These days, Patrick Walsh is known as a successful football coach at Junipero Serra High School. Over the past decade he has collected several league and CCS championships. But it wasn’t always this way. His path to success was difficult in an extremely competitive league. Over the years, he has waged many battles with some of the Bay Area’s best programs. He has not always won but along the way he earned the respect of his peers. This is his story.
Growing up a Spartan
Patrick Walsh has always had a fiery personality and high school was an excellent place to hone his craft. While attending De La Salle High School in Concord, California, he was the starting running back on the last Spartan team to lose to a Northern California opponent. After that heartbreaking loss in the 1991 NCS Championship Game, Walsh vowed to avenge that loss in his senior year.
He worked tirelessly in the summer and built a culture that is still felt to this day at De La Salle. Empowered with the slogan “Leave No Doubt”, the Spartans set out to avenge their painful loss from the year before. In their first meeting with Pittsburg, Patrick Walsh ran for touchdowns of 77, 35 and 20 yards, caught a 51 yard touchdown pass and threw a 62-yard bomb to extend their lead even further. He finished with 224 rushing yards on just 14 carries and 360 yards of total offense. De La Salle destroyed the Pirates 44-7 in that regular season game but they knew that vengeance would not truly be served until they defeated Pittsburg in the 1992 NCS Championship Game.
Before their rematch with Pittsburg, Patrick Walsh told his teammates how much the previous year’s loss hurt him. He had taped the news clippings of that game right beside his bed so that it was the first and the last thing he saw each day. When it blew in the breeze, it became difficult to sleep, but he persisted. When the meeting concluded, there was not one dry eye in the room and the game was essentially over at that point avenged their loss in the previous year’s NCS Championship Game by again demolishing the Pirates in the 1992 NCS Championship Game 41-6. The next time that De La Salle lost was 2004, 151 straight wins. Walsh finished his senior year with 2,032 rushing yards and 38 touchdowns, both school records at the time. He was named the California High School Player of the Year after his senior season and was his class valedictorian.
After graduating from De La Salle, Patrick Walsh accepted a scholarship to San Jose State. He compiled 1,394 rushing yards, 11 rushing touchdowns, 566 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns as a Spartan. After his playing career, he spent a year as a graduate assistant at the University of Texas but his heart called for home. He began his high school coaching career at De La Salle in 1998, learning from his coach how best to run a program. Following the 2000 season, Walsh was hired to be Serra High School’s new head coach.
Patrick Walsh’s first year as the head coach of the Junipero Serra High School Padres was a wild one. After beginning the year winning their first six games, they floundered at the end of the year, losing their final four contests and missing the playoffs. They were better prepared the following year and even defeated new league nemesis Valley Christian, who was undefeated going into that final week. Playing on a hill overlooking Silicon Valley, the Padres battled the Warriors until the very end. Quarterback Tyler Mariucci, the son of 49ers coach Steve Mariucci, led the Warriors to the red zone where he threw one last pass. Angelo Fobbs-Valentino intercepted Mariucci’s pass in the end zone, ending the Warrior’s hopes for an undefeated season and tying the programs for the WCAL title. Though Serra would lose to Milpitas in the first round of the playoffs the next week, Patrick Walsh had won over his program.
The West Catholic Athletic League is one of the most competitive leagues in Northern California and in Walsh’s first decade at the helm, Serra struggled to compete with the traditional WCAL powers for league and section titles. In 2004, they again battled an undefeated Valley Christian on the hill and had a 32-28 lead with seconds left in the game. Dante Perez threw up a Hail Mary to Colin Maher who miraculously caught in the midst of triple coverage and took it to the end zone, giving the Warriors an incredible 34-32 victory. It was pure madness on the hill that afternoon and the students immediately stormed the field.
Three years later, league rival Bellarmine built a fantastic program which was loaded with great running backs such as Usua Amanam, Michael Clay, and the Olugbode brothers. Going into the final regular season of the 2007 season, Bellarmine was undefeated and scheduled to play at Serra on Senior Day. It was a special day for Serra’s seniors who refused to be denied one final victory on their soil. They won that game and were scheduled to play the Bells the next week in the first round of the playoffs. Patrick Walsh was not happy and pleaded in desperation to the CCS selection committee to have them play a non-league opponent in the first round. The committee wouldn’t budge but they did make a rule for future years that league opponents would not face each other in the first round. Ironically, a couple of years later there were so many schools from the WCAL which made the same division in the CCS playoffs that the committee had no choice but to pit two league rivals against each other in the opening round, even Serra in 2010.
Serra lost to Bellarmine by a single point in their 2007 playoff matchup. The following year’s schedule was brutal for the Padres, who had to face De La Salle, Bellarmine and Valley Christian. Each of those schools were ranked high in state rankings and each expected to reach the state championship. Serra put up an incredible fight with Walsh’s alma mater and lost in a 29-28 heartbreaker. After losing to McQueen (Nevada), the Padre’s headed to Valley Christian which was led by running back Cameron Marshall and had just added his younger brother Byron, a freshman, to the roster.
