This is the third in a series of posts comparing two local rivals who both may be toward the top of the preseason state football rankings. We’ll write up what we think these teams will be like heading into the season, then we hope to see what their fans have to say through comments, reaction.
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What The Teams Accomplished Last Season: Serra won its first CIF Central Coast Section Open Division title with a 21-7 win over Archbishop Mitty, then lost to Del Oro of Loomis in the NorCal D1 bowl game. The Padres (11-3) were No. 16 overall in the final state rankings and were No. 4 in NorCal Division I. Valley Christian advanced to the semifinals of the CCS Open Division before losing to Mitty 37-7. The Warriors (8-4) knocked off previously unbeaten Terra Nova of Pacifica in the quarterfinals. They were No. 20 in the final NorCal D1 rankings.Shapshot of Serra: Head coach Patrick Walsh went to a spread-style offense last year and had the players to pull it off. It’s a team this season with some strong returnees, such as running back Kava Cassidy, who rushed for 1,455 yards and 16 TDs, but a new QB will have to emerge, especially early in the season. Serra has added transfer QB Hunter Bishop from St. Francis of Mountain View, who could have D1 college potential. But he won’t be eligible until after five games. The defense also is a mix of young players with a few solid returnees.
Shapshot of Valley Christian: That 37-7 loss to Mitty in the playoffs was a dud, but the Warriors were battling injuries down the stretch, including a shoulder that knocked out star running back Kirk Johnson. The University of Texas-bound player still rushed for 1,228 yards and 11 TDs last season and was one of the top sophomores in the state two seasons ago. If Johnson stays healthy, there is loads of returning talent throughout the rest of the offense and defense so that head coach Michael Machado’s team looks like the preseason favorite in the entire CCS.
More Top Players for Serra: Jr. RB/DB Kelepi Lataimua (all-league, two ints in win over Bellarmine); Jr. WR Brandon Monroe (35.2 yds per catch); LB James Outman (98 tackles, Sacramento State commit); OL Jack Dreyer (6-8, 285, Top 100 prospect in state); OL Christian Villanueva (6-1, 215, all-league); DB/QB Tevita Tuitavake (2 ints).
More Top Players for Valley Christian: Jr. WR Collin Johnson (committed to Texas); QB Michael Machado (son of coach); FB/LB Jesse Osuna (Co-Most Valuable LB in league); RB/DB Tre McCloud (all-league); RB Mark Quimby (674 yds, 7 TDs); OL Chase Batnich-Garcia (6-3, 265); OL Trevor Thomas (6-4, 300, NFTC standout); DL Dan Dunham (all-league); jr. FB/LB Travis Tuitele (6-0, 230).
Recent History Between These Two: Serra won last year’s game 28-7 and also won in 2011 and 2012. Valley Christian’s last win over the Padres was 52-23 in 2010.
Hunch As To Where Each Team Should Be Ranked In The Preseason: Based on the returning players and what happened last year, the probability is we’ll go with Valley Christian and Serra at No. 1 and No. 2 in that order to start in the CCS. It doesn’t look like we’d put either in the preseason top 10, but can see one of the two at around No. 15. Keep in mind, though, that Serra does play De La Salle in its first game, so it’s also possible we’d flip these two at the start then see what happens early on. Serra and Valley Christian also meet on Oct. 3 in the very first week of the WCAL schedule.
Next Preseason Duel: Oceanside vs. Mission Hills (San Marcos).