LOS ALTOS HILLS, CA - Under the lights at Foothill College on Friday night, the Mitty Monarchs, hoping to keep their dream season intact, found a worthy opponent in the Wildcats of St. Ignatius.
Trailing at halftime due to 16 straight St. Ignatius points, Mitty headed into the locker room losing at the break for only the second time all season. But the Monarchs responded accordingly, scoring 20 unanswered points to run away with the game 34-16, and help Mitty (8-0, 5-0 West Catholic Athletic League) eliminate any chance of allowing the St. Ignatius Wildcats (1-7, 1-4) to play spoiler.
“It came down to who was willing to make the plays” said Senior standout 2-way player (DE/RB) and first-team All-WCAL player Chandler Ramirez. “Our coach told us at halftime that the person who was willing to step up in this environment is the champion. We knew that we weren’t doing all we could in the first half, but that it was now on us.”
This game was a rematch of last year’s CCS Open Division semifinal, when a St. Ignatius fourth quarter comeback led the Wildcats to victory.
“It definitely left a sour taste in our mouths,” Mitty junior Dakari Monroe said. “We were still extremely bitter from last year’s loss coming in, it was something that was on our minds all week in practice.”
Monroe, a tailback and defensive back, was averaging an astounding 11 yards per carry with 402 total yards the ground entering Friday night’s contest. His 52-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter put the Monarchs ahead 34-16 and squashed any chance of a Wildcat comeback.
“It was a relief to finish off the game like that,” said Monroe. “All the hard work finally paid off and I finally broke one loose in the second half.” Monroe finished with over 150 yards rushing (102 in the second half) and two touchdowns.
St. Ignatius came into the game with a 1-6 record, but the Monarchs weren't about to overlook the Wildcats.
“All week long we said their record doesn’t mean anything, that they were the best 1-6 team in America,” Monroe said. Ramirez chimed in to voice his conformation of that statement.
The Wildcats put forth a tireless effort into the first half of the game. Down 14-0 early in the second quarter, in part due to a 57-yard fumble recovery “scoop and score” by Ramirez, they proceeded to take the lead at the half.
Andrew Ferrero kicked a field goal, Elijah Dale had a 27-yard touchdown run, and Joe Lang returned a punt 41 yards for a touchdown to put the Wildcats ahead 16-14.
Despite the tough loss, nothing but positive thoughts were voiced after the game for SI coach John Regalia.
“We’re going to respond the way we do every week - get back to work, watch film, get on the field, and start working,” said Regalia.
The Wildcats’ annual tri-sport (football, basketball, baseball) battle against arch-rival Sacred Heart Cathedral for the Bruce-Mahoney trophy begins next week.
“It’s a great tradition,” said Regalia, “It’s a great privilege to play in a game with such history within the city of San Francisco. It’s a busy week, but we have to get back to work.”
Mitty looks ahead to a showdown with CCS powerhouse Bellarmine (6-2, 3-2) to try to keep its undefeated season alive.
“They’re a great team,” said Monroe, "we’re just going to have to do our best to see how we can attack them.”
In a night of hard-fought battles and fluctuating emotions, Ramirez tried to sum up the mentality of his team as their undefeated record stays intact, and as Mitty heads deeper into WCAL play.
“All four years it’s been our goal to get to this level," Ramirez said, "We all are aware that what we are doing right now is controlling our season’s destiny.”