Patrick Walsh: State FB Coach of Year

Serra of San Mateo head coach Patrick Walsh (left) speaks during a rally at the State Capitol. He’s coached in three CIF state title games. Photo: &

For a year like no other, Serra of San Mateo’s Patrick Walsh became a driving force among football coaches throughout the state for their sport to have a short, spring season. But that’s not the only reason he now joins the all-time state list of honored coaches that goes back for more than 100 years. The Padres went 5-0 in their games, posted two statement wins and Walsh also is a coach who has been to the CIF state finals for three of the past five years.

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There were a few other times in recent seasons in which Patrick Walsh from Serra of San Mateo was under consideration to be State Football Coach of the Year. The closest was in 2017 when the Padres won the CIF D2-AA state championship with a victory over Cajon of San Bernardino.

As the 2021 season ended just two weeks ago in some places in the state (which under normal circumstances would have been played in the fall of 2020), Walsh was on the list of leading contenders once again. Keep in mind that for Cal-Hi Sports State Coaches of the Year no one has ever been selected more than once. Previous honorees include Santa Ana Mater Dei’s Bruce Rollinson, Bellflower St. John Bosco’s Jason Negro and Walsh’s own head coach when he played at De La Salle of Concord, the all-time winningest Bob Ladouceur.

Former De La Salle head coach Bob Ladouceur talks with former DLS player Patrick Walsh after team Walsh coached at Serra (San Mateo) lost in 2019 CIF D1-A final to Corona del Mar. Walsh was a running back on 1992 team that began 151-game winning streak in 1992. Photo: Mark Tennis.

While some may look at the selection of Walsh for this year as a stunt to gain more attention since he became such a popular leader among coaches to pressure the state to allow the resumption of youth sports, the numbers say otherwise. Just going by on-the-field accomplishments, such as winning five CIF Central Coast Section titles in the last eight years, three CIF NorCal regional titles in five years and this year’s team going 5-0 with two particularly impressive wins, tells the real story. Even if none of his passionate off-the-field work wasn’t known or he just followed along with the crowd during the pandemic shutdowns, it could easily have been time to get Patrick his place in the spotlight as State Coach of the Year regardless of any other factors.

“You can’t avoid the obvious,” said Walsh on Thursday not long after he got the news of being State Coach of the Year. “It wasn’t a regular year at all. Some schools never played.

“But if I was to be at Serra for 20 more years and then if I were to look back, this is going to be the most trying, painful and most exhilarating season of them all. To get this for this year, because of everything we went through, and in doing something that got millions of kids to do something they love, means the world. You could have picked me for going 16-0 and scoring 100 points per game and nothing will ever equal this year.”

There will be more in this writeup later about how Walsh formed the Golden State Football Coaching Alliance with De La Salle’s current head coach, Justin Alumbaugh, but that both of them played for Ladouceur shows the impact that their former coach has had on them as adults.

“Our core values at Serra are love, brotherhood and humility,” Walsh said. “It’s not about success on the scoreboard. Every year is about success in relationships. You have to take yourself out of it. That’s all from Coach Ladouceur. He was everything to me growing up. After my mom and my dad, he’s the most influential person who’s been in my life.”

Walsh played at De La Salle during the 1990, 1991 and 1992 seasons. The team in 1991 lost in the CIF North Coast Section D1 final, which burned into the hearts of Walsh and the rest of his teammates for the 1992 season. They just weren’t going to lose and they didn’t, winning every game by at least three touchdowns, setting a state record at the time for most points in a regular season and earning the program’s first of many No. 1 final state rankings. That 1992 team also set a high bar for execution, passion and day-to-day work ethic that has been credited by Ladouceur as one of the reasons for the school not losing again until 2004 (a national record 151-game win streak).

Bellarmine head coach Mike Janda (left) greets Serra’s Patrick Walsh before game in 2012. Photo: Harold Abend.

Walsh led the state in scoring with 38 touchdowns in 1992 and tied the all-time Bay Area scoring record at the time with 68 touchdowns that had been set in 1954 by Vallejo’s Dick Bass. He was first team all-state and was a finalist for Mr. Football State Player of the Year (which went to two-way lineman and future NFL regular Travis Kirschke from Esperanza of Anaheim).

After De La Salle, Patrick played both football and baseball at San Jose State. He had played baseball in high school as well and was all-league three times. The baseball part of it then became more of an option for his future so Walsh transferred to the University of Texas for his final year of college eligibility. He also was able to play for legendary baseball coach Augie Garrido for the Longhorns.

