Fryer: Mater Dei earns its three stripes again


COSTA MESA – We have seen it before, and it happened again. Mater Dei won a football game it seemed unlikely to win.

The Monarchs were coming off of a dismal 24-2 loss to St. John Bosco, were missing their best offensive player, injured running back Justin Allen, and were playing an Orange Lutheran team that had walloped Santa Margarita, 54-14, last week.

Mater Dei coach Bruce Rollinson likes to say “there's magic in those three stripes” on the Mater Dei helmets, and the Monarchs found some Friday at Orange Coast College. Mater Dei put together a great offensive and defensive game plan to beat Orange Lutheran, 15-0.

Mater Dei found out early that it could control the line of scrimmage, so it pounded the ball on offense, mixed in a few timely passes and on defense applied pressure on the Lutheran quarterback.

So now Mater Dei goes to the playoffs as the Trinity League's No. 2 team. St. John Bosco is the league's No. 1 playoff representative. The Braves had no trouble beating Servite on Friday.

Orange Lutheran was dropped into the Trinity League three-way tie with JSerra and Servite. Because JSerra beat Servite, Servite beat Orange Lutheran and Orange Lutheran beat JSerra, coin flips had to determine the final order of finish, which came out this way: 3. Servite; 4. Orange Lutheran; and 5. JSerra.

JSerra, though, probably is going to the playoffs for the first time.

The Lions, who got their second big win in as many weeks, with a 26-7 victory over Santa Margarita, and Orange Lutheran look like the leading candidates to get the Pac-5 Division's two at-large berths. Strength of league is part of the criteria the at-large committee will use to select the at-large teams. And there is no better league in the Pac-5 Division, or in California, than the Trinity League.

We shall find out for sure which teams get at-large berths in all divisions today at 6 p.m. when the CIF-Southern Section announces which teams qualified as at-large teams. Playoff brackets will be released Sunday beginning with the Pac-5 and Southern divisions at 11 a.m., with the East Valley and Northeast division brackets at 11:20 a.m. and the Southwest bracket at 11:40.

Santa Margarita is the Trinity League's No. 6 team, and that means no playoffs for Eagles coach Harry Welch in his final season at the school. He announced before the season began that this would be his last as Santa Margarita's head coach.

Leagues' No. 1 teams are guaranteed first-round home games against another league's No. 3 team or an at-large team. A No. 2 team might be at home against another No. 2 or a No. 3 team, or could be on the road against a No. 2 team. No. 3 teams and at-large teams will play away games in the first round, and likely against another league's No. 1 team.

Friday being the final night of the football season, there were plenty of big games and huge accomplishments.

Costa Mesa beat Laguna Beach to win the Orange Coast League championship.

La Habra beat Buena Park as expected, but the game was tighter than most probably expected. The Highlanders prevailed, 21-14, to win another league championship.

San Juan Hills won its first league championship. The Stallions, 0-10 just two years ago, beat Dana Hills to finish 4-0 in the Sea View League. San Juan Hills' Aaron Flowers will be in the discussion for coach of the year.

Santa Ana Valley won the Orange League championship, as Falcons running back Alex Hernandez had another productive game.

It was a magical night for San Juan Hills, Costa Mesa, JSerra and plenty of other Orange County teams, including the one with the three white stripes on the red helmets.

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