SUPER BOWL FOCUS: California High Schools

California high school players proved to be the biggest movers and shakers in Super Bowl XLIX, led by MVP Tom Brady's record-breaking performance and the clutch play of Julian Edelman as the New England Patriots come away with their first Lombardi Trophy in 10 years.

What was the best Super Bowl commercial on Sunday? If you’re from the state of California, the entire game was an effective advertisement for prep football players from the Golden State. Take that, Chamber of Commerce.

San Mateo (Calif.) Serra grad Tom Brady threw four touchdown passes in his sixth Super Bowl appearance and fourth Super Bowl win, throwing two in the first half, including a clutch touch pass to Woodside (Calif.) High School and Kent State alum Julian Edelman. Brady’s missive to Edelman just before the two-minute whistle put the eventual champion Patriots up, 28-24, completing a comeback that saw New England make up a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit.

"It wasn't the way we drew it up, and a couple picks didn't help," Brady said.

Brady finished the game 37-for-50, with 328 passing yards and two interceptions, completing his last eight passes in a row for 65 yards, and broke Joe Montanas career record for Super Bowl passing touchdowns, earning him MVP honors for the third time.

Edelman hauled in eight catches for 106 yards. He also had two kickoff returns for 22 yards, added three punt returns for nine yards and one rush for seven yards.

"We're bringing this thing back to Foxboro. It feels unbelievable," Edelman said, cradling the Vince Lombardi Trophy. "They're a team that does what they do, they're confident in what they do, but we made more plays, we executed when we had to. This team is the epitome of what Boston's all about."

While he didn’t get into the end zone, Valencia (Calif.) and Cal product Shane Vereen was instrumental to New England’s win. The former Golden Bears running back had a game-high 11 receptions for 64 yards, and rushed four times for 13 yards.

Until a Malcolm Butler goal-line interception sealed the win, yet another California high school product looked like he may take home game MVP honors.

"For a rookie to make a play like that in the Super Bowl, it was unbelievable," Brady said.

Los Angeles (Calif.) Dorsey alum Chris Matthews hauled in a leaping touchdown in the front left corner of the end zone against Logan Ryan to make the score 14-14 in the second quarter, and also scoring in the first half was the Seattle SeahawksMarshawn Lynch of Oakland (Calif.) Oakland Tech, who rumbled in for a three-yard score to tie the game at 7-7 in the second quarter.

Matthews broke the seal for the Seahawks after Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson went nearly 25 minutes without a completion to start the game, hauling in a leaping sideline grab for 44 yards on second-and-five for Wilson’s second completion. Of the day. Two plays later, Lynch punched it in for a score.

Matthews turned in the second-most receiving yards in a Super Bowl by an undrafted player (four catches, 109 yards). His four grabs were his first four this season, after he spent the previous two seasons in the Canadian Football League.

The Kentucky alum went undrafted in the 2011 NFL Draft, and signed with the Cleveland Browns, but was released during the final cuts at the end of training camp.

In the CFL, Matthews earned the Most Outstanding Rookie of the Year Award, playing in 18 games and compiling 1,192 yards on 81 catches with seven touchdowns.

Turf toe caused Matthews to miss all but four games of the regular season in 2013, and he caught just 14 balls for 138 yards and one touchdown. After he was released by the Blue Bombers, he worked at a Foot Locker as a security guard, before getting a nighttime tryout with the Seahawks. On Feb. 18, 2014, he signed with the Seahawks on a future/reserve contract.

Matthews played in four preseason games, but was cut on Aug. 30, 2014. On the next day, he signed with the practice squad. On Dec. 6, 2014, he was added to the 53-man active game roster, and played in three regular season games without scoring a pass. Then, Matthews blew up. Against the Green Bay Packers in the 2015 NFC Championship game, Matthews recovered a late-game onside kick, which led to a score, and the eventual win, netting Seattle its third trip to the Super Bowl in the past 10 years.

Lynch netted his sixth playoff 100-yard rushing game in 10 tries on Sunday, joining a group of five players in the history of the NFL with at least six, 100-yard rushing playoff games in their career, including Thurman Thomas (6 of 21), John Riggins (6 of 9), Emmitt Smith (7 of 17) and Terrell Davis (7 of 8).

The biggest play of the night – the decision to go for a slant on second-and-goal at the one-yard line with two time outs left – also involved Lynch, as much of the outcry over the eventual interception was due to Lynch not being given the ball with the game on the line and five seconds left in the game.

Though Lynch didn’t add his second Super Bowl ring, he averaged over 95 yards over his past eight games of the season and postseason, combined, including three 100-yard games, capped by his 157-yard performance against fellow California alum and NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers.

A fellow Oakland, Calif., native -- Robert Turbin of Fremont (Caif.) Irvington – ran twice for 21 yards as the second back for Seattle, behind Lynch.

Seahawks defensive back Richard Sherman -- of Compton (Calif.) Dominguez and Stanford -- was thrown at just one time, and allowed one catch for six yards.

Patriots linebacker Brandon Browner of Oregon State and Sylmar (Calif.) High School recorded three tackles. Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner out of Ontario (Calif.) Colony was the game’s leading tackler, making 10 solo stops with two assists, as well as an interception.


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