Sports

TAKING ON BIGGER FISH

By Dan Arritt     10/11/2018

Servite used to be the biggest game on Mater Dei’s schedule.

Not anymore.

The Monarchs have begun taking on national powerhouses in recent years, and they continue to have success.

They knocked off IMG Academy of Florida 28-24 in a much-anticipated showdown on Sept. 21 at Santa Ana Stadium. IMG came into the game ranked No. 1 in the nation by USA Today and owners of a 40-game winning streak.

Last season, Mater Dei was ranked No. 1 in the nation when it defeated No. 2 Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas to end its 55-game winning streak.

After the big win against IMG, the Monarchs had to turn around and begin preparation for its Trinity League opener against Servite a week later.

The game was back at Santa Ana Stadium, only Mater Dei was on the visitor side because Servite had secured the venue for its homecoming.

Mater Dei coach Bruce Rollinson said he was concerned all week about an emotional letdown following the win against IMG. The Monarchs didn’t practice well at the beginning of the week and committed several penalties in the first quarter against Servite, but stayed on course and delivered a 35-0 victory for their fourth shutout in six games and seventh straight win against the Friars.

“I’m glad we didn’t get trapped,” Rollinson said afterward.

Mater Dei quarterback Bryce Young said losing to Servite never seemed like a possibility, mainly because the Monarchs are so well prepared by the coaching staff.

We came in with that same fire, that same mentality, that we come in with every Monday,” he said. “This group, because of all the preparation, I don’t feel like we’re going to let down.”

If the Monarchs weren’t deep enough with talent at their skilled positions, they got even deeper after the win against IMG.

Braedin Huffman-Dixon had to sit out the first five games under CIF-SS transfer rules, but the senior wide receiver became eligible against Servite.

He made his presence felt on the very first drive for Mater Dei, scoring on a 2-yard touchdown pass from Young.

Huffman-Dixon played at Roosevelt High in Eastvale last season, where he caught 44 passes for 912 yards and 11 touchdowns in 11 games. He committed to Colorado in May.

“Even while he wasn’t eligible, he was big for us in the locker room, big for us at practice,” Young said. “Now, I’m happy to have him back because he’s a big-time player on the outside and the inside, so I feel like we’ve just that much more dangerous.”

Elias Ricks, a junior defensive back for the Monarchs, has been covering Huffman-Dixon in practice all season, and is certainly aware of the talent he brings to the Monarchs.

“He’s a real good receiver,” Ricks said. “A lot of people don’t know about him, he hasn’t played at all this year, but he’s about to explode on the scene and make something happen.”

Ricks has been one of the most valuable members of the defense through the first six games. He had four interceptions in that span, the biggest leading to a 77-yard touchdown return against Servite.

“I’m trying to double all my stats from last year,” Ricks said. “I had four picks last year, so I’m on a good track right now.”

Ricks, like the Monarchs, has definitely been rolling on all four wheels.

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