Video: Mater Dei vs. St. John Bosco preview
For the eighth time in the MaxPreps era, nation's top two teams meet.
And while this is a game with national implications, both teams are looking for a Trinity League win that gives them the upper hand in the CIF Southern Section as playoffs loom.
Each squad comes into Friday's showdown battle-tested and with star power to burn.
Here's a look at five reasons why the Braves and Monarchs are sitting atop the prep football world right now.
There might not be a team that opens stronger than Mater Dei. Except St. John Bosco.
Both teams are accustomed to building early leads as the Braves average 37 points in the first half, while the Monarchs put up 30 points in the first 24 minutes on average. Mater Dei has scored 211 points in the opening two quarters, while St. John Bosco has posted 259 first-half points.
Through the first seven games, St. John Bosco has trailed once, while Mater Dei won a back-and-forth game against IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.)
. The Braves fell behind 14-7 two weeks ago in the second quarter of a 35-28 win over JSerra Catholic (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.)
. The Monarchs, meanwhile, had to come back from a 24-21 deficit against the Ascenders with three minutes to play, taking the lead on a 5-yard TD by Bryce Young
in the waning minutes.
The game within the game features two of the nation's best quarterbacks in 2020 gunslingers DJ Uiagalelei
and Bryce Young. Uiagalelei has thrown for 1,570 yards and 23 scores with two interceptions, while Young has 1,738 yards passing with 21 TDs and three interceptions.
While each has put up eye-popping numbers, the efficiency in which they have done it is probably the most-impressive stat of all.
Uiagalalei's overall completion percentage is 73.4 while Young's is 77.0.
The Monarchs signal caller was a perfect 16-of-16 for 328 yards and four scores in a 56-0 win over St. Mary's (Stockon) in September. Young's lowest completion percentage was in the opening week (the forfeit loss to Bishop Amat) where he was 12-of-19 passing for 108 yards with no TDs and an interception.
St. John Bosco's Uiagalelei topped out with an 84.6 completion percentage on 11-of-13 passing for 137 yards and three scores against Garces Memorial in August. His lowest percentage was during a 35-28 Trinity League battle with JSerra in which Uiagalelei was 9-of-20 passing for 154 yards and two scores and a pick.
You know a game of this magnitude has starpower. Friday's matchup features over 40 players with FBS offers and 47 are rated as 3-star recruits or higher.
Offensively, each team has game-changing weapons. Mater Dei has an even TD split, 21 receiving and 21 rushing, while St. John Bosco is a little more pass-happy with 26 receiving TDs compared to 21 ground-and-pound scores.
Time will tell if a win will propel either the Braves or Monarchs to the CIF Southern Section title, the Open Division state title and perhaps a national title.
But don't discount it. Mater Dei and St. John Bosco each boast claim to a once-in-a-generation team in the past five years.
Last year, it was the Monarchs and quarterback JT Daniels who rolled through any and all comers en route to a 16-0 season, their first CIF state title and the MaxPreps national championship. Freeman ranks this Mater Dei team as the greatest single-season in his Dynasty Rankings, while Askeland puts the 2017 Monarchs as the No. 7 all-time team.
The Braves and Monarchs have faced top-tier talent over the past several years — not including the gauntlet of the Trinity League schedule.
St John Bosco has wins over Timpview (Provo, Utah)
, St. John's (Washington, D.C.)
, St. Xavier (Cincinnati, Ohio)
, St. Mary's (Stockton), St. Louis (Honolulu, Hawaii)
, Chandler (Ariz.)
and St. Peter's Prep (Jersey City, N.J.)
in the past five years.