Coaching emerged as Patrick’s future career path not long after finishing up at Austin. His first stop was at his old high school where he served as a running back and linebackers coach for the 1998, 1999 and 2000 seasons. The Spartans began playing Mater Dei in those seasons (winning all three games in which Walsh was there) and for the 1998 and 1999 seasons they had running back/linebacker D.J. Williams, still considered by many in the Bay Area and in Northern California as the best prep player they’ve ever seen.

At the young age of 26, Walsh made a leap of faith away from the comfort of De La Salle to take over the reins of the program at Serra. At the time (2001), the Padres had only been in the CCS playoffs three times and that included the two years in the middle 1990s when their quarterback was Tom Brady (yes, that Tom Brady). Since Walsh became head coach, Serra has been in the playoffs 16 times and that includes one season in which the Padres would have gone but were banned due to a 2015 decision that Walsh made to skip a CCS consolation playoff game over concerns about his players’ health.

Another reason for Serra’s lack of playoff appearances before Walsh’s arrival is the extreme high level of competition in the Padres’ West Catholic Athletic League. Legendary coaches such as Mike Janda at Bellarmine of San Jose, Ron Calcagno at St. Francis of Mountain View and Mike Machado in later years at Valley Christian of San Jose would often beat each other up. Janda, in fact, is the last coach from the CCS to be State Coach of the Year, a selection that was made in 2016.

“Some of the games against Bellarmine and Coach Janda were life-changing,” Walsh said. “I always respected the way he went about it, always humble and with ultimate sportsmanship.”

Serra’s first trip to the CIF state championships came in 2016 for a matchup in the D2-A final. The Padres faced Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth and lost, 42-40. They returned the next year for the D2-AA championship and took down Cajon of San Bernardino (and its record-breaking QB Jayden Daniels) 38-14. Serra also was in the most recent state finals in 2019 where it had to face 15-0 Corona del Mar (Newport Beach) and fell 35-27. Padres’ fans will always wonder, though, what would have happened if quarterback Daylin McLemore had not suffered a broken collarbone late in the season. He returned to play against Corona del Mar, but had to leave the game after going 15 of 16 for 154 yards.

This brings us to the lead up to the expected 2020 season. All of the state’s high school sports were shut down by March of 2020 due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The 2020 fall football season then got pushed back to December and then once December came there was another surge in the virus in terms of deaths and infections (the worst surge of them all). Not only was there another announced delay, but the real possibility that none of the Class of 2021 seniors would get to play any sports at all.

Current Serra of San Mateo head football coach Patrick Walsh is shown in the middle of this magazine cover photo not long after senior season of 1992 at De La Salle of Concord. At left is George Sagen of Los Alamitos. At right is Rodney Sermons from Bishop Amat of La Puente. Photo: Jay Stallman / Student Sports.

#LetThemPlay & the Golden State
Football Coaches Alliance

Sometimes when writing an article such as this one, with Patrick Walsh being named as the State Football Coach of the Year, the intended audience is in the thousands.

But sometimes the audience of an intended piece of writing is just one person.

One of the key moments during the movement that eventually pushed California health officials and leaders to allow for high school football to be played at all this spring was when Walsh was deciding how he wanted to end a letter he was writing to Governor Gavin Newsom. Walsh had become arguably the main leader among California football coaches in the #LetThemPlay movement and knew that a letter he was writing would be personally delivered to the governor through Mark Arax, the brother of Bullard High of Fresno head coach Donnie Arax and who is currently writing an autobiography of Newsom.

“I thought of myself as a 17-year-old boy and what if I didn’t have sports,” Walsh said. “It was a massive motivation for me. If there had been no senior year for me, I wouldn’t have anything like the life that I have now. I knew that Governor Newsom played sports (at Redwood High in Larkspur) and he had said that sports had made him where he stands today. I just wanted him to know that our coaches are just trying to do everything they can so that current 17-year-olds can play.”

Serra head coach Patrick Walsh had his son, Charlie (now 13), with him in final moments of 2017 CIF D2-AA state final that his team won. His other son, William, 15, is a Serra student who is a junior golf standout. He is married to Lindsay. Photo: Mark Tennis.

Walsh will say there were several turning points in his eventual decision to jump into the fray about school re-openings and getting kids back onto the field. One was coming through a bout with tinnitus in July of 2020. That’s when people hear ringing in their ears, which led to as much anxiety Walsh has ever had in his life. Another was in the middle of the fall when the Colorado state association reversed course on a decision not to play with a decision to go ahead and have games. The CIF decision to push back from a December start to the season was just the final straw.

At this point in San Diego County, a group of parents led by Brad Hensley began to get traction locally and outside of San Diego in petitioning state leaders for a return to play. Torrey Pines of San Diego football coach Ron Gladnick also was very active on social media.

Walsh called his great friend Alumbaugh. The current DLS coach graduated as a player for the Spartans one year before Walsh was an assistant coach there, but Alumbaugh returned to help coach as a college student so in a sense for a couple of seasons they coached together.

