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Look: Serra football coach Patrick Walsh sums up senior class, Mater Dei's 'monster defense' after 35-0 CIF Open Division defeat

Three-time Northern California Open Division championship coach calls Monarchs best defense the best he's seen on tape - or person — takes big picture-look at superlative season following humbling loss

MISSION VIEJO, CALIF. — His players were hopping on a bus from Saddleback College. Players, parents, coaches were smiling. Music playing. Some even laughing. 

It was the end of the line for these Padres. For close to 30 seniors this was their last memory of dressing in the blue and and white. 

A 35-0 loss in the CIF State Open Division game wasn't going to ruin the big picture; The 41-4 record over the last four seasons, the three West Catholic Athletic League and Central Coast Section championships and or three Northern California Open Divisions berths for being selected the region's top team. 

Thirty minutes after a third-straight season-ending loss at Saddleback against either SoCal juggernaut St. Iohn Bosco or Mater Dei, Serra coach Patrick Walsh noted the only thing sad about the experience is "that the clock is wiped out, the dash is over" and that a "magical season hasn't ended on some magic carpet ride." 

He noted the senior class of 2024, one with at least nine players moving on to the Division I level, has rewritten the bar "how to be a Serra Padre, which has meaning now.... loving one another, playing as hard as you can for your brothers and pushing each other to be the best they can be." 

He paid tribute to Mater Dei, calling them first the best defensive team he's ever seen on tape or in person, then double downing with "an assemblage of talent for the entire team," that he's never seen. 

"Obviously (Elijah Brown) had a spectacular night (17 of 22, 298 yards, four touchdowns) and was just dropping dimes all night long to to crisp route runners," he said. "We couldn't get home because of their great pass protection. 

"That said, I think (Mater Dei) made their name on the defensive side. We dug into the pre-1900s bag of tricks to do anything to soften them up. ... We had some success but at the end of the day, that's just an absolute monster of a defense." 

Mostly, Walsh said his number one goal from losing the last game so decisively was "to not let the experience tear us apart. If we preach 'Ohana and family and love and brotherhood than any outcome of any game should always be independent from the scoreboard."

And nothing appeared fractured jumping on the bus that would arrive in San Mateo before daylight. "I'm very proud of this group," Walsh said. "I wishe I could have done better to get them in a position they needed to be in to actually score and win, but I have no regrets, I love this group."