July 18, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Mater Dei football coach Bruce Rollinson excited and ready for go for 315 career victories

Mater Dei football coach Bruce Rollinson and running back Shakobe Harper celebrate the state title Friday night.

Mater Dei football Coach Bruce Rollinson has had many big wins, CIF titles and two state titles during his career.

But Saturday night, as he and his players accepted the CIF State Open Division championship trophy following his team’s 35-21 victory over De La Salle at Cerritos College, Rollinson seemed as happy and as proud as ever.

Rollinson doesn’t shun the spotlight. He loves giving motivational pre-game speeches, which are often carried on television and seems to enjoy talking to reporters after games and leading his players in a post-game drill.

There have been setbacks along the way for Mater Dei, including a 41-18 loss to St. John Bosco in Trinity League play Oct. 13. The Monarchs, counted out by some in the CIF Division 1 finals, came back to avenge the loss in the championship game defeating the Braves 17-13 on Nov. 23.

Rollinson, known as a great motivator, said he had a message for his players before they took the field for the biggest game of the year.

“Tonight, I talked about the challenge,” he said after the game. “I said, ‘rise to the challenge.’ Our theme became real quickly, 48 and we’re done. ‘Give us 48 minutes and then we can relax and we can all go about our business.'”

Rollinson not only achieved his second state title, but his 300th career victory in the process.

“I’ve said this before, somewhere in the 2,000’s I started to realize there is a bigger picture than just winning,” he said. “Don’t get me wrong. Tonight, I love winning and I hate losing. But what I’ve realized with 300 is I’m in it for the kids. And I’m really, really happy and gratified that I got to get my 300th win with this team.

“Because there were times when it was looking shaky… it makes it that more special.”

Rollinson said his program is built on leadership, and both state title teams demonstrated that.

“Last year was our first and it was extremely exciting,” he said. “I felt more pressure this year to repeat and I’m gratified that we did it. But that team last year showed us the way to do it, the format for practice. Last year, we were stacked everywhere. This year, we had a bunch of kids who were good players who played great. We talk about that all the time. There’s no room for average. You’ve got to be good and if you’re good, you’ve got to do something great and if you’re great, you’ve got to take the football game over.

“Example, Bru McCoy took over the game on the offensive side of the ball with seven catches (for 116 yards and one touchdown).”

The future looks pretty bright too for Mater Dei.

Talented quarterback Bryce Young, a junior, is among the players returning next year and Rollinson has already told the Orange County Register he plans to return to guide the Monarchs.

“We got a real good team coming back,” Rollinson told a group of reporters Saturday night.

“Let’s go for 315 baby!”



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