Sacred Heart Cathedral has building blocks in talented offense 

In his first season coaching at his alma mater in 2013, Sacred Heart Cathedral football coach Ken Peralta suffered more losses (eight) than he did in the last four seasons combined (four) at Marin Catholic High School.

The 2009 season — Peralta’s final season coaching varsity at Marin Catholic — led Marin Catholic to the California Interscholastic Federation Division III state title game against Serra of Gardena, where the Wildcats lost a heartbreaker 24-20.

Back in 2000, when he coached at Riordan, he helped lead the Crusaders to an undefeated run through the vaunted West Catholic Athletic League, so it’s safe to say Peralta is not immune to losing.

However, he’s not making excuses about last season, nor is he going to use any excuses. Peralta says the biggest challenge lies inside of the Irish locker room.

“We play in the high school equivalent to the [Southeastern Conference], so we can’t worry about anyone but ourselves,” said Peralta, a 1979 graduate of Sacred Heart.

However, Peralta believes his team can compete in the daunting WCAL, and he has a great centerpiece to do build around in junior running back Jamar Williams-Sheppard (6-foot-2, 205 pounds), who was honored as the WCAL Sophomore of the Year in 2013.

“Jamar has really matured in the last five to six months,” Peralta said. “He’s matured in the weight room and in practice. God’s blessed him with talent. He’s still a puppy, he still can’t drive [a car legally], but his practice habits are getting better. He’s bought into the program.”

Another underclassman, junior running back Jay Na (5-10, 170 pounds), is a player who Peralta coined as “the best athlete on the team.” The strength of the team may lie on the offensive as seniors, right tackle Keith Ismael (6-2, 270 pounds), left guard Aiden O’Driscoll (6-3, 225 pounds) and center Aaron Wolfgang (6-0, 295 pounds) will be counted on to create holes for Williams-Sheppard and Na, as well as protect senior quarterback Logan White (6-2, 200 pounds).

“We have to be known as a scoring team,” Peralta said. “We have a nice-sized line that should be able to protect Logan, whom we didn’t help at all last season, which I take full credit for. We’ll be improved along the offensive line, and that should help show that Logan can play quarterback.”

The key to the Irish’s success this season can be pointed to the defensive side of the ball, an area they struggled with a season ago. Senior linebacker Ronan Murphy (6-2, 205 pounds) will be expected to lead a unit that gave up an of 37 points a game in WCAL play.

But Peralta is optimistic about this season, and with his resume, it shouldn’t be a surprise if Sacred Heart Cathedral qualifies for the Central Coast Section playoffs.

“I like our team and our whole offseason was really good,” Peralta said. “We have 40 guys on our roster and they’re all tough kids. Our senior leadership is very good. Every offseason workout we competed and kept score, and if we can continue having that brotherly love, we’re going to be OK.”

Irish breakdown

Last season: 2-8 overall, 0-7 in the West Catholic Athletic League

Three things to watch:

- The Bruce-Mahoney Game on Oct. 25 against St. Ignatius, which is the first leg of the Bruce-Mahoney competition (football, boys’ basketball, and baseball), and the Stanfel Cup against Riordan two weeks prior on Oct. 10.

- Senior wide receiver Jordan Defiesta (5-foot-11, 175 pounds) and his ability to make plays for quarterback Logan White.

- Again, the Irish will have to tighten up on the defensive end. Giving up 37 points a game in the WCAL will lead to plenty of losses.

Sacred Heart Cathedral schedule

Today at Galileo 3 p.m.*

Sept. 13 at Novato 2 p.m.*

Sept. 19 vs. Saratoga 7 p.m.*

Oct. 3 at Mitty 7 p.m.

Oct. 10 vs. Riordan 7 p.m.

Oct. 17 at Bellarmine 7 p.m.

Oct. 25 at St. Ignatius 1 p.m

Oct. 31 vs. St. Francis 3 p.m.

Nov. 7 vs. Serra 7 p.m.

Nov. 14 vs. Valley Christian 7 p.m.

* nonconference game

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Bonta Hill

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