Football

Serra walloped by St. John Bosco in Open Division state championship game

MISSION VIEJO — Serra was without a doubt Northern California’s top team this season, one worthy of all the accolades it received on its way to league and section championships and 13 victories without a loss.

But in this era of California high school football, the best in NorCal comes at an excruciating price.

Saturday night, Serra paid that price.

The Padres were buried by Southern California mega-heavyweight St. John Bosco-Bellflower, the nation’s top-ranked team. Serra trailed by five touchdowns at halftime and went on to lose 45-0 in the Open Division state title game at Saddleback College for the second consecutive year.

The fourth quarter was played with a running clock.

Serra stayed within a touchdown through the first quarter but all the signs were flashing that this matchup — much like last year’s title game against Mater Dei-Santa Ana — would unfold as anticipated.

How could it go any other way?

Bosco, like Mater Dei, has a roster filled with major-college talent. The size and speed that these teams collect cannot be measured on a computer keyboard.

It must be seen to comprehend.

It is next-level high school football that only two teams in the state play.

Since 2016, Bosco and Mater Dei have each won three Open Division titles.

Serra saw the unmatched size and speed firsthand last year and got a refresher course Saturday as Bosco (13-1) dominated statistically from the outset.

In the first quarter, Bosco ran 25 plays and gained 144 yards.

Serra ran six plays in that period and had six yards.

The Padres finished with five turnovers against a relentless defense.

Serra Padres head coach Patrick Walsh hugs Serra Padres Duncan Sutton (9) after being defeated during their 2022 CIF State Football Championship Open Division game at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, Calif., on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022. St. John Bosco defeated Serra Padres 45-0. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group) 

“I was talking to a college coach this week,” Serra coach Patrick Walsh said after the trophy presentation.  “And I said, ‘If the Baltimore Ravens decided to play college football, that’s what this feels like.’ It’s just on the high school level. The Arizona Wildcats have five or six pros. The Ravens have 53. We have five or six or seven college guys. They have 50.

“It’s tough. But I am not going to let the reality of this situation take away from this wonderful team. They’re an undefeated football team after 13 games. We deserved, in this structure, to be in this football game, and I got no regrets for how this team performed, how they played, how they prepared. We were just up against a juggernaut that is a totally different animal.”

The outcome still hurt.

Quarterback Maealiuaki Smith fought back tears in the locker room as he addressed what unfolded Saturday.

“We made history this season,” the junior said. “It’s a special group of guys. We learned from last year. Coming to state was our motivation for this season. We got to the point where we wanted to be. It’s definitely something for us to be motivated by this off-season.”

St. John Bosco linebacker Khmori House (6) tackles Serra Padres quarterback Maealiuaki Smith (7) forcing a fumble during the second quarter of the 2022 CIF State Football Championship Open Division game at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, Calif., on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)St. John Bosco linebacker Khmori House (6) tackles Serra Padres quarterback Maealiuaki Smith (7) forcing a fumble during the second quarter of the 2022 CIF State Football Championship Open Division game at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, Calif., on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group) 

Bosco drove 70 yards on its opening series for a 7-0 lead. Cameron Jones’ 2-yard run accounted for the touchdown with 8:18 left in the first quarter.

The margin didn’t change until Jones ran around the right side for a touchdown on the first snap of the second period.

On the second play of Serra’s next series, Aaron Williams intercepted a deflected pass and returned the ball 31 yards for a touchdown, diving just inside the left pylon to widen Bosco’s advantage to 21-0 with 10:59 remaining before halftime.

It only worsened for Serra as Bosco was well on its way to its fourth state championship, all in the Open Division.

A few minutes after Williams’ pick-six, Khalil Warren followed a mass of humanity — aka his line — for a 14-yard run up the middle to extend the cushion to 28-0.

If that weren’t enough for the Bosco fans, Pierce Clarkson had them cheering again as he threw a 45-yard bomb to Deandre Moore for a 35-0 lead with 1:46 left in the second quarter.

Little changed after halftime.

On the third play of the second half, Bosco recovered a Serra fumble, a turnover that led to Marcus Lee’s 26-yard field goal that made it 38-0.

Warren’s 57-yard run in the final minute of the third quarter stretched the margin to 45-0.

St. John Bosco linebacker Sir Tyler Thomas (31) tackles Serra Padres quarterback Maealiuaki Smith (7) during the fourth quarter of the 2022 CIF State Football Championship Open Division game at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, Calif., on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022. St. John Bosco defeated Serra Padres 45-0. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)St. John Bosco linebacker Sir Tyler Thomas (31) tackles Serra Padres quarterback Maealiuaki Smith (7) during the fourth quarter of the 2022 CIF State Football Championship Open Division game at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, Calif., on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022. St. John Bosco defeated Serra Padres 45-0. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group) 

“I did not expect it to be 45-0,” said Bosco coach Jason Negro, a friend of Walsh’s. “I knew we had a good shot of stopping them and making it difficult for them, but I wasn’t anticipating us getting five turnovers. But we were just relentless tonight, and defensively we were so smothering.”

Walsh said when the matchup against Bosco was announced on Nov. 27 that he wanted to use the two weeks in advance of the game as a celebration.

The San Mateo school had never had a 10-0 regular season until this fall.

Serra (13-1) beat Folsom and De La Salle on the road to start the season, won the West Catholic Athletic League and had a dominant run through the Central Coast Section Division I playoffs.

No matter what unfolded Saturday — and it figured to be heavily one-sided — Serra’s 2022 season was going to go down as one of the best in CCS history.

“It’s an undefeated football team in my heart,” Walsh said after the game Saturday.

But the price for Serra’s success was a spot opposite one of Southern California’s two mega-heavyweights in the final game of the California high school football season.

Until further notice, that’s a really bad matchup for anyone from the North.

Serra head coach Patrick Walsh watches as St. John Bosco celebrates on the podium after the 2022 CIF State Football Championship Open Division game at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, Calif., on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022. St. John Bosco defeated Serra Padres 45-0. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)Serra head coach Patrick Walsh watches as St. John Bosco celebrates on the podium after the 2022 CIF State Football Championship Open Division game at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, Calif., on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022. St. John Bosco defeated Serra Padres 45-0. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group) 
Serra Padres head coach Patrick Walsh prays with his team after being defeated by St. John Bosco during their 2022 CIF State Football Championship Open Division game at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, Calif., on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022. St. John Bosco defeated Serra Padres 45-0. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)Serra Padres head coach Patrick Walsh prays with his team after being defeated by St. John Bosco during their 2022 CIF State Football Championship Open Division game at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, Calif., on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022. St. John Bosco defeated Serra Padres 45-0. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group) 
St. John Bosco linebacker Kyngstonn Viliamu-Asa (27) recovers a fumble by Serra Padres quarterback Maealiuaki Smith (7) during the second quarter of the 2022 CIF State Football Championship Open Division game at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, Calif., on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)St. John Bosco linebacker Kyngstonn Viliamu-Asa (27) recovers a fumble by Serra Padres quarterback Maealiuaki Smith (7) during the second quarter of the 2022 CIF State Football Championship Open Division game at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, Calif., on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group) 
St. John Bosco linebacker Kyngstonn Viliamu-Asa (27) recovers a fumble by Serra Padres quarterback Maealiuaki Smith (7) during the second quarter of the 2022 CIF State Football Championship Open Division game at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, Calif., on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)St. John Bosco linebacker Kyngstonn Viliamu-Asa (27) recovers a fumble by Serra Padres quarterback Maealiuaki Smith (7) during the second quarter of the 2022 CIF State Football Championship Open Division game at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, Calif., on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group) 

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