Super 25 No. 1 Mater Dei High School (Santa Ana, Calif.) had allowed 31 points over its previous six games, four of which were shutouts.
Twelve seconds into the fourth quarter Saturday night, St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.) put up its 34th point against the defending Super 25 champion Monarchs in a decisive 41-18 victory.
Super 25 No. 2 St. John Bosco undoubtedly will ascend to the top spot when new rankings are published Monday.
“It defines a lot about our integrity and the type of kids that we have,” Bosco head coach Jason Negro said to FOX Sports West.
Lightning struck Santa Ana twice over the weekend. Originally scheduled for Friday night, the game was postponed 24 hours due to a thunderstorm. Once underway, St. John Bosco struck like lightning, scoring early and often, then playing excellent defense in the second half.
“We got back to school (Friday night), we got in the chapel, we sat down and we talked a little bit. I wasn’t going to let them go home,” Negro said. “We had a message that we wanted to send to them. Told them it was a business trip.”
In the first quarter and into the second, the Braves focused on short throws and run plays as Mater Dei primarily played man defense.
Bosco particularly thrived off a play in which two receivers were spread out wide on both sides, with one receiver standing almost behind the other.
The first time they ran the play, it was a handoff. The next time, Mater Dei didn’t have any safety help and it appeared as though the defense expected another run. Wide receiver Jake Bailey broke free for a huge gain.
In the first quarter-plus, Bailey and Bosco exploited the lack of safety help. After 13 minutes, Bailey caught five passes for 131 yards and two touchdowns, forcing the Monarchs to change their defensive alignment and put a safety to help deep.
“We all had the same mindset coming in,” Bailey said to FOX Sports West after the game. “We knew we wanted to dominate out the get-go.”
St. John Bosco coach Jason Negro has called Bailey one of his most under-recruited players, according to the FOX Sports West broadcast team. Bailey only has offers from Boston College and BYU, per 247 Sports, but his play against Mater Dei’s tough defense shows Negro may have a point.
Bailey finished with 161 yards and three touchdowns.
One player who has not been overlooked by recruiters is St. John Bosco quarterback DJ Uiagalelei. He showed off his unique package of size and speed to move out of the pocket and rush for yards when needed.
The No. 1 pro-style quarterback in the nation controlled the pace of the game with his feet and arm. It seemed like he was always gaining yards. Even in the first half, when a running back went to the wrong side on a handoff, Uiagalelei managed to keep his composure and gain a few yards.
“Protection, first. I thought the protection and our scheme — those two things were amazing,” Negro said, giving his offensive line some credit for Uiagalelei’s success.
He outplayed Mater Dei quarterback Bryce Young, the nation’s No. 1 dual-threat quarterback.
Young showed his elusiveness with he escaped a sack and then gained 40 yards on the first drive. However, a sack by Bosco safety Kourt Williams stalled Mater Dei and forced them to settle with a field goal. St. John Bosco jumped to a 13-3 lead shortly after.
Young and wide receiver Bru McCoy, 247 Sports’ No. 1 athlete in the nation, showed their connection throughout the game, particularly when the quarterback was forced to scramble. They created plays that looked dead, even scoring a touchdown with four-star cornerback Chris Steele on McCoy’s back.
But Young struggled to hit his other receivers consistently. After starting 7-for-8 and leading Mater Dei to 10 points, he missed open looks, including one overthrow that cost Mater Dei a first down — perhaps more — and only managed eight more points in the game.
“The biggest thing was to keep him contained. Not let him get outside. He went off a couple times and got loose, but we knew that was going to happen,” Negro said. “But what we wanted to do was make him sit in the pocket and have to throw the ball and deliver it in time.”
After Bosco stopped the Monarchs on a fourth-and-seven with 9:30 remaining in the third quarter, Mater Dei forced and recovered a fumble. But the Braves defense again proved too much, forcing a punt.
Coming out of the tunnel at halftime, Mater Dei head coach Bruce Rollinson had said to the FOX Sports West sideline analyst that “I promise you, (Young will) bring this club back.”
But Mater Dei squandered opportunities, including the turnover, and a block in the back penalty that ruined a run that would have put the Monarchs at the one-yard line.
Bosco running back George Holani, a Boise State commit, scored on a 75-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter to give Bosco a 34-10 lead. It was his second touchdown, the first coming on a 25-yard screen pass.
It put the game out of reach.
On Wednesday, Negro told USA TODAY High School Sports that rankings are “mythological” and called this “another game.”
But it’s no myth that St. John Bosco controlled all parts of Saturday night.
“This is a message to everyone that we’re for real,” Bailey said.
It’s very possible the two teams will meet again in the CIF Playoffs.
For now, it looks like there’s a new No. 1.