Prior to their season finale Saturday afternoon, Serra coach Patrick Walsh said he told his counterpart at St. Ignatius, John Regalia, that the real win would be that this whole COVID season would be over at the end of it.
The night before, Walsh said he was “overwhelmed with emotion” and cried with his team unlike any other time than his wedding night. The senior class spoke up at a team dinner and expressed their appreciation for his monthslong fight to help salvage their season, according to Walsh, who helped lead the return-to-play movement this winter.
“Listening to the kids talk last night and what this meant to them made it all worth it,” Walsh said. “I’ll never forget this team. … I think the lasting legacy, particularly for this underclass, will be looking up to those seniors, who had every reason to quit and nobody did.”
After five games and five wins, capped by a 34-3 romp over rival St. Ignatius on Saturday, Walsh said he’s had enough of the uncertainty week in and week out that comes with playing during a pandemic, particularly the weekly testing regime, which left many teams scrambling for opponents at the last minute.
“There was never a time where we could just take a deep breath and play football,” Walsh said. “It’s just too much, and five games was a perfect amount.”
As for Saturday, there was going to be no repeat of the upset that ended last season. In the first half, Serra’s defense made sure of it. And in the second, the Padres’ offense exploded to put away St. Ignatius.
The Serra defense forced six turnovers and its offense was eventually able to capitalize on the scoreboard in the second half in a 34-3 win to cap a 5-0 season for the Padres, who entered the final week of the season ranked third in the Bay Area News Group Top 25.
Senior linebacker Fynn Williams put a bow on the blowout with an interception and a 58-yard return for a touchdown, the Padres’ fourth touchdown of the second half.
“In the offseason, during the pain, he was always there leading the team,” coach Patrick Walsh said. “It was very fitting to see him pick that ball and run it into the end zone.”
Despite three interceptions in the first half, Serra took only a 7-3 lead into the break. Walsh said the Wildcats shut down their run game in the first half, but offensive coordinator Darius Bell made adjustments at halftime.
On the first play out of the half, quarterback Dominique Lampkin found junior receiver Hasan Mahasin for a big gain to take the Padres across midfield — a preview of things to come. Lampkin rushed 14 yards to the SI 11-yard line, where Mahasin took a sweep and scampered in just inside the right pylon.
Lampkin rushed for another touchdown to make it 21-3, then connected again with Mahasin — nicknamed “The Missile” — for a 78-yard score that extended Serra’s lead to 28-3 by the end of the third quarter.
While this year may have been for the seniors, it’s hard not to look ahead to next year, with the Padres’ top two offensive playmakers both returning and a matchup with No. 2 Pittsburg up first on the schedule.
“It’s hard to think there’s room for improvement because I believe there is,” Walsh said. “The sky’s the limit with that duo.”