There’s just no escaping the history of their football program when Serrano High School players walk into the Bennett Fieldhouse that serves as home away from home.
“I’m kind of a history buff,” said Diamondbacks head coach Ray Maholchic, who decorated the unique building with photos and clippings of past seasons. In fact, to enter his office, players must walk under a photo of the winning touchdown in the 2004 title game against Palm Springs.
Interestingly enough, Serrano will host Palm Springs Friday night at 7:30 for the Eastern Division title. It will mark the third time in 10 years the teams will vie for the title, with each having one game. Serrano also played Citrus Hill in the finals in 2012.
John Mackesy is a link to previous championship games. As a sophomore, he started both ways against Citrus Hill in 2012 and was a sideline witness in 2009 when older brother Anthony competed against Palm Springs.
It’s been two years since the loss to Citrus Hill, yet it remains fresh in Mackesy’s mind.
“It was very frustrating and sad. You work so hard for something,” Mackesy said at the CIF Championship Luncheon earlier in the week. “When you lose it’s a terrible feeling, but we just have to keep working.
“I just couldn’t wait to get back in the finals.”
Younger brother Kevin is a Serrano sophomore this year and there’s talk 11-year-old Brian may be the best of Tony’s kids, who started the tradition while growing up in Redlands.
Maholchic leaves no doubt where John Mackesy stands.
“He’s like a coach on the field, he’s very mature,” said Maholchic of his 6-foot, 200-pound center/linebacker. “He thinks like the coaches; he has a lot of football sense.
“We always have this conversation when we’re drinking a few Pepsis with the coaches and ranking the top 10 linebackers or naming the 10 top running backs. But as far as overall player on both sides of the ball, he’s definitely a top fiver.”
That’s an impressive statement considering Maholchic has been at the school for 23 seasons.