Lost in all the talk about Friday’s game at Cerritos College between No. 3 Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) and No. 10 St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.) is how good each team’s defense is.
Mater Dei (7-0) has allowed only seven points a game and has posted three shutouts. Bosco (6-1) has given up 10.5 points a game, but if you take out the Braves’ lone loss to No. 1 Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas), that average drops down to 6.5 points per game. The reason people aren’t talking about defenses is few are expecting a low score between teams that average 56.5 points and 45.1 points a game.
“We are sitting on three shutouts and probably should have five,” Mater Dei coach Bruce Rollinson said. “I am excited about how my players are going to deal with adversity. I told the kids, you’re crazy if you are thinking you are going to shut them down. Don’t get nervous if they pop one. I have 11 Division I players, he probably has more than I do. We know we have to play big on that side of the ball. We can’t get pushed around. We have to battle. On offense, we have to move the chains and score points, let’s do what we do.”
What the Monarchs have done is score 62 or more points four times this season, led by sophomore quarterback JT Daniels and a squad of future college receivers. Daniels has thrown for 2,640 yards and 40 touchdowns with a 81% completion ratio, numbers that former Monarch quarterbacks Matt Barkley, Matt Leinart, and John Huarte (the latter two won the Heisman) didn’t approach in high school.
His main targets have been the St. Brown brothers with Osiris St. Brown hauling in 32 catches for 610 yards and 14 touchdowns and Amon-Ra St. Brown having 29 catches for 647 yards and 10 touchdowns. Daniels is willing to move the ball around. Shakobe Parker, Bru McCoy, Nikko Remigio and C.J. Parks all have three or more touchdown receptions.
The Braves, blessed with a huge offensive line led by Wyatt Davis, the top-rated offensive guard in the country, run the ball a lot more than Mater Dei, but can be just as explosive. Two weeks ago, they put up 70 points on Servite (Anaheim), a team that nearly beat De La Salle (Concord).
St. John Bosco quarterback Re-al Mitchell is a dual threat with eight touchdowns rushing and 13 passing. Running back Demetrious Flowers ran for 200 yards and two touchdowns last week and has run for 458 yards and nine touchdowns this season.
While Mater Dei is higher ranked, St. John Bosco has won its last six meetings with the Monarchs and has faced the tougher schedule. Both easily beat La Mirada, their lone common opponent so far, with St. John Bosco defeating the Matadores 34-0 on Sept. 2 and Mater Dei defeating La Mirada 48-0 a week later.
Rollinson said he sees little reason to pump his team up for this game.
“We’re not going to do anything different,” he said. “They’re as loose a group as I’ve been around. I don’t want to change them. The Bruce Rollinson of the 90s? These guys would have driven me crazy. They have dance contests before practice, during practice and after practice. You have to reinvent yourself. The kids are different. I want them to be themselves. Enjoy the fact that there are going to be 18,000 people in the house. This game is going to come down to execution and not committing stupid mistakes.”
Bosco coach Jason Negro told Jeff Fisher of High School Football America that this type of game is what makes coaching fun.
“Honestly, this is one of the reasons why we coach at a school like Bosco, because it gives us an opportunity to play in games like this,” Negro said.
Rollinson said he’s also looking forward to the opportunity.
“They usually throw in a new wrinkle for this game,” Rollinson said of St. John Bosco. “That’s the fun part, the chess part and who makes adjustments the fastest. I love that part, that’s what excites me about big games.”