Rollinson isn't surprised to see St. John Bosco in final


LONG BEACH -- As Bruce Rollinson wished St. John Bosco good luck in the CIF-SS Division 1 final, the Mater Dei football coach noted that he wasn’t surprised that the Braves were on the receiving end of those pleasantries Monday.

“In honesty, when the game (in the Trinity League) was over, I said, ‘I have a feeling I’m going to see them again,’ ” Rollinson said at the Southern Section’s 41st annual football championship press conference luncheon at The Grand in Long Beach.

“So it turns out that we have a rematch. I knew that they would be right there at the end and they found a way to get out of Cerritos College (in the semifinals) and here we go at (Angel) Stadium.”

St. John Bosco coach Jason Negro also forecasted Saturday’s duel for the Division 1 title, saying before the teams’ clash on Oct. 21, “There’s a good chance this game is played twice this year.”

Top-seeded Mater Dei (13-0) rallied to win the Trinity League game, 26-21, ending the Braves’ 23-game win streak in the league.

Third-seeded St. John Bosco (12-1) hasn’t lost since the league showdown and edged playoff nemesis and No. 2 seed Centennial of Corona, 49-47, in the semifinals Friday. The Monarchs beat fourth-seeded Rancho Cucamonga last week in the semifinals, 48-21.

Mater Dei and St. John Bosco play Saturday at Angel Stadium at 7:30 p.m.

Mater Dei senior cornerback Quentin Lake said Monday that he had mixed feelings on who would win the St. John Bosco-Centennial game, but he is excited to continue the rivalry with the Braves.

Mater Dei and St. John Bosco are ranked third and eighth, respectively, in the nation by

“It’s really something special to play them again in the championship,” said Lake, a UCLA commit. “This is the game we look for every year, when we play Bosco. Our intensity goes up. Our focus goes up that week in practice.

“It’s just something we always pursue going into the season. We want to beat Bosco. … A lot of our players respect their players just because of how well they’re playing.”

The Braves could have revenge on their mind Saturday when they make a fourth consecutive appearance in the Division 1 final at Angel Stadium. But Mater Dei will be plenty hungry as it seeks its first section title since 1999.

“We play for the players of the past,” Mater Dei senior linebacker Jackson McCleery said. “We’re trying to bring this home not only for us, not only for the coaches and the school but for them, too.

“That’s kind of our motivation for this, to bring it back home to the boys that played before us.”

Rollinson said defeating St. John Bosco a second time will require repeating some of the successes from the first meeting -- no turnovers on offense, no big plays allowed -- and re-analyzing the matchup.

"You look at everything they've done since we've played them," Rollinson explained. "Are there any structural changes? Is there anything you go, 'Oh, they're doing that now. They're not doing this anymore.

"Then what you do is study the game that you played against them and you say, 'Ok, were we solid here? We thought this was a good idea and we got smacked, so that's not such a great idea. And you always leave parts of your game plan in a notebook. You didn't get to it for whatever reason.

"So you go, 'OK, why didn't do that? We practiced it. Do we want to do it again? Meaning, something they didn't see. And after that, you just basically throw caution to the wind and count on the kids to be ready."

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