Prep football: Mater Dei-Bosco cooking up pregame meals

Forget the hype, the predictions, the game ramifications. The biggest question before Friday night’s football game between No. 1 Santa Ana Mater Dei and No. 2 Bellflower St. John Bosco was how good is the tailgate food?

Based on the aroma of carne asada grilling, no one was going home hungry. The gates opened at 4 p.m. for those who wanted to hang out in the St. John Bosco High parking lot. Then the tents were erected, lawn chairs were pulled out and the grills were ignited.

For those who had patience, the highly regarded St. John Bosco snack stand was preparing its own carne asada recipe along with a grill master known for his chicken cooking skills.

“It’s good. It’s really good,” one of the grill masters said.

One tailgate family was championing its bacon-wrap hot dogs. Art Allen, the father of a former St. John Bosco player, is known for cooking his hamburgers with eggs.

Freshman triumph: Mater Dei defeated St. John Bosco 51-21 on Thursday in a showdown of unbeaten freshman teams. Running back Jordon Davison, who has been playing with Mater Dei’s varsity, played for the Monarchs. You’re allowed to play for the freshman and varsity teams simultaneously as long as it’s not the same day.

Learning lessons: Can other teams emulate the dominance of Mater Dei and St. John Bosco? Remember that Mater Dei and coach Bruce Rollinson went 17 consecutive years from 2000 through 2016 without winning a Division 1 championship until he started copying some of the things Braves coach Jason Negro had been doing, such as creating a youth program and reaching out to youth programs outside Orange County to expand roster demographics.

That’s the strategy for private schools hoping to make a dent. For public schools, it’s much harder because of attendance boundaries. Somehow, someway, Corona Centennial stays competitive year after year under coach Matt Logan.

Grandpa Rollinson: The Monarchs coach now has seven grandchildren after his eldest daughter, Caroline, gave birth to twins Jack and James Flanagan. One was 7 pounds, 12 ounces. The other 7 pounds, 9 ounces. “They’re both going to be linebackers,” Rollinson said.

McMillan is unique: Another week, another one-of-a-kind catch from Servite receiver Tetairoa McMillan. Except this time it came on defense. He made a one-handed interception in a 56-12 win over Orange Lutheran.

“It was wow,” Servite coach Troy Thomas said of the interception.

“Regular,” was the comment of quarterback Noah Fifita, who sees McMillan working on one-handed catches every day in practice.

Thomas, who played defensive back at Crespi and Cal State Northridge , said, “He’s actually becoming a real good defensive player. I couldn’t make that play. There are few guys that can do that. He’s one of them.”

Two-sport standouts: There’s some impressive football-baseball players this fall.

At Trabuco Hills, quarterback-shortstop Will Burns and running back-center fielder Drew Barrett have been impact players. Receiver Travis Anderson and linebacker Jack Matranga are football players at Mission Viejo who play baseball. Receiver-pitcher Matthew Morrell at Cypress is one of the best two-way performers.

Showdown looming: Huntington Beach Edison and Los Alamitos each won their Sunset League openers on Thursday night, setting up a league title showdown for next Thursday night at Westminster.

Decision time: Granada Hills’ school administration has refused to allow fans on campus for sporting events dating to last season because of COVID-19 concerns. But it’s decision time for the Highlanders.

The team is scheduled to host Birmingham in a key West Valley League football game next Friday. Birmingham has told Granada Hills it will not play at Granada Hills unless fans are permitted. Otherwise the Highlanders will have to play at Birmingham.

Birmingham athletic director Rick Prizant said he expects to hear an answer from Granada Hills early next week. The City Section has already told Granada Hills it won’t be allowed to host any playoff games without fans permitted.

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