It’s the game of the month and maybe the game of the year in Southern California high school football.
Santa Ana Mater Dei (7-0), ranked No. 1 by The Times, faces No. 2 Bellflower St. John Bosco (6-1) on Friday night at Cerritos College in a 7:30 p.m. game to be televised by Fox Sports West.
“This is what you live for — playing in the biggest game,” St. John Bosco receiver Terrell Bynum said.
As if fans needed more excitement, there’s a doubleheader on Saturday at the Coliseum matching four teams that have combined to win 27 City Section championships. Dorsey will play Crenshaw at 10 a.m., followed by San Pedro taking on Banning at 1:30 p.m.
Los Angeles sports fans are already pretty preoccupied following the Dodgers, Rams, Lakers, Clippers, USC and UCLA, but this is a weekend for teenage athletes to share the spotlight.
“When we walk through the tunnel, it’s going to give us chills and pump us up,” Dorsey quarterback Jerman Gotoy said of playing on the field the Rams and USC call home. “It’s going to be a great experience.”
Six of the seven teams Mater Dei has beaten have been ranked in The Times’ top 25, but the Monarchs haven’t faced a team the caliber of Las Vegas Bishop Gorman, which defeated St. John Bosco, 35-20, or Florida IMG Academy, which defeated No. 3 Corona Centennial, 50-49.
What Mater Dei has is a group of skill-position players the likes of which are rarely seen on one team. USC has offers out to four Monarch receivers -- brothers Osiris and Amon-ra St. Brown, Bru McCoy and Nikko Remigio, plus standout sophomore quarterback J.T. Daniels.
Daniels has completed 81% of his passes and thrown for 40 touchdowns. Those are Peyton Manning-like numbers.
Bynum knows all about the St. Brown brothers. He played with them at Anaheim Servite. His challenge will be taking on a Mater Dei secondary in which all four starters — Quentin Lake, Jalen Cole, Xavier Bell and Chase Ault — have scholarship offers.
“It’s going to be a great environment,” said Bynum, a Washington commit. “It will be best against best. That’s what makes it fun.”
The Los Angeles Unified School District negotiated use of the Coliseum for the two-game series on Saturday. The City finals used to be held there but costs became too prohibitive, so this year’s finals will be held at El Camino College on Dec. 3. That means the players at the Coliseum will be the only ones getting to play there this season.
“It’s just going to be a surreal feeling to step on a field with so much history,” said Banning Coach John Aponte, a New York native and former Marine. “It’s a legendary place. From where I come from, it’s like playing at Madison Square Garden.”
Banning, a 12-time City champion, is 7-0 going into its Marine League game against five-time champion San Pedro (6-1). Both teams have future games set against City title favorite Harbor City Narbonne (7-0).
Dorsey (4-3, 1-1) and Crenshaw (4-3, 2-0) are playing in a Coliseum League game. Their rivalry is filled with famous alumni, from Keyshawn Johnson to De’Anthony Thomas. The intensity level is always high but it might reach another level considering the surroundings.
“I think all my teammates will be held to a higher standard,” Gotoy said.
Aponte wants his Banning players to have fun and understand this weekend will produce special memories.
“These guys may never step into that Coliseum again without buying a ticket,” he said. “We’re going to embrace the moment.”