As much attention as the West Catholic Athletic League football clash between Bellarmine and Serra is getting this week, just 20 miles south of San Mateo there is another meeting of 2-0 WCAL teams that is flying under the radar.
St. Ignatius travels down to Mountain View to take on St. Francis on Friday night, and as impressive as the Wildcats have been this season, it’s actually St. Francis that has been the biggest surprise.
Picked to finished sixth in the WCAL preseason coaches’ poll, the Lancers had two losses in nonleague play, but started the league season with a 28-0 win over Sacred Heart Cathedral and edged Valley Christian 28-27 last week.
“Everybody is always going to have an opinion,” St. Francis coach Nick Navarro said. “The best part is that we get to play the games. We have the opportunity to show everybody what we’re made of.”
On the field, St. Francis has owned the Wildcats in recent years, winning the past five meetings, including a heart-wrenching 38-35 result last season.
The Wildcats led 35-31 with under a minute left, but the Lancers converted a 27-yard, fourth-and-17 touchdown pass with 24 seconds left to win the game.
“We try not to look back at the past or think about how many games [in a row] we’ve lost,” St. Ignatius coach John Regalia said. “We don’t want to treat any week differently. We’re playing another very good opponent on the road and we have to prepare for that no matter what the standings say.”
The one trend during Regalia’s tenure (he’s in his second full season after taking over for Steve Bluford during the 2010 season), at least on offense, is that there have been no trends in the St. Ignatius game plan.
The Wildcats have been as versatile as they have been unpredictable, with the capability of dialing up 40-plus passes for senior quarterback Jack Stinn or 50-plus carries for the running game.
Last week against rival Sacred Heart, St. Ignatius again cued up the running game, but did so with unexpected personnel.
Junior running back Elijah Dale had his second straight standout effort with 192 yards on 27 carries, but senior Albert Waters, who didn’t have a single carry in SI’s first WCAL win over Valley Christian, added 129 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries.
No St. Francis running back has more than 166 yards this season and the Lancers average just 92 rushing yards as a team, while senior quarterback Mike Lauck has nearly totaled last year’s passing totals in just five games. Lauck has thrown for 1,011 yards and has 12 touchdowns through the air, including a 322-yard, four-touchdown performance against Sacred Heart.
Throw in Stinn and the two best passing quarterbacks in the WCAL may both be on the field on Friday night.
“We’re the two teams that throw the ball the most and I really like our guy. He’s one heck of a quarterback,” Navarro said. “Last year when we played SI, [Stinn] was very impressive. They’re both very good quarterbacks and it will be interesting to see them go toe to toe.”
A look at this week’s prep football games involving San Francisco teams:
Sacred Heart Cathedral vs. Valley Christian at Kezar Stadium, 7 p.m.
Four WCAL schools are undefeated in league play, but that means four are also winless, including the Irish (1-4, 0-2) and the Warriors (2-3, 0-2). Valley Christian has been a little closer to victory, with a one-point loss to St. Francis last week, while Sacred Heart has lost both of their league games by double digits.
Mitty at Riordan, 1 p.m.
The Crusaders (3-2, 0-2) and the Monarchs (3-2, 0-2) are winless in WCAL play, but Mitty has had some tough luck. The Monarchs’ two losses have both been by single digits to league powers Bellarmine and Serra, while Riordan lost to the same teams by significantly larger margins.
Stuart Hall at Alma Heights, 1 p.m.
The Knights (3-1, 2-0) had an unexpected bye last week when Rincon Valley Christian backed out of their scheduled nonleague matchup, but will jump back into Mission Trail Athletic League play against the Eagles (1-3, 0-1).
Washington at Balboa, 2 p.m.
The Eagles (1-4, 1-1) and Bucs (0-4, 0-1) haven’t impressed in early AAA play, but are still contenders for the league’s final two playoff spots.
Galileo at Lincoln, 2 p.m.
The Lions (1-3-1, 0-1) were in a position to upset Mission last week and trailed 25-20 early in the fourth quarter before eventually falling 39-20. They won’t get a reprieve against the Mustangs (4-1, 2-0), who have outscored opponents 82-14 in their first two AAA games.
Marshall vs. Mission at SOTA, 2 p.m.
The biggest mismatch of the weekend on paper, the Bears (3-2, 2-0) have won their first two AAA games by an average of 26 points, while the Phoenix (1-5, 0-2) have been outscored 104-28 in their first two league games.