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HomeSportsMater Dei football takes care of ‘business’ with title run at Battle...

Mater Dei football takes care of ‘business’ with title run at Battle at the Beach – Orange County Register

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Mater Dei’s football team defeated Rancho Cucamonga 39-6 in the finals of the Battle at the Beach passing tournament Saturday at Edison High in Huntington Beach. (Photo by Dan Albano, Orange County Register/SCNG)

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HUNTINGTON BEACH — Mater Dei’s football program provided a glimpse Saturday into how it hopes to operate under first-year coach Frank McManus, a few new assistants and steady, four-year starting quarterback Elijah Brown.

If the Monarchs’ performance at the Battle at the Beach was any indication, get ready for a united effort, team play and execution.

Mater Dei captured the prestigious passing tournament for the first time since 2019 by capping a 7-0 run with a 39-6 victory against Rancho Cucamonga in the final at Edison High.

The Monarchs, ranked No. 1 in the nation in multiple preseason polls, survived a scare in pool play from Warren (21-19) before beating Orange Lutheran (28-13) and defending champion Mission Viejo (25-0) in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively.

“I’m really proud of them,” McManus said of his players. “It was a very business-like nature out there. After the game, they were excited but they came in relatively quiet. They understand that this is about more than just this moment. We’re preparing for a good season.”

“Big picture-wise, it’s about Game 1, Centennial (of Corona),” he added.

And for the first time since 1988, the Monarchs are preparing for season under a head coach other than Bruce Rollinson.

McManus took the reins in February after Rollinson surprisingly announced his resignation late last season after earlier stating he would return for 2023.

McManus’ coaching style was on display for all to see Saturday. He engaged his players throughout the day. He whizzed in and out of defensive huddles, vocally encouraged players and quickly joined a few in photographs afterward.

During the Warren game, McManus joked with the officials and opposition, and playfully pounded the ground.

“I don’t think I’ve had to change much at all,” he said, “other than to just allow the coaches to do what they do, allow the kids to demonstrate their natural talents and let them be themselves.”

Brown certainly looked like himself in the final.

The recent Stanford commit threw five TDs to four different receivers. He tossed two to senior running back Ajon Byrant, who lined up in the slot, and one apiece to junior running back Jordon Davison and emerging sophomore wide receivers Kayden Dixon-Wyatt and Jonah Smith.

Mater Dei’s offense hummed under new offensive coordinator Eric Rescigno, who replaces Taylor Kelly.

Running back Nathaniel Frazier and wide out Marcus Brown were among the key targets earlier in the tournament.

“Offense was definitely on point today,” McManus said. “Trying to execute on first down was a big thing. We wanted to have first-down success … and taking what defenses were giving us instead of going for big yardage plays right off the bat.”

Mater Dei’s defense, under veteran coordinator Eric Johnson, received an interception in the final from sophomore cornerback Cory Lavender. The takeaway led to a long TD strike from Brown to Smith as the Monarchs opened a 26-0 lead.

In the semifinals, junior cornerback Daryus Dixson played well against Mission Viejo.

“It’s one voice, one man orchestrating this defense, and we all know our roles,” McManus said of Johnson. “My job is get him to be here another five years, but we’re going to go one year at a time.”

The Monarchs’ coaching staff also now includes Scott McKnight, the former JSerra coach who will lead the special teams.

Former Saddleback coach Glenn Campbell is leading the running backs.

Mater Dei wasn’t full-strength. Cornerback Zabien Brown and wide receiver Jack Ressler didn’t play but Mater Dei progressed after falling to Warren in the semifinals of the USC tournament last week.

Next week, the Monarchs will finish their summer at the Mission Viejo tournament.

“The staff is really coming together and the players are really coming together,” McManus said. “And like you saw after the game with the players, not a lot of ego. There’s a lot of togetherness, and it’s the same thing with the coaching staff.”


Edison intercepted two passes and received strong play from wide out Mason York en route to a 16-6 victory in pool play against St. John Bosco, ranked No. 2 in the High School Football America preseason poll.

Cornerback Jared Schnoor intercepted a pass on the opening series and Gavin Slaughter grabbed another with about one minute left.

York also helped seal the upset by taking a short crossing pass from new quarterback Savelio Niumata and racing for a long TD that gave Edison a 14-6 lead.

The Chargers went 4-0 to win their pool before falling to Rancho Cucamonga 17-7 in the quarterfinals without York (calf). Rancho Cucamonga upset St. John Bosco 18-13 in the semifinals.

“We played well,” Edison coach Jeff Grady said. “We lost 33 seniors (from last season). We’re replacing a lot of good players who were huge contributors to us. Collectively, we got to come together as a team.”

Of Niumata, Grady said, “He’s making progress every week.”

More Battle at the Beach coverage to come. Please check back for updates.

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