Between playing at the Rose Bowl and the championship stakes — state, section and national — there's no need for added motivation.
But make no mistake, this week is different for the nation's No. 1 team Mater Dei-Santa Ana (12-0) as it prepares for its CIF-Southern Section Division 1 title game against arch rival St. John Bosco, the country's No. 4 team.
In his retirement announcement, Rollinson, the state's active win leader with a sparkling 339-85-2 record, didn't give a reason for stepping down.
Mater Dei's players have had 12 days to digest the news. In their two games since Rollinson's retirement message hit the Twittersphere, the Monarchs have been on a tear beating JSerra 54-14 and Los Alamitos 52-0, both ranked among the state's Top 10.
He was quite emotional — even drained — following his team's win over Los Alamitos, his last at Mater Dei's home Santa Ana Stadium (see video at top).
The team is now one win away from sending out their beloved coach with his ninth CIF championship. Rollinson's impending departure has upped the ante ahead of Friday night's titanic clash between two of the best teams in the country.
"Our intentions are to come in there and do it for our coach, for his last season," senior receiver Jordan Onovughe said at Monday's Southern Section championship luncheon.
When Rollinson was asked whether his players would play harder with Friday's championship game potentially being his last, he responded:
"I'm not going to ask them to win it for me. It's not the Gipper."
He then paused, scowled and uttered:
"But they know. They know."