, 0-1 AAA) @ Lincoln (4-0, 0-0), Saturday 2 p.m.
Lincoln is looking great so far this season, highlighted by a win over Piedmont that looks better and better each week. The Mustangs have a tremendous backfield tandem of DeSean Crawford and quarterback Jovon Baker. Crawford has 704 yards and eight touchdowns, having already carried the ball 84 times in four games, while Baker, who also serves as Lincoln’s quarterback, is averaging 10.4 yards per carry (42 rushes-435 yards, five touchdowns).