SANTA ANA - The return to the playoffs was a successful one for the Mater Dei football team.
After failing to make the CIF-SS playoffs last season for the first since 1986, Mater Dei kicked opened the Pac-5 Division tournament with a resounding 71-10 home victory over Lakewood on Friday night.
Mater Dei (9-2) will play host to Alemany in the second round next Friday. Alemany defeated Moorpark in another first-round game. Lakewood (8-3) finished second in the Moore League.
The Monarchs' charge was led by junior quarterback Chase Forrest. Forrest, who had split time this season with Ryan McMahon, got the start, and he didn't disappoint.
On his first pass attempt, he threw a 40-yard touchdown to Thomas Duarte.
"We were planning that all week," Forrest said. "We had an idea what they were going to come out in (on defense), and we executed on that and we got it out perfectly."
Forrest was nearly perfect. The junior completed his first nine passes and finished 12 of 14 with 167 yards and four touchdowns. Forrest said he was told the beginning of the week that he was going to be the starter.
"I thought he showed a lot of confidence and poise," Mater Dei coach Bruce Rollinson said of Forrest.
"He still has some growing to do. I thought he might have jumped out of the pocket a couple of times too quick, but then that's what he does. I don't want to restrict him. I just want to let him go.
"It is different when you're the starter, but I thought he answered the bell in the end."
Forrest also had a 7-yard rushing touchdown.
He tossed touchdown passes of 22, 17 and 40 yards to Duarte and 6-yard pass to Jameson Field.
Forrest and Monarchs trailed, 10-7, early in the first quarter. Then Mater Dei scored 34 consecutive points to end the half and put the game out of reach.
Defensively, Mater Dei intercepted four passes and recovered three fumbles.
Mater Dei will turn its attention to Alemany. The game will be at home, thanks to assistant coach John Hopkins.
When the CIF-SS pairings were announced last week, Hopkins called heads for the second round and Mater Dei won.
"We had to go to Alemany years ago in the '90s with (Matt) Grootegood and that group, and I mean that's a hike," Rollinson said. "And we did it on the day after Thanksgiving when there was no traffic.
"So, that's a nice little coin flip that he (John Hopkins) called. In the '90s, I'll be honest with you, I couldn't lose a coin flip, now, I'm 0 for 6 right now ... I wasn't even going to go into the room, but they said you have to and I told Hopkins to call it."