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In October of 2018 St. John Bosco football thumped Mater Dei 41-18 in their annual Trinity League meeting.

"That was an embarrassment," Mater Dei head coach Bruce Rollinson said at Trinity League media day in August. "I never saw it coming. ...We just got slapped."

A month later Mater Dei took down St. John Bosco 17-13 in the Division 1 Southern Section championship.

"The game plan was impeccable on both sides of the ball," Rollinson said.


Sure the Mater Dei players won the game on the field, but it was the Monarch coaching staff that deserved most of the credit for last season's title victory. Mater Dei held the ball for over 31 minutes on offense, taking as much time as they could on every possession. Defensively, the Monarchs constantly pressured Bosco quarterback DJ Uiagalelei, forcing him to throw two interceptions and complete only seven passes. It was a tactical masterclass.

Mater Dei got hit in the mouth, went back to the drawing board and came back with a winning formula. On Friday we'll see St. John Bosco's response, led by head coach Jason Negro.

Last season was the first year a Negro-led St. John Bosco team didn't have offensive coordinator Chad Johnson, who took the Mission Viejo head coaching job following the 2017 football season. In Bosco's regular season triumph over Mater Dei, it looked like the Braves had adapted well to Johnson's departure. In their title game loss a month later, it looked like they hadn't.

What offensive adjustments will Bosco have in store for Friday and how will Mater Dei counter? The answers to those questions will decide the game.

Whatever happens on Friday, both staffs will get a chance to evaluate the tape and make changes come playoff time for the inevitable rematch. But in this rivalry game, no one's looking ahead. It's all about Friday and only one group of coaches will come out on top.


Which team will better protect their acclaimed quarterback and which team will have more success getting to the opposition's acclaimed quarterback? Line play on both sides will be decisive.

Mater Dei linebacker Ray Leutele has been a man on fire this season. He's made 56 tackles, with 17.5 of them coming for loss. He's quick enough to spy Uiagalelei and has proven to be tough to block. St. John Bosco's star studded offensive line made up of Drake Metcalf, Earnest Greene, Maximus Gibbs, Ché Womack and Logan Bednar must keep him in check.


On the other end, St. John Bosco defensive tackle Kobe Pepe is the Braves top interior lineman. He has eight sacks and will be going up against Mater Dei center George Miki-Han. That's the matchup to watch when the Monarchs have the ball.


Look for Bosco receiver Logan Loya to be targeted early and often by Uiagalelei on Friday. It's likely that Mater Dei corners Domani Jackson and Jaylin Davies will cover Beaux Collins and Kris Hutson respectively. That leaves Loya with a potential favorable matchup. Loya, who transferred from Orange Lutheran in January, is getting his first taste of this rivalry, and he could be the x-factor.