Centennial (Peoria, Arizona) has won back-to-back 5A Arizona championships. They have an argument as a top-three team in the state.
But Mater Dei (Santa Ana, California) steamrolled them all the same, winning 71-21.
Bryce Young had one of the best all-around game of his career, going 31-for-38 with 528 yards and had seven touchdowns to carry Mater Dei to its third win of the season.
Here are some takeaways:
Bryce Young is a magician under pressure
How many times can a defender get past the line of scrimmage, reach out for the quarterback, and see them slip just out of grasp before giving up? To the credit of Centennial (Peoria, Arizona), the Coyotes tried to keep fighting, but Young had more deep throws while escaping pressure than he did with a clean pocket.
Young and his wide receivers have excellent chemistry. The wide receivers seemingly know where he wants to throw it as he is escaping the pocket, and Young can typically drop it in, particularly when the receiver is running horizontally. Multiple times, it resulted in touchdowns.
He is an elite scrambler and has great feel of what’s going on both around him and around the field. That all helps him improvise as well as anyone in the nation.
Now that Young has started to call more of his own plays, he can do exactly what he wants with the offense. That’s looking like a good thing for the Monarchs.
I can see why Netflix QB1 following him all season. Bryce Young is amazing. 34-13 Mater Dei 5:05 2Q pic.twitter.com/tHYIj3fUMM
— Richard Obert (@azc_obert) September 7, 2019
This loss will help Centennial down the road
The Arizona Interscholastic Association is hosting its first-ever Open Division championship this season. That means Centennial has the chance to meet up with the other best teams in Arizona, potentially including three-time defending 6A champion Chandler and six-time defending 4A champion Saguaro.
Constant success can lead to overconfidence and complacency. Over the last two years, Centennial has only lost twice as it ran to titles.
But in losing 71-21, Centennial wasn’t just humbled – it got beat down by a clearly superior team.
There are positives to take away. The Coyotes got to test out trick plays, including a reverse on a wildcat in which running back Daxon Lindholm threw the touchdown. They later ran a fake screen when a receiver faked a block only to cut inside and earn a long catch-and-run.
But they couldn’t hang in with Mater Dei’s elite defense and fast-paced offense. Special teams had trouble; one punt was blocked and ended in a Monarchs touchdown and another punt, in the Coyotes’ own end zone, was bobbled and resulted in a safety.
Centennial needs to work on its cover defense on third- and fourth-and-long; there were multiple times Young hit wide-open receivers down the middle on long-yardage situations.
All that is good to learn. At the very least, it’s better to learn in the second game of the season against a national champion than it would be to learn in the playoffs.
No Bru McCoy, no problem
It’s dangerous to say you can replace a Chosen 25 wide receiver.
But Mater Dei’s WR corps has been incredible. Aiding that is the depth this year, which the Monarchs either did not have or not rely on last year.
This team does not seem to be missing 2019 grad and now-USC wide receiver Bru McCoy.
In game one, CJ Williams had a team-high eight receptions for 77 yards, and three different receivers scored. In game two, Williams and Josiah Zamora had 98 and 87 yards, respectively.
On Friday, it was Kody Epps who took charge. The three-star receiver had 10 receptions, 197 yards and three touchdowns. He also had a 33-yard reception on the first drive that spotted Mater Dei at the one-yard line.
He wasn’t the only one to break out. Kyron Ware-Hudson also had three touchdowns.
This group of targets is thriving with a game plan that doesn’t revolve around a single star receiver. As mentioned in the Young section, they’re connecting with the quarterback mentally as they run routes and position themselves perfectly as the quarterback escapes danger in the backfield.
This offense looks as dangerous as last year. Against No. 5 St. Frances Academy (Baltimore, Maryland) next week, they’ll see how true that is — or if they’re even better this year.