Nearly halfway through the West Catholic Athletic League football season and the Serra Padres have established a clear formula for success: Dominant defense plus explosive plays on offense equals victory.
It’s a formula the Padres are executing to near perfection and Saturday afternoon versus Valley Christian was no exception.
The Warriors would not score until midway through the fourth quarter and by then Kava Cassidy on the ground plus Kelepi Lataimua, Easop Winston and Austin Jackson through the air had already carried Serra to four touchdowns in what was a 28-7 win for the Padres.
Serra is now 3-0 in WCAL play and, for the third straight league game, their defense has kept an opponent to single-digit scoring.
“I’m just really proud of how the defense has responded,” said Serra head coach Patrick Walsh. “Whoever we plug in there, they seem to be prepared by the defensive staff and they play hard.”
The Serra defensive effort equated to Valley Christian amassing just 155 yards of total offense.
On the other hand, the Padres were efficient offensively and their 386 yards were more than enough to put distance between them and the Warriors on the stat sheet and, more importantly, on the scoreboard.
“It’s just good to see some other guys contribute which has freed up Kava (Cassidy) to focus on one side of the ball,” Walsh said of his rushing attack that featured a tough, grinding kind of game by No. 8 as the featured back of the afternoon. Cassidy caught two passes for 11 yards and ran the ball 125 yards on 21 carries to lead the Serra offensive attack. He also scored the Padres’ last touchdown of the afternoon in the fourth quarter.
For the rest of the time, Serra relied on the big play to find the end zone. The Padres got on the board near the end of the first quarter when Matt Fa’aita threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to Winston, a senior wide receiver, on fourth down. The big fourth down play would be a theme for the Padres. Three drives later, after Serra turned the ball over on its previous possession, Fa’aita found Jackson on another fourth down pass that the wideout turned into a 41-yard touchdown pitch and catch.
“They pretty much changed the game,” Walsh said of those plays. “With our offense this year, we don’t panic when it’s third and long or fourth and long anymore. We have the weapons to potentially get that first down. Those were touchdowns, but it was first down yardage. And in previous years, when it’s third and 12 or long yardage, through the air it was more difficult to pick those up.”
In the meantime, the Warriors could do very little offensively. They racked up just 87 yards of total offense and the closest they came to scoring was a 26-yard field goal attempt that wound up wide left. For the game, the Warriors missed both their field goal attempts.
Up comfortably as they were, it wasn’t like the Padres were particularly sharp. They did turn the ball over three times (two interceptions and a fumble). So, with Fa’aita struggling with his accuracy, Anthony Smock would come in to spell him.
That was to provide opportunities for both kids, Walsh said.
“Obviously, Matt wasn’t on. But it’s not like pitchers where you can’t put pitchers back in the game. Both the kids understand it’s a team sports and they love each other which is a good thing to have. [It’s] a nice luxury to have,” he said.
With 4:44 left in the third quarter, Lataimua got in on the action with a sensational 60-yard touchdown catch that featured a sweet spin move up the Serra sideline and into the end zone to make it 21-0.
Cassidy’s TD came at the end of a nine-play, 59-yard drive three seconds into the fourth quarter.