The weekend started with Bellarmine, Serra, St. Ignatius, and St. Francis undefeated in West Catholic Athletic League play. St. Ignatius defeated St. Francis on Friday while the Bells defeated Serra in San Mateo, 35-34, in overtime.
Scoring summary: In the first half, Serra's Eric Redwood started the scoring with a 3 yard touchdown run. K.J. Carta-Samuels tied it up with a 17 yard pass to Joey Sanfilippo. Serra regained the lead 14-7 on a Zack Kazakoff 9 yard pass to Fia Malepeai. Carta-Samuels then ran it in from 5 yards to tie it 14-14. Daniel Fields gave Bellarmine a 21-14 halftime lead on a 5 yard punt block return.
In the second half, Carta-Samuels scored on a 2 yard run to give the Bells their biggest lead at 28-14. In the fourth quarter, Redwood had touchdown runs of 3 and 75 yards to tie the game at 28-28 in regulation. Carta-Samuels threw a 10 yard touchdown to Austin Changras to make it 35-28. Redwood then added a 4 yard run for Serra's overtime possession but the two point conversion running attempt by him was stopped to end the game.
Unit Breakdown: Bellarmine has a true dual threat offensive with Carta-Samuels. He accounted for all four offensive touchdowns as he was efficient in completing 12 of 15 passes for 201 yards and running for another 31 yards. Inexplicably, the offense fumbled the away on the first plays from scrimmage in both the first and second quarters but overcame the lone turnovers of the game.
Serra has a triple threat in the backfield that features Redwood who had 180 yards with 4 touchdown runs. Angelo Arco had 71 yards rushing to complement Redwood while quarterback Kazakoff is a mobile scrambler. Redwood is a threat to score every time he touches the ball which would make opponents wise to load up against the run and force the Padres to throw more often.
Defense: After giving up 41 points to De La Salle in the season opener, the Bells had been playing stifling defense up to this game. The offense had two fumbles that set the defense up with bad field position. But the unit came up big in the overtime with the key stop on the two point conversion and should be expected to play more stoutly for the rest of the regular season.
Give the Serra unit credit as the team could have folded after trailing 28-14 in the third quarter. The team made key stops to give the offense chances to tie and possibly win the game during regulation. A quarterback of the caliber of Carta-Samuels will give most defenses fits as this Serra defensive effort was not all self inflicted but a stronger effort will be needed if the team wants to go far in the postseason.
Special Teams: Bellarmine was able to kickoff into the end zone most of the times to negate Redwood's return ability. The punt block was critical as it swung momentum right before the first half ended. And the two point conversion miss by Serra in overtime was the difference.
Next Steps and Analysis: Bellarmine is the favorite to win the WCAL as they have key matchups with St. Francis and St. Ignatius in the following two weeks. The latter game could be a battle of league unbeatens to determine first place. Carta-Samuels looked accurate with his short, mid, and long throws while being quite elusive in the pocket to buy time or to scramble for yards. The blowout loss to De La Salle looks to be a long time ago as the Bells have made great strides to reach this point of the season.
Serra was unable to replicate a two point conversion like in their win against Buhach Colony. The Padres end the season with St. Ignatius and St. Francis as much is still on the line. Redwood is a shifty runner who can break away at any time. Defenses should key on him and force others on offense to make plays. The Serra defense hung in there against the Bells passing game but should not force the offense to win these offensive slugfests. The boys from San Mateo look to regroup against league doormat Sacred Heart Cathedral to build confidence going into the final three games of league play.