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Mater Dei football takes care of ‘business’ with title run at Battle at the Beach

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HUNTINGTON BEACH — Mater Dei’s football program provided a glimpse Saturday into how it hopes to operate under first-year coach Frank McManus, a few new assistants and steady, four-year starting quarterback Elijah Brown.

If the Monarchs’ performance at the Battle at the Beach was any indication, get ready for a united effort, team play and execution.

Mater Dei captured the prestigious passing tournament for the first time since 2019 by capping a 7-0 run with a 39-6 victory against Rancho Cucamonga in the final at Edison High.

The Monarchs, ranked No. 1 in the nation in multiple preseason polls, survived a scare in pool play from Warren (21-19) before beating Orange Lutheran (28-13) and defending champion Mission Viejo (25-0) in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively.

“I’m really proud of them,” McManus said of his players. “It was a very business-like nature out there. After the game, they were excited but they came in relatively quiet. They understand that this is about more than just this moment. We’re preparing for a good season.”

“Big picture-wise, it’s about Game 1, Centennial (of Corona),” he added.

And for the first time since 1988, the Monarchs are preparing for season under a head coach other than Bruce Rollinson.

McManus took the reins in February after Rollinson surprisingly announced his resignation late last season after earlier stating he would return for 2023.

McManus’ coaching style was on display for all to see Saturday. He engaged his players throughout the day. He whizzed in and out of defensive huddles, vocally encouraged players and quickly joined a few in photographs afterward.

During the Warren game, McManus joked with the officials and opposition, and playfully pounded the ground.

“I don’t think I’ve had to change much at all,” he said, “other than to just allow the coaches to do what they do, allow the kids to demonstrate their natural talents and let them be themselves.”

Brown certainly looked like himself in the final.

The recent Stanford commit threw five TDs to four different receivers. He tossed two to senior running back Ajon Byrant, who lined up in the slot, and one apiece to junior running back Jordon Davison and emerging sophomore wide receivers Kayden Dixon-Wyatt and Jonah Smith.

Mater Dei’s offense hummed under new offensive coordinator Eric Rescigno, who replaces Taylor Kelly.

Running back Nathaniel Frazier and wide out Marcus Brown were among the key targets earlier in the tournament.

“Offense was definitely on point today,” McManus said. “Trying to execute on first down was a big thing. We wanted to have first-down success … and taking what defenses were giving us instead of going for big yardage plays right off the bat.”

Mater Dei’s defense, under veteran coordinator Eric Johnson, received an interception in the final from sophomore cornerback Cory Lavender. The takeaway led to a long TD strike from Brown to Smith as the Monarchs opened a 26-0 lead.

In the semifinals, junior cornerback Daryus Dixson played well against Mission Viejo.

“It’s one voice, one man orchestrating this defense, and we all know our roles,” McManus said of Johnson. “My job is get him to be here another five years, but we’re going to go one year at a time.”

The Monarchs’ coaching staff also now includes Scott McKnight, the former JSerra coach who will lead the special teams.

Former Saddleback coach Glenn Campbell is leading the running backs.

Mater Dei wasn’t full-strength. Cornerback Zabien Brown and wide receiver Jack Ressler didn’t play but Mater Dei progressed after falling to Warren in the semifinals of the USC tournament last weekend.

Next week, the Monarchs will finish their summer at the Mission Viejo tournament.

“The staff is really coming together and the players are really coming together,” McManus said. “And like you saw after the game with the players, not a lot of ego. There’s a lot of togetherness, and it’s the same thing with the coaching staff.”

EDISON IMPRESSES BUT MORE WORK LEFT

Edison intercepted two passes and received strong play from wide out Mason York en route to a 16-6 victory in pool play against St. John Bosco, ranked No. 2 in the High School Football America preseason poll.

Cornerback Jared Schnoor intercepted a pass on the opening series and Gavin Slaughter grabbed another with about one minute left.

