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Serra football team wins first league title in 49 years

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Serra football beat Saint Francis on Friday. (Ethan Kassel/Special to S.F. Examiner)
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MOUNTAIN VIEW — Tom Brady never won a WCAL title at Serra.

In fact, the Padres hadn’t won an outright league title since 1969, when Lynn Swann was a senior.

On Friday, Serra made history, beating Saint Francis 31-21 to claim that title despite squandering a 21-0 lead.

Serra had won at least a share of the WCAL crown in three of the past four years, but hadn’t won an outright title. In fact, no team has won an outright WCAL title since Bellarmine in 2012. It was also just Serra’s third win at Saint Francis in 40 years.

After the Lancers erased a 21-0 deficit, Serra (8-2, 7-0) got a huge play from two of its biggest playmakers. Luke Bottari found Isiah Kendrick over the middle for a 65-yard completion, setting up Damon Lewis’ go-ahead 34-yard field goal with 6:15 to play.

Kendrick had been held in check on the ground, running for just 54 yards on 18 carries, but he made arguably the biggest catch of the game.

“We just kept nailing them with the run,” said Kendrick. “The linebacker was relying on the run. He was coming up to the line, being nosy, and once that happened I was able to get out free.”

From there, the Serra defense forced a punt, and Luke Bottari’s screen pass to Chris Park turned into a 68-yard touchdown to put the game away.

Bottari also connected with the Columbia commit on a 69-yard touchdown in the first quarter to put Serra ahead 14-0.

Like any Serra-Saint Francis game, it didn’t come easy for the Padres.

Saint Francis (7-3, 5-2) cut the lead to 21-7 when Reed Vettel found Evan Williams for a three-yard touchdown pass on fourth and goal with 1:49 left in the first half, and trimmed the lead to 21-13 on Darrell Page’s 80-yard run with 2:43 left in the third. Page had just 31 yards on 14 first-half carries, but ran 11 times for 157 yards in the second half.

The Lancers tied the game with 8:41 remaining on Page’s 9-yard touchdown run and Vettel’s two-point conversion to Joshua Pakola, who made a brilliant leaping catch in double coverage.

However, Serra recovered from the dramatic comeback to close the game out and seal the program’s first outright league title since another famous Serra alum, Barry Bonds, was five years old.

“There’s been a lot of misery in this program,” said head coach Patrick Walsh, referring to the series of tight losses over the years for Serra football. “But tonight, it’s great to be a Serra Padre.”

Prep Focus writer Ethan Kassel covers high school sports throughout the Bay Area. If you have a story tip, game to watch or player to track, email him at ethankassel@gmail.com.

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