ST. IGNATIUS — A home loss to a league opponent is no means for celebration, but the St. Ignatius Wildcats should be awfully proud of their performance on Saturday.
Taking on one of the favorites to win the West Catholic Athletic League, a 2018 NorCal finalist and one of the Bay Area’s top teams altogether in Valley Christian, the Wildcats took the lead into the fourth quarter against a team known for elite defense.
The visiting Warriors, though, finally took control. They pounded their way through the SI defense on the ground and put away a 17-7 win with two interceptions, avoiding a major upset a year after pounding the Wildcats.
St. Ignatius (3-2, 1-1 WCAL) took a 7-3 lead with 1:41 left in the third quarter on Teddye Buchanan’s six-yard touchdown pass to Danny Ryan, but the Warriors snapped out of their funk and provided an immediate response. A 43-yard completion from Cory Taylor to Deven Vanderbilt brought Valley Christian across midfield before the quarter ended, and the Warriors (5-0, 2-0) took the lead with 10:13 remaining on a two-yard Michael Corini touchdown run.
The Wildcats got moving again offensively, converting on third down with a completion to Danny Burke, but Kavir Bains picked off a deep pass to stop any momentum and then flipped the field as Taylor eluded a Buchanan sack, then connected with freshman Jurrion Dickey for another 43-yard gain. Corini finished off the drive with a three-yard touchdown, and one last interception, this time from Washington State commit Moon Ashby, snuffed out any remaining Wildcat hopes.
Still, there’s plenty of reason for St. Ignatius to be encouraged after hanging with a team that dealt them a 41-0 beatdown last year. They kept the Warriors closer than next week’s opponent, St. Francis, did in their meeting, and put up perhaps one of their best games against a top opponent since the Wildcats won the CCS Open Division Championship in 2012.
It was no surprise for head coach John Regalia to stay close, though, nor was it going to make him happy.
“We look at how we prepare each week to be at our best, and I think you saw a lot of that come to fruition this week,” he said. “We didn’t come here to play close, though. We come here to win, and we’re disappointed we didn’t come away with it today.”