What We Learned: No. 3 St. John Bosco survives scare from Servite

Photo: Logan Newman/USA TODAY High School Sports

It’s officially spooky szn. St. John Bosco got its first scare of the year Friday as it very nearly lost to Trinity League opponent Servite (Anaheim, California).

But the Braves managed to maintain the slimmest of leads and get the 27-26 win.

Servite quarterback Noah Fifita hung in with reigning ALL-USA Offensive Player of the Year quarterback DJ Uiagalelei and the Friars’ defense and special teams kept Bosco contained enough to make it a challenge.

Trailing 27-20 midway through the fourth quarter, Servite’s Jacob Manu blocked a punt and Houston Thomas returned it to the house. The PAT was no good, though, and Bosco held onto the one-point lead.

From there on, defense dominated for both teams as there was only punting and penalties, and St. John Bosco was able to run down the clock.

Here are some takeaways from the tight matchup to open Trinity League play.

Kicking is so very important

Servite missed two point-after attempts this game.

That doesn’t mean the Friars would have won if they made them. The first miss was on their first touchdown of the game in a 7-6 situation. The final would have made it 27-27 if it went through. DJ Uiagalelei and St. John Bosco would have had more than six minutes to drive and score.

But that has to hurt, and it’s something that will likely and understandably stick with Servite.

But the Friars need to remember – St. John Bosco missed a field goal in the second quarter, which kept the score at 7-6. If all things were equal, and all kicks were good, making those PATs still wouldn’t have changed the outcome. But any single one of them still could have been a game-changer.

Special teams matter. Kicking matters.

Beaux Collins is so very important as a deep threat

A 65-yard touchdown pass to Beaux Collins in the second quarter to break open a scoreless game was reminiscent of another time a similar play happened. Against Good Counsel (Olney, Maryland) last month, Bosco struggled to move the ball the first couple drives. But then Uiagalelei hooked up with Collins for a long gain and the Braves scored.

It seems like St. John Bosco’s offense isn’t as explosive as last year. Servite played phenomenal defense, but there have been times throughout this season when the Braves started slow. This was just the first time they couldn’t pull away from an opponent.

When this happens – and it’s not unforeseeable that it will again, particularly come playoff time – the connection between Uiagalelei and Collins will be vital. The junior wide receiver is a huge target, able to get the ball above defenders, and has the ability to both get open deep and gain yards after the catch. Uiagalelei is very capable of fitting the ball in small windows.

It’ll be interesting to see how Collins is used during these instances as the season progresses.

Trinity League play is officially underway

Teams in the Trinity League consider their conference the toughest in the nation. Servite just gave an example of why they can make that argument. Servite isn’t a Super 25 team, it’s not ranked in the Western Region, yet all three facets found success against a team widely regarded as a top-three in the nation.

There are no weeks off in Trinity League play. The Braves know this. They just got a reminder Friday.

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