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Albano on football: O.C. better for Rollinson-White rivalry
It was the most anticipated postgame encounter between coaches in the young football season. It might finish as the most memorable, and important.
After 17 consecutive seasons of intense competition under the Orange County spotlight, Mater Dei’s Bruce Rollinson and Edison’s Dave White met Friday night for likely the final time as opposing coaches.
All rivalries eventually end but it was a moment that won’t, and shouldn’t, be forgotten because of its example.
The longtime private school kingpin and his well-respected and soon-to-be retired public school rival exchanged smiles, chatted and lingered on the turf at Orange Coast College.
Yes, tough competitors can still be friends. That's what their interaction shouted for all to see.
“It’s been an honor to coach against those guys and coach against him,” Rollinson said after the top-ranked Monarchs' 42-0 victory. “Everyone knows from Day 1 that I’m a big Dave White fan. I respect how he prepares his teams. They’re so well-coached. We’ve had so many great battles. … I consider him and his sons good friends.
“I respect the White Family and I respect what Dave has done at that high school. No excuses. Never. He battles. He prepares. That high school is losing a great football coach.”
White, who is retiring after this season, his 31st as Edison's coach, also expressed his respect for Rollinson.
“We’re just really good friends and respect the heck out of each other,” said White, whose squad fell to 4-1. “I think he respects a public school playing him every year.
“And it’s made us better. Since 2000, when we started playing Servite and Mater Dei, we started winning league and started winning some playoff games.”
White guided Edison to a CIF-SS title in 2012 and 13 Sunset league titles, including 11 starting in 2001.
Rollinson owns a 14-5 lead in the coaches' rivalry, including a 6-0 victory in 2003 and a 22-20 triumph in 2011. Edison's best season against Mater Dei was in 2001 when it beat Mater Dei twice, including 41-7 the Division 1 semifinals.
White first coached against Rollinson in 1989, the coach’s maiden season at Mater Dei.
White remembers Edison controlled a winless Mater Dei much of the nonleague game but lost, 21-14, on a late fumble.
“He goes, people were ready to fire his (butt),” White said of Rollinson, who has guided Mater Dei to five CIF-SS titles. “So I got him started, I guess.”
Orange County football is better for it.