“We decided to start our own football coaches community,” Walsh said. “In mid-December, we met with the Texas coaches’ association (which has 700,000 members) and asked ‘How did you guys get it done?’”

Texas is not California, however, with much different political realities. The trick was going to present all the data that coaches from all over the country had gathered into a movement that could generate bi-partisan support. Walsh and Alumbaugh soon met with Hensley and Gladnick and the partnership took off. By early February, #LetThemPlay had hundreds of thousands of members on its Facebook page. Everyone wore masks at rallies (no red hats), there was little mention of anything beyond the issue of getting kids back to sports and soon there were some Democratic members of the state assembly and state senate that were signing on to petitions with the Golden State Football Coaches Alliance and #LetThemPlay.

“Our goal from the start was to get an audience with Governor Newsom,” Walsh said. “We were only going to present real data to show him that youth sports is safe and that not having youth sports is unsafe.”

After that letter got delivered, it must have worked. Walsh, Alumbaugh, Hensley and Gladnick met for an hour with Newsom, California Department of Public Health Director Dr. Mark Ghaly and Jim DeBoo, Newsom’s executive secretary.

“That was during the AFC championship game and we all left feeling that it was a very positive meeting,” Walsh said. “Jim was tasked with the job of finding the way to get it from NO to YES.”

Once the state (and then the CIF) found a way through the colored-tier system so that a spring high school football season could be played, coaches like Walsh, Alumbaugh and Gladnick had to quickly adjust back to their own players and teams to get them ready for actual competition.

Serra actually had testing issues prior to its first game against Valley Christian. All of the players involved eventually played but had only been practicing for two days. Sill, the Padres held on for a 33-26 win on the road.

That first game wound up being Serra’s only close game. Two weeks later, after a 49-10 romp past Sacred Heart Cathedral of San Francisco, the Padres put it all together and beat St. Francis like they never have before. They were leading 42-7 at halftime and won 49-7. Their other statement win came against a St. Ignatius of San Francisco squad that had upset them, 14-13, in 2019 (also in the game when McLemore got injured). Serra won that game, 34-3.

“Our 2020 team won’t hang a banner, but their gift to the program was that St. Francis game,” Walsh said. “That was their testament to how they handled everything. They never, ever complained about anything.”

Two of the team’s leading offensive players — junior running back Hassan “The Missile” Mahasin and junior quarterback Dominique Lampkin — will be among the top returning players next fall in Northern California. Fynn Williams (LB/RB) and Louisville-bound Christian Pedersen (TE) were two of the team’s top seniors.

“Before our last game, Christian got up during the team dinner and said he was dedicating the season to Coach Walsh,” Patrick recalled. “That whole dinner was just so overwhelming. I couldn’t stop crying for two hours.”

We’re pretty sure that there are many, many other seniors at many, many other schools all throughout California that feel the same way about the seasons they just had. And the 2020-21 State Coach of the Year is one person primarily responsible for it.

Cal-Hi Sports State Coach of the Year
All-Time Honor Roll
(All selections by
(2020 season delayed until spring 2021 due to worldwide pandemic)

(Based on research by the late Nelson Tennis, our founder, prior to 1979)

Head coach Jason Negro is the one who took St. John Bosco to astronomical heights during 2010s. Photo: Mark Tennis.

