On dominant night, Mater Dei caps unbeaten season with Open Division state bowl title

Mater Dei quarterback Elijah Brown (12) and receiver Cooper Barkate (18) celebrate after connecting for a touchdown against San Mateo Serra on Saturday in the CIF Open Division state bowl game. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

It was a Saturday night to cherish for Santa Ana Mater Dei sports fans. The evening began with the announcement in New York that quarterback Bryce Young, class of 2020, had won the Heisman Trophy, becoming the third Monarch to win college football’s most prestigious award. Then, at Saddleback College, the Monarchs completed an unbeaten football season to win a mythical national title with a 44-7 victory over San Mateo Serra in the CIF state championship Open Division bowl game.

From late August, when Mater Dei (12-0) started the season traveling to Texas and routed Duncanville, to a cool, cloudless final evening in December, when the Monarchs showed their superiority on both sides of the ball, there have been few teams capable of offering a challenge. Powerful offensive and defensive lines, a sophomore quarterback who’s 17-0 as a starter and skill position players with speed and talent separated the Monarchs.

USC-bound running back Raleek Brown had touchdown runs of one, three and 15 yards. Quarterback Elijah Brown completed 18 of 25 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns.

The domination began early against outmanned Serra (11-2), the Northern California representative that took a charter plane to the Southland. Elijah Brown connected with Cooper Barkate in full stride for a 78-yard touchdown. Then Malaki Te’o returned an interception 21 yards for a touchdown for a 14-0 lead. Then Tanner Williams stripped the ball and Joshua Hunter recovered it on the Serra three. Raleek Brown scored on a one-yard run for a 21-0 lead.

The strength of Mater Dei’s defense has been its agile, quick…


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