Races in both the West Catholic Athletic League and Academic Athletic Association are coming down to the final games, with two weeks left for the WCAL to be decided and three weeks until the AAA concludes its regular season.
St. Ignatius (6-2, 4-1 WCAL) @ Mitty (6-2, 4-1), Friday, 7 p.m. at Foothill College: The Wildcats have played elite defense the last two weeks, allowing just seven points and fewer than 200 total yards to Bellarmine and Riordan combined, but the defense is about to face its toughest test thus far against a Monarchs team that’s scored at least 29 points in all but one WCAL contest.
Mitty quarterback Shamir Bey is a dual-threat talent, though he’s typically stayed in the pocket this year. In last week’s win over St. Francis, he completed 21 of 27 passes for 311 yards while establishing strong connections with a trio of receivers. Star wideout Reymello Murphy is accompanied by Ian Collier and Connor Gambelin, making Mitty a well-rounded passing unit. The Monarchs have been stretched thin on the ground, turning to third-stringer Zach Webb as of late, but starter James Thomas is nearing a return. Expect both teams to dazzle with trick plays, as SI can use two quarterbacks in Teddye Buchanan and Zach Taylor-Smith while Mitty has Murphy throw a pass on a trick play almost every week. When Bey was injured last year, he stood in as quarterback and has plenty of experience at the position.
Bellarmine (2-6, 1-4 WCAL) @ Sacred Heart Cathedral (0-8, 0-5), Friday, 7 p.m. at Kezar Stadium: Senior Night would be a phenomenal time for the Fightin’ Irish to get their first win of the season, and they’ll have a chance to face a much more conventional offense than the units that have burned them in recent weeks.
While Mitty and Serra have tons of trick plays up their sleeves, Bellarmine runs an old-fashioned double-wing system. Though the model has yielded excellent results for the Bells over the years, this season has been a difficult one. They’ve been shut out twice in WCAL play and scored just seven points in two other contests. Even their win — a 28-27 double overtime victory over Riordan — saw them score just 14 points in regulation, meaning relief could finally be in store for an SHC defense that’s allowed 39.9 points per game.
Balboa (3-4, 3-0 AAA) @ Lowell (3-3-1, 1-2), Friday, 3 p.m.: A grueling nonleague schedule has paid off for the Buccaneers, who have won all three of their league contests after scoring just 14 total points in their first four games. They do have to finish with Lincoln and Mission, though, meaning a win to wrap up a playoff berth would give them breathing room entering the last two games. All three of Lowell’s league games have ended in shutouts, with a triumph over winless Washington and losses to the two frontrunners. The remaining three games should be much more compelling battles as the Cardinals fight for a trip to the postseason, something they haven’t had since 2013.
St. Francis (2-6, 1-4 WCAL) @ Riordan (2-6, 0-5), Saturday, 2 p.m.: It looks like preparations at Riordan’s brand-new, $2.9 million Mayer Family Field will be done in time for the Crusaders to play at home for the first time since 2014, though Jefferson is still available as a contingency plan if something was to come up. Riordan will host a Lancer team that’s lost more WCAL games this year than the past three seasons combined, but there’s no shortage of talent on the St. Francis roster. The Lancers have a remarkable sophomore class, highlighted by a pair of outstanding running backs in Camilo Arquette and Juju Teu. Riordan, meanwhile, will be looking for any momentum offensively after being held to just 30 yards in last week’s 45-0 loss at St. Ignatius.
Lincoln (5-1, 3-0 AAA) @ Burton (3-3, 1-2), Saturday, 2 p.m.: The Pumas showed tremendous fight to claw back from a 21-point deficit in last week’s loss to Mission, doing so by getting creative on offense. Alfonzo Smith can line up at quarterback or wide receiver depending on the package that head coach Duane Breaux employs, with the rest of the pieces falling into place around him. However, the Mustangs have posted three straight shutouts in league play and have yielded just 31 points on the entire year, meaning Burton’s offense will have to be in tip-top shape in order to knock off the reigning kings.
Mission (3-4-1, 3-1 AAA) @ Washington (0-7, 0-4), Friday, 3 p.m.: Julian Milton returned a punt for a score and Julian Neal took a kickoff to the house last week as the Bears opened up a 27-6 lead over Burton and held on in the second half. Allowing big plays has been a problem for Washington, with Galileo topping the Eagles last week on touchdowns of 59 and 74 yards. However, Washington did find the end zone and take the lead for the first time since August, scoring on a 19-yard Jalen Lee touchdown. In all, he had 86 yards on 17 carries.