SHP football team moves into state rankings at No. 18


Sacred Heart Prep has moved among the best football teams in the state, according to this week's rankings by Cal-Hi Sports.

The Gators (12-0) are ranked No. 18 in California, reaching the top 25 for the first time this season.

Sacred Heart Prep, however, is only fourth in the Division I North bowl rankings. That means the Gators' postseason past Friday's Central Coast Section Section Open Division championship game is up in the air.

Even if SHP defeats No. 7 Bellarmine (10-2) in Friday's Open Division showdown at San Jose City College (7 p.m.), it's unlikely the Gators will advance to a regional bowl game this season -- despite its lofty record.

De La Salle (12-0) is the likely entrant in the Open Division while Folsom (13-0) and Grant of Sacramento (13-0) are probably headed to the Division I regional.

Since Sacred Heart Prep is competing in the Open Division this season for the first time, the Gators aren't allowed to drop to Division II. SHP reached the CIF State Division III championship game last season.

However, should St. Mary's (Stockton) upset Grant in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II finals this week, SHP could get the NorCal Division I regional bid and face Folsom and its record-breaking quarterback, Jake Browning. He has a state-record 77 TD passes this season and 214 for his career. He is within five of the national record, according to Cal-Hi Sports.

Should SHP's season end Friday, the Gators will finish with only one loss for just the third time in program history. The 2012 team went 12-1 while the '08 squad finished 11-1-1.

SHP is in position to match last year's 13-win season after grinding out a 28-21 victory over Los Gatos in the CCS semifinals last Saturday night at Independence High in San Jose.

Ben Burr-Kirven scored on a five-yard run with 45 seconds left to play to carry the top-seeded Gators to victory. Bellarmine advanced on Friday with a 21-18 win over No. 6 Valley Christian.

Burr-Kirven had given SHP a 21-14 lead in the third quarter with another five-yard run. Teammate Mitch Martella's 48-yard interception return for a TD in the second quarter gave the Gators a 14-7 halftime lead. SHP fell behind 7-0 in the first quarter before tying the game on a one-yard quarterback sneak by Mason Randall in the second quarter.

John Van Sweden helped pace the defensive effort with 10 tackles while Burr-Kirven and Cole March each had eight. Conner Cody had five tackles, one for a three-yard sack. SHP rushed for 152 yards and passed for 137. Burr-Kirven, Andrew Daschbach and Nick O'Donnell all had three catches.

— Palo Alto Online Sports

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