A 56-yard touchdown run by junior Eric Redwood late in the fourth quarter broke a tie as Serra ended years of futility Saturday with a 42-21 victory over Menlo-Atherton to claim its first Central Coast Section Division I championship since 1990.
“Being the favorite, there’s a lot of pressure and I didn’t think we were playing our style of football,” Serra coach Pat Walsh said. “All I told those guys in the second half was ‘If we’re going to go out, we’re going to go out fast.’”
The Padres (11-1) retook the lead 28-21 toward the end of the third quarter on a 4-yard run by Erich Wilson, his third of the game.
With less than five minutes left in the fourth quarter, Wilson converted on fourth-and-2 and the momentum shifted dramatically.
Redwood, who finished with a game-high 146 yards on 18 carries, broke through the line for the 56-yard run to put Serra ahead by two touchdowns.
On the first play of the ensuing M-A (9-3) drive, Willy Fonua’s pass was picked off by Wilson and he returned it 35 yards for the touchdown.
Wilson, who broke the school’s single-season record for total yards during the game, is among the best high school running backs Walsh has seen.
“I don’t think there’s anybody better,” Walsh said, who coached NFL running back Maurice Jones-Drew while at De La Salle. “He’s sitting at the same table as them at dinner.”
Wilson finished the night with 121 yards and three touchdowns on 23 carries to go along with an interception return for a touchdown.
M-A jumped out to an early 7-0 lead as Fonua connected for a 25-yard pass to Cameron Moody, setting up Moody’s 11-yard touchdown run.
Serra bounced back quickly on runs of 23 and 45 from quarterback Joey Erdie, the latter tying the game 7-7.
The Padres then recovered an onside kick, catching the Bears off-guard. Wilson took care of the rest with a 42-yard touchdown run putting Serra on top 14-7.
Serra scored 21 unanswered points, but M-A answered with two touchdowns of its own.
“There was a natural letdown there and M-A has explosive kids,” Walsh said. “Their big-game guys kept the game close and that’s what I was afraid of.”
M-A tied the game 21-21 following an interception by Max Culhane, which led to a 12-yard touchdown pass from Fonua to Evan Perkins.