When it comes to CIF Southern Section championship football games, the Bush brothers are back.
For the second year in a row, Sam (Mater Dei High) and Peter (Corona del Mar) will play for a championship, only this time they are not playing on the same day as they did last year.
In 2012, Peter was the lone Bush to come away with a championship ring, as a freshman call-up who won a CIF Southern Section Southern Division title with the Sea Kings.
This year, most of the attention in the Bush household is for Sam, the father Blaine Bush said, because he is a senior and it would be great for him to win a Pac-5 championship before graduating.
Sam, Mater Dei's left tackle, believes the Monarchs (11-2) are capable of taking down top-seeded St. John Bosco (13-0), the Trinity League champion that beat Mater Dei, 24-2, on Nov. 1. This time the teams meet Saturday at 8 p.m. at Angel Stadium.
"Last year, I felt like our team was really tense. We played tense," Sam said of the Monarchs' loss to Long Beach Poly last year. "This year, it's not completely laid back, but it's not tense. I have a better feeling about it this year."
Sam, who transferred in to Mater Dei from Newport Harbor after his sophomore season, enters with more confidence and experience than last year. Newport Harbor plays in the Southwest Division championship game against Huntington Beach Saturday at 2 p.m. at Angel Stadium.
As a key player for a traditional powerhouse, Sam has gained attention to play on the next level. He said he is interested in playing for Princeton, Penn, Cornell, Villanova, Cal, University of San Diego and Amherst.
Mater Dei Coach Bruce Rollinson said Sam's dedication to his academics has allowed him to gain more opportunities with regard to recruiting. Sam has also shown great character on the football field, Rollinson said.
"He transferred in and we had to throw him right into the fire as a junior," Rollinson said. "I think he thought it was going to be a little easier than it was. The competition week in and week out is probably a little bit stiffer in the Trinity League. A little bit stiffer than what he was used to.
"Two things happened. One, it was baptism under fire. He had a lot of strong performances and he showed the areas that he needed to improve. Secondly, his character was a great stimulus for us. He's a wonderful, young man."
Rollinson has enjoyed Sam's leadership and personality.
"I've often said this to people about Sam," Rollinson said. "Sam could either be on Saturday Night Live or he could be a great debater."
Sam is excited the Monarchs have returned to the championship game, along with his younger brother and the Sea Kings.
"I'm so proud of him and what he has done this year," Sam said of Peter. "To be able to get this experience with both of us playing in the championship again, it's really special."
What Peter has done in his two seasons at CdM could be described as special. It could be said, the kid knows how to win.
The teams he's played on the past two seasons have been undefeated, as the freshmen went unbeaten last year and the varsity team has been perfect. Peter, a backup quarterback for the varsity team, also produced for the junior varsity team this season and helped lead the JV to an undefeated season.
Recently he has shown what the Sea Kings' future can be, as starter Luke Napolitano will graduate in the spring and Peter figures to be the next in line.
"He's done well in these playoff games," CdM Coach Scott Meyer said. "He's been getting playing time in the fourth quarter. He's getting playoff experience."
Peter has appreciated the playing time and said it has motivated him to perform better next season. He wants to do as much as he can to keep winning and to keep the Sea Kings in contention.
CdM (13-0) is playing for its third straight CIF Southern Section Southern Division title, against Garden Grove (13-0) Friday night at 7 at Orange Coast College.
"It's hard to follow [the quarterbacks before me], but I think I can do it," Sam said of being the next in line to be the starting QB. "I'm going to play my hardest and play to my standards. And, I think we are going to have a lot of success."
As a backup, Peter knows he must always be ready to go if anything should happen to Napolitano. Peter recalls having his number called earlier this season against El Toro.
He had to enter the game after Napolitano suffered a cramp and the Sea Kings were faced with a third-and-long. Peter came in and threw a perfect strike down the sideline, on a hitch-and-go to Cole Collins.
"He has a lot of potential," Meyer said of Peter. "He's going to be really good we think."
Peter has been able to excel because he draws inspiration from his older brother, he said.
"He's my role model," Peter said of Sam. "I just try to live up to him every day."
Blaine, a Newport Harbor alumnus who played football for the Sailors, said he is proud of both of his sons. He has enjoyed watching Peter mature and become a better quarterback since he just began playing the position last year.
Blaine said both Sam and Peter have worked extremely hard to help their teams reach the CIF title game.
"It's just hard to believe," Blaine said of his sons both being in a CIF Southern Section title game again.