Football: Previewing Mater Dei at No. 8 Corona Centennial
Santa Ana Mater Dei Coach Bruce Rollinson equated his team's two-week bye between Games 1 and 2 to spring practices and training camp. Even if he believes the extra week might have helped the Monarchs prepare for No. 8 Corona Centennial's viciously fast no-huddle offense tonight, he also argues the bye week came way too early.
"I think we need to go play again," said Rollinson, whose team last year enjoyed a bye week between its fifth and sixth game. "We need to get back out there."
The extra time has proved a mixed bag. For one, it allowed senior running back Corbin Anderson (knee) and senior wide receiver Victor Blackwell(shoulder) to rehabilitate injuries. Rollinson said Anderson will miss his second consecutive game tonight and expects him to be sidelined from four and six more weeks. Meanwhile, Rollinson calls Blackwell a "game-time decision" but says "he has to have a big game if he goes." He slightly separated his shoulder two weeks ago in Mater Dei's 14-10 loss to Carson.
"They definitely missed their tailback and receiver," Corona Centennial Coach Matt Logan said of Anderson and Blackwell. "You take the two best players off any team, and you'll usually have a hard time."
The extra rest also gave the Monarchs time to address other issues. Senior quarterback Max Wittek, a USC commit, threw an uncharacteristic seven of 17 for 63 and was sacked six times against Carson, a performance Rollinson pointed to Wittek's being "too emotionally fired up."
Even if Rollinson would've had another game last week, Logan suspects that Mater Dei used the extra preparation to add a few wrinkles. Rollinson says he emphasized special teams in practice this week and has stressed for the Monarchs not give up big plays.
That's because Corona Centennial's fast and athletic playmakers can seemingly exploit mistakes. "It's almost like a mirror-image of [Corona Centennial's] past great teams," Rollinson said. "They have tremendous depth at the skill positions. They got the same kind of guys, just different names." That proved apparent during a 48-8 victory last week over Lake Balboa Birmingham, at least enough so for Coach Jim Rose to tell The Times' Eric Sondheimer, "I want to know who can beat those guys."
That's because Corona Centennial held Birmingham to 35 first-half yards. Senior wide receiver Larry Scott returned an 89-yard touchdown on the opening kickoff ("the fastest kid on the team," Logan says). And the Huskies established a 41-0 halftime lead, thanks to a balanced offense.
That included senior quarterback Michael Eubank going 15 of 18 for 186 yards. It also entailed tailbacks Barrington Collins (five carries for 147 yards and five touchdowns) and Romello Goodman (13 carries for 158 yards and one touchdown) punishing Birmingham on the ground. Logan said Collins has a "little bit of a leg injury" but will "probably" play tonight.
Beyond injury concerns, there are also other reasons why Logan doesn't put too much stock into Week 1.
"Birmingham is not the program they once were," he said. "We're going to use this game [against Mater Dei] as a barometer for us. It'll be a good indication to show where we're at."
It'll also be an indication on whether Mater Dei's extra preparation paid off.