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High School Sports

St. John Bosco routs Centennial, will face Mater Dei next

St. John Bosco’s Nathaniel Jones tries to break free from Corona Centennial’s defense Nov. 22, 2019.
St. John Bosco’s Nathaniel Jones, who rushed for 90 yards, tries to break free from Corona Centennial’s defense Friday night.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

To put it bluntly, high school football in Southern California at the highest level has become a two-team affair, with Santa Ana Mater Dei and Bellflower St. John Bosco leaving everyone else far behind. If you’re one of their fans, you love it. If not, there’s really no alternative. It’s getting to be like Northern California, where Concord De La Salle has won 27 consecutive North Coast Section titles.

For the fourth consecutive season, the Monarchs (12-0) and the Braves (11-1) will square off next Saturday at Cerritos College for the Southern Section Division 1 championship after blowing out their semifinal opponents. There’s no real competition for the two programs right now.

On Friday night at Corona Centennial, the Huskies were supposed to offer St. John Bosco a strong battle. It didn’t happen. The Braves cruised to a 52-14 victory that included a running clock in the fourth quarter.

At Mission Viejo, Mater Dei rolled to a 49-24 victory over the Diablos.

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St. John Bosco’s offensive line provided enough protection for quarterback DJ Uiagalelei to throw three touchdown passes in the first half as the Braves opened a 31-14 lead at the break. Jode McDuffie caught a 42-yard touchdown pass, and Beaux Collins had scoring receptions of 11 and 41 yards.

The Braves’ receiving group is as good as they come, and Centennial couldn’t prevent the big play despite having junior defensive end standout Korey Foreman doing his best to apply pressure to Uiagalelei.

Uiagalelei completed 11 of 19 passes for 192 yards and four touchdowns.

Under coach Jason Negro, St. John Bosco has become the standard for excellence. St. John Bosco has practiced during Thanksgiving for every season since 2010. That usually means it has reached the semifinals or final. This will be the seventh consecutive final for the Braves. But they still must figure out how to beat the Monarchs, who handed them their only defeat, 38-24 on Oct. 25, and have beaten them in the final in 2017 and 2018.

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St. John Bosco’s defense was effective in denying the big play. Defensive backs Josh Alford and JonJon Vaughns each had interceptions. Lineman Kobe Pepe was a disrupter in the middle, making sure running back Nicholas Floyd had to work for every yard.

For Centennial, Foreman kept asserting himself. He sacked Uiagalelei twice and had another tackle for a loss. But St. John Bosco was able to get its running game in high gear.

Nathaniel Jones rushed for 90 yards, including a 32-yard touchdown. Sophomore Rayshon Luke added 92 yards, including a 55-yard score. Sophomore Jabari Bates had a 51-yard touchdown run and finished with 95 yards on the ground.

“Our defense has stopped the run all season and they’re the only team to do that,” Foreman said.

The Braves’ ability to have balance on offense will be key next week in their rematch against Mater Dei.

“I feel good about it,” Jones said.


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