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Monday Morning Lights: Serra beat De La Salle last season. Will Padres do it again?

Monday Morning Lights: Serra beat De La Salle last season. Will Padres do it again?

Welcome back to Monday Morning Lights, our weekly feature that sheds more light on the high school football weekend and peeks ahead to the new week. If you haven’t already, please subscribe. Your contributions keep us going.

HEAVYWEIGHT MATCHUP: DLS VISITS NO. 1 SERRA

Serra cleared one hurdle in its season opener, winning at home over Folsom. Now the San Mateo school has another on Saturday when De La Salle travels from Concord to play the top-ranked Padres.

De La Salle lost its opener at home on Friday to Orange Lutheran, giving up 21 unanswered second-half points in a 35-14 loss to the Southern California heavyweight.

Serra coach Patrick Walsh made it clear what he thinks about DLS — “they’re big and physical” — while once again noting the differences between elite teams in Southern California and Northern California.

“They played like what seemed like a college team down there,” said Walsh, who spoke candidly last season about St. John Bosco and Mater Dei after his undefeated team lost to Bosco 45-0 in the Open Division state championship game. “The NFL teams are like Bosco and Mater Dei. So they played like a high-level college team it seemed like.”

Walsh added about DLS, his alma mater, “It’s a fantastic team. We’re not going to be scoreboard-watching, saying, ‘Oh, De La Salle is down.’”

Last season, Serra rallied on the road from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter to beat DLS for the first time, 24-21.

DLS coach Justin Alumbaugh said there is a purpose to scheduling teams such as Orange Lutheran.

“That’s a learning opportunity,” he said. “Obviously as a competitor, we want to win every game. It’s De La Salle. You want to win every game. There is no doubt about it. That’s a really good team. To beat them, you’ve got to play well, and we didn’t.

“It’s not back to the drawing board or anything. I’m confident we’re going to be a good team. We have to learn from this and be better about it. Eliminate the mental mistakes. Protect the quarterback better. Open up some more running lanes for our runners. Eliminate mental mistakes defensively. You can’t do that with a talented team.”

— Darren Sabedra

MEMORY LANE: ORANGE LUTHERAN COACH ON DLS

De La Salle High’s Drew Cunningham (18) shares a moment with Nemyah Telona (59) after their game against Orange Lutheran on Friday in Concord. (Brandon Vallance/Bay Area News Group) 

After his team’s victory over DLS, Orange Lutheran coach Rod Sherman remembered the first time he made the trip to Concord to see the Spartans.

“I visited here probably 20 years ago,” Sherman said, noting that he was a coordinator at Orange Lutheran at the time. “We watched how they operated. Watched the discipline level that they had. We were a younger program at Orange Lutheran at that point.

“So, for me, driving up yesterday on the bus, thinking, ‘Man, I’m in over my head as a head coach, bringing a team up to play De La Salle.’ I hoped and prayed that I wouldn’t be caught up in the lights with what that was. It’s really cool. We know they do such an amazing job with their young men.”

— Darren Sabedra

PITTSBURG WINS ON ‘HOLY GROUND’

Pittsburg’s Marley Alcantara drops back to pass as the Pirates and Sacred Heart Cathedral at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco on Saturday. (Joseph Dycus/Bay Area News Group) 

Before his team’s 49-13 victory over Sacred Heart Cathedral on Saturday at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco, Pittsburg coach Charlie Ramirez showed his players an educational video about the stadium.

But his quarterback, Marley Alcantara, needed no introduction to the venue — long since downsized for high school games — that the 49ers called home from 1946 to 1970.

“I’m a 49ers fan, so it’s amazing to play on this holy ground where great football was played and great players played,” Alcantara said.

Ramirez later lightheartedly compared Alcantara to another No. 12 who starred on professional fields when Kezar was a pro stadium, Joe Namath.

However, Alcantara has actually now played more games at Kezar than the legendary QB. Both of Broadway Joe’s games in San Francisco occurred at Candlestick Park.

