The football teams of Bishop Amat and Mater Dei high schools walked out of the dressing room, then sank into a swamp called Santa Ana Stadium on Thursday night. By the end of the game, with the regulars covered in mud, it was hard to tell who played for which team.
Except that Bishop Amat players threw the mud in the air and danced in its fallout, while Mater Dei players could only kick at the ground, which had turned to pudding.
Bishop Amat (8-0, 4-0) won the game, 25-12, and clinched at least a tie for its fourth straight Angelus League championship.
The Lancers won by scoring 25 points in the second half. They won because they held Mater Dei to minus-three yards of offense in the third quarter. They won because they intercepted two passes and recovered a fumble in the fourth quarter.
It also didn't hurt the Lancers that they were a run-oriented team playing a passing team on a field in disrepair.
"I think this is the worse I've ever seen it," Mater Dei Coach Chuck Gallo said of the field. "It's too bad we had to play the championship game on a field like this."
Santa Ana Stadium had been used four times last week, including a Saturday doubleheader with each game played in the rain.
Between the 20-yard lines, nearly spanning sideline to sideline, the field was ankle deep in muck. Rain fell throughout the game, but it mainly drizzled in the first half when Mater Dei scored its 12 points.
Quarterback Mark Ramstack, after missing on his first five pass attempts, completed five of his next six to lead the Monarchs to two touchdowns.
Midway through the second quarter, Ramstack completed a 37-yard pass to George Lynch to put the Monarchs at the Bishop Amat 16. Two plays later, Ramstack dove over from the one. The conversion failed and the Monarchs led, 6-0, with 6:52 left in the half.
They scored again a little more than two minutes later when Ramstack completed a 15-yard pass to a wide-open Keith Labus in the corner of the end zone. The two-point conversion failed, but the Monarchs led, 12-0.
Ramstack completed 6 of 12 passes for 110 yards and Lynch caught 4 passes for 87 yards in the first half.
But in the second half, the rain became intense, the field became a mess and Bishop Amat's running game--led by Mazio Royster, who gained 122 yards total--took over.
The Lancers scored with 9:49 left in the third quarter when Marlon Singleton ran 67 yards for a touchdown. The score was 12-6 when the conversion kick failed.
Five minutes later, set up by quarterback J.R. Phillips' 33-yard pass to Derek Zdarstek, the Lancers scored on Phillips' two-yard run. The pass completion was one of Phillips' two in the second half. Another kick failed and the score was tied, 12-12.
Bishop Amat came back on its next possession to drive 59 yards in 14 plays, with Phillips scoring again from two yards out, and the Lancers took the lead, 18-12.
Royster closed the scoring with a two-yard run.
In another Angelus League game:
Servite 40, Bishop Montgomery 26--Servite tailback Derek Brown gained 188 yards and scored 5 touchdowns in 30 carries to lead host Servite in front of 2,500 at Gahr High School.
Bishop Montgomery (3-6, 1-3) led at halftime, 14-7, but Servite (6-2-1, 2-2) hammered back in the second half on the ground.