SAN MATEO — On Saturday morning, hours before the most anticipated high school football game in the Bay Area this season, the home team took to Twitter to announce that all the tickets had been sold.
If you wanted to watch Serra, ranked No. 1 by the Bay Area News Group, play host to second-ranked St. Francis for the West Catholic Athletic League championship, cable TV and streaming were the only options.
Those fortunate to attend witnessed one heck of a performance.
St. Francis senior Viliami Teu set a school record while leading the Lancers to a 44-21 victory that put an exclamation point on an undefeated regular season that included a landmark victory over De La Salle in September.
“It’s kind of like a Cinderella story, if you ask me,” Teu said. “It’s a blessing to be a part of this team.”
The 5-foot-11, 195-pound Teu finished with a school-record 344 yards (the previous mark was 333) and two touchdowns in 45 carries, capping the day with a 6-yard run across the goal line in the final minute.
For good measure, Teu ran over a defender as he reached the end zone.
When the game ended and the star of the afternoon was surrounded by reporters on the field, he noted that breaking the school record was something he added to his notebook during the week.
Teu has been special all season.
Humble, too, always thanking his line, deflecting credit to others even as he piled up massive rushing numbers against everyone, including De La Salle.
Saturday, he was the best player on the field from the opening quarter to the final seconds, rumbling behind a powerful offensive line.
“He was pretty unbelievable, although we’ve watched him do amazing things,” said St. Francis coach Greg Calcagno, whose team finished the regular season 9-0 overall and 7-0 in the WCAL. “He got 280 against Bellarmine in three quarters. We know he’s a very good football player, and our O-line is very good. But this was extra special because it was for a league championship, big crowd.
“We’re excited about what he can do.”
In the first half, Teu set up an early field goal with a 64-yard run. Later, he scored on a 33-yard run to widen the advantage to 10-0.
His 52-yard run led to another touchdown. This time, Camilo Arquette’s somersault across the goal line from a yard out made it 17-7 with 8:53 left before halftime.
St. Francis scored again when Joshua Perry threw a 56-yard strike to Andrew Adkison to put the Lancers in front 24-14.
Perry also threw a 43-yard pass to Adkison for a touchdown after Serra (8-1, 6-1) opened the second half with a TD on a 1-yard run by Petelo Gi that pulled the Padres to within 27-21.
Afterward, Perry credited Teu, whose nickname is Juju, for creating passing opportunities.
“Juju opens up our entire offense for us,” Perry said. “When he’s averaging four to five yards a carry and 35 carries over a game, they’re going to try loading the box. We’ve got playmakers across the board and Andrew was our guy tonight. His speed is pretty unmatched on the field. It was great to see.”
St. Francis also got three field goals from senior Matthew Karic, including a 42-yarder early in the fourth quarter that stretched the lead to 37-21.
Serra, which beat St. Francis 49-7 in the spring, tried to keep pace. Dominique Lampkin’s 5-yard pass to tight end Seamus Gilmartin cut the lead to 10-7.
Lampkin and Gilmartin hooked up again later in the half from 31 yards to again shrink the deficit to three points, 17-14.
But this day — with more than 4,000 spectators on hand, including Serra students packed into temporary end zone bleachers — belonged to St. Francis.
“Definitely the better team won today,” Serra coach Patrick Walsh said. “I was proud we took it like men. We didn’t throw helmets and start fights and do stupid things. We got beat. Sometimes that happens in this league against great teams like St. Francis.
“This is, in my opinion, the best St. Francis team I’ve ever seen. I’ve been here for 21 years.”