DOWNEY, Calif. — Even before Friday night’s clash between Serra (1-3) and Warren (4-0), the Serra sideline looked like a hospital ward. Multiple Cavaliers wore casts or were in walking boots dressed in street clothes. Five Serra defensive starters missed the game with injuries.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, senior Cavalier quarterback Maalik Murphy, a Texas Longhorns commit, took a hit early in the second quarter and injured his chest and collarbone. He left the game and didn’t return.
“You can’t get more bad luck than we’ve gotten,” Serra head coach Scott Altenberg said after the game. “[On Maalik] it’s something collarbone [related] and we’re hoping it’s not broken.”
When Murphy exited the game early in the second quarter, Serra and Warren were tied 0-0. Warren went on to score two touchdowns in the quarter on throws from Nico Iamaleava and that was all the Bears needed to win 14-0.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
IAMALEAVA IMPRESSES, BUT WARREN RECEIVERS HAVE DROP ISSUES
At the end of the night, Iamaleava finished with 368 passing yards. He hit Joshua Johnson for a 65-yard touchdown and Jordan Anderson for an 11-yard TD, both in the second quarter. But from there, the Bears were shutout thanks to a combination of excellent defense from Serra, penalties and dropped passes.
“I hated that fact that we dropped 40 balls,” Warren head coach Kevin Pearson said. “You can’t run a spread offense and be effective and drop balls.”
‘UNBELIEVABLE’ DEFENSE A SILVER LINING FOR SERRA
Serra’s back up quarterback, sophomore Jason Mitchell, also plays corner for the Cavaliers and was one of the defensive starters who missed the game through injury, so when Murphy went down, third-stringer CJ Myles came in and finished out the second quarter. Myles suffered a concussion on Serra’s final drive of the second quarter though and the Cavaliers played with emergency QB Kai Honda under center for the rest of the game.
“We were down to the wildcat,” Altenberg said. “We were drawing up plays in the dirt.”
As one might expect, Serra had trouble moving the ball on offense in the second half leading to a lopsided time of possession in Warren’s favor. The Bears couldn’t capitalize on it though as Serra pitched a second half shutout.
“I’m really proud of our guys,” Altenberg said. “That was unbelievable. My defense competed and I’m so proud.”
The Cavaliers defense kept Serra in the game and even late in the fourth quarter when getting a win was out of the question, the Cavs still fought tooth and nail for the second half shutout. No play better epitomized the will of Serra’s defense than when late in the fourth, senior Lamont Shamburger knocked the ball out of a Warren receiver’s hand in the end zone at the last possible second. The Bears eventually turned the ball over on downs following Shamburger’s pass break up.
BOTH TEAMS A WORK IN PROGRESS
Pearson and Altenberg both have championship aspirations for their teams this season, but they each know their squads aren’t currently where they need to be to achieve their goals.
The dropped passes really frustrated Pearson.
“You can’t be a championship team if you’re going to drop balls, you just can’t,” he said.
Serra may have fallen to 1-3, but if they can get healthy, they will still have a shot to compete in the Mission League come October.
“We’re looking to win the freakin’ Mission League,” Altenberg said. “That’s our goal.”