If Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) was trying to make a statement with its first game of the season, perhaps it’s time to consider that statement received.
The Monarchs, ranked as the No. 1 team in the USA TODAY High School Super 25 entering the season, had no trouble with fellow traditional Southern California power Bishop Amat (La Puente), rolling to a 31-7 victory in which Amat struggled to get its offense humming with any sense of rhythm. In fact, Amat scored its only points of the game with just four seconds remaining, after a series of 50-50 plays on its final drive.
To achieve that against any team is impressive. To achieve that against a team that went 7-4, 10-3 and 9-4 in its three most recent seasons, with playoff runs in each, is downright remarkable.
Perhaps most striking was Mater Dei’s depth in its success. J.T. Daniels, Mater Dei’s all-everything Class of 2019 quarterback who has committed to USC, was impressive, but also appeared surprisingly human at times. He finished the first half 6-for-11 with one touchdown and one interception. He also absorbed a fourth-down sack to Aaron Maldonado, a senior UCLA commit. That killed another Mater Dei drive.
Yet, for every human moment, there was also a terrific instinctive play, like his heads-up 24-yard scramble for a touchdown early in the fourth which made the spread 31-0, effectively transforming the game once and for all into a major blowout.
Things weren’t all rosy for the Monarchs; superstar wide receiver prospect Amon-Ra St. Brown went down with a finger injury early, keeping him from padding his personal stats and potentially jeopardizing his participation in his team’s second game next week.