Skip to main content

St. John Bosco vs. Mater Dei at Rose Bowl: Preview of Division 1 Southern Section football championship game

Who will win in this clash of Southern California titans? State berth and national title hopes also on line at National Historic Landmark

On Friday at the Rose Bowl, Mater Dei (12-0) and St. John Bosco (11-1), the two best teams in California high school football, will play for the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 championship. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. 

Mater Dei vs. St. John Bosco Rose Bowl game to be nationally televised by Bally Sports

Both teams compete in the Trinity League and when they met in the regular season, Mater Dei won 17-7. Ahead of that game, we published the 5 biggest storylines leading into the matchup and after Mater Dei's win, much of what we wrote back in October still holds up. 

Monarchs' quarterback Elijah Brown is still undefeated in his high school career at 29-0, the same winning streak overall for his team. There's still pressure on St. John Bosco since the Braves haven't beaten the Monarchs since 2019 and the game will still feature a preposterous number of college football prospects. 

Here's what's different this time around outside of it being a championship showdown though: it could be esteemed Mater Dei head coach Bruce Rollinson's final game in charge at the school. 

Earlier this month, the Monarchs' 34-year head coach announced this season would be his last a month after stating he was "confident" he'd coach next season.

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. 

The Monarchs players will be even more motivated on Friday because they want to send their beloved coach out with one last CIF title (Rollinson's won eight). 

"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.

WHAT HAPPENED IN THE REGULAR SEASON?

Mater Dei's defense dominated back in October. The Monarchs recorded five sacks and added two interceptions, one each from Zabien Brown and Daryus Dixson. Additionally, Mater Dei held St. John Bosco's quarterback duo of Pierce Clarkson and Caleb Sanchez to only 14 completed passes and 106 yards through the air. The Braves' offensive line did not have a good night in pass protection. Clarkson suffered a concussion in the first half and did not play the final two quarters. He is now healthy.

Mater Dei sophomore Jordon Davison, a fleet and strong 6-foot-2, 210-pound running back, lived up to his 5-star billing, rushing 22 times for 114 yards. 

The Monarchs scored their first touchdown on a 99-yard drive capped off by an Elijah Brown 9-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter. Late in the third quarter, St. John Bosco tied the game on a 6-yard touchdown run by Cameron Jones (15 carries, 101 yards).

Mater Dei took the the lead for good 10-7 when  Andre Medina booted a 22-yard field goal with 7:10 to go in the fourth quarter. Davison's 38-yard touchdown scamper with 1:01 remaining put the game away. 

Even though Mater Dei's defense stole the show, St. John Bosco played exceptional defense as well, allowing just 295 yards. That gives Braves' fans hope in the rematch.

5-star sophomore RB Jordon Davison (0) put the game away late. Photo: Heston Quan

5-star sophomore RB Jordon Davison (0) put the game away late. Photo: Heston Quan

THREE TO WATCH

In the regular season meeting, Mater Dei senior linebacker Leviticus Su'a had seven tackles and 1.5 sacks. He was a menace who St. John Bosco needs to do a better job accounting for.

Braves senior receiver DeAndre Moore is arguably St. John Bosco's best offensive weapon. He had one carry for two yards against Mater Dei in October. If he's totally healthy, he MUST be used more.

Jshawn Frausto-Ramos, a senior corner, leads St. John Bosco with three interceptions. The Braves didn't have any turnovers against the Monarchs in the regular season. They probably won't win without one on Friday. 

UNIT TO WATCH

St. John Bosco's offensive line

The Braves o-line did a solid job of run blocking against the Monarchs, but really struggled blocking on passing downs. For St. John Bosco to end its three game losing streak against Mater Dei, Clarkson needs time to make plays. He didn't have enough time in the first meeting. 

On the other side, no unit is perfect, but Mater Dei's offensive line is pretty dang close. On a team of all-stars, it's the Monarchs' greatest strength. 

HISTORY LESSON

Mater Dei has won 12 CIF championships, with Rollinson winning eight Division 1 crowns. St. John Bosco has won three Division 1/PAC-5 titles all under head coach Jason Negro. 

The two teams met in the upper Division championship game in 2013, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. St. John Bosco won in 2013, 2016 and 2019. Mater Dei won in 2017 and 2018. 

The teams have met 40 times since 1966, with Mater Dei winning 29, including four of the last five. 

Read More

THE VENUE

Best known as the host of the Rose Bowl Game and UCLA football, the world's 16th largest stadium seats 92,542 and is a National Historic Landmark.

It's the first time in 78 years a Southern Section final has been held at the venue, which celebrates its 100-year anniversary. In August the Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation announced an inaugural class for the California High School Football Hall of Fame. 

It's a poetic and some believe an appropriate setting for these two national powers that feature more than 75 Division I college prospects. On Saturday, USC and UCLA did college football proud on this hallowed ground with a 48-45 instant classic. 

It's unfair to expect Mater Dei and St. John Bosco will follow suit at the prep level. But then again, with these two programs, about anything is possible. 

SCORE PREDICTION

Mater Dei 20, St. John Bosco 17

20 MORE IMAGES

From Heston Quan on Oct. 7: Mater Dei 17, St. John Bosco 7

St John Bosco vs Mater Dei October 7, 2022 Photo-Heston Quan50 (1)
St John Bosco vs Mater Dei October 7, 2022 Photo-Heston Quan79
St John Bosco vs Mater Dei October 7, 2022 Photo-Heston Quan83
St John Bosco vs Mater Dei October 7, 2022 Photo-Heston Quan94
Mater Dei-St. John Bosco FB Heston Quan Oct. 7 2022  Mater Dei-St. John Boscpo FB Heston Quan Oct. 7 2022 AaM_XcbE
St John Bosco vs Mater Dei October 7, 2022 Photo-Heston Quan37 (1)
Mater Dei-St. John Bosco FB Heston Quan Oct. 7 2022 kbdAmWA0
St John Bosco vs Mater Dei October 7, 2022 Photo-Heston Quan28
Mater Dei-St. John Bosco FB Heston Quan Oct. 7 2022 sMkizBNY
St John Bosco vs Mater Dei October 7, 2022 Photo-Heston Quan34
St John Bosco vs Mater Dei October 7, 2022 Photo-Heston Quan10
St John Bosco vs Mater Dei October 7, 2022 Photo-Heston Quan39 (1)
Mater Dei-St. John Bosco FB Heston Quan Oct. 7 2022 Mater Dei-St. John Boscpo FB Heston Quan Oct. 7 2022 7z85PoTQ
St John Bosco vs Mater Dei October 7, 2022 Photo-Heston Quan14
St John Bosco vs Mater Dei October 7, 2022 Photo-Heston Quan31
St John Bosco vs Mater Dei October 7, 2022 Photo-Heston Quan40 (1)
St John Bosco vs Mater Dei October 7, 2022 Photo-Heston Quan42 (1)
St John Bosco vs Mater Dei October 7, 2022 Photo-Heston Quan95
St John Bosco vs Mater Dei October 7, 2022 Photo-Heston Quan53 (1)
Mater Dei defeated St. John Bosco 17-7 at home in Santa Ana, California on October 7, 2022 in the most anticipated game of the year.