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Trinity League football media day highlights expert coaches, talented athletes

Servite players surround coach Troy Thomas for a photo at Trinity League media day.
Servite players surround coach Troy Thomas at Trinity League media day.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

If you just arrived from another planet and showed up Friday for the Trinity League football media day in Long Beach and just listened to the presentation of the six coaches, you’d think, “These people know what they are doing.”

Yes, talent matters, but Jason Negro (St. John Bosco), Bruce Rollinson (Mater Dei), Troy Thomas (Servite), Scott McKnight (JSerra), Anthony Rouzier (Santa Margarita) and Rod Sherman (Orange Lutheran) are exceptional at what they do. Their schools are paying them big bucks to produce big results while developing young men on and off the field, and they all seem to have embraced the pressure, expectations and competition to be the best.

Rollinson, in his 33rd season, is having so much fun that he insisted he has no intention of retiring as long as he stays healthy. Negro is 121-21 in his 12th year at St. John Bosco with the toughest schedule in America. Thomas was so emotional talking about his son, Houston, receiver Mikey Welsh and an injured player, Maxx Silao, that you wonder why a “Hard Knocks” for high school football doesn’t feature the Friars.

Rouzier, in his first season, talked about playing chess with his All-American defensive tackle from Germany, Hero Kanu, and how his goal is to be invited to each players’ wedding. McKnight, in his first season, has a plan to keep JSerra competitive by hiring top assistants. Sherman is back for another stint, having helped coach Orange Lutheran to a Pac-5 title — then the Southern Section’s top division — in 2006 as an assistant. Except he knows things have changed dramatically, with Mater Dei and St. John Bosco in domination mode. He’s ready for the challenge, insisting playing or practicing “OK” is not good enough.

It sets the stage for another football season in which Trinity League teams and players should be prominent. Speaking of players. Imagine what is it like when receiver CJ Williams and cornerback Domani Jackson do battle daily in practices at Mater Dei?

Williams said it’s like going against an NFL player. Jackson said of Williams, “He’s a baller.”

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As for news, Mater Dei has lost two games on its schedule because of COVID-19 restrictions. Corona Centennial had to cancel its Aug. 20 game against the Monarch after two players tested positive, making it unlikely the Huskies would have completed the required CIF number of practices to play. The Monarchs also were scheduled to play a team from Hawaii at St. John Bosco next month, but all sports competition in Hawaii has been halted until Sept. 24 because athletes need to be vaccinated.

The biggest player on Friday was St. John Bosco offensive tackle Earnest Greene III, who checked in at 6 feet 5 and 330 pounds. He might be the Braves’ best lineman since Wyatt Davis, who went on to star at Ohio State and is in his first year as an NFL player.

Another great individual matchup will be when Greene is blocking against Santa Margarita’s Kanu, who is 6-4, 290 pounds. Kanu has played in just six football games in his life as a 16-year-old former soccer player from Germany, but one of them came against Greene during the spring.

“When he learns the game, it might be a scary sight,” Greene said.

Sherman has hired some impressive assistant coaches, including former Orange Lutheran quarterback Aaron Corp and former Mater Dei offensive lineman Chris Ward. McKnight has hired former UC Davis quarterback Randy Wright to be his offensive coordinator at JSerra.

Players were asked which school has the best cheering section, and it seems that Servite’s Asylum has everyone’s attention.

“They’re ridiculous doing bench presses,” Mater Dei cornerback Josh Hunter said.

“They’re hilarious,” Mater Dei linebacker David Bailey said.

St. John Bosco opens league play against Mater Dei on Oct. 1 and ends league play against Servite on Oct. 29.


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