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Valley / Ventura County Sports

It's Not Notre Dame's Dei

Division I: Mater Dei wins, 30-3, turning out the lights on the Knights, who conclude successful first season at top level.

November 28, 1998|MIKE BRESNAHAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

VALLEY GLEN — The Notre Dame High foray into Division I football, exciting at times, heartbreaking at other times, simply ran out of time.

Mater Dei, not exactly intimidated by the first-year entrants into the top echelon of the Southern Section, crushed Notre Dame, 30-3, in a quarterfinal game Friday night before an estimated crowd of 7,000 at Valley College.

Mater Dei (11-1) overpowered Notre Dame (10-2) in every facet, including a 377-119 advantage in total offense.

The Notre Dame players received an inspirational pregame letter from Alan Dominique, an offensive tackle on the team that defeated Mater Dei in 1981, 10-7.

The drift of the missive: Believe it can happen.

It didn't look like it would when Mater Dei scored 1:42 into the game, Bryan New hitting a 32-yard field goal after a short opening kickoff.

Mater Dei, which held a 17-3 halftime edge, had big gainers throughout the game.

Kevin Millhouse scored on a 78-yard reception and Matt Grootegoed scored on a 48-yard run. Throw in a blocked punt that led to a four-yard touchdown by Grootegoed, and it's easy to see how the Knights lost.

On the whole, it was a season to remember for Notre Dame, which moved up from Division III.

The Knights defeated Loyola, 17-14, and narrowly lost to Bishop Amat, 28-21, after a fourth-quarter comeback. They won their first Division I playoff game, 34-27, in come-from-behind fashion last week against Long Beach Wilson.

"I thought we did a great job," Notre Dame defensive end Alec Moss said. "We worked our hardest. That's all."

The Monarchs led, 17-0, before Notre Dame scored on a 24-yard field goal by Christian Thomsen as time expired in the first half.

Grootegoed, a converted quarterback, finished with 219 yards and three touchdowns in 20 carries for Mater Dei, which outgained the Knights on the ground, 219-34.

"I know we need to get a little bigger and a little stronger in order to be a team that can [consistently] compete at the Division I level," Notre Dame Coach Kevin Rooney said. "We're just not a big team. They kind of knocked us around a little."

Trevin Lund, who finished with 28 yards in seven carries, was the leading rusher for Notre Dame, which was held without a touchdown for the first time this season.

Millhouse, who is considering Colorado, Washington, Oregon and California, finished with three catches for 111 yards.

Third-seeded Mater Dei will play against second-seeded Los Alamitos in the semifinals.

It was a good decision to move the game from Notre Dame to Valley College.

The pregame atmosphere bordered on that of a college game, with an estimated 3,000 Mater Dei fans making the trek from Santa Ana in RVs and charter buses.

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