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Mater Dei's dual threats deliver one more triumph
VENTURA - In the course of 15 months, the Mater Dei football program went two ways. First, a 4-6 season left them out of the playoffs last season for the first time in 25 years. Now, the Monarchs are in a CIF title game.
They got there in large part because of some of their best two-way players, beating St. Bonaventure, 21-0, in Friday’s CIF-SS Pac-5 Division semifinal at Ventura High.
Mater Dei senior Thomas Duarte had a sack, an interception and a game-high six catches for 83 yards. Perhaps no play was bigger than his 32-yard reception late in the first half of a scoreless game. It was the first time the Monarchs had crossed the St. Bonaventure 40. Duarte ran a deep crossing pattern and stretched high before heading upfield for extra yards.
“It’s a play we’ve been working on, just for this team,” Duarte said. “Me and Chase (Forrest) have great chemistry. He put it where only I can get it. I went up and got it."
That includes defensive plays. St. Bonaventure was threatening on the previous drive when Duarte’s sack on third down forced it to punt. Duarte later added an interception and then a reception to set up the Monarchs’ second touchdown.
No wonder colleges are confused about whether the 6-3, 225-pound athlete is better on offense or defense, recruiting him at five different positions.
“Best at? Offense. Definitely offense,” Duarte said. “But I help my team out on defense. People have their opinions but I feel my position is on offense. It’s debatable.”
Jonathan Lockett provided his usual lockdown defense. That’s why Notre Dame and much of the Pac-12 is courting the junior. But Mater Dei asks for more from Lockett.
He was in the midst of a conversation with a defensive coach when fellow two-way star Ben Humphreys aggravated a shoulder injury. In a matter of seconds, Lockett sprinted to the huddle, lined up in the slot and corralled a dart from Forrest. The 19-yard touchdown gave Mater Dei a 7-0 lead with 17 seconds left in the first half, both teams struggling to maneuver on offense through a thick fog.
“I didn’t see (the ball) until the last second,” Lockett said. “I could see the quarterback but I couldn’t see the ball. It just popped into my hands.”
That’s about what happened with Treavon Coley, who caught a ricochet from safety Johnny Johnson for an interception. Coley finished the drive with a touchdown run. The senior, who also had a sack in the first half, added a 29-yard touchdown run late in the fourth to seal the victory.
“I could be in there all the time,” Coley said. “It really doesn’t matter.”
It also doesn’t matter that Mater Dei, with a county-record nine CIF titles, hasn’t appeared in a CIF title game since 2002. It will be there next Saturday, no two ways about it.