Mater Dei (CA) showcased exactly why it was named the No. 1 high school football team in the United States in 2018 Friday night, as the Monarchs defeated Centennial 71-21 in Peoria.
The Monarchs ran out to a 20-point lead behind two stellar offensive drives for early scores and a blocked punt recovered for a touchdown, and the Coyotes could never catch up.
The typically-stout Coyote defense had few answers for Mater Dei quarterback Bryce Young. Even against a solid pass rush, he used his quick feet to maneuver in the backfield and find one of his many talented receivers downfield.
He ended with 509 yards through the air and seven touchdowns. In the first half alone, he as many touchdown passes (5) as incompletions.
“He’s just phenomenal, great on his feet. It makes it hard for the DB’s to have to cover for so long, and he just extended plays very well,” said Coyote senior defensive back and running back Jaydin Young.
Coach Rich Taylor admitted that it felt different being on the other side of a blowout. Usually Centennial is the winning side, like the 60-7 drubbing of Notre Dame Prep in the 5A state championship just last season for example.
“We’ve done that (win by a significant margin) to a few people ourselves. If you do it long enough, eventually you get yours. We got ours tonight,” Taylor said.
Coyote senior tight end Kaeden Miller said the Monarchs were by far the best high school football team he has seen on an opposing sideline.
“They were physical, always running to the ball. I got into it with a few of them, and you could see they were ready to go. You could see why they were No. 1 in the nation,” Miller said.
Though facing a major deficit early and ultimately losing by 50, the Coyotes looked poised to attempt a comeback. The defense tightened up midway through the first half, and put together a couple stops.
Several big plays, such as an option toss to Dax Lindholm for 56 yards or a 53-yard toss from quarterback Jonathan Morris to Young in the second quarter, led to touchdowns. The Coyotes cut the lead to 14 once and 13 later, but could never reach a single-digit margin.
The game ended in a running clock set for deficits of 40-or-more points in the second half.
However, the Coyotes celebrated many of the highlight plays in the same spirit they might if taking the lead or running up the score on somebody else. The Coyotes, even in a losing effort, still feel like they showed the character of a winning squad.
The loss stings for now, but many of the Centennial players are proud of the way the team competed. The Coyotes hope the lessons they take from this contest will help them along the road to competing for a third-consecutive state title later this fall.
“I still think we have a lot of potential. It’s just the second game of the year, so we still have a lot of time to build off of our past two,” Young said.
“What happened, happened. we ran into a good team,” added Miller. “Beating Mater Dei isn’t the goal. Winning the championship is. It’s just one game.”
Centennial (1-1) travels to Vail on September 13 to face Cienega (1-1) in its next game.
Mater Dei 71, Centennial 21
Mater Dei 27 23 14 7 – 71
Centennial 6 15 0 0 – 21
MD – Craig 2 run (kick blocked), 9:19
MD – Hunter recovered blocked punt (Mahlum kick), 9:04
MD – Ware-Hudson 18 pass from Young (Mahlum kick), 3:35
CEN – Jacob 8 run (kick blocked), 3:19
MD – Dixon 37 pass from Young (Mahlum kick), 0:22
CEN – Adams 6 pass from Lindholm (Rodriguez kick), 7:57
MD – Epps 27 pass from Young (Mahlum kick), 5:05
CEN – Morris 1 run (two-point conversion good), 3:11
MD – Ware-Hudson 17 pass from Young (Mahlum kick), 2:35
MD – safety, 1:44
MD – Epps 23 pass from Young (Mahlum kick), 0:51
MD – Ware-Hudson 8 pass from Young (Mahlum kick), 6:40
MD – Epps 57 pass from Young (Mahlum kick), 4:10
MD – Dixon 60 pass from Selinsky (Mahlum kick), 10:20
Mater Dei – Young 6-28, Craig 4-15, Yetts 2-15, Leofa 1-1, Selinsky 1-1. Centennial – Lindholm 5-64, Scott 11-34, Jacob 8-26, Young 5-9, Morris 2- -4.
MD – Young 28-35-509-0, Selinsky 1-1-60-0. Morris 7-21-129-0, Lindholm 1-1-6-0.
MD – Ware-Hudson 11-190, Epps 8-189, Dixon 2-97, Williams 6-75, Zamora 2-13. Centennial – K Miller 1-58, J Young 1-53, D Miller 2-15, Adams 1-6, B Young 1-3, Haney 1-2, Lindholm 1- -2.
Mater Dei Centennial
First downs 20 7
Rush-yards 13-59 31-137
Comp-app-int 19-36-0 8-22-0
Pass yards 569 135
Total yards 628 172
Fumbles/lost 0/0 3/0
Penalties-yards 11-112 6-37