John Peart, Fountain Valley High School quarterback, teamed with wide receiver Dennis Arey on three touchdown pass-plays Thursday night to lead the Barons to a 20-10 victory over Mater Dei in front of 8,000 fans in Santa Ana Stadium.
The duo combined on touchdown plays of 22, 88 and 7 yards in a game that saw a total of 67 passes thrown for 387 yards in the season opener for both.
Peart, who started the final three games for Fountain Valley last year, completed only 7 of 23 pass attempts for 167 yards, but threw two touchdown passes in the last quarter when he rallied his team from a 10-7 deficit.
Mater Dei sophomore Todd Marinovich completed 21 of 44 pass attempts for 220 yards and a touchdown, but he also threw three interceptions. Marinovich’s 21-yard scoring pass to wide receiver Jim O’Brien with 11:06 left in the last quarter had given the Monarchs a 10-7 lead.
But just 11 seconds later, Peart connected with Arey on an 88-yard bomb that pushed Fountain Valley ahead for good. Arey, a 4.65 sprinter in the 40-yard dash, slipped behind the Monarch secondary on a post pattern, caught the ball on the Baron 45-yard line and then dashed to the end zone.
“I was having problems finding the ball all night so it was nice to get that touchdown,” Arey said. “We haven’t thrown at night much, and I couldn’t see the ball.”
Earlier, Arey had dropped what looked like a sure touchdown in the first quarter and then fumbled on a punt return that Mater Dei’s John Doyle recovered at the Baron 23-yard line to set up the Monarchs’ only touchdown.
Peart also had his share of problems. He started well, completing his opening two passes but then failed to complete a pass in 10 consecutive attempts.
“It was first-game jitters,” Peart said. “I was just off a little tonight, but I promise we’ll get better when we get our running game going.”
The Barons played without their fastest player, tailback Tom Vrab, was is still recovering from knee surgery. Vrab received a doctor’s release on Tuesday and should be ready to play next week against El Toro. Fullback Terry Reichert did an admirable job replacing Vrab and gained 100 yards on 21 carries.
“I was disappointed that we turned the ball over and it resulted in a score for Mater Dei,” said Mike Milner, Baron coach. “But I was also pleased with a lot of things we did tonight.
“I thought Terry did a great job filling in at tailback. He’s a fullback who was playing a tailback spot in an I-formation offense and did a great job. I was also pleased with the play of John Peart and Dennis Arey. I think we’re going to be a good football team.”
Chuck Gallo, Mater Dei coach, also liked what he saw.
“We played a much better game this year than last year’s game (a 17-13 loss) because we were able to generate a lot more offense this year,” Gallo said. “Fountain Valley is a very good football team. They’re big on both lines and they kicked our tail up front.”
Mater Dei fans had better plan on long games this season because it appears that Marinovich will be going to the air often. Mater Dei had only 18 running plays and 12 of those came in the second half.
Baron defensive back Daniel Ramsey had two interceptions, including one in the Monarch end zone that ended a scoring drive in the third quarter. Marinovich tried to hit wide receiver Tony Rocco on the play, but Ramsey made an excellent play to stop what looked like a sure touchdown.
“That play killed us,” Gallo said. “The game turned around when that kid made the interception. Our receiver ran the wrong route, or I think we would have scored and won the game.”