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PREP FOOTBALL / Southern Section Playoffs

Mater Dei Flexes Playoff Muscles in Victory

November 28, 1998|MIKE TERRY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Mater Dei wasn't supposed to be this good this season after losing several top-flight offensive players to graduation.

But the Monarchs, whose only loss has been to Northern California power Concord De La Salle, know a thing or two about playoff football. And they gave Sherman Oaks Notre Dame a hard lesson, winning, 30-3, before an estimated 6,000 at Los Angeles Valley College.

Mater Dei (11-1) reached its seventh Division I semifinal in the 1990s and will play Los Alamitos, a 42-12 winner over Fontana, next Saturday night at Edison Field.

"It wasn't that easy," Monarch Coach Bruce Rollinson said of Friday's victory. "We made mistakes and I was worried about how much emotion we had after last week's game with Fountain Valley.

"But our defense is playing its best football of the season. They play so well as a unit. There are no egos. Everyone wants a piece of the action."

Mater Dei kept Notre Dame's passing and running games under wraps, holding the Knights without a touchdown for the first time this season. Notre Dame has only 115 yards of total offense. The Monarchs followed last week's 10-sack effort against Fountain Valley with five more and added a blocked punt and a forced fumble.

Notre Dame, which had moved up from Division III this season, finished 10-2. Their only score came on a 24-yard field goal from Christian Thomsen on the last play of the first half.

"We're competitive in Division I, but we're going to have to get a little bigger and stronger if we want to win," Notre Dame Coach Kevin Rooney said. "They beat us up at the line of scrimmage. Defensively, they didn't do anything we didn't expect, but every time we tried to go somewhere, they had people there."

Mater Dei, which led 17-3 at the half, got another strong game from Matt Grootegoed, who rushed for 173 yards and three touchdowns in 20 carries. His 48-yard burst on a third-down draw play in the third quarter effectively put the game away.

The Monarchs' first points came on a 33-yard field goal by Bryan New on their first possession of the game.

Scott Lukash had a bumpy night, getting sacked six times and completing only six of 11 passes for 158 yards. He contributed one big play--a 78-yard scoring pass to Kelvin Millhouse, who had three receptions for 111 yards, for Mater Dei's first touchdown.

A minute later, Mater Dei blocked Rick Jacobs' punt and recovered at the Notre Dame 22. Five plays later, Grootegoed bulled his way into the end zone from four yards.

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