The St. Ignatius Wildcats snapped a four-game losing streak, kept their postseason hopes alive and made a little history in the process.
Friday night’s 24-0 win over Valley Christian was SI’s first win over the Warriors since 2012, the Wildcats’ first ever on home turf and first shutout in the 21 years since the Warriors joined the West Catholic Athletic League (WCAL).
“We have a lot of respect for all of our league opponents, especially Valley Christian,” head coach John Regalia said. “Their coaches have been doing it for a long time, they’re a good program, they’re good. That’s what was on our mind, how to prepare for these guys and try to put a successful game together. I think we did that in all three phases.”
St. Ignatius (2-4, 1-2 WCAL) held the Warriors to just 73 yards of total offense. Just six days after Uchenna Eke rushed for 206 yards on 20 carries against Sacred Heart Cathedral, the Wildcats held him to 39 yards on 18 carries. They also shut down the passing game, limiting Mathew Botelho, who was making his third consecutive start in place of the injured Jonathan Craft, to 28 yards.
Valley Christian (1-5, 0-3) managed just four plays in excess of 10 yards. The Wildcat forced five punts, three turnovers on downs and two turnovers as Luke Leupold caught an interception and Latham Davis recovered a fumble.
“When a defense has that kind of performance where all 11 on the field at one time are firing on all cylinders, it’s a good feeling, and I think we did that enough tonight,” Regalia said. “Our coaches put our guys in great positions all week, from alignments, to fits, to reads and keys. And our players have grown a lot over these last few weeks to really take that coaching and put it into action.”
It was a far cry from the performance SI put up a week earlier in a loss to St. Francis. The Lancers gashed the Wildcats for 487 total yards and scored 28 points in the third quarter.
Senior quarterback Mac McAndrews suited up after missing last week’s game with a shoulder injury, but sophomore Soren Hummel started for a second consecutive week, throwing for 215 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He hit Pierce St. Geme for a 7-yard touchdown late in the first quarter and found Moe Barnum for a 3-yard score with six seconds left in the first half, capping off a 70-yard drive and extending the lead to 14-0 going into the break.
“Our receivers were playing amazing, our line was blocking amazing, and we were able to establish the run which led to the passing yards,” Hummel said. “It’s all a team effort.”
The Wildcats squandered an opportunity to add on early in the third quarter after a botched snap on a Valley Christian punt attempt set them up at the 10-yard line, but Leupold’s interception led to a 25-yard Cooper Lucey field goal to extend the lead to 17-0. Sophomore Jarious Hogan, called up from the junior varsity team earlier in the week, capped off the scoring on a 4-yard run before the third quarter ended.
The win sends the Wildcats into next week’s Bruce-Mahoney Game against archrival Sacred Heart Cathedral (3-3, 1-2) with positive momentum.
“I’m not trying to sound cliche, but I mean, honestly, our coaches and our players have really just been like, ‘let’s live in the moment right now,’ and that’s where our focus needs to be,” Regalia said. “We got some younger guys playing, we’ve got guys that are still learning, guys that are adjusting to positions, and that’s been an evolution over the course of the season. It’s never been, ‘oh, what do we need to do now for four, five, six weeks down the road?’ It’s, ‘we need to focus for now,’ and that’s where our guys have been.”
Gabe Fisher can be reached at [email protected]