Serra QB a hit in win vs. Pitt

Terence Loville (No. 1) made plays on both sides of the ball and on special teams for state-ranked Serra on Saturday in win over state-ranked Pittsburg. At right is senior QB Daylin McLemore, who will get to play his second game as a varsity starter at Levi’s Stadium. Photos: Willie Eashman.


State No. 30 Padres break three-year losing streak to CIF North Coast Section powerhouse in surprisingly one-sided triumph on Saturday over state No. 37 Pittsburg that shows they’ll be a serious contender for CIF Central Coast Section Open Division title. Their new starting quarterback leads the way.

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In this era of quarterbacks transferring to different schools instead of waiting for their turn to be a starter, Serra of San Mateo senior Daylin McLemore is a breath of fresh air.

McLemore made his varsity debut on Saturday at Brady Family Field in San Mateo. With two-year starter Nick Bottari graduated and as great of a leader on a team that you might ever see, McLemore operated head coach Patrick Walsh’s offense masterfully in a 58-21 victory over Pittsburg.

The host Padres were making their season debut and although they were No. 4 in the Bay Area News Group’s preseason rankings and were No. 30 in the state, there were some questions about how strong they might be with a new quarterback. Pitt has had to replace even more starting positions from last year’s team that was 9-3 with losses to Corona Centennial, De La Salle and Liberty of Brentwood (two of the top five in the state and the other a state champion) but in its first game took on and beat a St. Mary’s of Stockton squad 42-35 that was highly ranked in the preseason from the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section.

McLemore only threw 12 passes, but completed nine of them (unofficially) for 243 yards and four touchdowns. All four went to different receivers and all four showed a deft touch. He also executed option running plays, keeping the ball 10 times for 39 yards and setting it up for teammates Vince Poni and Hassan Mahasin to rush for a combined 156 yards.

“I was super-excited last night because I’ve waited so long for this to happen,” McLemore said. “I’m just trying to get my own legacy. I’m not going to worry about records. Just be the best that I can be.”

Walsh didn’t have his team in a scrimmage this season because he was trying to hide what he had in McLemore, but to spend what he says was more time lifting and more time “back in the lab” getting ready for Saturday after what was for him a disappointing 7-5 season.

It’ll be fun for Serra head coach Patrick Walsh over the next two years designing plays for sophomore RB Hassan Mahasin. Photo: Willie Eashman.

“We all knew that (McLemore) was capable,” Walsh said. “Now, everyone else knows about him.

“We all call him Kawhi (as in Kawhi Leonard of the NBA) because he never talks. He’s also got that same internal leadership.”

It helps that McLemore also has a talented cast of playmakers around him. In some recent seasons, Walsh’s offense has had what he’s called “identity” issues. Is it going to be a running team or a passing team? In this game, the only time that Serra went to a running formation was when the score was 52-21 in the fourth quarter.

McLemore was part of a double pass on his first play of the game. It went backwards to senior Terence Loville, who then reared up and went deep for teammate Nick Sanchez, who couldn’t come up with a catch. Two plays later, McLemore dumped a perfectly timed screen pass to Poni, who galloped through the Pitt defense for a 64-yard touchdown.

The Pirates, who obviously displayed some explosiveness of their own against St. Mary’s as quarterback Jerry Johnson threw for a school record six touchdowns, reached the end zone on their first series of the game as well. They drove 80 yards in 10 plays with Avant Muldrew getting the score on a 1-yard plunge.

Serra answered in just seconds as Loville, 15 pounds stronger than last season and with improved speed as well, grabbed the ensuing kickoff and broke three tackles en route to a 93-yard touchdown return.

The Padres began to take command in their next series after a punt return from Loville set them up on the Pitt 32. They scored on a 14-yard run by Mashasin on his first carry of the season. A sophomore with sprinter’s speed, they call Mahasin “the missile” and he’ll be a weapon for that offense all season long.

Serra went on its longest scoring drive of the day on its next series, going from the 8-yard line and moving into position for a 43-yard touchdown strike from McLemore to Loville. Pitt was already down 28-7 at that point early in the second quarter and searching for ways to get back into contention.

The Pirates hit for their only touchdown pass of the day on their next series on a 38-yard touchdown by Muldrew on a play that began as a shovel pass from Johnson. Pitt also got the ball back and was looking to make it a one-score game, but the Serra defense stopped the Pirates and then the Serra offense pushed it back to a three-score lead on a 62-yard bomb from McLemore to Sanchez.

At the start of the second half, after Pitt had scored on a fourth-down 5-yard pass from Johnson to freshman Rashid Williams to put the score at 35-21 with seconds left in the second quarter, the Pirates knew they had another opportunity for a one-score game since they were going to get the ball first. Serra’s defense in the second half, however, wound up pitching a shutout.

The score moved to 42-21 on a 23-yard touchdown pass from McLemore to tight end Christian Pedersen. Serra’s final scores came on a 7-yard run by Poni (who had 12 carries for 81 yards) and on a 47-yard burst by Mahasin (who had six carries for 75 yards).

“This was not a step back at all,” said Pittsburg head coach Vic Galli, who like Walsh is a former assistant coach under the legendary Bob Ladouceur at De La Salle. “We just played a really good team that was fresh, playing its first game, and pulling out all the stops.

“We answered the bell for a few times, but hopefully we can flip the script in the next few weeks.”

Walsh’s squad won’t have much time to celebrate. It will be facing fellow San Mateo County rival Menlo-Atherton next Friday night in a game that will be played at Levi’s Stadium. There are no high school games this year specifically set up for Levi’s as in the past, but Serra did agree (and so did Menlo-Atherton) to have their game moved there. The Bears, a CIF D3-AA state champ from last year, opened their season on Friday with a convincing win over Bellarmine Prep of San Jose.

“It’s going to be a similar type of team to the one we just played,” Walsh said. “They have exceptional athletes all over the field. It’s an amazing venue and we feel fortunate to be able to play there.”

Mark Tennis is the editor and publisher of Cal-Hi Sports. He can be reached at markjtennis@gmail.com. Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports


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