THE ATHLETIC Golden Age at Junipero Serra High in San Mateo, Calif., lasted seven months in 2001 and '02 and had nothing to do with the Padres' performance. The 995-student school rode high on the accomplishments of three alumni. In August '01 former Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Lynn Swann (class of '70) was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Two months later San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds (class of '82) completed his record-setting 73-home-run season. And the following February, Tom Brady (class of '95) led the New England Patriots to victory in Super Bowl XXXVI.
With such impressive alums one might think that Serra would be a perennial power, but by and large it isn't. Since Swann led the Padres to back-to-back West Catholic Athletic League football titles in '68 and '69, they have won only two more. "The tradition here is more in the players than the championships," says football coach Patrick Walsh. The one sport in which Serra has been dominant is baseball. The Padres have won 18 league championships and two state titles (1991 and '98). The remarkable figure, however, is the number of Serra graduates who have signed pro contracts: 49. Bonds isn't even Serra's career home run king. That title belongs to New York Mets first-round draft pick Gregg Jeffries (class of '85), who hit 26--four more than Bonds. -- Andrea Woo