It was Jared Goff
Spirit Day on Thursday at his old high school Marin Catholic (Kentfield, Calif.)
, filled with blue and gold attire, balloons and Rams' swag. Before classes even started, the student body rushed onto the football field, spelled out "Go Goff" and sent an aerial shot to him Atlanta, just three days before Super Bowl LIII.
"There's still a lot of buzz on campus since the Saints game," Marin Catholic coach Mazi Moayed said. "And nobody is talking about the call. Everyone is really stoked."
Over the Golden Gate Bridge, through San Francisco and about 35 miles South at Serra (San Mateo)
, the alma mater of Tom Brady, all is quiet, content and business as usual.
Unlike Goff, the young whippersnapper making his first Super Bowl appearance, Brady is making his ninth. When he played in his first Super Bowl in 2002, Goff was 7.
Serra football coach Patrick Walsh said the excitement of watching a former Padre on center stage in sports' biggest spectacle is still palpable. Just not as frenetic as the first one.
"To say it's getting old and we're grown tired of it is definitely not the case," Walsh said. "We'd sound spoiled and totally entitled if that was the case. With that said, in reality, it is the ninth time. Nine times! It's pretty remarkable.
"Let's put it this way. I still love and I'm excited for Christmas morning. But it's not like when I was 8-years-old. I'm 44 now. It's just different."
For the record, Walsh, who is three years older than Brady and didn't coach him, is in Phoenix and will attend PGA's Phoenix Open on Sunday. Moayed and his wife Lori fly to Atlanta on Friday and will attend the big game. The two Bay Area powers have met seven times, but the last time was in 1955. Moayed and Walsh are actually good friends, but have agreed to wear the other school's jersey depending on Sunday's outcome. Same goes for the school's principals and presidents.
"We'll then take pictures and put it all out on Twitter," Moayed said. "We want to make things fun."
It will be especially fun for the high school coaches off 11 different players who all starred in Northern California as preps.
Two of them of key Super Bowl players — Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman
and Rams' cornerback Marcus Peters
— are from the Bay Area and carry similar adrenaline levels as Walsh and Maoyed and watch from opposite vantage points. Woodside (Calif.)
coach Steve Nicolopulos will watch his prized pupil Edelman for a fourth time in the Super Bowl with his wife Darelene from the comforts of their San Mateo home. McClymonds (Oakland)
coach Michael Peters — Marcus' father and high school coach — has been in Atlanta since Monday taking in the festivities.
Coach Peters said that McClymonds has been quiet this week, but the campus will celebrate all the football program's successes — the Warriors won their third straight state title in December, Peters was named state Coach of the Year by Cal Hi Sports and multiple players will sign college scholarship offers Wednesday on National Signing Day — next week.
"And we'll celebrate a Super Bowl win," Michael Peters said with a chuckle.
He wasn't laughing, but threw out his chest a little when noting all that his son has accomplished in such a short NFL career.
"In four years, rookie Defensive Player of the Year, two Pro Bowls and now the Super Bowl," Michael Peters said. "Honestly, that's a pretty good career for a lot of guys. But he's not done yet."
Known for his fiery disposition, Marcus Peters will be especially fired up because more than 20 from the McClymonds community — better known as "Mack family" — will be in attendance Sunday, most notably his grandmother Janice Howard. The 75-year-old bone cancer survivor has never seen Marcus play in person.
"Pretty cool place to watch him for the first time," Michael Peters said.
Nicolopulos is fine watching from home.
His former player Edelman, 32, would be playing in his fifth Super Bowl but a torn ACL kept him out of last year's game. Nicolopulos knows what he and the Woodside community has enjoyed by cheering on Edelman over the last five years is nothing to take for granted.
The Patriots' have won three straight AFC titles, four of five and nine since 2001. Edelman has 499 career regular-season catches and 30 touchdowns. But his grandest moment was hauling in the game-winning touchdown from Brady in the 2015 Super Bowl, a 28-24 win over Seattle.
"Not many coaches get the opportunity to see one of their players make it to the NFL, let alone watch them play in the Super Bowl four times," Nicolopulos said. "I just think it's really, really cool for him. He worked his tail off. This was his lifelong passion and he's living it. How many of us can say that?"
At 41, Brady remains passionate about playing at his peak, defying time, proving that with good life habits, all things remain possible. It's something that Walsh relishes and relays to his teams. The Padres won their first state title in 2017 and placed second in 2016.
"He finds that constant joy in repetition and striving to be great," Walsh said. "He loves greatness. There's nothing wrong with that.
"It seems almost impossible what he's doing. To get to one Super Bowl is enough for most. But to get to nine? To win five? And to keep striving? Most people aren't wired that way. Maybe it was because he was drafted in the sixth round and that still (tees) him off."
Goff's chip comes from exactly the opposite direction. He was the top pick of the 2016 draft and expectations were weighty. When he went 0-7 as a rookie starter, "Everything thought he didn't know how to play the game of football," Moayed said.
With a new coach and offensive system, Goff quickly showed in his second season he was worthy of the top pick, throwing for 3,804 and 28 touchdowns, while landing a spot in the Pro Bowl and leading the Rams to the playoffs.
This season, he upped those numbers significantly to 4,688 yards and 32 TDS while earning a second Pro Bowl spot. He had a rough three-game patch late in the season and the criticisms of his rookie season resurfaced. That's what made his 297-yard performance in the 26-23 NFC championship overtime win over the Saints so sweet, said Moayed.
"I think it validated him all over again," Moayed said.
At least four times in the win — especially on the game-tying and winning drives — Goff showed that cool-under-fire he was known for as a 15-year-old at Marin Catholic, when people already were comparing him to Bay Area icon Joe Montana, his athletic idol. Montana was Brady's idol also.
"That's why Jared wore and still wears No. 16," Moayed said. "Obviously those comparisons were unfair, but from strictly his demeanor and ability to turn off the noise and move on from a bad play, he was well beyond his years."
It's been 36 years since a Southern California team has participated in the Super Bowl — the Los Angeles Raiders in 1983 — but natives of Northern California are in most of the key spots to decide Sunday's game.
Besides the two starting quarterback spots, Rams backup QB Sean Mannion
, of Foothill (Pleasanton)
, is a Bay Area product.
Rams starting wide receiver Brandin Cooks
of Lincoln (Stockton)
and backup running back C.J. Anderson
, of Bethel (Vallejo)
, should also get a lot of touches, and Cooks' Lincoln teammate in 2010, Justin Davis
, is the Rams third string running back.
Other Northern California natives are Rams backup tight end Johnny Mundt
, of Central Catholic (Modesto)
, and backup defensive tackle Ethan Westbrooks
, of Franklin (Elk Grove)
, and Patriots backup tight end Stephen Anderson
, of Piedmont Hills (San Jose)
"On the world's biggest football stage it's sort of strange the game will probably come to all these kids from Northern California," Walsh said. "Maybe football exists outside of Texas and the SEC."