No. 2 St. John Bosco of Bellflower wraps up its first ever CIF Southern Section title with a dominant 34-7 victory over state No. 5 Mater Dei of Santa Ana in the Pac-Five title game. The unbeaten Braves assuredly will earn a SoCal Open Division bowl game berth.
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Lost in all the talk and hype of potentially monster regional and state bowl games for St. John Bosco of Bellflower was the fact it first had to win a section title to be eligible. After Serra of Gardena lost in its CIFSS final Friday night, it killed the St. John Bosco vs. Serra talk for the SoCal open division regional bowl.
The Braves, however, still held up their end of the bargain by defeating Mater Dei of Santa Ana, 34-7, in the CIFSS Pac-5 title game before 12,525 fans at Angels Stadium.
The win over Mater Dei clinched the first ever CIF Southern Section title for the Braves, who were making their first appearance in a section final since 1986. For Mater Dei, it was the second consecutive loss in the CIFSS Pac-5 title game after losing to Long Beach Poly in last year’s final.
St. John Bosco (14-0) scored 34 consecutive points after Mater Dei (11-3) took an early 7-0 lead on a blocked punt, recovery and score by senior DB Johnny Johnson. Junior QB Josh Rosen and his offense took charge on the last drive of the second half and never looked back. Rosen hit senior WR Jaleel Wadood on a 9-yard touchdown reception with 1:45 remaining in the second quarter to give St. John Bosco its first lead at 10-7.
The Braves outscored Mater Dei 24-0 in the second half. St. John Bosco’s defense did not allow an offensive touchdown in its two games against Mater Dei this season. St. John Bosco beat Mater Dei 24-2 during Trinity League play.
Mater Dei RB Justin Allen did not play in the first contest, but his presence did not make a huge difference Saturday night. He finished with nine yards on six carries. St. John Bosco out-gained Mater Dei 285-34 on the ground.
Bosco sophomore RB Sean McGrew gained 137 yards and scored a second-half touchdown on 24 carries. Rosen completed 8-of-15 passes for 94 yards and two touchdowns while adding 105 yards on the ground in 11 rushes.
“We have had a lot of great players come in and we knew we could be making a run at this thing,” Rosen said. “The moment right now is awesome. After last year when we walked out of the locker room at Long Beach Poly (in the semifinals), we said we were never going to have this feeling again.”
With its first section title in tow, St. John Bosco will likely play Corona Centennial, the CIFSS Inland Division champion, in the SoCal Open Division bowl game. Pairings for all the regional bowl games will be released Sunday afternoon.
For one night at least, regardless of how the regional bowl selections play out, Rosen, head coach Jason Negro (a 1991 graduate of the school) and his St. John Bosco teammates will enjoy this win.
Huntington Beach Wins Southwest
In the earlier game at Anaheim Stadium, Huntington Beach won its first CIF Southern Section title since 1935 with a 42-28 victory over Newport Harbor of Newport Beach in the CIFSS Southwest Division title game.
The game was tied 21-21 when Huntington Beach two-way standout Kai Ross scored three touchdowns during a 45-second span in the middle of the fourth quarter to seal the win. Ross hit Nolan Thompson on a 52-yard touchdown pass with 6:26 remaining to give Huntington Beach (9-5) a 28-21 lead. With 5:51 remaining, Ross picked off a Newport Harbor pass attempt and zigzagged across field for a 36-yard touchdown. Ten seconds later, he returned another one 26 yards for a score to all but wrap up the Oilers’ first section title in 78 years.
Ross finished with 219 yards passing and three touchdowns and added 90 yards rushing on 11 carries. Of course, what he did on defense is what Oiler fans will remember for a long time.