This is the seventh in a series of posts comparing two local rivals who both may be toward the top of the preseason state football rankings. For this particular one, in fact, we’re somewhat sure it’s two of the top five. We’ll write up what we think these teams will be like heading into the season, then we hope to see what their fans have to say through comments, reaction.
Check out some of our other preseason duels:
Alemany (Mission Hills) vs. Chaminade (West Hills)
St. Mary’s (Stockton) vs. Lincoln (Stockton)
Oceanside vs. Mission Hills (San Marcos)
Valley Christian (San Jose) vs. Serra (San Mateo)
Oaks Christian (Westlake Village) vs. Westlake (Westlake Village)
Del Oro (Loomis) vs. Granite Bay
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What The Teams Accomplished Last Season: Servite may have only been 6-6, but the Friars had a win over Long Beach Poly and in the CIF Southern Section Pac-Five Division playoffs they knocked off Westlake of Westlake Village before losing in a battle to Alemany. Two of Servite’s losses also were to CIF Open Division bowl game participants St. John Bosco and De La Salle. Mater Dei actually lost to St. John Bosco twice, but beat Servite 28-21 in the regular season as part of a 7-0 start. The Monarchs (11-3) also reached the CIFSS Pac-Five final before suffering a 34-7 loss to Bosco.
Shapshot of Servite: Many preseason prognosticators are in love with the Friars and they sure do return a ton of talent. Plus, it’s hard to argue against a team playing one of the best schedules in the nation. Not only does Servite play Mater Dei and Bosco again in the Trinity League, but has Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas (we don’t agree but USA Today ranks Gorman No. 1 in the nation) and perennial power De La Salle in the preseason. For head coach A.J. Gass and team to go unbeaten, it probably would have to beat De La Salle and Bosco twice not to mention getting past Bishop Gorman in the opener. With Oregon-bound Travis Waller (No. 12 in Cal-Hi Sports Hot 100; plus 1,669 yards passing with 1,293 yards rushing) at quarterback, anything is possible but it’s more on defense where the team is really going to have to step up compared to last season.
Shapshot of Mater Dei: Before head coach Bruce Rollinson marches his Monarchs out onto the field to play Servite on Oct. 17, they already will have played Centennial of Corona, Upland, Westlake of Westlake Village and St. John Bosco. It’s not likely, but if both teams are undefeated it’ll be arguably the biggest game ever between the two. At the end of last season, Mater Dei had some outstanding underclass players on defense, especially with nose tackle Malik McMorris (No. 72 in Cal-Hi Sports Hot 100) and linebacker Ben Humphreys (Duke commit & No. 25 in Cal-Hi Sports Hot 100), but the offense seemed like it might have some major holes for 2014. Then came the spring camp/combine season and junior quarterback Jack Lowary (No. 42 in Cal-Hi Sports Hot 100 for juniors) looked very good. Sure, it’s shorts and 7-on-7 but Mater Dei has a strong history of quarterbacks and it looks like at least for that position that Rollo is going to be more than okay.
More Top Players For Servite: Sr. RB Tate Beachley (536 rush yds, 5 TDs); WR Equanimeous St. Brown (No. 36 in Cal-Hi Sports Hot 100); OT Clayton Johnson (USC commit & No. 41 in Cal-Hi Sports Hot 100); Sr. LS A.J. Carty (Washington commit); Jr. DB Micah Croom (transfer from Long Beach Poly; No. 22 in Cal-Hi Sports Hot 100 for juniors); Sr. CB/WR Maurice Davison (All-Orange County); Sr. LB Justin Parcells (99 tackles).
More Top Players for Mater Dei: Sr. TE Kyle Penniston (No. 43 in Cal-Hi Sports Hot 100); Jr. OT Frank Martin (No. 7 in Cal-Hi Sports Hot 100 for juniors); Sr. RB/LB Adrian Contreras (280 yds rushing); Jr. DB Edward Vander (transfer from Paramount; No. 35 in Cal-Hi Sports Hot 100 for juniors).
Recent History Between These Two: Current University of Nevada standout Cody Fajardo led the Friars to a 30-20 win in 2009 that snapped a 21-year winless streak against the Monarchs. They then won two more in a row, but in the last two years Mater Dei has won 36-22 and 28-21.
Hunch As To Where Each Team Should Be Ranked In The Preseason: Even with a 6-6 record from last year, Servite is appearing in the top 20 of some national rankings. We’ll certainly know quickly how accurate that is with the first game against Bishop Gorman. We’re not going to rank Servite to start ahead of De La Salle or St. John Bosco, but could be as high as third in the state. Mater Dei might be right behind or could be fifth or sixth. It depends on what we think after we dive deeper into some other teams we’re considering for the top five.
Next Preseason Duel: Foothill (Pleasanton) vs. Pittsburg.