Mater Dei wins football title as controversy engulfs program

For 48 minutes on Friday night, Santa Ana Mater Dei soccer players and coaches had the chance to focus on a league game rather than the commotion that occurred off the pitch following a trial. brought earlier in the week by the family of a former football player alleging he suffered a head injury in a locker room hazing incident last February in which players punched each other .

Coach Bruce Rollinson declined to comment and continues to act like nothing has happened. There he was doing his pre-game routine of rallying the players with his whistle. Anyone who feared the team might be distracted for the Division 1 Southern Section championship game against Anaheim Servite has discovered that the Monarchs are on a mission to end a season unbeaten.

Fueled by relentless defensive effort, the Monarchs (11-0) won their eighth Southern Division championship with a 27-7 victory over 9,879 at Long Beach Veterans Stadium.

“I just won a CIF championship. It doesn’t get better than that, ”Rollinson said after the game.

Servite (10-3) was unable to generate a productive running or passing attack, a big change from his last meeting with Mater Dei on October 23 when the Friars lost 46-37 in a game. filled with drama.

This time, Servite quarterback Noah Fifita found himself under constant defensive pressure. Second-year linebacker Tanner Williams and senior linebacker David Bailey, who played with a severely taped broken right wrist, each had two sacks. Junior linebacker Leviticus Su’a was wreaking havoc and stuffing races. Cornerback Cameron Sidney was tasked with covering the remarkable receiver Tetairoa McMillan and more than held his own.

Mater Dei held a 14-7 halftime lead despite Elijah Brown intercepting two passes. The first came in the game’s first game when Servite’s Zion Sims caught the ball after he snatched two Mater Dei receivers. He set up a four-yard touchdown reception by McMillan, who had an interception in the second quarter.

The Monarchs regained their momentum by relying on their running game and securing an efficient quick pass on Fifita. Quincy Craig had a three-yard touchdown run and Ajon Bryant added a 27-yard touchdown run. Raleek Brown scored on a one-yard run at the end of the third quarter.

Raleek Brown finished with 164 rushing yards on 23 carries. Elijah Brown had 11 of 14 passes for 110 yards and a touchdown. Fifita had 10 of 22 passes for 86 yards and was sacked four times.

While another trophy will be added due to the Monarchs’ football performances, off the pitch, the reputational repercussions of Mater Dei could continue to suffer after the complaint was filed earlier this week. The president of the school, Father Walter E. Jenkins, said in a letter to the community that “all aspects will be dealt with in a coherent manner and in accordance with the core values ​​of our institution”.

On Thanksgiving, dozens of former Mater Dei players came to campus for an annual rally to support the current squad and greet Rollinson in practice. It was business as usual for Rollinson, who is in his 33rd season. But his future as a coach could be in jeopardy as coaches have been ousted at nearly every level when a hazing incident is confirmed.

A husband and wife who came to the match to cheer on their nephew playing for Servite said ahead of the opening kick-off that they would face security concerns following allegations of the locker room incident at Mater Dei .

“You are the teacher. It is your responsibility to make sure the children are safe, ”said the mother, who requested anonymity because she is an educator.

“As a parent, I would be worried if this happened and the school and administration did not deal with it quickly,” the father said. “Why was there no transparency? “

Upon winning, Mater Dei will advance to play in the CIF State Championship Open Division bowl game on December 11 at Saddleback College.

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