Football

It’s official: Serra to face St. John Bosco for Open Division state title. De La Salle, Folsom set for regional rematch

A year ago, there was some debate about whether Serra should have been chosen over De La Salle or Folsom to represent Northern California in the Open Division state championship game.

Sunday, there was no such chatter.

What has been anticipated since Serra opened the season with victories on the road over Folsom and De La Salle became a reality when the California Interscholastic Federation chose the San Mateo school to play St. John Bosco-Bellflower for the Open Division state title on Dec. 10 at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo.

Serra improved to 13-0 after beating Archbishop Mitty 41-14 on Friday in the Central Coast Section Division I final. St. John Bosco (12-1) advanced with a 24-22 victory over Mater Dei-Santa Ana in the Southern Section Division I championship game Friday at the Rose Bowl.

Mater Dei beat Serra 44-7 for the Open state title last season.

In all, 11 teams from the Bay Area News Group’s coverage area qualified by winning section championships, including North Coast Section Open Division champ De La Salle, which as expected was slotted to play in the Division I-AA regional game Friday night at Folsom.

The DLS-Folsom winner will join Serra in a state title game in Mission Viejo.

As it was against Mater Dei, Serra will be a heavy underdog against St. John Bosco, which has dozens of Division I college prospects on its roster.

But there is a notable difference this time around.

Serra coach Patrick Walsh had no connections with any of Mater Dei’s coaches.

Bosco’s offensive coordinator, Steven Lo, served in the same role under Walsh at Serra before leaving after the 2017 season because the cost of living is more affordable near Bellflower than it is on the Peninsula.

Walsh also has become tight with Bosco coach Jason Negro.

“Coach Lo and now coach Negro are dear friends of mine, some of my favorite guys in all of high school football,” Walsh said Sunday. “It will be a lot different than playing Mater Dei last year where I had no affiliation or relationship with anyone on the staff. A different feel to it already.”

But still a daunting opponent, even for a team as dominant as Serra has been this fall.

“They’re virtually a Power 5 minor league team,” Walsh said. “They’ve got I would say by now over 40 Division I scholarship offers on their roster. That’s just a stunning number when you think about the gunner on their punt team has probably got a full scholarship going somewhere.”

And how many does Serra have?

“This year we have Seamus Gilmartin is going to Harvard and Ryan Silver, who sadly is out, is going to San Diego State, and that is it,” Walsh said, referring to tight end Gilmartin and injured lineman Silver. “We have offers in the lower class, but it’s not going to reach 40.”

De La Salle (9-3) will try to join Serra at the state championships by beating Folsom in a rematch of a game at De La Salle in September, which Folsom won 24-20.

That game was a rematch of last season’s NorCal I-AA regional, which Folsom also won at De La Salle, 28-27, to avenge a 31-10 loss at home to the Concord powerhouse earlier that season.

“You don’t get a lot of second chances in life,” Alumbaugh said Sunday. “You get a chance at Folsom, it’s one that we want to capitalize on. Similar to them last year. I am sure they wanted that rematch and right an earlier wrong. We’re hoping to flip the script on what happened from last year.”

Folsom (12-1) beat Oak Ridge 23-13 on Friday to win the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I title. De La Salle had the weekend off after defeating Pittsburg 30-23 in the NCS Open final.

Other matchups

The Bay Area has participants in each of the top five divisions (Open to 2-A), which all feed into the state finals in Mission Viejo.

Friday, McClymonds will play host to Lemoore in a 2-A regional. Saturday, Pittsburg will be at home to face Manteca in 1-A and San Ramon Valley will play host to Marin Catholic in 2-A.

The regional winners in the lower divisions (3-A to 7-A) play state finals at host sites.

Also on Friday, El Cerrito will play in a 3-AA regional at home against Grant-Sacramento and in a matchup between Central Coast Section teams, the section’s Division V champion Palo Alto will be at home to face the section’s D-IV champion Santa Teresa in 6-AA.

Saturday, Bellarmine will face Vanden at San Jose City College in 3-A and Menlo School will visit San Marin in 4-A.

With no regional in 7-AA, Pinole Valley is instead scheduled to visit Mendota for the 7-AA state title on Saturday.

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