Mater Dei High School, vying for its first football championship in eight years, will play host to Bishop Amat at 7:30 tonight in Santa Ana Stadium for the Angelus League title.
The Monarchs (7-1, 3-0) haven't won a title since 1979, when they shared the Angelus League championship with St. Paul. But before Mater Dei can claim a title, it will have to do something no other team has accomplished in three years--defeat Bishop Amat in a regular-season game.
Bishop Amat (8-0, 3-0) has won 29 straight games in the regular season en route to three consecutive league titles. The Lancers' trademark throughout the winning streak has been a strong running game, and this year is no exception.
Tailback Mazio Royster is another in a long line of excellent running backs that includes Eric Bieniemy (Colorado), Randy Tanner (USC) and Pernell Taylor (Notre Dame).
"Mazio is a different type of runner than any of the others," said Mark Paredes, Bishop Amat coach. "He isn't as fast as Eric, but he has sneaky speed. He isn't as quick as Randy, but he has great balance. He still hasn't come anywhere near his potential."
Bishop Amat, which this season is displaying better balance than previous teams, is averaging 26.6 points per game and allowing an average of 8.1 points per game.
"Bishop Amat is very similar to Santa Ana in terms of speed and quickness," said Chuck Gallo, Mater Dei coach. "They have four or five players who, if they get the ball, your heart goes in your throat."
Mater Dei, averaging 29.2 points per game, has lost only to Santa Ana, 24-3. The Monarchs are coming off a wild 43-34 decision over St. Paul in which quarterback Mark Ramstack completed 10 of 16 passes for 203 yards and 2 touchdowns.
"Mark played his best game of the season," Gallo said, "but we broke down defensively. We played championship defense for seven games and then displayed a lot of individualism last week. We can't afford that against Bishop Amat."
Paredes said he expects a high-scoring game. Bishop Amat has outscored Mater Dei by 74-28 in the last two meetings between the schools.
"Our No. 1 priority is putting the pressure on Ramstack," Paredes said. "He's mobile, patient, confident and tough. I've seen him get hit hard, get up and then complete a big pass."
In other key games at 7:30 tonight:
GARDEN GROVE LEAGUE
Bolsa Grande (8-0, 5-0) vs. Los Amigos (3-5, 2-3) in Garden Grove Stadium: Can anyone stop the Matadors' potent veer? Ricky Lepule is averaging 10.1 yards per carry, Travin Lui 8.2 yards and Damon Fisher 10 yards. No wonder Bolsa Grande holds the Southern Section's current longest winning streak at 17 games. The Matadors are attempting to become the first team to repeat as Central Conference champion since the section adopted the conference setup in 1977.
Anaheim (6-2, 2-1) vs. Brea-Olinda (4-4, 2-1) in Glover Stadium: Sophomores Chad Marlow and Eddie Stewart helped the Wildcats score one of the biggest upsets of the season last week, a 17-7 victory over Western that created a four-way tie for first place among Anaheim, Brea, Valencia and Western. Marlow rushed for 54 yards in 12 carries, and Stewart scored the team's first touchdown on a 9-yard run. Strong safety Kenny Martin (19 tackles) and free safety Matt Gunn (17 tackles) were named the team's co-defensive players of the game.
SEA VIEW LEAGUE
Tustin (5-2-1, 2-0-1) vs. Newport Harbor (6-2, 2-1) on Davidson Field: The Tillers have won two league games by a total of six points and tied Saddleback, 24-24, last week. In comparison, Newport Harbor lost to Saddleback, 24-6. The Sailors haven't been the same since losing tailback Scott Morency four weeks ago with an ankle injury. Morency is doubtful tonight.