Corona Centennial avenges early-season loss to Santa Ana Mater Dei with victory in CIFSS Pac-Five quarterfinals to advance to semifinal matchup versus Bishop Amat of La Puente. The Huskies’ vaunted offense will be without two key cogs, however.
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The high-powered Corona Centennial football team was looking for revenge in its CIF Southern Section Pac-5 quarterfinal playoff game due to opponent Mater Dei of Santa Ana defeating the Huskies 38-18 in the first game of the 2014 season for both teams.
The task wasn’t going to be easy, with the game played at Santa Ana Stadium’s Eddie West Field and the Centennial offense missing starting running back J.J. Taylor, who gained 1,657 yards and 27 touchdowns through 11 games. As has been the case in recent seasons, however, Centennial coach Matt Logan continues to re-define his record-setting no-huddle, spread offense, as Centennial was able to hold off a third quarter Mater Dei surge to record a 27-24 victory.
Centennial (10-2) scored the game-winning touchdown on a one-yard quarterback keeper by Anthony Catalano with 5:25 remaining in the game that capped the 11-play, 66-yard scoring drive. The Huskies scored on the first play of the fourth quarter, a 2-yard rush by RB Sammonte Bonner, to cut their deficit to three points (24-21). After trailing 13-3 at halftime, Mater Dei roared back to take a 24-13 lead by scoring 21 unanswered points. After outscoring state No. 6 Centennial, 21-0, in the third period, Mater Dei (9-3) was outscored 14-0 in the final period.
“I prepared for this all year, just in case J.J. (Taylor) went down,” said Bonner, who finished with 54 yards rushing on 21 carries, one score and some key first downs to help seal the win. “(Matt) Logan told me to play my game, which is fast and hard. I wanted to lead my team to victory and I couldn’t have done it without J.J. I look up to him.”
Centennial, which is competing in the CIFSS Pac-5 playoffs for the first time after rising to a state power in the CIFSS Inland Division, continued to use its two-headed quarterback system for quality production. Catalano, who started, finished 6-of-11 for 181 yards and an interception. Nate Ketteringham, who alternated series with Catalano, finished 4-of-14 for 130 yards with two touchdowns, including an 80-yarder to Greyson Bankhead (2 receptions, 108 yards) with 6:07 remaining in the first quarter to open the scoring.
The main player Mater Dei had trouble stopping on the outside was wideout Javon McKinley, who had 188 receiving yards on six receptions, including a 14-yard fade to give the Huskies their 13-3 lead before Mater Dei found its offensive groove. Mater Dei’s highly-regarded defense did a good job of stopping the Huskies’ rushing attack, but ultimately, Centennial’s big plays and its own troubles passing the ball led to an earlier than expected playoff exit for the state’s No. 5 ranked team.
“You only get an opportunity to coach a defense like that once in a while,” said Mater Dei coach Bruce Rollinson, whose program advanced to the 2012 and 2013 CIFSS Pac-5 finals. “And we had a great defense.”
Mater Dei quarterback Jack Lowary completed only 9-of-27 passes for 146 yards. He had one touchdown pass — a spectacular, one-handed grab by all-state candidate Ben Humphreys for 30 yards, and did not have a pass intercepted. Besides that one catch, however, Mater Dei had trouble with its passing downfield and Lowary was also sacked four times for a loss of 32 yards.
Mater Dei RB Adrian Contreras finished with 126 yards rushing on 23 carries with one touchdown, a 24-yard jaunt with 53 seconds remaining in the third period.
Before its two games this season, the last time Mater Dei and Centennial played was in 2011, when Centennial defeated the Monarchs, 28-20, during the regular season.
After the contest, Logan confirmed to Cal-Hi Sports that Bankhead has a broken collarbone and will miss the semifinal contest versus Bishop Amat. Taylor is not expected back for the semifinal showdown as well. He had an appendectomy last Thursday morning.
Ronnie Flores is the managing editor of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @RonMFlores