It’s been no secret that 2013 has been a bumpy ride for the St. Ignatius football team.
After Saturday’s 10-9 home loss to West Catholic Athletic League rival Valley Christian, St. Ignatius dropped to 2-8 on the season, with its victories coming against city rivals Riordan and Sacred Heart Cathedral.
But after receiving an at-large berth to the Central Coast Section Division III playoffs, St. Ignatius will try to replicate the magical ride they had a season ago in the CCS Open Division playoffs, when they won the championship with a 13-10 overtime victory over WCAL foe Bellarmine.
The Wildcats received the No. 5 seed in Division III and they’ll take on No. 4 seed Christopher High School (Gilroy) for the first time ever Friday night at 7 p.m. in Gilroy.
Christopher (7-3), which plays in the Monterey Bay League Pacific Division, enters the playoffs having won four games in a row by an average margin of 36 points. They run a spread offense, led by senior quarterback Sterling Montgomery and senior running back Rayshon Mills.
Montgomery has thrown for 1,851 yards, 16 touchdown passes and seven interceptions, while Mills has rushed for 1,153 yards and 12 touchdowns. Mills also has amassed 274 yards receiving.
St. Ignatius coach John Regalia is very impressed with what he’s seen on film of Christopher.
“They are well-coached in the different phases of the game [and] their players play with great energy and confidence,” Regalia said. “They have some great experience at running back and quarterback, their wide receivers are athletic and have a good connection with their quarterback.”
St. Ignatius will lean on senior running back Elijah Dale and receiver-defensive back Joe Lang to make big plays against a Cougars defense that has allowed an average of 16.5 points a game. Dale has rushed for 695 yards with seven touchdowns this year, and Lang has racked up 1,204 all-purpose yards, including five returns for touchdowns, three on punts and two on interceptions, including a 98-yard return against Riordan.
“[Christopher] runs a 4-4 defense and they can pressure and tackle well,” Regalia said. “They play downhill against the run and they are very sound [defensively].”
Despite having just two wins going into the playoffs, Regalia insists that St. Ignatius won’t prepare any differently than it has all season. His team relishes the chance to win another CCS championship, which would be the fourth in school history.
“While our players are excited about this phase of the season, our focus will remain the same as it has all season,” Regalia said. “We will take each week as it comes, take advantage of the opportunities we have to build our team of 2013. Our program understands that and embraces that opportunity.”