The premier of the 2015 Serra High School Football season was a statistical romp: 41-15, 34-0 when Coach Altenberg took his foot off the pedal, touchdowns on the first two possessions, 10 first downs to one in the first half. But the game was an artistic disappointment: too many infractions, 13 penalties, six of the majors, starting quarterback ejected for retaliation. To quote the coach, "If it had been a close game, we would have lost."
The game was never in doubt, Serra had so much more raw talent compared to Lakewood that it was able again and again to overcome sloppy play and penalties.
Khalil Tate's season is off to a murky start. He ran 30 plays, seven powerful runs, one TD on the ground, 3 for 8 passing, one for a touchdown and the other set up a touchdown. But about half way through the second quarter, he lost his cool when Lakewood piled on after a sack. The benches cleared like an NHL game. All the blame was heaped on Tate. He was flagged and ejected. That means he'll miss the pivotal Honor Bowl game against Centennial.
Like the ingénue from 42nd Street, understudy Jalani Eason came to the rescue. Although he was to give up a safety in the second half, he guided the Cavs to their fourth touchdown and played with poise for the remainder of the game.
Serra's running game, in the persons of No. 8 Job McGinty and No. 14 Khalil Tate, was potent in Serra's 12-play opening drive. Although Brandon Burton ran in the second touchdown, the running game wasn't consistent after the first drive. The Cavs had more success passing to Burton, Isaiah Diego Williams, and Anthony Torres. Several key completions, however, had to be ad libbed after the pocket broke down.
The Cavalier defense against both the pass and the run was stout until the fourth quarter. The Lancers ran up their statistics toward the end of the game, but Serra had long since pulled their starters.
The highlight film would include Tate's several early runs, the 35-yard thread-the-needle Tate to Burton pass for Serra's third touchdown,
Jalani Eason drive-saving 14-yarder to Diego Williams for the fourth score with 54 seconds remaining in the first half, and Burton's fine reach-behind grab of an Eason pass to set up the fifth score on the first drive of the second half. Defensive highlights include Merlin Roberson's brilliant third-quarter sack of Lakewood's QB and Diego Williams' recovery and advance of an errant pitch for Serra's final touchdown.
So it's on to the Honor Bowl, gravely handicapped with the disqualification of our starting quarterback. Corona Centennial is a fearsome challenge. The Huskies demolished a roughly comparable opponent, Salt Lake City East on Friday 49-13. (East was ranked 1461 nationally going into the game according to MaxPreps; while Lakewood was ranked 1155.) Serra has the stronger motivation: Not only to win for Kahlil Tate, but to avenge the cliff hanger loss to Centennial in last year's playoffs.
P. Lynch '59