Patrick Walsh had no way of
knowing it, but when he agreed to become the keynote speaker at an awards night
Walsh had completed his second
season as coach at the all-boys Catholic high school in
The Peninsula Pop Warner Association was having its academic awards night. One of the honorees was a grade-schooler named Cody Jackson, now the Serra quarterback.
"I guess that night Cody determined he wanted to be a (Serra) Padre," Walsh said. "Sometimes
I think about what would have happened if I didn't speak at that banquet."
To begin with, Serra wouldn't be 5-1 right now, nor 2-0 in the rugged West Catholic Athletic League. It almost certainly would not have defeated Mountain View St. Francis last Friday night, ending a 34-year winless drought against the Lancers.
Serra's pulse-pounding 21-17 victory, achieved on a fourth-and-inches plunge by Deleon Eskridge with three seconds left, gave the Padres the win.
Jackson, a sophomore, engineered
two-minute drills at the end of each half that resulted in 1-yard Eskridge
scores. The second drive, begun on the Padre 37 yard line with left, was aided by four
consecutive completions by
"I wasn't that nervous,"
The drive was capped by a pitch
"It was an emotional win,"
Serra's alumni list reads like a who's-who list of tremendous pro athletes. It includes Barry Bonds, Jim Fregosi, Gregg Jefferies, Lynn Swann, Tom Brady and others.
But it wasn't its star-studded
list of ex-players that swayed Jackson and Eskridge to enroll at Serra. In
"He was just so enthusiastic when
he spoke about competing and wanting to play to your fullest ability that I
decided (to attend Serra) based on that,"
So every school day
"It's not that bad,"
Eskridge, a 5-foot-11, 175-pound junior, took a circuitous path to Serra.
The budding star tried to enroll
at Serra out of eighth grade, but was turned down for academic reasons. He went
on to live with his father in
But Eskridge also had problems at
"We weren't focused," Eskridge said of his former team. "We goofed around a lot. We didn't have too good of a season."
Added Walsh: "Deleon had some
issues over there. Sometimes some places are better for kids than other places.
This was the best thing for both programs. It's better for Deleon to be at Serra
"We haven't had one issue with his attitude. He's been like a breath of fresh air - always ready to work. He loves football and runs out every carry in practice. He's been a model cititzen."
Serra accepted Eskridge after he
raised his grades at
Now living with his mother Shelley
in the Bayview-Hunter's Point section of
Asked what Serra's young guns, Jackson and Eskridge, have meant to the program, Walsh said: "They bring an element of confidence and belief in themselves and the program. They also bring their playmaking ability, because of that confidence and belief."
"It was exciting," Eskridge said. "I'd seen that kind of thing on TV, but I'd never experienced it myself. It was pretty cool."
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Athletic directors or coaches who would like to suggest a player, coach or game to be featured may contact PrepCA.com football editor John Faulkner at firstname.lastname@example.org or publisher Gary Trousdale at email@example.com