NEWS

Serra defeats Archbishop Riordan in San Mateo


SAN MATEO — Serra’s seniors have played in championship games – section and state – in each of the past two seasons. The San Mateo school has speed and dynamic playmakers on the outside, but the bedrock of its impressive run at the top of the Bay Area has been Serra’s battle-tested front seven.

Facing upstart Archbishop Riordan, with its dazzling passing attack and a mammoth offensive line that averaged over 300 pounds per starter, Serra wasn’t phased by its imposing West Catholic Athletic League opponent.

Padres starters such as linebacker Danny Niu, who had a sack and interception, had faced staunch challengers before. And just as the Padres had done for the previous 11 league games, Serra controlled the line of scrimmage in a 53-7 running clock victory. 

“We know that size-wise, we might be underestimated,” Niu said after the Padres extended its WCAL winning streak to a dozen. “But we have a bunch of dogs in the trenches and backfield.”

Serra's Danny Niu (1) reacts after he sacked Archbishop Riorda quarterback Michael Mitchell (9) in the third quarter of a football game at Serra High School in San Mateo, Calif., on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)
Serra’s Danny Niu (1) reacts after he sacked Archbishop Riordan quarterback Michael Mitchell (9) in the third quarter of a football game at Serra High School in San Mateo, Calif., on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group) 

Serra held Riordan, which entered Saturday having scored at least 40 points in four straight games, to under 200 total yards. 

The senior linebacking trio of Niu, Marley Alapati, and Jabari Mann blanketed the field, closing down passing lanes and stonewalling the run despite each weighing less than 220 pounds. 

The Padres players said preparation for the game was no different than any other they had played this season, a message echoed by longtime coach Patrick Walsh.

“There is no them, only us,” Walsh said. “It’s hard at times, and particularly in big games like this, to truly focus on ourselves. It’s been that message all year.”

Serra’s offense did its part to set the tone too, running the ball on all six plays of its opening drive. 

That display of strength culminated in Jaden Green’s four-yard sweep into the end zone, the first of four Padres rushing touchdowns. Green ended the day with 54 yards, one of nine different Padres to carry the ball. Serra’s Nano Latu led all players with 80 rushing yards. 

Serra's Nano Latu (15) runs with the ball for a big gain against Archbishop Riordan's Wesley Winn (6) and Christopher Lawson (4) in the third quarter of a football game at Serra High School in San Mateo, Calif., on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)
Serra’s Nano Latu (15) runs with the ball for a big gain against Archbishop Riordan’s Wesley Winn (6) and Christopher Lawson (4) in the third quarter of a football game at Serra High School in San Mateo, Calif., on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group) 

On the next drive, the Padres pulled off a Madden-style fake field goal. Christopher Yoon pretended to be in a hurry to get off the field as the FG unit came on, and was promptly ignored by the Crusader’s special team unit. 

Backup quarterback Brooks Trimmer, the holder on the play, popped into a passing stance after he received the ball and lofted a 20-yard TD pass to Yoon to make it 15-0  with 42 seconds left in the first quarter.

“I think that Jabari, my sophomore year, got Valley Christian on it,  and we’ve just been waiting to use it again, to pull it out of the closet,” Trimmer said. 

Serra made it 22-0 early in the second quarter on a 20-yard dart from Smith to Cole Harrison down the seam, one of two Smith TD passes. Trimmer rushed for a 16-yard touchdown and Alapati cashed in a two-yard score to give Serra a 36-0 halftime lead. 

The Riordan offense never could get on track against Serra’s defense, but the passing game briefly clicked in the third quarter, when Mike Mitchell Jr. found Chris Lawson for a 23-yard touchdown. 

Riordan coach Adhir Ravipati believed the rout should help the young Crusaders in the long run. 

“I think our inexperience on this stage (showed),” Ravipati said. “Serra’s got a really veteran group and has played a lot of games like this. This is the first one for us, and we didn’t pass the test. But as long as we learn and grow from it, it’s something that can be a teachable moment for us.”

Archbishop Riordan head coach Adhir Ravipati and Serra head coach Patrick Walsh hug each other after Serra 53-7 win in a football game at Serra High School in San Mateo, Calif., on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)
Archbishop Riordan head coach Adhir Ravipati and Serra head coach Patrick Walsh hug each other after Serra 53-7 win in a football game at Serra High School in San Mateo, Calif., on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group) 

Riordan (6-2, 3-1) will travel to St. Francis next week before finishing its regular season with a rivalry game against Sacred Heart Cathedral. Serra (8-0, 4-0) will take a trip to Valley Christian before concluding its WCAL schedule at home vs. St. Ignatius. 

Riordan is still on track to join Serra in the Central Coast Section Division I playoffs, which means the teams could meet in a rematch this November. 

“They’re probably going to make it, and we’ll be ready for them and ready to go,” Niu said. 

Serra quarterback Maealiuaki Smith (7) makes a long pass to Braden Agosta (13) against Archbishop Riordan in the second quarter of a football game at Serra High School in San Mateo, Calif., on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)
Serra quarterback Maealiuaki Smith (7) makes a long pass to Braden Agosta (13) against Archbishop Riordan in the second quarter of a football game at Serra High School in San Mateo, Calif., on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group) 
Serra's Nano Latu (15) is stopped and tackled by Archbishop Riordan's Tobey Weydemuller (3) in the third quarter of a football game at Serra High School in San Mateo, Calif., on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)
Serra’s Nano Latu (15) is stopped and tackled by Archbishop Riordan’s Tobey Weydemuller (3) in the third quarter of a football game at Serra High School in San Mateo, Calif., on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group) 
Serra's Braden Agosta (13) scores a touchdown in front of Archbishop Riordan's Wesley Winn (6) in the third quarter of a football game at Serra High School in San Mateo, Calif., on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)
Serra’s Braden Agosta (13) scores a touchdown in front of Archbishop Riordan’s Wesley Winn (6) in the third quarter of a football game at Serra High School in San Mateo, Calif., on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group) 
Serra's Braden Agosta (13) completes a first down pass against Archbishop Riordan in the second quarter of a football game at Serra High School in San Mateo, Calif., on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)
Serra’s Braden Agosta (13) completes a first down pass against Archbishop Riordan in the second quarter of a football game at Serra High School in San Mateo, Calif., on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group) 
Serra's Joseph Latu (4) eludes a tackle as he runs with the ball for a first down against Archbishop Riordan in the second quarter of a football game at Serra High School in San Mateo, Calif., on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)
Serra’s Joseph Latu (4) eludes a tackle as he runs with the ball for a first down against Archbishop Riordan in the second quarter of a football game at Serra High School in San Mateo, Calif., on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group) 

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button

gates of olympus