The game: Was never really close. St. John Bosco scored on four of its six first half possessions, while Mater Dei punted the ball five times and had its sixth drive cut short by the halftime whistle. The Monarchs accumulated more penalty yards (65) than it did total offense (64) in the opening 24 minutes. Mater Dei quarterback JT Daniels by no means looked overwhelmed by the moment, but chasing 28 points against one of the top teams in the country is a tall order for any signal caller. When a Bosco punt bounced off a Mater Dei player and into the arms of an SJB player at the start of the third, it was apparent absolutely nothing was going Mater Dei’s way on Friday.
Key to the game: The Braves defense. A week after overwhelming Santa Margarita and KJ Costello, the SJB defense had similar success against Mater Dei's offense. Bosco made sure it tested Daniels early and often on Friday, constantly changing defensive fronts and coverage schemes on the freshman. In playing the run so well - Brandon LaMarche’s longest run was 8 yards in the first half - the Braves consistently put Mater Dei in third-and-long situations. Mater Dei went 0-for-5 on third downs and moved the chains just twice in the first two quarters. Daniels and the offense went three-and-out on four of its six drives in the first half. The Monarchs youngster was also sacked four times throughout the course of the night.
Players of the game: SJB running back SeanMcGrew. He looks like Sonic the Hedgehog out on the football field. What he lacks in size (5-foot-7, 176 pounds) he more than makes up for in explosiveness. The Washington-bound senior is one of the most impressive players you’ll see from a speed and vision perspective. McGrew tallied runs of 45, 81 and 56 yards against a talented Mater Dei defense to finish with 214 yards on 16 carries. His 45-yard scurry set up Bosco’s first score, while the 81- and 56-yarders resulted in touchdowns. At no point this season will McGrew get run down from behind, and if he ever gets the edge and hits the sideline, watch out.
Key stat: Mater Dei was flagged nine times for 65 yards in the first half. Three false starts, three offsides, two holding and one delay of game penalty. Again, you’re never going to play a perfect game. But against a team of Bosco’s caliber, with a freshman quarterback under center, you have to play disciplined ball. Mater Dei didn’t cross the 50-yard line until the third quarter, namely, because it kept moving backwards in the first half. Another eye-opener was the nine drops. As talented and as deep as the Monarchs are at that position, you have to help your quarterback out if he’s putting the ball on the numbers.
They said it: “Now it’s, ‘Mater Dei, how hard do you want to work? How important is it to you to get back into the fight and take care of the little things?’” - Mater Dei coach Bruce Rollinson remarked after the loss to St. John Bosco. The Monarchs longtime head coach knows the season is far from over after the 21-point defeat. Facing its first real piece of adversity this season, Rollinson will now see the type of character his group of guys possess.
What it means: St. John Bosco is the overwhelming favorite to not only win their fourth straight Trinity League title, but to do so in style. The Braves physically look the part of Pac-5 championship contenders, and they certainly played like it on Friday. They'll see JSerra (5-2, 0-2) next Friday.
With Orange Lutheran and Santa Margarita both winning this week, Mater Dei finds itself as one of four Trinity League teams with a 1-1 league mark. Rival Servite - who is also 1-1 - is up next at Angel Stadium. With three league wins usually being the magic number in terms of a guaranteed playoff spot, the Monarchs can ill-afford to drop consecutive contests.