A remarkable year in San Francisco high school sports was marked by lengthy championship droughts coming to an end, epic runs through the playoffs and one historic football game at AT&T Park.
1.) Historic CCS football game
The stars were aligned to have an unprecedented Central Coast Section championship football game at the prestigious venue of AT&T Park, but despite the circumstances leading up to it, the game came down to a bounce. With the game tied in the third quarter, a botched snap caromed off Sacred Heart Cathedral quarterback Jack Harrington and St. Ignatius junior linebacker Danny O’Malley scooped up the ball and ran 50 yards for the eventual game-winning score in a 21-14 SI victory in front of 12,000 fans at the Giants’ home venue on Dec. 3.
2.) Trifecta of titles
Call it the Triple Crown, call it the Trifecta, call it whatever you want — there wasn’t a need for a name, because it hadn’t been done before. With a 4-1 win against Balboa High School in the Academic Athletic Association baseball championship on May 12 at AT&T Park, Washington High School became the first school in history to win a AAA championship in football, boys’ basketball and baseball in the same school year. After allowing the lone Balboa run in the third, Washington junior pitcher Dane Vande Guchte didn’t allow a hit in the next three innings to secure the win.
3.) Running for Miles
Sacred Heart Cathedral running back Valentino Miles got the Irish started on the right foot in the first quarter against rival St. Ignatius and boy, did he finish. The standout senior ran for 230 yards in the second half and finished with a staggering 310 yards on 26 carries in a resounding 38-14 Irish football win on Oct. 21 at Kezar Stadium, ending a five-game losing streak for Sacred Heart in the first leg of the Bruce-Mahoney series. Miles also scored the first TD of the game on a 28-yard catch and scored on a 43-yard run in the third quarter.
4.) Turkey Day triumph
It was only fitting that the unlikeliest of Academic Athletic Association champions would win in one of the most unlikely ways possible. After a dizzying sequence of events in the fourth quarter, Mission High School clinched its first AAA football title since 1954 with a 12-7 win over defending champion Washington at Kezar Stadium on Nov. 24. Down by a point in the fourth quarter, Mission quarterback Davon Hargraves handed the ball to running back Algeron Malbrough on an apparent sweep to the right, but Malbrough tossed the ball to speedy junior Antoine Porter on a reverse and Porter beat a surprised Washington defense to the pylon for the game-winning score.
5.) Wildcats pull off playoff stunner
St. Ignatius not only won the CCS football championship game against Sacred Heart Cathedral, but it had a charmed run through the playoffs. The Wildcats started with a come-from-behind win over Aptos, then took down heavily favored Valley Christian in spectacular fashion Nov. 26. After surrendering a 14-point fourth-quarter lead, the Wildcats came within a point of the Warriors on a touchdown pass from quarterback Jack Stinn to tight end Travis McDow with 30 seconds left. Then, instead of tying the game with an extra point, the Wildcats converted a two-point conversion on another pass from Stinn to McDow to punch their ticket to the title game.
6.) Bruce-Mahoney goes to SI
St. Ignatius senior guard Johnny Mrlik had eight of his game-high 15 points in the fourth quarter of the Wildcats’ 42-40 win on Jan. 11 at USF, but the game will likely be remembered for the points Sacred Heart Cathedral left on the floor. The Irish shot 3-of-11 from the free-throw line, including five key misses in the fourth quarter, and senior shooting guard Martin Folan’s 3-point attempt from the corner with 35 seconds remaining touched every part of the rim, swirling in and out on two full rotations.
7.) Washington wins AAA boys’ hoops crown
Washington guard Brendan Glapion and Mission guard Antoine Porter each had a game-high 27 points, but it was Porter’s last-second 3-pointer at the buzzer that fell short, securing a 75-72 boys’ basketball win for the Eagles on March 4. Glapion, later named AAA Player of the Year, connected on 14 of 16 free-throw attempts and had seven rebounds, leading the Eagles to their first AAA title since 1982.
8.) Wild WCAL playoff run
The St. Ignatius boys’ soccer team only scored one goal in both the West Catholic Athletic League semifinal against St. Francis and the championship game against Bellarmine, but that’s all it needed. Against St. Francis, it was a wind-aided corner kick from senior Sean Prior that went directly into the net, then against Bellarmine, junior Shane Slosar headed in a crossing pass from Aaron Gallagher to upset the top-seeded Bells.
9.) University takes state again
Led by senior Bridget Blum’s runner-up individual finish in Division V, University won its third straight girls’ cross-country state championship and ninth overall on Nov. 6 at Woodward Park in Fresno. The Red Devils added to their record-breaking haul of state titles with a team time of 1 hour, 36 minutes and 39 seconds.
10.) Balboa volleyball breaks through
Balboa finally put an end to its dreaded girls’ volleyball championship drought on Nov. 10, and did it against the Academic Athletic Association’s best team. With a 25-23, 25-16, 15-25, 25-15 win over Lowell at Kezar Pavilion, the Buccaneers clinched their first AAA title in school history and ended what was an undefeated league season for the Cardinals. The Bucs were led by a match-high 15 kills from Cynthia Ngan.
Ryan Kuhn, Joey Gulino and Bonta Hill contributed to this report. For 15 more of the best moments of San Francisco prep sports in 2011, visit www.sanfranpreps.com.