“We’ll be working here all day,” said the 13-year Serra High School coach from his San Mateo school office. “And I’m thrilled.”
He has the right to be.
The Padres (11-2) bested West Catholic Athletic League rival Mitty (San Jose) 21-7 on Friday night, capturing Serra’s — and Walsh’s — first Central Coast Section Open Division crown. And in doing so, they earned a crack at Del Oro (Loomis) in the CIF NorCal Division I championship bowl game Saturday night at San Jose City College.
Anyone familiar with Del Oro — which claimed the Sac-Joaquin Division II title with a tense 20-19 win against Elk Grove — would judge Walsh to be wise in not taking a day off.
“Really what concerns me about Del Oro is their physicality,” Walsh said. “They’ve got a great front. They get off the ball well. They’re very multiple on offense with their formations and structures. And really just the overall toughness of Del Oro is certainly something we’re concerned about.”
That gritty gridiron play is a staple of Del Oro coach Casey Taylor, and it’s a style not typically well-suited for a team burdened with injury. And currently, Serra is that team.
“We’re dealing with some team injuries that we’re gonna have to overcome,” Walsh said, noting starting senior free safety and captain Kavapele “Nick” Maka and 6-foot-8, 285-pound junior left tackle Jack Dreyer.
“We’ve been overcoming injuries all year,” he said. “But you certainly want, going into a game like this, all the pistons firing. Hopefully we’ll get a couple of those guys back this week.”
Maka missed Friday’s game against Mitty while Dreyer was sidelined late in the fourth quarter with a wrist injury, and both remain questionable for Saturday.
“This team has proven [itself] through injuries all year long, through adversity,” Walsh said.
With a win, Serra — having already played its most accomplished season in school history — advances to the Division I state title game against the winner of the SoCal bowl between Bakersfield and Mission Hills.
“This is a type of team that would love to play football for as long as they give us an opportunity to play, and as long as we’re earning it throughout the course of the weeks here,” Walsh said. “And as coaches, we’re happy that the players put us in this position, and I’m just really proud of the kids for their effort and enthusiasm all season long.”
Serra vs. Del Oro
WHAT: CIF NorCal Division I championship bowl game
WHEN: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: San Jose City College