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Mater Dei beats St. John Bosco to win Trinity League, and how much more?

Mater Dei's Shu'yab Brinkley intercepts a pass in the end zone intended for St John Bosco's James Chedon.
Mater Dei’s Shu’yab Brinkley intercepts a pass in the end zone intended for St John Bosco’s James Chedon on Saturday night in Santa Ana.
(Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times)

There is no national championship game in high school football. Perhaps the annual game involving Santa Ana Mater Dei and Bellflower St. John Bosco should become one. At least from a talent perspective, few games can equal what was on display during a clear, pleasant April night at Santa Ana Stadium that ended the six-week COVID-19 spring season in the Southern Section.

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After the season was cut short by COVID, outside linebacker Raesjon Davis chose to finish his senior year. Davis is a Mater Dei senior linebacker who will attend USC on a football scholarship.

The game was more than big-boy football. The quality of the competition was so good you could imagine college recruiters watching on television salivating for the chance to coach the dozens of available prospects.

Mater Dei (5-0) came away with a 34-17 victory on the strength of four touchdown passes from freshman quarterback Elijah Brown. The Monarchs can lay claim as Trinity League champions, best in Southern California and best in California.

St. John Bosco (5-1) was in position to launch a comeback on the first play of the fourth quarter. Quarterback Katin Houser was on his way to scoring a touchdown on an option play, but before he made it into the end zone, Quincy Craig stripped the ball out of his hands and Jacob Kongaika fell on it for a touchback. End of comeback and pretty much end of game down with Mater Dei leading by 14 points.

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There were many elite individual performances.

Junior receiver CJ Williams of Mater Dei caught touchdown passes of 18 and 26 yards to help Mater Dei take a 24-14 halftime lead.

There was sophomore tight end Matayo Uiagalelei of St. John Bosco, who deserves the nickname Baby Gronk. He had a 26-yard touchdown reception that saw Craig do all he could trying to cover him, but at 6-foot-5 and 263 pounds, Uiagalelei is on another level.

There was St. John Bosco junior running back Jabari Bates, who had a 66-yard touchdown run and 122 yards rushing in 10 carries.

And then there was Brown, who completed 14 of 23 passes for 203 yards and thrust himself into Mater Dei lore alongside the likes of Matt Barkley and JT Daniels in playing exceptionally as a freshman at quarterback.

Mater Dei led 7-0, then St. John Bosco tied it. The Braves went up 14-7 at the end of the quarter, then Mater Dei tied it. A 64-yard touchdown reception by Kyron Ware-Hudson gave Mater Dei a 21-14 lead. Then Chase Meyer added a 38-yard field goal. He also had a 42-yard field goal.

St. John Bosco didn’t help its cause with 13 penalties for 150 yards.

Mater Dei coach Bruce Rollinson still hasn’t forgotten his team’s collapse against St. John Bosco in the 2019 Division 1 final. The Monarchs led 28-12 before losing 39-34 on a sack and fumble at the end. “There’s a bitter taste,” he said earlier this week. “Stuck on the 11-yard line, all things indicating we shouldn’t pull it out. And we didn’t. And the kids have been reminded of that over and over again.”

The game is a boon to college recruiters who have been unable to leave their campuses because of pandemic restrictions. Having a high school game in which more than 50 of the players have FBS offers will produce the kind of rare scouting opportunity that recruiters dream of, comparing a prospect against top competition and evaluating how they perform.

Attendance was limited to 2,950 in a stadium that seats 9,000. Neither team was allowed to use the locker rooms. Dressing and talks were done outside.

Bring on track: Saturday marks the end of football season for lots of athletes, who will move immediately into the track and field season.

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St. John Bosco running back Rayshon Luke, one of the top sprinters in the state, has three weeks to get into sprinting shape. He’s entered in the 100 meters in the Arcadia Invitational on May 8. Mater Dei’s Domani Jackson is another top sprinter.

Douglas resigns: On Saturday morning, Playa del Rey St. Bernard sent out an email to parents that football coach Manuel Douglas had resigned for personal reasons only hours before the team’s final game of the spring season. St. Bernard ended up defeating Compton Dominguez 64-25 with a running clock.

Douglas, the former head coach at Harbor City Narbonne, was in his first season. His resignation could trigger an exodus of exceptional young talent just as spring practice will be beginning next month for the upcoming fall season.


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