It’s the most important football game in Junipero Serra High School history.
And with the tradition that Padre football players — from Erich Wilson to Lynn Swann to Tom Brady — have established over the years, that’s saying a whole lot.
But even with a who’s-who of football royalty, on Friday night the Padres hope to accomplish what no team in their school’s history have ever done. For the first time since the Central Coast Section established the Open Division back in 2004 — pitting the eight best teams in CCS against each other — Serra finds itself in the premiere championship game. And not only is the Padres’ third CCS title on the line, but with a win Friday night against league rival Archbishop Mitty, Serra could represent the section in a CIF State Regional Championship game for the first time in school history.
Yes, to say that a lot is on the line would be a bit of understatement.
The pressure is the bad news.
The good news is that in Mitty, Serra faces an opponent that won’t hit them with any unexpected punches. As league rivals, the Padres face the Monarchs at least once a season. And in the last nine matchups, Serra owns a dominating 6-2-1 mark against Mitty with the teams exchanging wins the last two years after a 40-40 tie in 2010. The programs have never faced each other in the CCS playoffs.
But what’s more telling than the history is Serra’s most recent performance against the Monarchs. Mitty came into that game with a perfect 9-0 record and a chance to lock up its first outright West Catholic Athletic League title since 2001. Brimming with confidence, the Padres brought the Monarchs back to earth and shattered that goal with a dominating 31-7 decision on the league’s final day to claim a share of the WCAL title.
In that win, the Serra defense, led by Nick Maka’s interception and 12 tackles, limited the Mitty offense to just 195 yards — Tyson Terreros and his eight tackles also had something to do with that. They also forced two additional interceptions.
The win was Serra’s fifth single-digit defensive performance of the season — since then, they’ve added one more with a 59-7 drubbing of Pioneer High School in the quarterfinals of the playoffs.
On the flip side, Serra quarterback Matt Fa’aita was incredibly efficient. He threw for 155 yards and three touchdowns in win — operating the Padres’ spread, no-huddle offense effectively.
Fa’aita has continued to shine. And Kava Cassidy, running back, is playing some inspired football as evident by his eight touchdowns in two CCS Open Division games (which actually matches his output for the entire season).
Serra last won a CCS title in 2011 behind Wilson in a 42-21 victory over Menlo-Atherton. It was the Padres’ first section title since 1990.
Mitty has an 20-15 mark all-time in the section playoffs. They last hoisted a CCS trophy in 1999 when they dominating Jefferson-Daly City in a Division III dismantling. Before then, the Monarchs won in 1994.