Why No. 1 Serra finds a lot of clues on practice field

Why No. 1 Serra finds a lot of clues on practice field

Welcome back to Monday Morning Lights, our weekly feature that sheds more light on the high school football weekend and peeks ahead to the new week. If you haven’t already, please subscribe here for digital access all season long.

Serra: Practice, we’re talking about practice

Coming off the biggest regular season win of the Patrick Walsh era, Serra looked a step slow and a minute late to start their eventual 42-30 win over Central Catholic of Modesto.

The Padres started their day by giving up a touchdown on the opening drive and then gave the ball right back on an interception. A week after upsetting De La Salle by being clinical in the fourth quarter, the Padres looked sluggish and out-of-sorts in their first home game of the year.

If fans and viewers had watched Serra’s practices as coach Walsh had, they would not have been surprised whatsoever.

“Flu ripped through the team, and ego ripped through the team after we came off a huge win on ESPN,” Walsh said. “A lot of football math going on, looking at other scores and a lot of things that could lead to a potential letdown game. It led to a letdown week and we saw a lot of that come to fruition today.”

Two of the team’s leaders were quite candid when talking about the team’s poor week of practice. Safety Joseph Bey said “nobody was paying attention” and vowed such a week would never happen again.

“It was rough, you know,” said quarterback Maealiuaki Smith, who threw for five touchdowns on Saturday. “Mentally, we weren’t as focused as we were last week. And we had some guys sick and other guys who were hurt, but really the focus just wasn’t there. That won’t happen again.”

Now finished with a grueling 3-0 start that also featured Sacramento-area power Folsom, the Padres now have two weeks to prepare for their West Catholic Athletic League opener. Serra will travel to St. Francis, whose season the Padres ended in last year’s Central Coast Section Division I championship game.

However, Serra players also remember how St. Francis handled them in the regular season.

Viliami Teu ran for 344 yards and two touchdowns in a dominant win, and it’s not a performance Serra’s players have forgotten a year later.

“The last time we played on this field in the regular season, St. Francis put up over 400 yards on us,” Bey said. “There’s going to be no laziness because we’re going to go hard these next two weeks because we know St. Francis is a great team.”

While the players are ready to “go hard” for the next two weeks, their coach said that recovering after their non-league matchups is of the utmost importance.

“We’ve played three of the most intense football games I can remember in a row, with two of them on the road,” Walsh said. “And we’ve dealt with severe heat. So we have to get our bodies back, and then once we feel better physically, then emotionally and spiritually we’ll be in a position to compete at the highest level.”

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— Joseph Dycus

What’s going on in Lamorinda? Perfection

Three weeks into the season, the Lamorinda schools — Campolindo, Acalanes, Miramonte — are all a perfect 3-0.

But it took some drama on Friday for Campolindo and Acalanes to get there.

Both were on the road.

Both were playing strong opponents.

Both had to stage late comebacks to make the bus ride home enjoyable.

Acalanes scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns to beat previously unbeaten Sheldon-Sacramento 42-35.

Sheldon led by eight points with five minutes to go, but Acalanes evened the score on a 68-yard bubble screen from Ethan Torres to Trevor Rogers and Jake Takeuchi’s two-point conversion run.

Ellis Burger’s 55-yard run a few minutes later gave the Dons a 42-35 win.

Not to be outdone, Campolindo stunned Windsor 28-26 when Dashiell Weaver threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Scott Lyon on the final play.

— Darren Sabedra

What could’ve been: DLS gets another shot at Cathedral-San Diego

MISSION VIEJO, CA - DEC. 10: Cathedral Catholic quarterback Charlie Mirer (12) slides into the end zone as he celebrates with the team after defeating Folsom during their CIF division 1-AA football state championship game at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, Calif., on Friday, Dec. 10, 2021. Cathedral Catholic defeated Folsom 33-21. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)Cathedral Catholic quarterback Charlie Mirer slides into the end zone as he celebrates with his teammates after a 33-21 victory over Folsom in the CIF Division 1-AA state championship game at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo on Dec. 10, 2021. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group) 

De La Salle played Cathedral-San Diego last season in Concord. It wasn’t particularly close. The Spartans, coming off their historic loss to St. Francis, trailed Cathedral 14-0 before taking command.