The Warriors fought hard and defended their turf on Homecoming Night and won 23-21. A few weeks later, the Padres traveled to San Jose City College to play against undefeated Bellarmine. Serra’s kicker was the hero of the game as he kept on kicking kickoffs into the end zone where high school players were forbidden from returning the ball. Partly due to the performance of their kicker and led by quarterback Cody Jackson, left tackle David Bakhtiari and running backs Donandre Clark and Adonis Smith, Serra defeated the Bells 31-23. Serra won the rest of their games and ended up in a tie with the Bells for the WCAL crown. After defeating Gilroy, Serra lost to Bellarmine in the semi-final 35-7. The Bells would end the season as CCS champions for the first time since 1990 and ranked 20th in the nation.
The following year was frustrating for Serra who was trying to find itself after Cody Jackson’s graduation. They went 6-4 and lost again to Bellarmine in the semi-final. 2010 was much the same for the Padre’s who couldn’t get past Valley Christian and their powerful offense, losing to them in the first round.
A Decade of Dominance
Ever since he was hired as the Padre’s coach a decade earlier, Patrick Walsh had been working hard at getting his first CCS championship. Each year, his plans had been squelched by one great team or another. The 2011 season felt different. While Bellarmine fielded one of its greatest teams with Tim Crawley and Travis McHugh, Serra fielded a ground control team which almost never threw the football. There were several games where the Padres didn’t throw the ball until the fourth quarter. Led by a ground attack featuring Erich Wilson (2,106 yards, 33 touchdowns) and Eric Redwood (1,344 yards, 12 touchdowns), the Padres tore through their schedule, losing to Mitty (35-28) and Bellarmine (21-14). Appearing in a smaller division in the playoffs, the Padres ran over Wilcox (38-6), Milpitas (49-28) and Menlo-Atherton (42-21). At last, Patrick Walsh and the Serra Padres had earned a CCS championship.
The following year, Serra again lost just two games to Saint Francis (24-0) and Bellarmine (35-34 OT). Appearing in the Open Division, Serra beat Palo Alto in the first round but lost to Bellarmine 17-12 in the semifinal.
Serra was on a mission in 2013 to win the Open Division in the CCS. After losing to De La Salle (21-14) to start the year, the Padres lost just once more before going on to win the CCS championship over Mitty (21-7). They lost to Del Oro in the Northern California Championship the next week.
The Padres made the playoffs again in 2014 but lost to Los Gatos (28-0). To prepare for potential changes in the state championship, the CCS decided to add consolation games to the playoffs. After losing to Los Gatos, Serra was scheduled to play Milpitas but decided to not show up, forfeiting the game. As a result, the CCS suspended Serra from the playoffs for the next two years. The punishment was eventually lightened to one year. Despite the suspension, Patrick Walsh later called it one of his best coaching decisions.
Two years later, Serra began the season 0-4 but won the next ten games, including the CCS championship and the Northern California championship. Though they lost to Sierra Canyon (42-40) in the state championship game, Serra knew that 2017 was going to be special.
Led by quarterback Luke Bottari, Serra tore through their competition in 2017, winning their league with ease. Saint Francis put up a fight but Serra prevailed and defeated the Lancers 31-30 in the CCS championship. Tulare Union’s Kazmeir Allen ran for 347 yards and two touchdowns but Serra prevailed in the Northern California championship game 76-43. Serra would not be denied in the state championship against Cajon. Led by running backs Isiah Kendrick (100 yards and three touchdowns) and David Coker (122 yards, 1 touchdown) the Padres were never in danger, winning the state championship 38-14.
The Padres had much trouble with Valley Christian and Saint Francis in 2018, with both teams featuring incredible defenses. The Padres featured two excellent quarterbacks in 2019, senior Daylin Mclemore and sophomore Dominique Lampkin. Along with a powerful running game and stifling defense, the Padres were undefeated going into the second to last game of the season. Facing off against unbeaten Valley Christian, Serra beat them 10-0 and gained the upper hand in the race for the league title. Saint Ignatius stunned the Padres who were without an injured Mclemore and Serra lost 14-13, giving them a three-way tie for the league championship with the Wildcats and Valley Christian. Angered by their upset loss, the Padres ran over their competition to the CCS championship. Facing Valley Christian for the second time in the CCS championship, Serra defeated their nemesis 17-0. After defeating San Joaquin Memorial in the Northern California championship, the Padres lost the state championship game to Corona del Mar 35-27.
The 2020 season was supposed to be another excellent one for the Padres but due to the pandemic they have yet to play. Patrick Walsh has used his well earned influence to form the Golden State High School Football Coaches Community. This organization was formed to speak with Governor Newsome and other state officials about possibly playing high school football games before the school year ends. The talks are ongoing and no one knows for certain what will happen, but the high school football coaches are united in preserving the beauty of the game during these troubling times. With all that he’s done for the sport, Patrick Walsh has the attitude and the desire to find a solution with the rest of the state of California.