Another statement: Serra dominates St. Francis in running-clock triumph

Nearly two decades since ending a 34-year winless streak against St. Francis, Serra stays unbeaten behind powerful defense, effective passing attack

SAN MATEO — Once upon a time, Serra could not defeat St. Francis.

This series between West Catholic Athletic League schools was dominated by the Mountain View program for 35 games over 34 years, beginning in the early 1970s.

That era has obviously passed, a distant memory as Serra has risen to prominence under longtime coach Patrick Walsh.

The San Mateo powerhouse, now the undisputed No. 1 team in Northern California, did nothing to tarnish the prestigious label on Saturday, as the Padres built a four-touchdown halftime lead and went on to a 45-17 victory over St. Francis in a game with a running clock for the entire fourth quarter.

St. Francis dominated the home team to win the league championship two years ago in this same stadium, with its running back gaining 344 yards on 45 carries.

St. Francis had one first down in the first half on Saturday, thanks to a 69-yard trick pass play that could have resulted in a tying touchdown.

St. Francis instead settled for a short field goal despite having the ball inside Serra’s 5.

The tone was set: Serra was too strong on defense and too effective on offense, with the normally balanced Padres opting to throw the ball rather than run between the tackles as offensive coordinator Darius Fautua Bell chose to do.

The strategy worked flawlessly.

Maealiuaki Smith, the team’s quarterback, had his best day of the season, passing for 321 yards and two touchdowns. In addition, the senior scored on two sneaks.

“Offensively, I think Coach Bell had a great game plan,” Walsh stated. “We’ve had trouble moving the ball against these guys year after year.” Obviously, we have a lot of history together. We wanted to start the passing game right away. That is unusual for us. Usually, it’s the other way around.

“I believe Coach Bell did an excellent job of researching some historical issues that caused us problems, as well as some things he observed with Maealiuaki and our receivers, who are improving week in and week out.” “I thought those guys did an excellent job of execution.”

Serra (5-0, 2-0) took an early 8-0 lead after scoring on its first series, marching 79 yards in 10 plays.

Smith completed four passes for 55 yards on the drive, and Nano Latu scored from four yards out and then ran in the two-point conversion.

St. Francis (2-3, 1-0) responded when running back Kingston Keanaaina caught a lateral near the sideline and fired a deep pass to wide open Joey Paulson. The receiver caught the ball, turned, and ran four yards from the end zone until he was tackled.

The Padres were getting more fired up with each stop, as Keanaaina carried three times for three yards.

The Lancers lined up for a touchdown that would have given them a huge boost in momentum, but a false start moved the ball back five yards.

Christopher Han entered the game and kicked a 23-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 8-3.

“That’s a good football team we just played,” said St. Francis coach Greg Calcagno. “There’s a reason they’re the No. 1 team in Northern California. They deserve it. They do an excellent job. Coach (Steven) Monsef does an excellent job with the defense, and the offense is obviously very dynamic.

“Those guys have been well-coached.” Wonderful children. Play their hearts out. That’s a pretty good combination for the Padres right now.”

With 2:31 left in the third quarter, Smith connected with tight end Cole Harrison for a 70-yard touchdown, putting Serra up 45-10.Harrison had seven receptions for 187 yards.

“That was a good way to end that game,” Smith, who completed 19 of 26 passes, said.

The entire fourth quarter was played with a running clock after St. Francis failed to score at the end of the third period, keeping the margin at 35 points.

Bradosta had a 1-yard touchdown reception in front of the pylon for Serra, and Brooks Trimmer had an 8-yard touchdown run.

The Padres’ victory was their 14th in the previous 22 games against the Lancers, including their 2006 triumph that ended more than three decades of futility against the Lancers.

“There’s a long, painful history with Serra High School and St. Francis,” said Walsh, who has been the Padres’ coach since 2000. “Extremely painful. I inherited a 28-year losing streak when I arrived. I contributed to it reaching 34 years and 35 times. It’s challenging.

“They rushed for 370 yards against us just a few years ago.” It comes and goes. They’re a young group. They’re going to be fantastic. I’ve previously held those positions. Coach Calcagno, on the other hand, does an outstanding job. It’s always fun to play.”

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