There might be a new nickname for 6-foot-4, 245-pound DJ Uiagalelei of Bellflower St. John Bosco. He was starting to throw the football around Friday night during warmups when a boom of thunder and a bolt of lightning struck near Santa Ana Stadium. It was captured on video, causing one fan to boast on Twitter, “We got Thor at quarterback.”
Uiagalelei and his energized St. John Bosco teammates played a near flawless first half on Saturday night in a rescheduled Trinity League showdown against Santa Ana Mater Dei.
The Braves executed so well that they went 23 minutes without being called for a penalty.
Coach Jason Negro held nothing back. The No. 1-ranked Braves (8-0, 3-0) attacked on defense, protected Uiagalelei on offense and had many contributors in a 41-18 victory over No. 2 Mater Dei (6-2, 2-1). It was the Monarchs’ first defeat on the field since 2016, which was also inflicted by St. John Bosco.
Uiagalelei completed 15 of 22 passes for 279 yards and five touchdowns. He also ran for 60 yards. Jake Bailey caught six passes for 161 yards and three touchdowns. George Holani rushed for 123 yards in 12 carries and scored on a 75-yard run to start the fourth quarter.
“I thought we did a great job tackling in space,” Negro said. “The mentality of this football team is next level.”
Said Mater Dei coach Bruce Rollinson: “We were off. If that was part of the cancellation, I don’t know.”
The win puts the Braves in strong position to claim the No. 1 seed for the Southern Section Division 1 playoffs and also avoid a possible matchup with unbeaten Corona Centennial until the finals at the earliest. The teams have played five consecutive years in the playoffs.
St. John Bosco had three drives of 80 yards in the first half in opening a 27-10 halftime lead.
The Braves went with quick passes and used Uiagalelei’s legs early on to keep the Monarchs off balance. Bailey caught touchdown passes of 10 and 25 yards. Holani scored on a 27-yard screen pass. Kristopher Hutson had a 24-yard touchdown reception.
Mater Dei never got its rushing attack going, and quarterback Bryce Young was forced to take too long to release the ball.
He had an eight-yard touchdown pass to Bru McCoy during a fast-paced first quarter that left the Braves ahead 13-10.
Young came in completing 77% of his passes, but St. John Bosco’s defense was effective in cutting down on his accuracy. He was 23 of 41 for 303 yards and two touchdowns.
The Monarchs failed to convert four times on fourth down, with each possession ending on an incompletion. Kourt Williams had a key sack in the first half and was used to blitz from the outside.
The crowd size was several thousand fewer than showed up for Friday night’s lightning-postponed game. St. John Bosco players looked much more loose in pregame activities. Players were dancing to loud music in the locker room after being so amped up one night earlier. This was like a baseball rainout that rarely happens in football.
“It’s weird,” Negro said before the game. “I’ve never experienced this.”
The way the Braves played, Negro is unlikely to object to any future postponements caused by lightning.