Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) football coach Bruce Rollinson had to remind fans of the top-ranked Monarchs who their opponent is this week.
“I had to go to an event last night,” Rollinson said. “The first question was, ‘Are the Bishop Gorman tickets going on sale yet?’ I said, ‘What? We’re playing Bishop Amat! It’s my worst scenario. For two weeks now, I’ve been preaching to everybody that surrounds this football program, from administration to parents, to boosters, that we have two Bishops to play.”
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Mater Dei opens Friday night at Bishop Amat (La Puente). Next Friday night, the Monarchs host three-time Super 25 champion Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas).
“I tell people, if we overlook the first one, which happens to be in alphabetical order, then you’re not going to be very interested in the No. 2 that starts with a G,” Rollinson said. “Let us focus all our attention on Bishop Amat and the next step with Bishop Gorman.”
Last season, Mater Dei trounced Bishop Amat 63-14, but only two seasons ago, the Monarchs struggled to put the Lancers away, 24-21. Last season, Bishop Amat was relatively inexperienced, but this season, they are picked to contend for the Mission League title behind junior quarterback Blake Archuleta and defensive lineman Aaron Maldonado, who has committed to UCLA.
“They have a lot of players back,” Rollinson said. “I don’t think they will be intimidated.”
The Monarchs have had a few injuries in preseason practices, but quarterback J.T. Danielson is over a sore arm and wide receiver junior Bru McCoy has recovered from a broken collarbone. Besides Danielson, a junior who has committed to USC, the Monarchs have three seniors who have committed to FBS schools: offensive lineman Tommy Brown (Alabama); Nikko Remigio (Cal) and wide receiver C.J. Parks (UCLA). Two other elite recruits include Amon-Ra St. Brown, who is Rivals’ top-rated 2018 receiver and a four-star offensive lineman in Chris Murray.
“There have been practices where the execution isn’t there, and then, all of a sudden, we’ll explode,” Rollinson said. “Last night, Daniels takes over, hits about five passes in a row and goes off the charts. I am going to choose to be positive and say the team knows what to do.”