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    Fryer: Mater Dei left dazed and defeated by St. John Bosco, but it might get a rematch
    • October 14, 2023

    BELLFLOWER — Last year Mater Dei beat St. John Bosco in the regular season. St. John Bosco beat Mater Dei in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 football championship game.

    Flip the script?

    Mater Dei has to hope so. The Monarchs were shut out by St. John Bosco 28-0 in their Trinity League game Friday at St. John Bosco’s very full, 5,000-capacity Panish Family Stadium.

    What happened in 2022, when either St. John Bosco or Mater Dei wins their Trinity League game and the other team wins the CIF championship game, has happened in other years.

    In 2019, Mater Dei beat St. John Bosco in the regular season. Bosco beat Mater Dei in the CIF-SS Division 1 championship game.

    In 2018, Mater Dei lost to St. John Bosco in the regular season and beat St. John Bosco in the CIF-SS Division 1 final.

    Mater Dei was shut out Friday for the first time since 2011, when the Monarchs lost to Orange Lutheran 28-0.

    Mater Dei quarterback Elijah Brown gains yardage on a keeper play against St. John Bosco in a Trinity League football game in Bellflower on Friday, October 13, 2023. (Sam Gangwer, Contributing Photographer)

    The Monarchs came up with only 182 yards of offense – 121 passing, 61 rushing. Their leading rusher Jordon Davison was injured in the first half and had an ice pack wrapped around his right shin after exiting the game. He did not return, but that is not why Mater Dei had difficulty getting the ground game going.

    Credit St. John Bosco. The Braves’ quickness and size dominated line play when they were on defense and on offense.

    Their offensive line is big and it is excellent: Adrian Tavui, a sophomore who is 6-3 and 301 pounds; Mathays Moe, junior, 6-1 and 376; Matai Jefferson, junior, 6-4, 342; Matthew Perdue, junior, the lightweight of the group at 6-1 and 273; and the wonderfully-named King Large, a senior committed to SMU, 6-4 and 294.

    The Braves rushed for 169 yards on 35 carries. That’s not an overwhelming ground game, but it was superior to what opponents had done to Mater Dei thus far.

    The Monarchs defense had been on quite the roll.

    Mater Dei held JSerra to 107 yards of offense last week in a 42-0 win. And they clogged Servite to minus-19 rushing yards two weeks ago in the Monarchs’ 49-0 win over Servite.

    Mater Dei longtime defensive coordinator Eric Johnson expected what the Monarchs got Friday from the Braves.

    “This is kind of how it is every game,” Johnson said, “but they’re going to try to run the ball on us and we have to stop them from running the ball.”

    After a scoreless first quarter, St. John Bosco’s first touchdown drive was nine plays, all running plays, with Cameron Jones scoring on a 1-yard run for a 7-0 lead.

    St. John Bosco needed to show some formations that Mater Dei might not expect. That might have been one of those on the Braves’ second touchdown.

    On third-and-16 on the Mater Dei 17 with 55 seconds to go in the second quarter, Jones, who had done significant damage from the backfield, lined up at tight end. Braves quarterback Caleb Sanchez found Jones alone in the backfield for the touchdown pass that gave Bosco a 14-0 lead.

    Johnson’s other prediction: “I expect them to go real quick,” meaning plenty of no-huddle action from the Bosco offense. And Bosco presented plenty of that.

    St. John Bosco running back Cameron Jones breaks through for a touchdown in the second quarter against Mater Dei in a Trinity League football game in Bellflower on Friday, October 13, 2023. (Sam Gangwer, Contributing Photographer)

    Johnson hoped that the Monarchs’ pass rush could be disruptive.

    “Their quarterback is good,” Johnson said, “but he’s had time to throw. We’ll have to see how he does against pressure.”

    Sanchez was sacked only once, by junior defensive lineman Semi Taulanga in the first half. He had to hurry some throws while completing 10 of 21 passes for 115 yards. Those are not exactly wild numbers, but he did not throw an interception, and St. John Bosco committed no turnovers.

    That’s how St. John Bosco beat Mater Dei, the No. 1 team in various national rankings going into Friday’s game.

    Mater Dei won’t be No. 1 next week. They won’t be No. 1 in the Trinity League, either. St. John Bosco is 3-0, Mater Dei is 2-1.

    But there could be a chance to be No. 1 in CIF Southern Section Division 1 next month. And given the history, that chance could come again against St. John Bosco.

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    ​ Orange County Register