Jabari Mann lifted No. 1 Serra to first undefeated regular season
SAN MATEO >> It takes a special talent to stand out on a Serra defense in which playmakers dot every level of the field.
Among the many great players in a program that has captured three consecutive Central Coast Section Division I championships, Jabari Mann separated himself from the rest as a do-it-all linebacker and short-yardage specialist.
Mann had 87 tackles, 10 for loss, five sacks and an interception.
The 6-foot, 200-pound junior also ran for 213 yards and six touchdowns when asked to carry the ball for Northern California's top-ranked team.
For this, Mann has been named the Bay Area News Group's San Mateo County player of the year by our staff.
“The coaches have told us that what Serra used to be is not what it is now,” Mann said recently. “It used to be firstand second-round exits in the playoffs every year. It's heartwarming to know that we're part of something special.”
Mann made it clear that Serra is more than any individual player. He was quick to heap praise upon fellow linebackers Danny Niu and Marley Alapati, who make up a unit Serra coach Patrick Walsh compared to a pack of “velociraptors.”
Serra allowed only 8.4 points per game against CCS opponents, a large reason the team completed its first 10-0 regular season in school history.
“We have a brotherhood at this school, and it doesn't matter whether we've known each other before high school or not,” Mann said.
Mann certainly did his part to tighten the bonds of that brotherhood. As Serra made a run to the Open Division state championship
game against St. John Bosco-bellflower, he had many responsibilities. He rushed the passer, covered receivers downfield and filled gaps in the run game.
“Playing linebacker for us requires someone who has great instincts, and his attention for the football is like a moth being drawn to a flame,” Walsh said. “It's almost like he's attached to the ball with a string, and he will play through people bigger than him to get to it.”
Mann is rated a three-star prospect by 247Sports.com, with offers from Pittsburgh and San Jose State.
But before he moves on to college, he has one more season at Serra.
“I'm very excited for next year because we're barely losing anybody,” Mann said. “Everybody knows what we have and what we're capable of, so we'll be ready for next year.