In the days leading up to the All-American Bowl, USA TODAY High School Sports will be checking in with a number of players for their accounts of the events and activities in San Antonio. This entry is from Bru McCoy, an ALL-USA receiver who reflected on the season of Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) and why the Monarchs deserved to be named National Champions.
I’m not much of a trash talker. I will stand up when I think I deserve some recognition I didn’t get.
In Week 5, we played IMG (Bradenton, Fl.). We was gassed up before the game, everybody was ready to go. We balled out, we beat them on the last drive, everybody’s crazy. The energy of that game lasted a good week, week and a half. You could just walk through school and feel it. It was awesome.
Three weeks later, we play St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.). We’re not even in the mindset of like, this is Bosco.
Everybody tried to pick up the intensity all over again at practice when we had been down three weeks prior. You get so excited for a game, a year of hype behind the game, you play in it, you win, and then you’re supposed to pick yourself up and redo it all over again relatively quickly? It was tough.
So we come into that game, we get our butts whooped, and everybody’s standing around teary eyed, like, ‘We put the work in, we deserved to win.’ I went in knowing I put my work in, but the rest of the team, you could tell the vibe was off. The energy was wrong. The locker room, pregame, something wasn’t right.
But without that loss, I don’t know the outcome of the season. I think that loss was the kickstarter for us to make a run. To humble ourselves. O.K., we ain’t invincible. We still compete, we still work, we’re still Mater Dei.
If you look at the scores after we played Bosco and got our butts whooped, we went out and smashed everybody like we had a chip on our shoulder. And that carried us through the rest of the postseason.
We played Bosco again in the CIF-SS championship. The preparation was real similar to the first game, but the mentality was like, what taste do y’all want to have in your mouth when this game is over? This is my senior year, so I’m gonna leave it on the field, but how do you want to feel? Do you want to be remembered as the class that went out and lost to Bosco twice? And in the championship? And got whooped? Or do you want to be the team that came back, after facing adversity, beat em in the championship, went on and won state?
Who do you want to be?
Editor’s note: After losing to St. John Bosco 41-18 on Oct. 13, Mater Dei defeated the Braves 17-13 in the championship. The Monarchs played against Open Division champion De La Salle two weeks later to decide the state champion.
Two weeks after the intensity of the second Bosco game, that was a real tough game to get up for. But you can’t go out with a loss, they run that weird offense, we just looked at each other like let’s suck it up one more time, grind out this last week of practice, have fun and go out on top.
Editor’s note: Mater Dei won, claiming the state title and thrusting them into conversation for National Champions with the Texas state champions, North Shore. Mater Dei was named the USA TODAY High School Football Champions, but there has been debate which team earned the distinction.
Again, I’m not much of a trash talker … but the national title is a recognition we deserve.
We played the No. 1 vs. No. 2 team game twice in one season. If you’re gonna say we’re the No. 1 team in the country, how are you going to jump a team from the bottom half up of the top 10 to No. 1? Had they not caught the Hail Mary, who’s the National Champion?
It seemed completely inconsistent.
“But, y’all forfeited a game”… No, we had a transfer and that school messed the transcript up. We had to give that game up that he played in, and he wasn’t even a starter. (Note: Mater Dei beat Bishop Amat (La Puente, Calif.) 42-14 before forfeiting the game due to the ineligible player). We had one loss to the team we beat in the championship. We beat a team that went on to win their state championship (Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) 42-0). And IMG. And JSerra, who was in the top-10. And Centennial, top-10. And De La Salle, who was ranked above North Shore.
We’re a very well-trained team. We might get penalties, but you step between the lines with us, you get punished.
We don’t play pancake football.
So far, this trip to San Antonio to play in the All-American Game has been pretty eye-opening. It’s cool to meet all the different players from across the country, see their different football backgrounds, the way they compete and their lifestyles.
Mindset, we’re all pretty similar, but as far as coaches go, it’s different. I think west coast is a little bit more lax. More joking around and all that. East is more like that competitive dawg mentality, but all the time. The west we can flip that switch more, when it’s time to compete, when it’s time to have fun.
I’m a competitor, I guess you could say I’m more of the east coast mentality. But I do like that balance of having fun.
I know when it’s time to turn on the switch and be a dawg.