When I spoke with Mater Dei head coach Bruce Rollinson at the start of fall camp at the end of July, the legendary Monarch coach talked about not forgetting last December. That’s when his team was pretty much dominated by St. John Bosco 42-28 in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 championship game. Bosco went-on to defeat De La Salle in the CIF Open Division championship game two weeks later.
Tonight at El Camino College, Mater Dei enters as the nation’s unanimous No. 1 team. With a win, the Monarchs will take a huge stride toward defending its 2016 Trinity League championship, which was won on the heals of a come-from-behind 26-21 win over Bosco during the regular season at Cerritos College. SJB had won four straight Trinity League titles prior to last season.
Highlights from last season’s regular season game
Rollinson and his players know that Friday night’s game is just a first step toward the ultimate goal, however, it does give the winner the inside track to the No. 1 seed for this year’s CIF-SS Division 1 playoffs.
Mater Dei (6-0, 1-0 Trinity) enters the game averaging over 48 points a game behind an explosive offense led by junior quarterback JT Daniels, who’s given his verbal to USC. He’s completed over 72-percent of his passes with 22 touchdowns with only one interception.
After missing the first three games with a thumb injury, Amon-Ra St. Brown is now third on the team in receptions with six touchdowns. St. Brown is considered the No. 2 receiver in the Class of 2018 by 247sports’ composite rankings. He’s ranked as the 11th best overall college football prospect.
Daniels has thrown TD passes to seven different receivers, so far this season.
Look for Mater Dei to use a balanced attack tonight featuring running back Shakobe Harper, who’s averaging eight yards per carry. Harper scored the game-winning touchdown in last season’s regular season game.
Defensively, the Monarchs hope to come-up with a performance like the ones they had against nationally-ranked opponents No. 13 Bishop Gorman (Nevada) and No. 40 Bergen Catholic (New Jersey). In both of those wins, the defense swarmed to the ball and hit hard.
Linebackers Solomon Tuliaupupu and Jack Genova are the team’s leading tacklers, who’ll hope to pressure Bosco (5-1, 1-0 Trinity) sophomore quarterback DJ Uiagelelei, who will be making his first varsity start for No. 15 Bosco with Iowa State-bound Re-al Mitchell out for the game with an undisclosed injury.