USA TODAY Super 25 No. 3 Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) and Centennial High School (Corona, Calif.) faced off in the CIF Southern Section semifinals. Mater Dei won, leaving Centennial with more than 250 days to lick its wounds and get fired up about a season opening rematch.
They could have saved their time. Rather than close the gap, it apparently got wider in the offseason with Mater Dei and all-everything quarterback Bryce Young rolling to a 42-0 lead after three periods in a 42-12 rout. Here are the other things we learned from Mater Dei’s blowout win:
1) Bryce Young looks great, and he has weapons all around
Here’s the thing: Yes, Bryce Young is one of the nation’s best quarterbacks. There’s no debating that. But Mater Dei’s offense is an absolute machine. The offensive line is overpowering. The running back corps is deep and they can all lose tacklers in the open field and block in the backfield.
Still, despite all of the talent on display at the skill positions, the best player on Mater Dei’s offense Friday may have been offensive lineman Myles Murao, the center. A four-star senior, Murao helped shut down Centennial’s Korey Foreman, the nation’s top-rated junior prospect, who only recorded a single sack. That takes some doing in any circumstances, let alone on regional television in a season opener in a comeback from a knee injury. Someone get Murao a game ball.
2) No Elias Ricks, no problem?
Much was made of the departure of rising senior defensive back Elias Ricks’ transfer to IMG Academy and the hole he would leave in the Mater Dei defensive backfield.
Well, what hole again?
The Monarchs defense swarmed like angry bees around the ball no matter what Centennial did with it. That includes sophomore cornerback Domani Jackson, who was recently name-checked to USA TODAY HSS by the Mater Dei coaching staff as having as much raw talent as just about any defensive back in school history. He may not be there yet, but he’s helping fill the role left vacant by Ricks, along with Ray Leutele and Cameron Sidney, both of whom had interceptions on Friday night. The bottom line? The Monarchs are going to be just fine on defense. Just fine.
3) Centennial should declare a mulligan and start the season fresh next week.
No, the Huskies can’t void the loss from their record, but they can pretend it never happened. Ever read the book, “Alexander’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day”? Well, just substitute “Centennial Football” for Alexander and that’s a pretty fair approximation of the Huskies’ season opener. Centennial had multiple drives peter out in the Mater Dei red zone. They had multiple turnovers in their own red zone. And, after appearing shell shocked in the opening quarter, it felt like the Huskies couldn’t get out of their own way.
Centennial will be better. It will compete. Just not on this night.