Je’Lani Clark (left) and Bryce Monroe celebrate the signing of their National Letters of Intent on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019. (Ethan Kassel / Special to S.F. Examiner)

SF Preps: Clark and Monroe sign, football playoffs begin

Mission and Balboa battle for home field, Lowell and Burton look to end playoff dought

While most CIF sections have three-round football playoff structures, the San Francisco Section only has two due to its small size. That means the AAA will have one last week of regular season football before the postseason begins, but there is an effective play-in game on the schedule, as well as a battle for home field. Meanwhile, the Central Coast Section starts its playoffs this week, with St. Ignatius playing in a bracket full of familiar faces.

CCS Division I Quarterfinal: #6 Mitty (6-4) @ #3 St. Ignatius (8-2), Saturday, 1 p.m.: Two weeks ago, the anticipated offensive shootout between the Wildcats and Monarchs never materialized, as Mitty played without quarterback Shamir Bey and St. Ignatius, resting quarterback Teddye Buchanan with a quadriceps injury, was content to control the clock in a convincing 21-7 win.

The teams will meet again Saturday and should be close to full strength. Though he struggled last week, Bey returned from injury in Mitty’s 28-0 loss at Valley Christian, while Buchanan took every offensive snap for the first time all season, instead of sharing QB duties with Zach Taylor-Smith, who had excelled against the Monarchs the week before.

Mitty should also have all three running backs (Zach Tabangcura, James Thomas and Zach Webb) ready to go, meaning the Monarchs will truly be at full strength for just the fifth time all season. Still, SI’s defense will be tough to penetrate. The Wildcats shut out Serra until the third quarter in last week’s upset win and allowed the Padres to reach the end zone just twice, including a frantic last-minute drive. They held Serra to 50 yards in the first half, even with cornerback Chad Jensen out with a fractured metacarpal. His status for this week is up in the air.

Lowell (4-4-1, 2-3 AAA) @ Burton (4-4, 2-3), Friday, 2 p.m.: One way or another, a long playoff drought will come to an end with a season finale that’ll double as a play-in game for the fourth and final AAA playoff spot. Lowell’s last postseason appearance came in 2013, while Burton hasn’t reached the playoffs in the era, which dates back to 2004. The Cardinals have to be encouraged by last week’s performance, a 61-0 stomping of Galileo that made for their biggest offensive output since 2012, in which Lowell put up 63 on a Marshall team that was in its penultimate year of existence. While the Cardinals rode running backs Benjamin Ng and Brennan Nguy early in the season, they’ve been able to direct their offense through sophomore quarterback Reese Miller as of late. He threw for 287 yards and ran for another 120 in Friday’s romp.

Mission (4-4-1, 4-1 AAA) @ Balboa (4-5, 4-1), Friday, 2 p.m.: Home field for next week’s semifinal matchup is on the line as the Bears and Buccaneers battle for second place. Balboa opened eyes last week by taking Lincoln to overtime, leading until the Mustangs hit a last-second field goal to force OT. With both teams locked into the playoffs and locked into their matchup for next week, it’ll be interesting to see how much head coaches Tobias Whitley and Fred Velasquez open up their playbooks. There will certainly be incentive for both to keep trick plays and special packages under wraps.

Lincoln (7-1, 5-0 AAA) @ Galileo (1-8, 1-4), Friday, 2 p.m.: Lincoln head coach Phil Ferrigno has constantly called his team a work in progress, and that may have been at its most evident last week when the Mustangs needed two overtimes to finish off Balboa, escaping with their 11th consecutive AAA win. Defense has hardly been an issue for Lincoln, which allowed multiple touchdowns in regulation for just the second time all year and shut Balboa out in both overtime periods. However, points have been tough to come by at times. Lincoln scored just 16 against Mission, with a safety breaking a scoreless deadlock in the third quarter, and needed two safeties to stick with Balboa.

Signing Day: Schools around San Francisco and the Bay Area held Signing Day ceremonies on Wednesday, including an emotional scene at Riordan as cousins Je’Lani Clark and Bryce Monroe signed their National Letters of Intent to play Division I basketball. Clark is headed to Nevada, while Monroe is headed to Sam Houston State. On the gridiron, St. Ignatius center/long snapper Beau Gardner accepted a preferred walk-on offer to UCLA.

Sacred Heart Cathedral’s signing ceremony included volleyball outside hitter Skylar Canady (UCLA), volleyball outside hitter Megan Lenn (UC Davis), pitcher Owen Stevenson (USF), golfer Angelo Marcon (Notre Dame) and pitcher Uday Narottam (Harvard).

Volleyball: Divisions I-V played the first round of the Northern California volleyball tournament Tuesday, with four City teams advancing to Thursday’s regional quarterfinals. In Division II, University defeated Mountain View in three sets (25-14, 25-18, 24-26, 25-20) and will travel to Modesto on Thursday to face Central Catholic. Lowell swept Petaluma (25-15, 25-15, 25-12) in Division III to earn a trip to Head-Royce. Like University, Lincoln will be heading to the Central Valley as well, facing Escalon in Division IV after a Tuesday win against Immanuel (25-18, 25-16, 12-25, 25-19). In Division V, Convent swept El Dorado (25-20, 29-27, 25-18) and will take the short trip down 280 on Thursday to face second-seeded Nueva. Urban was knocked out on Tuesday, falling in four sets to Le Grand (25-20, 12-25, 13-25, 23-25).

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