Mater Dei no match for De La Salle

When the series between California prep football superpowers De La Salle and Mater Dei was launched in 1998, it's doubtful that not even the most ardent supporters of De La Salle thought the Spartans would be able to sweep four games.

But that's what De La Salle did as the Spartans dominated the Monarchs, 34-7, on Saturday night at the University of the Pacific in Stockton before 8,525. De La Salle should therefore retain its No. 1 national ranking in the Student Sports FAB 50 until it meets current No. 2 Long Beach Poly on Oct. 6 at Veterans Stadium in Long Beach. The Spartans also upped their national record winning streak to 115 games, which likely will be at 116 heading into the Poly matchup.

"No, I didn't think we'd go 4-0 (against Mater Dei)," said De La Salle head coach Bob Ladouceur. "I always felt the games would be close and two of them were really close. Their team this year still seems to be searching for themselves."

De La Salle won the first game of the highly-anticipated series, 28-21, at Edison International Field in Anaheim. Mater Dei still went on to win its fourth CIF Southern Section Div. I title of the 1990s. It was 42-0 in 1999 at UOP, but the Monarchs were a stronger opponent on that night than this year as a slew of turnovers turned the game into a rout. Last year, Mater Dei lost 31-28, but missed on a field goal in the last minute that would have tied the game and likely sent it to overtime.

Alijah Bradley was the individual standout for De La Salle on Saturday night. The 5-9, 165-pound senior scampered 67 yards on his team's second play to set up the game's first score, a five-yard run by Nate Kenion. Bradley had a 35-yard touchdown run in the third quarter that gave the Spartans a 34-0 lead. He finished with 14 carries for 204 yards.

"Alijah had to play last year learning the system," Ladouceur said. "He's a transfer who has always had a lot of desire. We knew he was really good and he's been determined to have a great season."

The Monarchs, who scored their lone touchdown on a 10-yard run by John Martinez against De La Salle's second-stringers, did pick up some momentum in the second quarter after their defense stopped the Spartan offense on two straight possessions. But on a fourth down punt, a bizarre play pretty much killed any chance of the upset. Instead of Mater Dei getting the ball back, De La Salle scored a touchdown after James Bloomsburgh's punt ricocheted off the back of a teammate and Damon Jenkins picked up the ball and raced 70 yards. Mater Dei coaches thought the ball was not able to be advanced after hitting the De La Salle player, but officials told them it can be advanced if it does not go past the line of scrimmage.

Maurice Drew contributed three carries for 62 yards for De La Salle, including a 34-yard touchdown just before halftime. Highly recruited quarterback Matt Gutierrez only completed six of 12 passes for 57 yards as the Spartans threw sparingly because of all the success they had on the ground. Gutierrez did have a 10-yard scoring pass to Ryan Eidson for the team's second touchdown.

Mater Dei's Rafael Rice, the controversial transfer from Loyola of Los Angeles, was held to 49 yards on 15 carries.

"That's the speed they have," said Monarchs head coach Bruce Rollinson. "They've got d-backs that just fly to the ball and the big guy inside (Derek Landri) is quality."

While De La Salle has to play next week against St. Francis of Mountain View, it will be hard for many players to not think at least a little ahead to the matchup against Long Beach Poly.

"We've known Poly was going to be the big highlight of the schedule for a long time," Bradley said. "When we go down there, we're going to be up for them for sure."


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