No. 4 St. John Bosco started its 2019 season on a dominant note, taking No. 20 DeMatha down by a score of 35-7.
The Braves and quarterback DJ Uiagalelei started out slow, with the reigning ALL-USA Player of the Year only completing four of his first 16 passes, but as the game went on the offense found its groove. The defense was stellar throughout, largely limiting star DeMatha running back MarShawn Lloyd.
Here are some takeaways from the game:
DeMatha played better than the score shows
The defense was very strong for DeMatha in the first half, only allowing DJ Uiagalelei to complete two of his first 13 pass attempts. While St John Bosco limited Malakai Anthony throughout the game, he made a huge play on third-and-23 at the 33 yard line. When MarShawn Lloyd got by safety Jon Jon Vaughns and there was no one behind Vaughns to pick Lloyd up, Anthony hit him up the middle. Lloyd punched it home to tie the score at seven.
But there wasn’t enough consistency on offense and there were far too many penalties.
The first game of the season always has a high number of flags. The players are getting used to live football at full speed. But there still felt like a particularly large amount of calls, and some in big moments.
That Lloyd touchdown was on third-and-23 because of a holding. Twice DeMatha was called for pass interference against St. John Bosco wide receiver Logan Loya, and the second one led to Bosco extending the lead to 21-7.
Though the scoreboard would indicate otherwise, DeMatha held tight with Bosco through the first half … They just had too many miscues.
Logan Loya will be integral for Bosco
Logan Loya transferred to St. John Bosco this summer. It looks like the four-star wide receiver is capable of replacing last year’s leading receiver Colby Bowman.
Uiagalelei started the game 4-for-16. All of the completions were to Loya. Finally, Uiagalelei hit wide receiver Kris Hutson on a screen, and Hutson took it to the house.
In the drive that led to Bosco taking a 7-0 lead, Loya caught a first down pass, then on the next play, got the handoff on a sweep to get another first down. On fourth-and-four at the 37-yard line, Bosco called its punting unit back to the sideline. Uiagalelei hit Loya on a slant, and Loya kept on going to get to the two-yard line.
On the second touchdown drive, Loya made a couple nice plays; one was a reception on first-and-15, and the other he did well getting through the defender clawing at his ankles near the line of scrimmage.
Loya also made a nice catch on a double-reverse pass, which shows the offense is starting to click.
He also kicks field goals, by the way.
Bosco has weapons at wide receiver. Hutson showed off his speed with multiple catch-and-runs Saturday, and Collins ballooned to 6-foot-4, 205 pounds this offseason, according to head coach Jason Negro. In the first quarter Saturday, Collins and Uiagalelei connected in the back of the end zone as the quarterback hung in the pocket, stepped slightly to his right and fired a bullet, showing off what made him last year’s ALL-USA Offensive Player of the Year.
Uiagalelei finished the game 17-for-37 — which means he completed 13 of his final 21 passes — for 322 yards and two touchdowns.
There are strong pieces. This team is still stacked. But there’s one hole on offense.
Bosco’s rushing game isn’t there yet
The running backs weren’t very impactful on Saturday.
There is no more George Holani. Keith Savage is gone. Nate Jones missed most of last year due to injury, and he’s the veteran of this new group. While he, Michael Hayes, Rayshon Luke and Jabari Bates all got carries, Bosco extended its lead to 28-7 before any had made any particularly strong influence.
This most impactful rush was the third-and-19 by Uiagalelei, who saw a hole, scrambled through and got 20 yards while lowering his head for the final couple.
Bates finally broke out for a 50-yard touchdown run to extend the lead to 35-7 with 7:35 left in the game.
It’s worth noting that when the Braves got to the goal line, the running backs were reliable. Two of the first four scores were goal-line carries, but until Bates’ touchdown, there had been no huge gains. Whether that was due to the inexperience of the backs, the strength of the DeMatha defense, or a combination, is yet to be determined.
While it’s unrealistic to ask a team to dominate in every facet of the game, the experience over the next two months will be important before Bosco plays against No. 3 Mater Dei (Santa Ana, California).
Two standout defenders
Bosco linebacker Kourt Williams played great as usual, but let’s focus on safety Jon Jon Vaughns’ performance. He was seemingly constantly around the action Saturday and laid down some good hits. Outside that touchdown to Lloyd, he was a star.
Meanwhile, the top DeMatha defender might have been Saieed Myers. In the middle of a strong first half, he limped off the field, but was back by the second and laid down a wicked hit that leveled 20 Jabari Bates.
Both teams have some stellar defenders. These two happened to stand out Saturday.