There were more than a dozen high school football games canceled around Southern California on Friday because of an excessive heat warning.
With the temperature in the low 90s at Santa Ana Stadium and UCLA coach Jim Mora and USC coach Clay Helton on the sideline, there was no way they were going to call off the nationally televised game between Santa Ana Mater Dei, ranked No. 1 in California, and Las Vegas Bishop Gorman, ranked No. 1 in Nevada.
Players were so fired up that Mater Dei linebacker Solomon Tuliaupupu, not wearing a helmet, decided to give a pregame head butt to teammate Stephon Robins, who was wearing a helmet.
“It did wake me up,” Robins said. “I was nervous. It was the first time I was starting this season.”
Then came the game and the matchup most wanted to see. At quarterback for Bishop Gorman was UCLA commit Dorian Thompson-Robinson. At quarterback for Mater Dei was USC commit J.T. Daniels.
Daniels and the Monarchs came away with a 35-21 victory, ending Bishop Gorman’s win streak at 55 games. It’s the first time since 2010 that a California team has beaten the Gaels. And the Monarchs (2-0) can probably call themselves No. 1 in America — at least after two games.
Daniels completed 19 of 32 passes for 315 yards and two touchdowns. Shakobe Harper provided a big boost to the Monarchs’ offense, rushing for 116 yards and two touchdowns. Nikko Remigio caught six passes for 113 yards and two touchdowns. Bru McCoy caught six passes for 144 yards. And Robins, a senior, had an interception.
For Bishop Gorman, Thompson-Robinson was 15 for 37 for 334 yards and two touchdowns. Cedric Tillman caught seven passes for 182 yards and one touchdown.
With a 14-7 halftime lead, Mater Dei used the opening minute of the third quarter to pull away. Daniels guided the Monarchs on a three-play, 80-yard scoring drive, connecting with Remigio for a 26-yard touchdown. Then sophomore Darion Green returned an interception 42 yards for a touchdown and a 28-7 lead.
Bishop Gorman closed to 28-21 in the fourth quarter before a Harper 20-yard touchdown proved decisive.
“The kids battled,” Mater Dei coach Bruce Rollinson said. “They gave me 48 minutes. They laid it on the line.”
The Monarchs had three sacks, two by Nathan Logoleo. Thompson-Robinson was running for his life at times.
“That kid is a heck of a quarterback,” Rollinson said. “We were hitting him for everything we’re worth.”
Bishop Gorman has been routinely coming to Southern California to play Trinity League teams, so why not invite the Gaels to join the league since they have no problem making the 267-mile trip from Las Vegas?
Southern Section Commissioner Rob Wigod said if the Trinity League wanted the Gaels to join and the Nevada Athletic Assn. gave its approval, it could happen. Of course, Wigod asked if it were April Fools’ Day.