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Mater Dei rolls St. John Bosco to win CIF Southern Section Division 1 title

Mater Dei scored two defensive touchdowns to anchor a dominating performance at the LA Coliseum Friday night

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - No comebacks. No last-second score. No walk-off moment. No heroic drive. No goal line stand. None of that. 

Instead, the fall was filled with dominating performances — one from each side.

Mater Dei won the one that mattered at the LA Memorial Coliseum when it beat St. John Bosco 35-7 in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 final in front of 11,622 Friday night.

“It feels outstanding,” Mater Dei coach Frank McManus said from the championship podium after the game. “We had a great week of preparation. We came out with a great game plan.”

The Monarchs (12-1) lift their fourth CIF title in seven appearances since 2016.

McManus then called out unbeaten Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas from the podium.

“We’re ready to take on Gorman in an exhibition game,” he yelled into the microphone. “We’ll lace ‘em up and play anyone, anywhere.”

The first time Bosco (11-2) and Mater Dei met earlier this season, St. John Bosco won 28-0 in October. The Monarchs’ get back was more dominant, especially defensively.

Mater Dei held St. John Bosco to zero yards rushing on 29 attempts.

Abduall Sanders and Zabien Brown each had a pick-six. Sanders’ came in the first quarter to give Mater Dei a 7-0 lead. Brown’s game in the fourth quarter, which added an extra layer of sting, making the score 35-7.

Mater Dei quarterback Elijah Brown improved to 41-2 as a starter, throwing for 109 yards and two touchdowns. Jordon Davison ran for 42 yards on nine attempts and one touchdown for the Monarchs. Kayden Dixon-Wyatt was the top receiver, hauling in three catches for 60 yards and a score.

Mater Dei made it 14-0 at the 6:41-mark in the second quarter thanks to a 10-yard run by Jordon Davison. It marked the Monarchs’ first offensive touchdown against St. John Bosco all season after being shutout (28-0) earlier this season.

It wasn’t a pretty first half. Mater Dei had just 65 yards of total offense to St. John Bosco’s 67. St. John Bosco had -1 yard rushing on 12 attempts. Mater Dei had just 21 yards of passing offense.

St. John Bosco made it interesting late in the third quarter when Notre Dame-bound linebacker Kyngstonn Viliamu-asa made a circus catch in the corner of the end zone to make the deficit 21-7. But the Braves didn’t help themselves, fumbling the ensuing punt return.

Mater Dei delivered a dagger when it ran a play-action that led to a wide-open Tomu Topui, a 315-pound lineman, who rolled into the end zone to give the Monarchs a 28-7 lead before Brown’s pick-six to ice the game for good.


St. John Bosco carried a 4-2 edge over Mater Dei all-time in CIF finals, including the last two times the two programs met in 2019 and 2022.

Mater Dei has reached seven straight CIF finals with wins in 2017, 2018, 2021 and Friday night’s 2023 victory, giving the Monarchs four Division 1 titles in seven seasons (no 2020 final due to COVID-19).

The CIF hosted football championships in the Coliseum in the late 90s, the last coming in 1997 when Mater Dei lost to Long Beach Poly 28-25. The Monarchs played in the CIF final at the Coliseum in 1996, too, beating Loyola 17-10.

It was the first time the Coliseum played host to the CIF finals since 1997 (26 years).