Serra erupts early, holds off Folsom to win NorCal football showdown


Serra's Nano Latu throws a touchdown pass to Charlie Willey on the team's first play from scrimmage this season, Saturday, August 26, 2023, against Folsom in San Mateo, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

SAN MATEO — It was hard to tell that Serra had won Saturday afternoon, that the San Mateo powerhouse had beaten one of Northern California’s top programs in an anticipated high school football showdown that would help set the tone for the season among the elite teams.

Serra scored three touchdowns in an opening quarter that left Folsom wobbling.

The Padres hit their guests from the Sacramento region with a trick-play touchdown on the game’s first snap and punished the Bulldogs with jarring hits — some late, according to the officials — that threatened to turn the matchup into a rout.

But Folsom steadied itself, at least defensively, and Serra had to hold on for a 21-14 victory that ended with the Padres taking a knee after recovering an onside kick and converting a game-clinching first down in the final minutes.

“We need to be a tougher organization,” Serra coach Patrick Walsh said. “We just weren’t tough enough. We just weren’t organized enough to do exactly what we wanted to do. But Folsom has a lot to do with that. Folsom is being Folsom. What are they doing to lay down for us?

“I just think we need to get a little bit tougher, particularly on the offensive side of the ball mentally and physically — mostly mentally.”

Serra was mentally sharp on the first play of the season.

In Walsh’s two-plus decades coaching football at Tom Brady’s alma mater, he has never been shy about showing innovation and trickery.

He and his staff had a play dialed up Saturday after receiving the opening kickoff.

From the Serra 20, Maealiuaki Smith took the snap from the shotgun formation and threw a backward pass to Nano Latu on the left side.

The junior stopped after making the catch and unleashed a deep pass with his left arm down the field.

Serra’s Nano Latu throws a touchdown pass to Charlie Willey on the team’s first play from scrimmage this season, Saturday, August 26, 2023, against Folsom in San Mateo, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group) 

Wide receiver Charlie Willey reeled it in and did not stop until he crossed the goal line.

Twelve seconds into the new season, Serra had a 7-0 lead.

“It’s good to have a good trick play like that,” Smith said. “It gives us a lot of momentum. It gets us amped up and gets the jitters out. It was a good way to start the game.”

Emotionally charged after the perfectly executed touchdown play, Serra sent out a defense that was ready to be physical against another team after an off-season of preparation.

The Padres hit hard, sending an early message that they wanted to protect their No. 1 ranking in Northern California.

Another huge play put Serra up 14-0.

This time, Smith connected with tight end Cole Harrison down the field for a 60-yard touchdown with 7:10 left in the first period.

Serra tight end Cole Harrison catches a touchdown pass in the 1st quarter against Folsom, Saturday, August 26, 2023, in San Mateo, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group) 

Serra continued to frustrate the Folsom …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

      

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