Mater Dei’s early interception was crucial in the win over St. John Bosco – Orange County Register

SANTA ANA — St. John Bosco was on the way.

The Braves had stopped Mater Dei’s game-opening possession, forcing the Monarchs to punt in Friday’s Trinity League game at Santa Ana Stadium.

St. John Bosco’s first play after the punt was a 15-yard run by Cameron Jones. A pass from Pierce Clarkson to Israel Polk added another 16 yards. A few plays later, Clarkson threw the pass intended for DeAndre Moore into the end zone.

The Monarchs had cornerback ace Zebien Brown to cover for Moore. Brown was ahead of Moore when the ball arrived.

“I looked up a little late,” Brown said. “I trusted my eyes. I came back with it and once (the ball) I became the receiver.

Brown made the catch for the end of drive interception.

“That was huge,” said Mater Dei defense coordinator Eric Johnson, “because they drove the ball down. I think that was the biggest play of the game.”

Brown and the rest of the Monarchs defense held St. John Bosco to a touchdown in Mater Dei’s 17-7 win.

The interception took place in the end zone. Perhaps overwhelmed by exuberance, Brown chose to run the ball out of the end zone. He was tackled at the Monarchs 1-yard line.

It did not harm the monarchs. They rushed for 99 yards in 14 games and caught a touchdown on a 9-yard rush from quarterback Elijah Brown for a 7-0 lead.

It was an unusually low points game for the Braves–Monarchs rivalry, even lower than their CIF Southern Section Division 1 championship game in 2018, which was a 17–13 win for Mater Dei.

Johnson assumed Brown would be a key to the game’s outcome.

“We put Zebien at No. 3 (Moore) because we think No. 3 is a big time,” Johnson said.

Johnson was among the Monarchs’ coaches and players whose post-game talks included a discussion of a potential St John Bosco-Mater Dei continuation. Teams will be given priority for the CIF-SS Division 1 Championship game on November 25th at the Rose Bowl.

Until then, Friday’s game will be seen as a huge victory for Mater Dei.

“We definitely had to prove ourselves,” said Zebien Brown. “That means a lot.”


Mater Dei’s Elijah Brown completed his first five passes, finishing 11 for 18 (61%) for 119 yards. He went into the game with a 69 completion rate. And the most important statistic of all: Brown is now 24-0 as a Mater Dei starter. …

The win is the 336th in Bruce Rollinson’s coaching career, which began in 1989 at Mater Dei. He is second on Orange County’s football career winners list, behind Bob Johnson, who has 338 wins, mostly at El Toro and Mission Viejo, with a few at Los Amigos. Johnson took a few years away from coaching in the 1990s to watch his sons, Bret and Rob, play collegiate and professional football. …

Rollinson, 73, said he is leaning toward coaching Mater Dei in 2023. Mater Dei President Michael Brennan wants Rollinson to remain in that role. If given the opportunity, Rollinson will do what he believes is best for the school, which has always been his top priority. …

Tickets were made available to the public at 9:00 am on Monday. They were gone at 9:04 a.m. Santa Ana Stadium is said to have a capacity of 10,000. There was talk that the game, Mater Dei’s home game, would be played at SoFi Stadium, home of the Chargers and Rams. St. John Bosco coach Jason Negro said efforts will be made to bring Mater Dei-St. John Bosco game – Bosco’s home game – at SoFi. …

Among the college football coaches in attendance was USC head coach Lincoln Riley. And you know it’s a big game when a congressman shows up. Lou Correa, US Representative for the 46th congressional district, stood on the Mater Dei sidelines during the game. Mater Dei’s early interception was crucial in the win over St. John Bosco – Orange County Register

Dais Johnston

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