2020 — Patrick Walsh (San Mateo Serra) 5-0
2019 — Jason Negro (Bellflower St. John Bosco)
2018 — Michael Peters (Oakland McClymonds)
2017 — Kris Richardson (Folsom) 16-0
2016 — Dave White (Edison, Huntington Beach)
2015 — Mike Janda (Bellarmine, San Jose) 13-2
2014 — Kurt Bruich (Redlands East Valley) 15-1
2013 — Ed Croson (Chaminade, West Hills) 14-2
2012 — Ernie Cooper (Granite Bay) 13-3
2011 — Mike Papadopoulos (Vacaville) 13-1
2010 — Earl Hansen (Palo Alto) 14-0
2009 — Jim Benkert (Westlake, Westl. Vill.) 14-0
2008 — Mike Alberghini (Grant, Sacramento) 14-0
2007 — Ed Buller (Oak Grove, San Jose) 12-1
2006 — Bob McAllister (Carlsbad) 10-0-2
2005 — Harry Welch (Canyon, Canyon Country)
2004 — Matt Logan (Centennial, Corona) 13-1
2003 — Steve Grady (Loyola, Los Angeles) 11-3
2002 — Kevin Rooney (Notre Dame, Sherman Oaks) 14-0
2001 — Bob Johnson (Mission Viejo) 14-0
2000 — Jerry Jaso (Poly, Long Beach) 14-0
1999 — Mike Herrington (Hart, Newhall) 14-0
1998 — Randy Blankenship (Clovis West, Fresno) 12-1
1997 — John Beam (Skyline, Oakland) 12-0
1996 — Dave Silveira (Alhambra, Martinez) 13-0
1995 — Larry Welsh (Atascadero) 14-0
1994 — Bruce Rollinson (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) 14-0
1993 — John Barnes (Los Alamitos) 14-0
1992 — Mark Paredes (Bishop Amat, La Puente) 15-0
1991 — Herb Meyer (El Camino, Oceanside) 13-1
1990 — Pat Preston (Bakersfield) 13-0
1989 — Dick Bruich (Fontana) 14-0
1988 — Norm Dow (Live Oak, Morgan Hill) 11-0-1
1987 — Bennie Edens (Point Loma, San Diego) 13-0
1986 — Bob Ladouceur (De La Salle, Concord) 12-0
1985 — Charlie Wedemeyer (Los Gatos) 13-1
1984 — Tim Simons (Clovis) 12-0-1
1983 — Ron Calcagno (St. Francis, Mountain View) 13-0
1982 — Wayne Schneider (Tracy) 12-1
1981 — Marijon Ancich (St. Paul, Santa Fe Springs) 14-0
1980 — Bill Workman (Edison, Huntington Beach) 14-0
1979 — Ron Lancaster (Cordova, Rancho Cordova) 13-0
1978 — Jerry Deuker (Pinole Valley, Pinole) 11-1
1977 — Chris Ferragamo (Banning, Wilmington) 11-1-1
1976 — Benny Pierce (Saratoga) 13-0
1975 — Ed Lloyd (Cardinal Newman, Santa Rosa) 12-0
1974 — Dick Haines (Vista) 13-0
1973 — Dwayne DeSpain (Los Altos, Hacienda Heights) 12-0-1
1972 — Bob Hitchcock (Temple City) 13-0
1971 — Gene Vollnogle (Carson) 12-0
1970 — Jack Neumeier (Granada Hills) 11-1
1969 — Forrest Klein (Alameda) 9-0
1968 — Tom Burt (Los Altos) 9-0
1967 — Clare Van Hoorebeke (Anaheim) 12-1
1966 — Ernie Johnson (El Rancho, Pico Rivera) 13-0
1965 — Dick Coury (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) 12-0-1
1964 — John Hanna (Bellarmine, San Jose) 10-0
1963 — Paul Briggs (Bakersfield) 9-0
1962 — Bob Berry (Willow Glen, San Jose) 9-0
1961 — Joe Marvin (Sequoia, Redwood City) 9-0
1960 — Sam Cathcart (Santa Barbara) 11-1
1959 — Dave Levy (Long Beach Poly) 11-0
1958 — Paul Huebner (Banning, Wilmington) 11-0
1957 — Johnny Johnson (Oroville) 9-0
1956 — Dick Hill (Downey) 12-0-1
1955 — Duane Maley (San Diego) 11-0-1
1954 — Aaron Wade (Centennial, Compton) 10-1-1
1953 — Milt Axt (Poly, San Francisco) 10-0
1952 — Fred Moffett (Berkeley) 9-0
1951 — Hod Ray (Palo Alto) 8-0
1950 — Ernie Busch (Merced) 11-0
1949 — Bob Patterson (Vallejo) 10-0
1948 — Harry Edelson (Fremont, Los Angeles) 9-0-1
1947 — Jim Sutherland (Santa Monica) 12-0
1946 — George Hobbs (Alhambra) 12-0
1945 — Colon Kilby (Vallejo) 10-0
1944 — Bert LaBrucherie (Los Angeles) 7-0
1943 — Larry Siemering (Stockton) 10-0
1942 — Brick Johnson (Piedmont) 7-0
1941 — Roy Richert (Castlemont, Oakland) 5-0-1
1940 — Clarence Schutte (Santa Barbara) 9-1
1939 — Palmer Muhl (Woodland) 8-0
1938 — Ras Johnson (Galileo, San Francisco) 8-0-1
1937 — Jim Blewett (Manual Arts, Los Angeles) 8-0
1936 — Harlan Lee (Red Bluff) 7-0-1
1935 — Paul Hungerford (Poly, San Francisco) 9-0
1934 — Orian Landreth (Long Beach Poly, Long Beach) 12-1
1933 — Dick Arnett (Inglewood) 8-2-1
1932 — Harry Shipkey (Salinas) 11-0
1931 — Tex Oliver (Santa Ana) 13-0
1930 — John Price (Bonita, La Verne) 10-0

List continues back to 1896 in State Record Book & Almanac.

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

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