York also helped seal the upset by taking a short crossing pass from new quarterback Savelio Niumata and racing for a long TD that gave Edison a 14-6 lead.

The Chargers went 4-0 to win their pool before falling to Rancho Cucamonga 17-7 in the quarterfinals without York (calf). Rancho Cucamonga upset St. John Bosco 18-13 in the semifinals.

“We played well,” Edison coach Jeff Grady said. “We lost 33 seniors (from last season). We’re replacing a lot of good players who were huge contributors to us. Collectively, we got to come together as a team.”

Of Niumata, Grady said, “He’s making progress every week.”

MISSION VIEJO EDGES ORANGE LUTHERAN

Quarterbacks Luke Fahey and Draiden Trudeau-Cicero each threw touchdowns and Boise State committed safety Travis Anderson had an interception as Mission Viejo edged Orange Lutheran 15-14 in pool play.

Fahey, a sophomore, tossed a long strike to Winslow Garnier to open the scoring while Trudeau-Cicero connected with two-way standout Dijon Lee Jr.

Freshman wide receiver Chris Flores Jr. and tight end Aj Ia were key targets for the Lancers, who rotated quarterbacks TJ Lateef and Alex Medyn.

SANTA MARGARITA’S TRENT MOSLEY SHOWS HIS BURST

Santa Margarita wide receiver Trent Mosley caught two long TDs from new QB James Johnson in a 26-20 triumph against Capistrano Valley in pool play.

Mosley, a 5-foot-11, 170-pound sophomore, helped the Eagles go 4-0 in pool play. They fell to St. John Bosco 25-15 in the quarterfinals.

Mosley offered strong praise of Johnson, a transfer from Servite.

“He’s really good,” he said. “He’s getting it all down. Our timing is on, so we look good out there.”

Mosley is the younger brother of recent Stanford commit Emmett Mosley. He has been offered by the Cardinal among several other schools.

CAPISTRANO VALLEY’S QB LEADER

Capistrano Valley quarterback Tommy Acosta threw a touchdown to fellow junior Hudson Campbell to highlight his play against Santa Margarita.

The Cougars are seeking to replace Trey Kukuk, now at Saddleback College, and might have their QB in Acosta (5-11, 185). And like Kukuk, Acosta is a dual threat.

“We’re really excited about him,” Capistrano Valley coach Sean Curtis said of Acosta. “He had a great day. Kind of a slow start but started putting some balls in a good spot.”

The Cougars went 1-3 in their pool. They lost to Rancho Cucamonga 10-2 and Los Alamitos 25-14.

KALEB ANNETT LEADS CDM TO QUARTERFINALS

First-year starting senior Kaleb Annett (6-3, 190) led Corona del Mar to the quarterfinals, where the Sea Kings fell to Mission Viejo 28-14.

Corona del Mar highlighted its pool play trek with a 23-6 victory against Warren.

“He performed well,” Sea Kings coach Kevin Hettig said of Annett. “He led the offense. He was getting everybody right.”

Annett planned to leave Saturday night for an unofficial trip to Princeton. He plans take an official to Boise State in September.

LOS ALAMITOS RALLIES FOR SILVER

Los Alamitos won the silver bracket after starting the day 0-2 in pool play.

The Griffins finished 2-2 in pool play and defeated Warren 21-19 in the silver final on a late interception by safety Isaiah Rubin, a transfer from Desert Pines in Nevada.

The reigning Sunset League champion is working in several transfers, including tight end Davon Mitchell, quarterback Alonzo Esparza, linebacker Kamar Mothudi, running back Kobe Boykin and cornerback Jett White.

“We have the talent,” Los Alamitos coach Ray Fenton said. “We just got to do a good job coaching them.”

BATTLE OF THE TITANS

There’s no tackling in 7on competitions but Capistrano Valley linebacker Jackson Sievers (6-2, 220) and Mitchell (6-5, 245) brought physical play to their back-and-forth duel in pool play. It was one of the best matchups of the day.

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