McCaffery passes on spotlight

But talented quarterback at center of SI’s success entering Bruce-Mahoney game

Chris McCaffery was trying his hardest to stay on message, talking about one snap and one game at a time, when suddenly, a small smile came over his face.

“This week, we’re really concentrating on discipline and trying not to pay attention to everything that’s going on,” McCaffery said. “But I’m sure, deep down inside, we’re all going to feel the excitement. I mean, a game like this with so much tradition, with all those people…”

The game is the Bruce-Mahoney between St. Ignatius (1-1-1) and undefeated Sacred Heart Cathedral (3-0), the rivalry that started on the rugby field in 1893 and is the oldest west of the Mississippi. The people are the fans of each school that will pack Kezar Stadium today at 5 p.m. And the man could be McCaffery, the Wildcats’ quarterback whose composure and big arm currently has him atop the West Catholic Athletic League in completions (34), attempts (68), passing yards (445) and touchdown passes (5).

“Chris does a bunch of things well and is a great leader in the huddle,” St. Ignatius coach Steve Bluford said. “And all the guys will have to play the best football we’ve played so far for us to win [today].”

This will be McCaffery’s second start in the Bruce-Mahoney and the senior said the experience of playing in last year’s game (a 28-12 Sacred Heart win) has him feeling confident. The Bruce-Mahoney trophy goes to the winner of two of three events between SI and Sacred Heart Cathedral — football, boys’ basketball and baseball. Sacred Heart Cathedral won the latter two games to take the trophy last year.

“Now I know what to expect,” McCaffery said. “And I like being the guy with the ball in my hands.”

The fact that McCaffery is playing a key role for the Wildcats (1-1-1) should come as no surprise to people who follow SI athletics. His sister, Maureen, was a star basketball player at the school who went on to play at Harvard, while brother Mike played water polo and recently captained the Stanford men’s team.

Chris McCaffery grew up playing baseball, basketball and soccer and didn’t start up with football until entering SI as a freshman. The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder watched former West Catholic Athletic League Player ofthe Year (and current City College of San Francisco quarterback) Zac Lee for two seasons, and assumed the starting role smoothly last season.

McCaffery threw for 1,290 yards and 12 touchdowns and helped the Wildcats reach the Central Coast Section playoffs on his way to earning second-team All-WCAL honors.

“We’ve definitely been blessed,” Bluford said of SI’s recent run of blue-chip quarterbacks.

McCaffery is also a pitcher on the SI baseball team and is being recruited by colleges for each sport. But he has definitely not let the attention go to his head and was quick to mention running backs Ryan Kirkpatrick and Ryan Brown, wide receivers Miles Suter, Chris Blohm and Tom Barth, his entire offensive line, utility man Jake Lawson and the Wildcats’ linebackers, among others, as key contributors for the Wildcats.

“When you watch us, you’ll see there are no stars on this team,” McCaffery said. “We all play for each other.”

melliser@examiner.com

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