Video: Top recruits for Mater Dei, St. John Bosco
Breakdown of players to watch in SoCal showdown.
No. 1 Mater Dei at No. 2 St. John Bosco
Friday, October 25 – Panish Family Stadium (Bellflower, Calif.)
Kick-off: 7:30 p.m. PDT
Fans that can't watch via Fox Sports West can follow the live scoring on MaxPreps.
Fans will be focused on the playmaking abilities of the nation's top two ranked quarterbacks — Bosco's DJ Uiagalelei
, a Clemson commit, and Mater Dei's Bryce Young
(Alabama) — and all their college-bound offensive weapons.
There will be swift and acrobatic receivers everywhere, three or four on each side, like Oregon-bound Kris Hutson
(39 catches, 704 yards, eight touchdowns) and Beaux Collins
(26-653-10) for Bosco and Mater Dei's Kody Epps
(57-980-13) and Kyron Ware-Hudson
But according to both coaches, those are just the secondary players in Friday's prep titanic, which pits the country's top two teams for only the ninth time since 2000. Those guys are eye candy.
This game, like just about all played on a gridiron, will be decided up front. In the trenches. On the line.
"They're so many playmakers in this game, it's hard to ignore obviously," Bosco coach Jason Negro said. "No disrespect to any of them, but the most important area of this game is on the offensive and defensive line. The team that wins those one-on-one battles in the trenches will win."
Negro said he told his team that very thing on Monday.
"It's not going to change on Friday," Negro said. "We have a massive challenge."
As do the Monarchs, who according to MaxPreps football editor Zack Poff, owns "the best offensive line in the country." That's based largely on three-year starters Tautai Marks
(6-foot-2, 290 pounds), Myles Murao
(6-3, 316) and George Miki-Han
(6-1, 321), who paved the way to the team's 2017 national championship team and last year's CIF State Open Division title.
(6-2, 308) and freshman BJ Tolo
(6-1, 290) and it's a big reason why the Monarchs average 52 points and 475 yards per game.
Young has barely been touched while completing 74 percent of his passes for 2,581 yards and 31 touchdowns.
But the Braves counter with a stellar defensive line, led by USC-bound Kobe Pepe
(6-1, 294) — "He's been unblockable," Poff said — Noa Masui
(6-6, 250) and Matthew Jordan
(6-3, 245). Pepe leads the team with 54 tackles — rare for a lineman — and eight sacks.
Bosco's offensive front is loaded with college-bound players also, led by Maximus Gibbs
(6-6, 330), Logan Booher
(6-2, 295) and Earnest Greene
III (6-4, 301). They've paved the way to 44 points and 461 yards per game. Mater Dei counters on the defensive front with Sefita Tupe Jr.
(6-1, 298), Martin Salazar
(6-0, 280) and Tyler Narayan (6-1, 255), among others.
Most anticipate, like the three previous years, there will be a rematch next month in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 finals. The teams split two games in 2016 and 2018, and Mater Dei swept in 2017 en route to a national championship.
The winner of those section finals were selected to play in the CIF Open Division Bowl title game, where each won, meaning it might not make total sense to pull out all the stops and show off all their cards for the regular-season game.
Negro dismisses such a notion.
"We're not holding back one bit," he said. "We're not looking ahead. We're approaching this play-by-play, in the moment. It should be quite a moment. We can't wait."