With a gravelly voice straight out of central casting, Santa Ana Mater Dei Coach Bruce Rollinson knows how to play the underdog role to perfection. He had his players fired up Thursday night, particularly on defense, and the result was a 21-14 upset of previously unbeaten Santa Margarita in a Trinity League opener.
The Monarchs (3-3) sacked Santa Margarita quarterback Johnny Stanton five times, the last of which, by Thomas Duarte, ended the game on fourth down at the Santa Margarita 35. Linebacker Rick Ortiz had two of the sacks.
Santa Margarita (5-1) had come in ranked No. 2 by The Times. Mater Dei had lost its first three games, to Carson, Corona Centennial and San Clemente, after being unable to hold leads.
Once again, the Monarchs couldn't hold a lead. Santa Margarita rallied from a 13-0 halftime deficit to move on top, 14-13, in the third quarter, scoring touchdowns on a 47-yard interception return by Connor O'Brien and a Ryan Wolpin one-yard run after a fumble recovery.