SAN MATEO, Calif. - Serra (San Mateo)
High School football coach Patrick Walsh has said it since the start of the season: Until someone beats Bellarmine (San Jose)
, the Bells are the kings of the West Catholic Athletic League.
Walsh and Serra boldly went for the win Saturday, but following a 35-34 overtime defeat, Bellarmine still holds the coveted crown.
In a game that featured two of Northern California's top teams and that lived up to its billing, Serra's
was stopped at the line of scrimmage on a two-point conversion try in the second series of overtime after he rushed for his fourth touchdown.
Redwood pounded his fist to the ground in frustration following another bitter defeat for the Padres, who have now lost six straight years to Bellarmine, which received a superlative performance from Vanderbilt-bound quarterback K.J. Carta-Samuels
The 6-foot-3, 210-pound dual-threat junior completed 10 of 13 passes for 184 yards and accounted for four touchdowns, including a 10-yard pass to Austin Changras
on the first play of overtime.
On 3rd-and-goal from the 4, Redwood (23 carries, 187 yards) bulled over for his fourth score but rather than kick the extra point to send the game into a second overtime, Walsh went for the 2-point conversion. The Padres successfully did so in a 36-35 win at Northern California power Buhach Colony-Atwater on Sept. 20. But not this time.
After a Bellarmine timeout, the Padres (5-0, 2-1) still went for it. Following a short pitch left, Redwood was surrounded by three Bellarmine defenders and barely got back to the line of scrimmage.
It secured the Bells' 11th straight WCAL victory and fifth consecutive overall win this season after a humbling opening loss to De La Salle-Concord. Bellarmine (5-1, 3-0), which lost in last year's California State Division I Bowl title game to Santa Margarita, is now tied for first place in the WCAL with St. Ignatius (5-1, 3-0).
Serra came in ranked fourth in Northern California according to MaxPreps
, Bellarmine was No. 5. The game could have major ramifications when CIF commissioners make their regional Open or Division I selections.
"Zero regrets," Walsh said. "First of all, we can't assume we'll make the PAT. If we miss, then everyone asks why we didn't go for two. No regrets especially after Bellarmine scored on the first play. If this had been a 14-13 slugfest then yes, maybe.
"If there are any regrets it's that I didn't get our defense ready to stop Bellarmine."
The Bells finished with just 296 yards to 365 for Serra, but they got things rolling for most of the second and third quarters to take what looked to be a commanding 28-14 lead.
Carta-Samuels, making just his sixth varsity start, had two short touchdown runs in the flurry and a 17-yard scoring strike to Joey Sanfilippo
"We've heard all season how we graduated so many seniors from last year's team," Carta-Samuels said. "We proved today we can still move the ball. We're still Bellarmine."
The biggest play in Bellarmine's flurry was actually on special teams right before halftime.
Curt Calomeni blocked a Serra punt and
picked it up and ran in for a touchdown from 5 yards out to give the Bells a 21-14 lead with 57 seconds left.
"Our motto all years is for our defense and special teams to give our team a chance to win," Bellarmine coach Mike Janda said. "They came up huge with that block."
Down two touchdowns, Serra never wavered, first going 80 yards on eight plays capped by a Redwood 3-yard touchdown run to make it 28-21 with 11:01 remaining.
After Serra's defense held, Redwood followed up with an electrifying 75-yard touchdown run, breaking four tackles near the line of scrimmage before bouncing outside and going untouched along his team's sideline the final 70 yards.
That tied the game at 28 with 6:23 to play.
"Serra's a great team," Janda said. "We didn't expect them to go away. But that didn't break our backs either."
Neither team really threatened the rest of regulation sending the game into overtime. Both teams scored but Serra's shot at broke was stopped well short.
"There's no magical formula in the WCAL," Janda said. "You have to be prepared for each game. We're still a work in progress. But this was a very good win."Bellarmine 35, Serra 34
Bellarmine 7 14 7 0 7 - 35
Serra 7 7 0 14 6 - 34First quarter
S – Redwood 3 run (Anthony Toms
B - Joey Sanfilippo 17 pass from K.J. Carta-Samuels (Grant Bush kick)Second quarter
S – Fia Malepeai
9 pass from Zack Kazakoff
B – Carta-Samuels 5 run (Bush kick)
B – Daniel Fields 5 punt block return (Bush kick)Third quarter
B – Carta-Samuels 2 run (Bush kick)Fourth quarter
S – Redwood 3 run (Toms kick)
S – Redwood 75 run (Toms kick)Overtime
B - Austin Changras 10 pass from Carta-Samuels (Bush kick)
S – Redwood 4 run (run failed)You can contact Mitch Stephens by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MitchMashMax.