Mention the name
in the same sentence as Tom Brady and Lynn Swann, and some high school football fans might ask, "Luke who?"
All three guys have played quarterback at Serra (San Mateo, Calif.)
— yes, Swann was a gunslinger as a senior before becoming an NFL Hall of Fame receiver — but it's Bottari who is breaking all the school's passing milestones. He holds five records and is on pace to shatter three more. Brady — who could arguably go down as the greatest player in NFL history — holds one record.
"Knowing the player that Brady has become, it's pretty crazy knowing that I have broken many of his records," Bottari said. "It's quite cool to see my name up there on the record board with his."
The 16-year-old is coming off a monster junior season in which he completed 72 percent of his throws (203-of-282) for 2,768 yards, 25 touchdowns and just eight interceptions.
"He makes really good decisions at all times," Serra football coach Patrick Walsh said. "I think he knows where he wants to go with the ball before the ball is snapped. His pocket presence is second-to-none in a sense that he'll step up, he'll slide to the right and left and he's always looking downfield to complete a big play. Even in the face of sometimes pass protection breaking down, he'll hang right in there and complete balls when a defensive player is bearing down his chest. You can't teach that, really. That's where the toughness comes in."
Bottari set plenty of goals headed into the season. He accomplished them all.
He worked hard in the weight room in the offseason and got bigger. He also improved his mental aspect of the game.Learn More: Semper Fidelis Athlete of the Month presented by the Marines
"I was on all season," said Bottari, who was named All-State and was the league's Most Valuable Player. "We reached our goal as a team, we won state. And that was a pretty awesome feeling."
Winning the state Division 2-AA state title was the most important accomplishment in Bottari's mind. He's a true team player.
Taking home the state championship trophy seemed like a pipe dream early in the season. Serra started out with a 1-2 record as Bottari threw five interceptions and just five touchdown passes.
But then Bottari flipped a switch. In helping the Padres rattle off 12 straight victories, Bottari was nearly flawless with 20 touchdown passes and three picks while completing 77 percent of his throws.
"After that Pittsburg game we lost, something clicked in mind," Bottari said. "I don't know if it was going into league, but something clicked in my mind that I knew to win games and to reach our team goal that I personally had to stop turning the ball over. I just got on a hot streak, I guess."
Bottari — who trains with private quarterback coach Sione Taufoou, a coach with the prestigious Elite 11 series — got hot and put the entire team on his back. He's a leader, and his teammates were more than happy to follow as he righted the ship.
"He's unflappable and he's tough," Walsh said. "He's not like Brett Favre; he's not going to be yelling and doing all that crazy stuff. But he kind of has this calm nature about him that helps the team manage very difficult situations. I think his calm demeanor is just above and on top of a very, very supremely confident individual on the field."
As a sophomore, Bottari was Serra's backup quarterback behind Leki Nunn. But Bottari got plenty of opportunities to shine in big-game situations. In the Padres' section semifinal game, the team's starting running back was injured, and Nunn shifted into the backfield. Bottari stepped in and the offense didn't miss a beat.
"As a matter of fact, it might have even gotten better with him just jumping in there as a sophomore with all the pressure in the world on the road at our rival Saint Francis," Walsh said. "He went in there and just made some unbelievable passes that only Luke can make."
Perhaps the most impressive game of Bottari's career came as a result of some added inspiration. Prior to Serra's homecoming game at Brady Family Stadium against rival Archbishop Mitty on Oct. 6, 2017, Bottari took a microphone and addressed the large crowd. With teammates and classmates behind him, Bottari announced through a 3 ½-minute speech he had just launched Play4Prevention, a nonprofit foundation to raise awareness about teen suicide.
Six months earlier, Bottari's life was rocked as a former girlfriend ended her own life.
"It's for teens to basically let them know they're not alone and that they do have people to talk to," Bottari said. "We have resources all over the community where they can reach out."
Walsh saw a motivated person that night after the speech. Bottari was determined to make a difference.
"After that, I thought I was going to be able to focus on school a little more and focus on the rest of the season, but when we had that first event, it totally took off," Bottari said. "It was awesome now that I look at it that it took off like that."
) has blown up to the extent that Bottari generally spends a couple hours a day sending out emails and setting up speaking engagements. It's become a big part of his life.
Spreading the word that suicide is not the answer has not only been beneficial to Bay Area teenagers, but also Bottari.
"It's definitely helped me grieve, but the other thing is just knowing that I can help save peoples' lives and impact others. It's a great feeling," Bottari said. "But the goal of this whole thing is nothing personal, it's not for fame. It's just so I don't have to see anyone go again like that because it not only had an affect on me it had an affect on the whole community because she was friends with everyone. I don't want to see anyone go like that or anyone be affected like that."
Becoming a philanthropist at 16 shows the maturity and wonderful nature of Bottari. It never surprises Walsh about his quarterback's desire to advocate for the peoples' well-being.
"I think what's great about him his ultimate concern is other people," Walsh said. "There might be some karmic return on that. But he truly loves other people, he loves his teammates."
When Bottari heads off to college in fall 2019, he plans to continue his efforts with the foundation and make it even bigger and better.
Bottari's on-field achievements this season helped turned the heads of college coaches. Most notably Ivy League schools Yale, Columbia and Harvard are showing interest because of Bottari's football prowess as well as his classroom proficiency. He sports a 3.7 grade point average.
"I didn't know that having good grades would give me the opportunity," Bottari said. "And just to be recruited by some of the most highly educated schools in the nation is pretty awesome."
Walsh believes Bottari should be a highly coveted quarterback not only by Ivy colleges, but by some of the top football schools in the country. However, because Bottari is just 5-foot-10 — maybe an inch taller depending on who you ask — the big-name schools aren't interested.
"It's kind of the classic high school story where the high school football coach, me, knowing that the intangibles he has inside of him — toughness, leadership, work ethic — everything that makes Luke who he is can hopefully trump the fact that he's not 6-foot-3," Walsh said.
"We're just hopeful that there's a school out there that can see past that and can see the warrior and the winner that he is as a person and as a football player. And I think that team will win a lot of football games."Know an incredible student-athlete who stands out in sports and in life away from competition? Click here to nominate them for a chance to be featured on MaxPreps.