What We Learned: No. 1 Mater Dei dominates second half in cross-country win over St. John's College (D.C.)

Photo: St. John Bosco Football

When Mater Dei kicked off its season, the Monarchs had a few dates circled for games where they would be truly challenged. The game that may have given the most pre-conference concern was Sep. 27, when the Monarchs had to travel across the country for a game at traditional mid-Atlantic power St. John’s College in Washington, D.C.

As it turns out, Mater Dei fans needn’t worry.

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Led by senior quarterback and recent Alabama commit Bryce Young, the Monarchs took control of the game in an explosive second half. Here’s what we learned from Mater Dei’s latest powerful win, 53-24, in Washington on the Catholic University campus:

Bryce Young is the truth

Young earned national headlines this week for flipping his commitment from USC to Alabama. It wasn’t a distraction. Young was forced into a relatively one-dimensional game — the St. John’s defense stacked against the run and forced Young to beat them with his arm, and he was all too happy to oblige, passing for four touchdowns while carving up the St. John’s College defensive backfield. Like his teammates, Young was best at the start of the second half, transforming a tight contest into a blowout by outscoring the Cadets 33-3. It was the latest impressive performance during a sterling senior season for Young as Mater Dei’s leader continues to make his case to be the ALL-USA Player of the Year.

The Mater Dei defense was the other MVP

Sure, Young was a safe pick as the most impressive player on the field, but the entire Mater Dei defensive unit made a case for itself, too. Most directly, when the game was still in doubt, linebacker Raesjon Davis delivered by recovering a forced fumble, setting Mater Dei up for yet another scoring drive. After a shaky (for it) first half, the Mater Dei defensive unit was uber-stingy in the third and fourth quarter, allowing just three points as St. John’s College struggled to move the ball consistently. That’s what dominant defenses do, and Mater Dei certainly has a dominant defense.

St. John’s College’s National schedule didn’t work out as they hoped

The idea was solid: schedule the best opponents nationwide, hope that you win and build from the results either way. Well, let’s just say the results didn’t break the way St. John’s College anticipated. After hosting — and dispatching — opponents from South Florida during the first two weeks of the season, the Cadets embarked on a schedule that could best be described as quixotic: games at St. Joseph’s Prep (Philadelphia) and Duncanville (Dallas), followed by two more home contests against IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) and Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) At their most optimistic, St. John’s fans probably would have accepted going .500. Instead, the Cadets went 0-4, dropping their season record to 2-4. The scary thing is that the Cadets aren’t out of the woods yet, either. Upcoming WCAC games are no joke, with fellow current or perennial contending Super 25 squads like Gonzaga, DeMatha Catholic and Our Lady of Good Counsel still to come. It wouldn’t be a shock for St. John’s to finish the season 3-7, and they would still be a quality team. That’s how hard this schedule has been, and it will be fascinating to see if any team tries to duplicate it again anytime soon.

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