— Joseph Dycus

HOT START: LOS GATOS QB LEADS THE WAY

Los Gatos’ Boxer Kopcsak-Yeung (22) celebrates by jumping on the back of quarterback AJ Minyard (16) after defeating Soquel on Thursday in Los Gatos. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group) 

Per stats reported to MaxPreps, nobody had more touchdown passes in the Bay Area News Group’s coverage area in Week 1 than Los Gatos’ AJ Minyard.

The senior threw five in a 45-14 victory over Soquel.

Familiarity helped, as Minyard noted he has been playing with playmakers Jaylen Thomas and Scott Garwood since his freshman year.

“We’ve really got that connection,” he said. “Los Gatos has such a good tradition of kids starting out as freshmen and working their way up all the way to varsity. I’ve been playing with those guys for the last four years.”

— Darren Sabedra

MITTY: COACH SULLIVAN IS A NEW DAD

It’s been a whirlwind year for Mitty coach Danny Sullivan.

After leading his team to the Central Coast Section Division I final last season — a stunning development given the San Jose school won just once the previous season — Sullivan and his wife welcomed their first child on Valentine’s Day.

As a coach, Sullivan is used to sleepless nights.

But he noted that trying to be a coach and a father was new territory. He relied on his players to take responsibility for preparing and working out during the summer, and his trust was rewarded with a 20-12 victory at James Logan on Friday night.  

“There was a time when I was asking them to do stuff when I wasn’t there, and I had full faith in what they were going to do,” Sullivan said. “These kids are asked to do time management and schedule building themselves, so it just fits with what we do.”

— Joseph Dycus

PIEDMONT: EAST BAY TEAM CAN’T GO HOME YET

Piedmont lost at Pierce-Arbuckle 33-21 on Friday night. But it was, in a way, a victory for the East Bay program that had to end its 2022 season after playing four games and forfeiting two others because of a small roster.

The numbers are still miniscule — fewer than 20 players — but the Highlanders were competitive in their opener.

“We’ve been preparing for this since our season shut down,” senior Brayden Hong told Bay Area News Group before the game. “This is all we wanted. We wanted to get this back.”

As if a small roster aren’t enough of an obstacle, the Highlanders are also on the road for every game this season while their home field is renovated.

The team has turned its situation into a rallying cry.

“It sucks, and there’s no other two ways about it,” Piedmont coach Jordan Seiden said. “But you know what, we’re road warriors, and we bond over that.”

— Joseph Dycus

PEEK AHEAD TO WEEK 2

Thursday

Wilcox (0-1) at Hollister (1-0), 7:30 p.m.: Another challenging road game for Wilcox after the Chargers lost at Valley Christian 16-15 on Friday.

Friday

Aptos (0-1) vs. Mitty (1-0) at Foothill College, 7 p.m.: Never easy for anyone to prepare for Aptos and its old-school Wing-T offense.

Live Oak (1-0) at Mountain View (1-0), 7 p.m.: Live Oak scored 53 points last week. Mountain View scored 48.

Los Gatos (1-0) at Liberty (1-0), 7 p.m.: Both teams rolled in Week 1 as Los Gatos toppled Soquel and Liberty breezed past Enochs-Modesto.

McClymonds (0-0) vs. Bellarmine (1-0) at San Jose City College, 7 p.m.: Rematch of last season’s thriller, which Mack won 24-21 in OT.

Palo Alto (1-0) at Leland (1-0), 7 p.m.: Leland goes for two in a row after a stunning 40-7 win at Half Moon Bay on Friday.

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San Jose (0-1) at Lincoln-San Jose (0-1), 7 p.m.: Both teams enter the Big Bone Game looking for their first points of the season.

Pioneer (1-0) at Leigh (1-0), 7:15 p.m.: Both teams got big wins over “A” league teams in Week 1.

San Leandro (0-1) at Monte Vista (1-0), 7 p.m.: Monte Vista coming off a rout of Granada. SL lost by two on the road Friday against Redwood.

San Ramon Valley (1-0) at Acalanes (0-1), 7 p.m.: Acalanes lost to San Marin, a defending state champion, last week. SRV was a state runner-up in 2022.

Saturday

De La Salle (0-1) at Serra (1-0), 1:30 p.m.: DLS hasn’t started a season 0-2 since 2004, the year its national-record 151-game win streak ended.

— Darren Sabedra