May 30, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Mater Dei gets sweet revenge and another CIF Division 1 title with 17-13 victory over St. John Bosco

Mater Dei players celebrate after winning the CIF Division 1 title Friday night at Cerritos College.

Mater Dei’s defense held St. John Bosco’s explosive offense to its lowest point total of the season and kept the Braves off balance all night to capture a 17-13 victory in the CIF Division 1 championship game Friday night  in front of 10,569 fans at Cerritos College.

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

Mater Dei (12-2) won its 11th CIF championship and second consecutive title and dealt St. John Bosco (13-1), the nation’s No. 1 team, its first defeat of the season, avenging a 41-18 Trinity League loss Oct. 13.

“Our effort tonight was spectacular,” said Monarchs coach Bruce Rollinson. “After they scored, I told our guys, ‘let’s stop making mistakes and focus’ and they did. I think we left 13 points out there in the first half, but Eric Johnson’s (defensive coordinator) calls were also spectacular. His blitzes caused them adversity.”

Johnson said his defense played really well.

“It wasn’t so much the schemes as it was the execution,” said Johnson, who has been Mater Dei’s defensive coordinator since 2010. “Our Dline got pressure on DJ (Uiagalelie) and our Dbacks played great. We tipped a few balls and we didn’t make that many mistakes.”

With the score tied at 7, the Braves took the second half kickoff and marched to the Monarchs 23 but Uiagalelie’s pass fell incomplete on a fourth down attempt.

The Monarchs took over and started to build momentum.

Later in the quarter, sophomore Josh Lorick returned a punt into SJB territory. On the play, the Braves were flagged for a personal foul and the Monarchs had the ball at the SJB 19-yard line. Three plays later, Bryce Young tossed a 19-yard TD pass over the middle to Horace McCoy III giving Mater Dei a 14-7 lead.

“I had a pit in my stomach ever since we lost to them earlier this season,” said McCoy III. “They called us underdogs coming into this game, and we proved that you never call us underdogs.”

Monarchs linebacker Raesjon Davis picked off a Uiagalelei pass in the final seconds of the third quarter to give Mater Dei excellent field position. Early in the final quarter, the Monarchs drove to the SJB five-yard line and set up for a field goal attempt by Nicholas Lopez which would have put Mater Dei up by 10 points.

However, Chris Steele blocked the 22-yard FG attempt and Trent McDuffie picked up the loose ball and raced 74 yards for a SJB touchdown. The Braves missed the PAT and trailed 14-13 with 10:12 to play.

Later in the quarter following an interception by Elias Ricks, Lopez redeemed himself by booting a 42-yard field goal and upping Mater Dei’s lead to 17-13 with 4:46 left.

“I had to clear my mind of the blocked field goal and focus,” said Lopez. “When I made the second field goal attempt, it fired us up and made me feel a lot better.”

SJB had two more possessions late in the game but was unable to move the ball and the Monarchs hung on to capture the championship.

“Our line play and receivers were outstanding, especially (our tight end) Michael Martinez,” said Young, who completed 13 passes for 168 yards and a TD. “And our defense held them to six points; we wouldn’t be here without them.

Despite being disappointed, Braves coach Jason Negro summed up SJB’s misfortune.

“We couldn’t get in sync offensively,” said Negro. “They put a lot of pressure on DJ and we had too many self-inflicted wounds and we couldn’t get them off the field.”

McDuffie returned a punt 17-yards in the first quarter that gave SJB instant momentum. The Braves offense went to work quickly and drove 45 yards in five plays to take a 7-0 lead. Uiagalelei faked a hand-off into the line and then tossed a 19-yard TD pass to a wide-open Jude Wolfe, who raced into the end zone untouched for the score at the 8:35 mark of the opening quarter.

On the Monarchs next three series, Mater Dei’s offense started to come to life. However, could they could only capitalize on one series.

Late in the first quarter, Mater Dei moved to the Braves 25-yard line but a costly sack pushed the Monarchs back to the 31. One play later, Lopez’s 48-yard field goal attempt came up short, foiling the Monarchs drive.

Early in the second quarter, the Mater Dei were once again on the move. Young guided Mater Dei on an 11-play march, highlighted by a pair of completions to Martinez. On a third down play from the SJB 5-five-yard line, Young scrambled up the middle and appeared headed for the end zone but he fumbled as he was hit. Spencer Lyle recovered for SJB as the Monarchs missed a golden opportunity.

Mater Dei finally got on the board late in the half when running back Glenn Harper capped an 9-play, 63-yard scoring drive with a three-yard TD run, tying the score at 7 with 1:33 left in the half. The drive was sparked by a first-down run on fourth-down by Harper and a 28-yard pass play from Young to McCoy that gave the Monarchs the ball at the Braves two-yard line.

After SJB’s first series of the game, the Monarchs defense stiffened, behind the gritty play of Evan Bennett and Ricks, allowed the Braves only one first down the rest of the half.

Mater Dei got the ball back in the final minute of the half and quickly moved the ball to the SJB 25 but a holding penalty nullified a long gainer for Mater Dei. The Monarchs chose to run the clock out and settled for a 7-7 tie at the break.

Young completed 10 of 12 passes in the opening half for 131 yards. Five of those passes were caught by Martinez. Mater Dei’s dense held SJB to 16 yards on the ground and Uiagalelei completed only seven passes for just over 100 yards for the game.

“It’s an amazing feeling being a champion,” said Martinez. “After we lost to them the first time, we got down on each other but tonight we came out with such energy and we didn’t let anything get us down”.

                                     STATS

MDEI                 00     07      07     03     –    17

SJB                    07    00      00     06       –   13

RUSHING: MD, Harper 23-58, Dollars 11-30; SJB, Holani 18-80, Savage 5-18.

PASSING: MD, Young 13-20-0, 168 yards, TD; SJB Uiagalelei, 7-19-2, 108, TD

RECEIVING: MD, McCoy 6-64, Martinez 5-86;’ SJB, Bailey 3-42, Bowman 2-47

-Tom Connolly, For OC Sports Zone