Tommy Brown, Santa Ana Mater Dei's 6-foot-7, 330-pound offensive tackle, provided a delicious description of what it was like for quarterback J.T. Daniels going back to pass against Bellflower St. John Bosco on Saturday night.
"He was always back there eating a doughnut," Brown said. 'Oh, I might as well throw the ball.'"
On a night in which 11,967 filled Cerritos College's Falcon Field stadium to capacity, Mater Dei (14-0) proved it was the best team in Southern California and maybe the best high school team in the nation with an emphatic 49-24 victory over the Braves in the Southern Section Division 1 final.
Daniels, a junior committed to USC, was pretty much unstoppable given the blanket protection from his offensive line. He completed 19 of 26 passes for 299 yards and five touchdowns.
There's still one game left in the Monarchs' season. The CIF state championship bowl game dates were released on Sunday, and Mater Dei will play Concord De La Salle (11-1) for the Open Division championship on Dec. 16 at Sacramento State in its first-ever bowl appearance.
Sacramento State will be the site for five upper division bowl games Dec. 15-16.
"The motto this year was unfinished business," Daniels said. "We didn't get to it last year."
There are several appealing regional bowl matchups that will take Friday and Saturday. In Division 1-AA, Westlake Village Oaks Christian (12-2) will host San Diego Section Open Division champion Helix (12-1) on Friday night and face the winner of Fresno Central (12-1) vs. Folsom (14-0).
In Division 1-A, Lancaster Paraclete (13-1) will play at City Section Open Division champion Harbor City Narbonne (10-3) on Saturday at 6 p.m. The winner advances to play Pittsburg (8-2) or Granite Bay (12-2).
In 2-AA, San Bernardino Cajon (13-1) plays at Moreno Valley Rancho Verde (12-2) on Friday and will face San Mateo Serra (11-2) or Tulare Union (13-0). Union has running back Kazmeir Allen, who has 70 touchdowns and committed to Chip Kelly of UCLA this past week.
In 2-A, San Bernardino Aquinas (14-0) plays Simi Valley Grace Brethren (12-2) at Moorpark College on Saturday and will play the winner of Mountain View St. Francis (9-4) vs. Manteca (12-2).
City Section teams Crenshaw and Huntington Park are headed on long road trips. Crenshaw (10-3) will play at Oceanside El Camino (8-5) on Friday in 4-AA and Huntington Park (11-3) will play Vincent Memorial (11-2) at Calexico in 6-A on Saturday.
A year ago, Mater Dei was 13-0 and lost in the Division 1 final to St. John Bosco 42-28.
"Revenge feels good," Brown said.
It was the big men up front who powered the Monarchs. The line group consisting of Brown, Chris Murray, Myles Murao, Kekaniokoa Gonzalez and Mason Kolinchak were surprised but happy that the Braves only rushed three for much of the night.
"J.T. didn't get touched," Brown said.
St. John Bosco Coach Jason Negro said the Monarchs' offensive balance left him with few strategic choices.
"It's tough," he said. "It's damn if you do, damn if you don't. They're super difficult. We didn't get into a rhythm defensively."
For veteran Coach Bruce Rollinson, victory was very rewarding. The Monarchs hadn't won a section title since 1999. On their 18th attempt, they won it all. There are plenty of Division 1 schools that get rid of coaches after five years without winning a title. Mater Dei stayed the course.
"There were a lot of people giving up on me," Rollinson told reporters afterward. "I guess we showed them."