The Central Coast Section Division I football championship between Serra and Menlo-Atherton on Saturday means more than just a championship.
In the long and prestigious athletic history at Serra, the Padres are on the doorstep of clinching their first CCS title since 1990.
“The excitement of finishing the season with a win [is big],” Serra coach Pat Walsh said.
Second-seeded M-A (9-3) is searching for its third CCS title in the past 10 years and first since 2008.
The second-seeded Bears have gone from a one-win team to the brink of a CCS title in two years under second-year coach Sione Ta’ufo’ou.
Top-seeded Serra (10-2) has been ending a number of long-standing droughts this season, including winning at St. Francis for the first time in nearly 40 years and winning 10 games for the first time in school history.
“They’ve been dealing with this [all year],” Walsh said. “These seniors have done a good job. They have a relationship-driven mentality.”
Walsh said his team is always asking what they can do for their teammates instead of doing things for themselves.
The question this week has been how the Padres can stop allowing big plays.
The Padres were tied with Milpitas in the semifinals before outscoring them 28-7 in the second half to cruise to the 49-28 win.
Running back Erich Wilson ran for more than 200 yards last week.
A concern is that a significant portion of the Milpitas offense came on two big plays.
“What we need to do is make sure we have great safety play,” Walsh said. “That has to be our focus against M-A.”
Serra gave up 350 yards of total offense against Milpitas, with 150 of them coming on two plays. This becomes crucial with M-A posting back-to-back 40-plus-point games for the first time this season.
M-A scored early and often against Salinas on its way to a 49-14 win.
The Bears were carried by running backs Cameron Moody and Taylor Mashack, who combined for 381 yards and five touchdowns.
“That’s as good a two-headed running back combination as we’ve seen this year,” Walsh said. “These skill players make those things go.”
The Bears scored 35 unanswered points against Salinas and have not trailed since Nov. 4, when they lost to Terra Nova 35-0.
M-A kicker Sam Falkenheagen could also play a factor as six of his eight kickoffs last week resulted in touchbacks.
Serra has not lost since dropping a 21-14 contest to West Catholic Athletic League champion Bellarmine on Oct. 28. Bellarmine faces Palo Alto in the CCS Open Division title game on Friday.
M-A has only played one WCAL team this season and it ended in a 24-7 loss against Saint Ignatius on Sept. 16.
It is Serra’s first game against a Peninsula Athletic League team since 2006.
CCS DIVISION I CHAMPIONSHIP
Serra (10-2) vs. M-A (9-3)
WHEN: Saturday, 3 p.m.
WHERE: Terra Nova High School, Pacifica
LAST TITLE: Serra’s last CCS title came in 1990; Menlo-Atherton won a championship in 2008