Tom Brady is widely regarded as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. The longtime quarterback of the New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers has been to ten Super Bowls and won six while still searching for more. But his journey has been anything but easy. He was overlooked in college and in the draft, but overcame the doubts to win six Super Bowls. His journey began in San Mateo, California at Serra High School. Under the tutelage of coach Tom Mackenzie, Brady began his rise in the sport and along the way learned some invaluable lessons on leadership. This is the story of Tom Brady’s high school experience.
Tom Brady’s life in football began inconspicuously. He was a backup quarterback on a freshman squad which did not win a game, nor did it score a single offensive touchdown. Brady had much more promise in baseball in those days and nearly quit life on the gridiron. The only thing that kept him on the team was that the starter ahead of him, Kevin Krystofiak, quit.
Brady led the Padres to a few victories as a sophomore and almost led them to a league championship. Unfortunately, on the last drive of the game that could have decided the champion, the team’s sprinklers went on in the middle of the drive and the Padres never recovered.
When he first became the varsity starter as a junior, Tom Brady had yet to embrace the maturity he needed to be successful. Weekends filled with parties, mischief and hangovers didn’t help his athletic aspirations. But eventually, he realized that he needed to grow up and take control of his opportunity.
Tom Brady began his varsity career beating Mission (21-7) and Alhambra (23-20) but lost to Cardinal Newman (28-20). After rebounding against Sacred Heart Cathedral, Serra was blown out to undefeated Saint Francis 63-6. The loss to Saint Francis was highlighted by junior defensive back Matt Scharenberg’s 80-yard interception, getting tackled just before reaching the end zone. After getting blown out by Mitty 44-0, the Padres rebounded against Saint Mary’s (36-26). Tom Brady seemed to have the Padres on the brink of the playoffs with wins over Saint Ignatius (34-21) and traditional league power Bellarmine (12-10). However, Riordan spoiled their postseason hopes, defeating Serra 27-0. Serra finished the season 6-4 and out of the playoffs.
In a run centric league, Tom Brady was an outlier. As a senior he threw 122 passes while no one else in the WCAL threw for more than 53. He began his senior year beating Mission (28-6) and American (35-20) but lost the next two games to Cardinal Newman (27-13) and Sacred Heart Cathedral (20-13). Against Cardinal Newman, Brady set a school record of 41 pass attempts which still stands. While he didn’t beat the Irish, Brady still managed to throw for 331 yards while completing 17 of 35 passes against Sacred Heart Cathedral, placing second behind Jesse Freitas for the most yards passing in a single game.
Mitty beat the Padres 35-14 the next week but Brady helped his team break their three game skid the following week against Clayton Valley (42-3). Emboldened by their latest victory, Serra defeated Saint Ignatius (28-7) and Bellarmine (27-22) to stay in the playoff race. Unfortunately, Brady could not lead his team to a win over Riordan (12-0) or Saint Francis (27-6), closing his high school career on a two game losing streak and out of the playoffs.
Tom Brady finished his senior year with 2,174 yards passing, at the time placing second behind Jim Freitas for the most in a single season in school history, and placed fourth in school history behind a trio of Freitas men with 20 touchdown his senior year. His 274 attempts his senior year was the most in school history until it was broken by Luke Bottari in 2017. He threw 441 times for 3,514 yards in his varsity career, second behind Jesse Freitas in school history and was third in school history with 33 touchdown passes by the time he graduated. Serra was especially grateful for all that he had done and in 2012 renamed their football stadium the "Brady Family Stadium". Though Tom Brady’s high school career was less than stellar in the wins column, he showed enough athletic and leadership ability to get a scholarship offer from the University of Michigan. And the rest is legend.