June 21, 2024

If you like a clash of heavyweight champions, it doesn’t get any better than unbeaten Mater Dei taking on defending Southern Section Division 1 champion St. John Bosco to decide the Trinity League football title on Friday night at St. John Bosco.

Tickets sold out in three minutes on Monday.

There are plenty of options this week if you don’t have a ticket to see the Monarchs and Braves.

If you’ve never been to SoFi Stadium and want to visit without having to pay big bucks, Warren will play rival Downey in the facility’s first 11-man regular-season high school game. Admission will cost $35 ($15 for students). Parking that usually goes for $100 and up will cost $20.

If you want to see the possibility of history being made, show up to see if Chaminade’s Ryon Sayeri gets a chance to break the state record for longest field goal of 64 yards at Sherman Oaks Notre Dame. He was short in an attempt last week against Bishop Alemany.

If you like rivalry games, Dorsey at Crenshaw will bring out the best in DJ music and alumni talking about championships of the past.

If you like Orange County intensity, San Clemente is playing at Mission Viejo to decide the South Coast League title.

If you want to see coaching royalty, Thursday’s Big West League game featuring Vista Murrieta and coach Coley Candaele taking on host Corona Centennial and coach Matt Logan is an opportunity to watch two legends in action.

For a battle in the trenches, unbeaten Gardena playing at Banning in a Marine League showdown will be physical and memorable.

Two of the three best defenses in Southern California (the other is Sierra Canyon) will face off at St. John Bosco. It means don’t expect a lot of touchdowns unless mistakes are made.

Mater Dei’s defense doesn’t have any weaknesses. Really. Up front, it starts with underrated defensive tackle Zeus Venegas, who has a motor he never turns off. The linebackers, led by Nasir Wyatt and Abduall Sanders, create havoc. The secondary, with Chuck McDonald and Jeilani Davis, produce turnovers.

St. John Bosco’s defense is similar in quality and deserving of hype. Defensive tackle Dutch Horisk is only a sophomore and has six sacks. The linebackers are a strength with a group headed by Notre Dame-bound Kyngstonn Viliamu-Asa. The secondary has a safety headed to Alabama, Peyton Woodyard, and a cornerback headed to USC, Marcelles Williams.

So how do you win the Mater Dei-St. John Bosco game? As always, the competition in the trenches decides it. Which offensive line can provide enough time for the quarterback to find an open receiver or create enough of an opening for running backs with speed to gain yards?

St. John Bosco has the blocker with the best name, King Large. Mater Dei has Texas-bound Brandon Baker. If you line up both lines before the game, most fans will think they are watching a college game because of their size.

This will be a first start in the big game for St. John Bosco senior quarterback Caleb Sanchez. Last year, he was forced to play the entire second half after starter Pierce Clarkson sustained a concussion. Sanchez admitted he was not prepared. This time, he’s ready. Mater Dei quarterback Elijah Brown is 36-1 as a starter, with his only loss to St. John Bosco.

St. John Bosco coach Jason Negro said of Mater Dei: “They’re really good, probably the most talented team in the country. They have a lot of confidence and I sometimes wonder why we’re even still playing week to week because they’ve been anointed. Until someone proves otherwise, they’re the top team in the country.”

Since these two teams are likely to meet again — think Southern Section Division 1 final — the coaches might want to save a few plays for the next game that is always remembered far more than the league game.

Just don’t tell that to the fans. They expect victory each and every time these two teams step onto the field. When St. John Bosco lost in Hawaii to Kahuku, there was almost panic. When Mater Dei barely held on to beat Baltimore St. Frances, there was concern because St. Frances had been routed by St. John Bosco.

So the time has come to decide which team will get the No. 1 seed for the Division 1 playoffs during a week that has plenty of drama for anyone who likes the intrigue of high school football.

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