SAN JOSE, Calif. — The only thing that resembled the last three games that San Mateo-Serra had played was that the reserves finished the game on the field at the end of a lopsided contest.
This time, though, the Padres’ second-teamers were on the field at the end of a loss. Serra had lost to San Jose-Valley Christian just once in their last 10 meetings, but on Friday night, the Warriors blasted the Padres 37-6, the largest margin of defeat in a WCAL loss for Serra since 2001, Patrick Walsh’s first year as head coach.
“We weren’t ready to play,” said Walsh. “That’s the bottom line. It falls on me to get the team ready to play, and I didn’t get that done.”
Valley Christian forced two key turnovers, capitalized on multiple special teams mistakes and absolutely dominated the line of scrimmage to unseat Serra (4-3, 3-1 WCAL) from the top of the league standings. St. Francis (6-1, 4-0) now sits alone in first place, having defeated the Warriors (5-2, 3-1) last week. The Lancers travel to Serra on Nov. 3 in the final league game.
For the Padres to win at least a share of the league title for the fifth time in six years, they’re going to need to clean up the boatload of mistakes they made on Friday, as they’ll face St. Ignatius and Sacred Heart Cathedral before that much-anticipated showdown with St. Francis.
“We’re going to have to find a way to put the pieces together to compete against top teams,” Walsh said.
Valley Christian benefitted from a shanked rugby punt that netted just seven yards and took a quick lead on a 30-yard Lucas Ramirez field goal. Two plays into Serra’s next possession, D’Von Lang forced a fumble, and he wasted little time with a 10-yard touchdown run on the following play.
Any momentum that the Padres generated on the next drive with a 34-yard completion from Luke Bottari to Nate Sanchez on a third-and-11 was immediately taken away when the Warriors defense read a trick play perfectly, with Michael Jorgensen intercepting a pass from wide receiver Patrick Simon.
Another methodical Valley Christian drive was capped off with a Thomas Dunham six-yard touchdown run to make it 17-0, and if there was a window for Serra after that, it was slammed shut when a 20-yard field goal try was blocked. The Padres had first-and-goal at the 4-yard line, but failed to punch it in before trying to get on the board with the field goal. A 33-yarder by Ramirez made it 20-0 going into halftime, leaving the Warriors just one point shy of the 21 combined that they put up in two losses to the Padres last season.
Everything cascaded in the second half, with another shanked rugby punt going for just 13 yards after a Serra three-and-out, and though the Padres did keep Valley Christian out of the end zone on the ensuing drive, Ramirez’s third field goal of the night, a 36-yarder, stretched the lead to 23.
Serra finally got on the board with 2:14 left in the third quarter when Bottari connected with Terence Loville on fourth down for a 22-yard touchdown pass, one of the few times on the night a Padre receiver was able to get past the Warriors secondary.
After a failed two-point try, Lang took the first play of the next drive straight up the middle, made two cuts and went untouched for an 80-yard touchdown run. He added a six-yard score in the fourth for the final margin and finished the night with 170 yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries. Dunham had 11 carries for 67 yards and a touchdown, and Michael Corini had 60 yards on 11 rushing attempts.
The four times Bottari was sacked left the Serra offense with just 33 rushing yards. He did complete 13 of 27 passes for 209 yards and the team’s lone touchdown of the night. Sanchez had seven catches for 137 yards and was also the team’s top rusher, with 28 yards on nine carries.
The Padres were without star defensive end Nusi Malani, who dislocated his shoulder in the first quarter of last week’s win over Riordan. Serra also lost running back David Coker to a season-ending ACL injury in the second game of the season.
The other contenders in the WCAL have injury problems of their own. St. Francis is without starting quarterback Jack Perry for the remainder of the year and has been playing without running back Andre Bishop as of late, and on Friday, Valley Christian’s defense was without the services of Blake Newquist and Justin Dewitt, though there was no drop-off in performance in their absence. The offense rolled as well, even without lead rusher Isaiah McElvane, who suited up but was never called into action as his services weren’t necessary in what was an all-around remarkable performance by the WCAL’s southernmost team.