Serra star Hamilton Anoa’i has a breakout game
What a difference a year makes.
Last season in game four, and in a 30-21 road win over Archbishop Mitty of San Jose, Hamilton Anoa’i tore his ACL and missed the rest of the season.
This year, on a sunny Saturday afternoon at home in San Mateo, and before a standing room only crowd in both sets of stands, Anoa’i tore up Mitty in a 31-7 Serra victory.
On offense, the 6-2, 225-pound Anoa’i (thats pronounced ah-no-ah-i) caught three touchdown passes of, 18, 24 and 69 yards, while on defense he had a pass interception and seven tackles with two for loss.
“They came into our house but we were determined,” Anoa’i remarked. “The biggest thing is we didn’t beat ourselves.”
Serra head coach Patrick Walsh has been singing the praises of Anoa’i from the beginning of this past summer, telling Cal-Hi Sports at that time the senior wide receiver and safety could play at a major-level college program but was under the radar because of the injury.
Walsh reiterated that after Saturday’s performance.
“Hamilton is a D1 player anywhere. I’m just glad he had an opportunity to prove he’s the real deal,” said Walsh, who wins his fourth WCAL title.
Anoa’i has seven mid major offers but he’s holding out hope a Pac-12 school will offer soon. The way he looked against Mitty may very well make that a reality.
Quarterback Matthew Fa’aita was a very solid 8-of-11 for 159 yards and three touchdowns. Junior running back Kava Cassidy ground out 81 yards rushing, senior running back Kevin McGee scored on a 5-yard sweep, and Steven Bodley booted home a 35-yard field goal.
Serra’s defense gave up a second quarter 66-yard TD pass from Trent Scharrenberg to Tommy Hudson, but it was on a blown coverage, and in a first half that decided the game, Serra (8-2, 6-1 WCAL) only gave up 46 yards on the other 21 plays, and led 21-7 at halftime.
For the game, the Padres intercepted Scharrenberg three times, including one in which a clipping penalty negated a touchdown, but still resulted in a 63-yard return for Kavapele Maka.
The co-championship with Mitty (9-1, 6-1) is the sixth WCAL title in school history, but the first time the Padres and Monarchs have shared the crown.
Despite the lopsidedness of the victory, tweets received from some of the Mitty faithful pointed to the fact Mitty was assured of a co-championship and a berth in the Open Division, while Serra needed to win or the Padres would have been dropped from the Open field.
Still, Serra looked by far the better team on this day. What happens next is yet to be determined.
“We know we’re a good team and there’s no telling how far we can go, but right now we’re taking it day by day,” Anoa’i said.
Because the CIF Central Coast Section uses a seeding system that rewards teams for wins over league champions, regardless of how strong a league is, Serra is expected to receive the No. 2 seed behind Pacifica Terra Nova in the Open Division Playoffs. Even folks in Pacifica know that that their team would be a huge underdog in any game played against Serra.
Serra’s win also is good news for other teams in Northern California jockeying for position in the race for a Division II NorCal bowl berth. If Serra had lost and then had to drop out of the Open Division, it’s clear that the Padres would have become a favorite for that bowl game with a section title. Now, it’s just a waiting game for Sunday’s CCS pairings to see which teams are in the Open Division and which teams will fall out.