Four second-quarter DLS touchdowns ignited a rout.

The Spartans prevailed 48-21.

But when the season ended, De La Salle was home and Cathedral celebrated a state championship victory over Folsom, which had eliminated DLS in a regional the previous week.

Friday in San Diego, De La Salle will get another shot at Cathedral. But who will have the motivational edge? Cathedral, after last year’s loss in Concord? Or DLS, after watching Cathedral hoist a state title trophy?

De La Salle is batting .500 on its revenge tour.

The Spartans avenged last season’s loss to St. Francis on Friday, routing the Lancers 35-3. The victory in Concord was a nice bounce-back after DLS (2-1) couldn’t protect a 14-point fourth-quarter lead in a 24-21 loss to Serra a week earlier.

DLS wanted the Serra game because the San Mateo power was picked by the California Interscholastic Federation to play in last season’s Open Division state championship game over the Spartans.

Cathedral is 2-2 this season after it edged Helix-La Mesa 14-13 on Friday. The losses have come against Centennial-Corona 42-7 and Chandler (Arizona) 63-7.

“We have to be multi-dimensional on offense,” De La Salle coach Justin Alumbaugh said about playing Cathedral. “We have to knock off some of the penalties. Obviously, we always have to be able to run the ball. Then defensively, they’re a very good running team.

“We’ve already seen a little bit of film on the advanced scout. They lost a lot of guys from last year. So did St. Francis. Everyone goes, ‘They lost a lot of guys.’ They replaced them with good guys, too. You look at that St. Francis team. Those are some big guys and there are some physical guys. Cathedral is the same way.”

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— Darren Sabedra

Skyline has more grit than a Waffle House

It wasn’t beautiful, it lacked panache and it did not lead to a win, but it was impossible to not be impressed with how Skyline played against Miramonte on Friday night. Rather than be buried under an explosive Matadors offense in front of a hostile Orinda crowd, Skyline’s players fought for every yard and kept the ball away from QB Luke Duncan, a UCLA commit, in a 21-10 slugfest.

“We made too many mistakes, but I love the grit we played with,” Skyline coach KC Adams said. “We didn’t give up when we had the chance. Miramonte had the ball near the goal line twice, and we didn’t give up and got turnovers.”

One of those turnovers almost went the length of the field after the play began on the one-yard line. Antonio Stanley picked up a fumbled snap and raced some 80 yards to reverse field and momentum. Skyline later scored after a prolonged battle on the other one-yard line.

“Football is a game of runs, and the momentum kind of shifted after that play. It’s about the power of belief,” Adams said. “When you get 11 kids on the same page, anything can happen.”

Skyline has about a month until its plays host to perennial powerhouse McClymonds in what could be one of the biggest matchups of the Oakland Athletic League calendar. While Adams was pleased with his team’s effort against Miramonte, he also was quite frank when discussing the kind of challenge McClymonds presents.

“You have to work hard to keep up with Mack,” Adams said. “My kids grew up with those kids around Oakland, and I know they can’t wait to play them.”

Peek ahead to Week 4

Folsom (2-1) at Pittsburg (3-0), 7 p.m.: Pittsburg can make a huge statement in this one and avenge last season’s loss in Folsom.

De La Salle (2-1) at Cathedral-Catholic (2-2), 7 p.m: Which De La Salle team will show up?

Menlo-Atherton (2-0) at Del Oro-Loomis (4-0), 7 p.m.: M-A had an extra week to prepare for this challenging road test. Will it matter?

Campolindo (3-0) vs. San Leandro (1-2) at Burrell Field in San Leandro, 7 p.m.: Campo aims for its third consecutive road victory.

Vintage (1-2) at Heritage (3-0), 7 p.m.: Heritage’s Devon Rivers has rushed for 720 yards and nine touchdowns in three games.

Oakdale (2-1) at Miramonte (3-0), 7 p.m.: This one will be a big test for Miramonte.


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