It wasn’t the prettiest, but the top-ranked Mater Dei team from Santa Ana, California, led by coach Frank McManus, started the new era on Friday with a hard-fought 28-14 victory over the 15th-ranked Centennial team from Corona, California. Elijah Brown threw two touchdown passes during the game.
The last time the Monarchs (1-0) began a season as the No. 1 team in the MaxPreps Top 25, they went undefeated and won the 2017 MaxPreps National Championship.
For most of Friday night, they played like the top team in the nation.
Mater Dei had a 21-0 lead with nine minutes left on the clock before Centennial scored twice to make the game more exciting. After the Huskies closed in at 21-14, Nate Frazier secured the victory with a late touchdown, giving the Monarchs a two-touchdown lead.
Elijah Brown, who has committed to Stanford and now holds a 30-1 record in his high school career, connected with Marcus Brown for a 23-yard touchdown early in the second quarter. Jordon Davison added a 6-yard touchdown run, giving Mater Dei a 14-0 advantage at halftime.
The defense, led by lineman Nasir Wyatt, held the strong Centennial offense to only 86 yards in the first half.
In the third quarter, Brown threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Jonah Smith, extending Mater Dei’s lead to 21-0.
In the fourth quarter, the Huskies finally scored as Cornell Hatcher, Jr. converted a fourth-and-3 situation into a 10-yard touchdown run. This brought Corona Centennial’s score to 21-7 with nine minutes remaining.
During Centennial’s next possession, they were driving down the field, but a fumble that Kainoa Davis recovered seemed to dash their hopes of a comeback. However, Mater Dei’s Elijah Brown anticipated a screen pass and Tayten Beyer intercepted the pass for a 60-yard pick-six. This narrowed the lead to 21-14 with 4:32 left on the clock.
Centennial’s new quarterback, Husan Longstreet, displayed his skills but was tackled four times in the first half. He joined the team after leading Inglewood to a 13-1 record last season, throwing for over 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns as they reached the Southern Section Division 2 final.
Next, Mater Dei will travel to play against Utah’s Bingham on August 26, followed by two home games against Creekside (Fairburn, Georgia) on September 2 and Kahuku on September 9. Then, the Monarchs will head to the East Coast for a matchup with No. 6 St. Frances Academy, followed by the start of Trinity League play in the first weekend of October.
Centennial’s upcoming games include Santa Margarita followed by hosting Punahou (Honolulu) on September 2. Head coach Matt Logan will lead his team to their first out-of-state game in his 27-year tenure – a September 8 matchup against preseason No. 2 Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas).