Centennial of Corona got their revenge Friday night at the Santa Ana Bowl, topping Mater Dei in one of the best high school football match ups California has to offer. Last year, Mater Dei and Centennial of Corona were Nos. 1 and 2 in the state; this year, they were 3 and 4, respectively. The Monarchs were able to come out on top last year in a 51-37 thriller, which set a state record with 1,300 yards of total offense.
This year’s game proved much of the same high-scoring power between these two programs, which saw each school return a kickoff for a touchdown in the first quarter and Mater Dei return another one for about 60 yards deep into Huskies territory. The Huskies’ kickoff for a touchdown was returned by UCLA commit and wide receiver Ricky Marvray.
There were two main differences about the game from last year’s. Centennial of Corona, which ran the ball over 60 times in last year’s game, had a much more balanced attack, as transfer Taylor Martinez would do one of three things – throw a quick screen pass to a receiver, hand the ball off to Arthur Burns (who finished with 29 carries for 234 yards and four touchdowns) or run the option as a very quick quarterback. The Monarchs had no answer on defense, and their cornerbacks remained off the line although the screen pass was highly predictable.
The second thing was the battle amongst the linemen when Mater Dei was on offense. Unlike last year, when the Monarchs were able to enjoy the pass protection of tackle Khaled Holmes, the Huskies D-line penetrated and harrassed USC commit Matt Barkley all game, who was sacked numerous times and pressured almost every throw. He finished the game 23 of 45 for 414 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions and showed why he is the nation’s top recruit with some NFL-like passes.
The game quickly slowed down, however, and Mater Dei was held scoreless nearly the entire second half until it was too late, as Centennial of Corona held on for a 47-35 victory. Despite the Huskies’ control on the defensive line, which resembled the same effectiveness as last year’s New York Giants D-line, the Monarchs still could have stolen the game. One thing about high school football rules that really bothered me is that on a kickoff, if the player’s foot touches the endzone, it’s an automatic touchback. That really played to the Huskies’ advantage because they always came up with great field position from kickoff returns while the Monarchs weren’t able to return any more kickoffs due to the ball always ending up in the endzone.
The game also featured Centennial of Corona’s Vontaze Burfict, the top-rated inside linebacker in the ESPNU 150. With the loss, Mater Dei dropped to 2-1 while Centennial of Corona improved to 2-0 on the season, in what are still tough roads ahead for both teams.