Family ties to championship

Michael Serrato holds his game jersey from the 1987 Tracy High team that won a Sac-Joaquin Section Division I football title. His son Jake Serrato, a Tracy High senior, holds the game jersey he will wear Saturday in the 2014 section title game against Folsom High. Michael Serrato was linebacker on the 1987 team.

Jake Serrato is living a family tradition that will gain even more significance when he steps onto the field at Sacramento State University’s Hornet Stadium on Saturday night.

The Tracy High senior — who has taken on the roles of quarterback, defensive back and special teams player — carries on a family legacy that put his father, Michael Serrato, on the same field in 1987.

On Saturday, Jake Serrato will play safety against one of the best passing teams in the state. He’s ready to step up for the job he has trained and practiced for, and he knows there will be at least a couple dozen family members there to cheer him on.

“I don’t feel much pressure. I feel the support,” Jake Serrato said. “It motivates me and helps me know that we can do this, because they did it before. I feel like I can do this because it’s in my blood.”

Michael Serrato was a senior linebacker on the 1987 Sac-Joaquin Section championship team and is now the pastor at Mission City Church in Banta. The 1987 championship game is one of his greatest memories — but he says none of the stories he might tell his son could adequately describe the team camaraderie and the pride of representing his hometown at the section championship.

“Seeing my son experience that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I’m really proud of him and the team,” Serrato said. “It’s one thing to tell your son the stories of back in the day, but we get to see him live it, too. Just having that connection binds generations together.”

Michael Serrato knows most of his son’s teammates through his four years as a Tracy Raiders coach, before the youth football team became the Junior Bulldogs. He has been to every one of the Bulldogs’ games this year, and he expects the Serrato clan, including relatives and close friends, to number as many as 30 fans in the stands at Sacramento State.

Bulldog football is a family tradition for other players, too. Team doctor Tim Brown, a local chiropractor and running back for the 1984 and 1985 Bulldogs, stands on the sidelines and watches his son Michael play quarterback for the 2014 team. Brandon Russell, a running back and defensive back, follows both his father, Bruce Russell, who played running back and linebacker for the 1990 and 1991 Bulldogs, and his uncle Tim Costa, who was a senior linebacker in 1987.

2014 players Marcus Guillen, Nate Brown, Courtney Hawkins and Cole Stroup also have fathers who played Tracy High football.

Contact Sports Editor Bob Brownne at brownne@tracypress.com, or call 209-830-4227.

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