May 17, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Mater Dei gets the rematch it was looking for with 48-14 victory over Centennial in CIF Division 1 semifinals

Glenn Harper of Mater Dei tries to gain yards in Friday’s game against Centennial. (Photos courtesy Mark Bausman)

Mater Dei’s football team is known for its explosive offense.

But it was the defensive unit’s time to shine Friday night.

The Monarchs had four interceptions in the first half and returned all of them for touchdowns before rolling to a 48-14 victory over No. 2 seeded Centennial of Corona in the CIF Division 1 semifinals in front of an estimated 7,500 fans at Santa Ana Stadium.

To see the slide show, please click on the first photo

Third-seeded Mater Dei (11-2) is back in the finals to defend its Division 1 crown and will meet top-seeded St. John Bosco Friday night at Cerritos College in the championship game. St. John Bosco defeated Mater Dei 41-18 on Oct. 13.

Junior defensive back Elias Ricks stunned Centennial (12-1) with interception returns of 11, 32 and 40 yards for scores in the first half and just for good measure Joshua Hunter returned an interception 48 yards for a score. A 2-yard TD run by Bryce Young put Mater Dei ahead 35-0 at halftime.

“I’ve been coaching a long time and I watch a lot of football,” said Mater Dei Coach Bruce Rollinson. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen four in one half pick sixes and to one kid to have three of them …. but the biggest thing is that we locked him up on an outstanding wide receiver, a talented wide receiver and basically he took him out of the football game and now, once they didn’t have that target, which is what we challenged Elias to do, now all of a sudden, he’s got to try and spread the ball.

“And I’m really proud of our defensive line. It was an outstanding defensive effort and I compliment Coach Johnson, my defensive coordinator of many, many years. When you look at Southern California football, you got three teams in the top five in the nation and we just won a big one against Corona Centennial and now we got to get ready for St. John Bosco.”

Ricks was a one-man wrecking crew in the first half.

“I just had a knack for the ball tonight,” Ricks said. “The offense was struggling early so I had to just step up. This is the best game in my career by far. I just thank God I had a good game. I was reading the quarterback. Every play, we were in man coverage so I just locked down.”

Mater Dei seemed to be in control with a 35-point lead at halftime.

But Centennial made it a bit interesting in the third quarter. Quarterback Carter Freedland connected with Reggie Retzlaff on a 76-yard TD pass to cut the lead to 35-7. Then Thomas Kinslow scored on a 2-yard run to make it 35-14.

But the Monarchs regained control when Young hooked up with Bru McCoy on a 45-yard TD pass. He then hit McCoy on a 25-yard TD pass to make it 48-14. McCoy had eight catches for 136 yards.

Young wound up with 179 yards passing and two touchdowns. Glenn Harper also had a solid game rushing for 110 yards on 17 carries.

“It was a really great team win,” said Young. “The defense really picked it up; they stepped it up. That’s about a good a defensive performance as I’ve ever seen in my life. All the credit goes to them and the guys up front. ”

Senior placekicker Nick Lopez also had a big night, kicking 6 of 7 extra points with most of his kick-offs resulting in touchbacks.

“I was just doing my job, making sure they don’t return it,” Lopez said. “The job was to keep it away from number one (Gary Bryant). That’s what I was told to do and that’s what I did. It was a successful night for us and now we’re ready to go back and face Bosco.”

Mater Dei won despite being flagged 19 times for 179 yards, which Rollinson said he plans to address with his players.

Freedland rotated with Ala Makaele at quarterback. Freedland passed for 155 yards and Makaele 81 yards but the two had four interceptions between them.

Kinslow rushed for 67 yards on 18 carries.

                    STATS

CENT          00    00   14    00    –    14

MDEI          14    21   07    06    –     48

RUSHING: Cent Kinslow 18-67 Floyd 2-4; MDei Harper 17-110; Dollars 5-37.

PASSING: Cent Freedland 9-22-2, 145 yards, 1 TD, Mikaele 5-16-2, 81 yards; MDei Young 14-24-0, 179 yards, 2 TDS.

RECEIVING: Cent Retzlaff 4-150, Bryant 2-44; MDei McCoy 8-136, Dollars 3-21

FULL SCHEDULE FOR CIF FOOTBALL FINALS NEXT WEEKEND

-Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone; timburt@ocsportszone.com