Serra athlete Malakai Rango looks on from the sidelines in the second half of the Padres' game against Sacred Heart Cathedral on Oct. 27, 2018, at Kezar Stadium. (Ryan Gorcey / S.F. Examiner)

SF Preps Roundup: Serra’s Malakai Rango headed to Idaho State

National Signing Day:

One of the Bay Area’s most efficient kick returners and explosive receivers is headed to the Big Sky Conference, as Serra’s Malakai Rango announced his commitment to Idaho State on Monday night, ahead of National Signing Day on Wednesday.

Rango, who had 57 tackles and one interception as a senior defensive back, will be headed to Pocatello in the fall to play for the Bengals after showcasing his versatility this year for Serra. Idaho State went 6-5 in 2018, including a 45-23 loss at Cal. The 2019 schedule has the Bengals traveling to both Utah and BYU in nonconference play.

Primarily a DB and kick returner as a junior, with a game-changing kick return in the Padres’ 2017 CCS Open Division II Championship victory over St. Francis, Rango saw time as a running back as the 2018 season progressed, with 341 yards and eight touchdowns on just 19 carries. He also had the fourth-most receptions on a team that loved to air the ball out, hauling in 24 passes for 292 yards and five touchdowns from QB Luke Bottari.

Bottari, the most prolific passer in Serra history, remains uncommitted as teams are tentative to pursue a 5-foot-11 quarterback. Also currently uncommitted is linebacker E.J. Lahlouh, who was initially headed to Davidson but has since reopened his recruitment. Lahlouh visited UC Davis this past month, and is deciding between the Aggies and Rice.

Multiple major Bay Area recruits will be announcing their commitments on Wednesday, including De La Salle linebacker Henry To’oto’o (Alabama, Washington, Tennessee, Utah and Oregon are the favorites) and TE/LB Isaiah Foskey (deciding between Notre Dame, Cal, Michigan, Ohio State and Washington).

Also committing Wednesday is Menlo-Atherton linebacker Daniel Heimuli, one of the area’s top public school players. M-A also has one of the nation’s top sophomores, WR/CB Troy Franklin, and the Bears have scheduled a home-and-home series with Serra to be played over the next two seasons.

Serra graduates Bottari, Lahlouh and Rango this year, along with UCLA-bound tight end Michael Churich, but the Padres still have a strong class of 2020, headlines by defensive ends Nusi Malani and Marcellus Eison, wide receiver Terence Loville and Nate Sanchez, a defensive back who not only played at wide receiver but also became one of Serra’s top running backs as a junior after injuries forced him into the role. Damon Lewis, who has kicked for the varsity team since his freshman year, expanded his role to the secondary as a junior and plays for Serra’s basketball team, will also be a senior.

Serra’s nonleague schedule also includes Pittsburg for a fourth straight year. The Pirates have won three consecutive meetings, though they do graduate lineman Jacob Bandes, one of the Bay Area’s top recruits, who will be headed to Washington.

Girls Basketball:

St. Ignatius senior forward Maddie Ennis continues to draw interest from local women’s basketball programs, with San Jose State and UC Davis joining Pacific in courting the prolific rebounder.

Sacred Heart Cathedral’s girls basketball season was already likely to come down to the final game, and that game has now been rescheduled for February 12, the eve of the CCS seeding meeting. The Fightin’ Irish, who still need two wins to qualify for the postseason, were set to host St. Francis on Friday, but equipment issues in SHC’s gym forced the game to be delayed.

Wrestling

SHC’s gym will be getting its share of usage this weekend as well, with the Irish set to host Saturday’s WCAL wrestling tournament. The event was originally scheduled for Serra, but has since been moved to the more spacious Pavilion. With the regular season wrapping up this week, seedlings have yet to be announced for the various weight classes. Bellarmine won the regular season team title, winning Monday’s dual meet with Sacred Heart Cathedral 58-18 to post a perfect 6-0 mark.

On Tuesday night, Riordan swept Serra in final dual meet of the season, with the varsity team finishing WCAL dual competition at 5-1, while both JV and Frosh claimed WCAL championships going a perfect 6-0.

Soccer

One of the WCAL’s biggest boys soccer matches of the season is Wednesday afternoon as defending champion St. Ignatius (13-2-2, 9-1-1) hosts Bellarmine (13-1-3, 8-1-2) at 3:15 p.m. with first place on the line. The Wildcats currently hold a two-point advantage in the standings, and the teams played to a 1-1 draw in San Jose on Jan. 15. The Bells defeated Sacred Heart Cathedral (8-7-1, 5-5-1) on Saturday, 1-0.

With a 2-0 win over Mitty on Saturday, the St. Ignatius girls (7-3-8, 4-0-4) also currently lead the league, holding a two-point advantage over the Monarchs thanks to goals by Katie Wall and freshman Kate Garrity. The SI boys won at Mitty on Saturday, with two goals by Cormac Gallagher in a 3-1 win.

In the Academic Athletic Association, Mission (8-0-3) now has a clear path to the title on the boys side, leading Jordan (7-3-1) by five points after Monday’s 3-0 win. The Jaguars were also held to a 2-2 draw by Washington (6-4-1) on Thursday. Galileo (7-1-2) continues to maintain a one-point lead over Balboa (7-1-1) in Division 2, though the Buccaneers have a game in hand.

Lowell (7-0-0) continues to hold the edge over Mission (6-1-1) in Division 1 on the girls side, while Leadership (8-0-0) is running away with Division 2.

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