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Heads Held High

After Loss, Mater Dei Sets Sights on Edison

September 26, 2000|BEN BOLCH

What now? Where does Mater Dei go after falling agonizingly short in a 31-28 loss to Concord De La Salle that proved the Monarchs are every bit as tough as the Spartans?

Top-ranked Mater Dei has no choice but to move forward, of course. There's no time to linger over defeat when the schedule features powerhouse after powerhouse, even though the loss Saturday at Edison Field is being hailed by Monarch fans as a moral victory.

"I'm very proud of what we did," Mater Dei Coach Bruce Rollinson said. "But I don't like to sit around and watch everyone get patted on the back for an entertaining game that we lost. We had [Sunday] to field the phone calls and the pats on the back. Today, it's back to work to prepare for Edison."

The Monarchs (2-1) play the No. 3 Chargers (3-0) Friday night at Orange Coast College. And if Mater Dei doesn't quickly regain its focus, Rollinson said, it could easily be staring at a second consecutive loss.

"The Edison guys, they have all of the motivational tools that we had last week," Rollinson said. "I know that [Edison Coach] Dave White is over there telling them, 'Hey, you've got a free shot.' They're going to come out sky high."

The Monarchs should be confident after quarterback Matt Leinart completed 27 of 43 passes for 401 yards and four touchdowns against De La Salle, which extended its national-record winning streak to 103 games.

"I thought that that was one of the greater performances that we've had at that position, and we've had some great ones," Rollinson said. "What I liked about the whole thing was that he was having a lot of fun out there. If he just plays like that with that type of attitude, we're going to go places."

Rollinson said he saw more positives than negatives when he and his assistants analyzed the De La Salle game tape. There were several breakdowns on the special teams, including one that led to a 59-yard punt return, but there were also breakthrough performances by receivers Brian Panique (five receptions for 151 yards and two touchdowns) and Matt Haugen (three receptions and a touchdown).

"It's a step forward because we have dramatically improved," Rollinson said. "We are not the same team that played in Game 1 and Game 2. We are a good football team. I think we proved that."

WELCOME BACK

Running back Joel Gonzalez returned to Saddleback's lineup Friday in the Roadrunners' 28-16 victory over Santa Ana Valley, and boy, was everybody glad.

It was his first game back after recovering from a punctured lung suffered when he was stabbed at a party Aug. 11.

Gonzalez rushed for 159 yards in 32 carries and scored twice. Last season, he rushed for 1,235 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Gonzalez's return was also important because it gave Saddleback some offensive firepower after quarterback Ramon Saavedra was knocked out of the game late in the second quarter.

A NEW STANDARD

Laguna Beach's 22-7 victory over Capistrano Valley Christian was the Artists' first win of the season and ended a nine-game losing streak dating to last year.

Laguna Beach started last season 3-0 before dropping its final seven games.

"I think [this team] is better than last year's team, but there's no depth to it," said Coach Dave Holland, whose 1999 squad lost three Pacific Coast League games by a combined 14 points.

Tailback Jason Boyd and receivers Will Blodgett and Matt Daley are three reasons for Holland's assessment--he says each has game-breaking ability.

If Boyd, Blodgett, Daley and Co. match last season's victory total, it will be only the second time since 1987 that the Artists have recorded three on-field victories in a season; they were awarded a forfeit in 1998 that gave them a third victory.

"We've gotten it to the point where we're in every ballgame and there are expectations of us, and we expect to win our share of games," said Holland, a veteran coach who is in his fifth season at Laguna Beach.

THE WAR OF ATTRITION

Aliso Niguel dropped to 0-4 on Friday with its 27-15 loss to San Clemente. This is quite a departure for two Wolverine seniors, running back Devon Sutton and cornerback Brian Tracy, who played on an undefeated freshman team in 1997.

"Only two players are left off that 10-0 freshman group," Coach Joe Wood said. "[The rest] either quit, there were discipline problems and they were transferred, there were injuries, or they moved.

"We're lacking some leadership, and little things are happening to us that have prevented us from progressing. I really thought we would be a little better."

RISING TO THE OCCASION

Maybe Esperanza couldn't make a defensive play when it counted in its Week 2 loss to San Clemente, but that wasn't the case Thursday. On two separate occasions in a 42-23 victory over Fallbrook, an Esperanza player turned in consecutive huge plays inside the 10-yard line to prevent a score.

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