Robert Garza scores a touchdown for Bonita Vista in the first half.
Final score: Bonita Vista 21, Mater Dei Catholic 14
Key plays: Bonita Vista freshman QB Anthony Posada dumped a short pass to Robert Garza over the Mater Dei line and Garza turned it into a 43-yard touchdown with five minutes remaining to make the difference in Friday night’s victory. Posada threw 11- and 22-yard touchdown passes in the first half to Austin Espiritu and Garza, respectively, and the Barons (3-3) seemed like they would have an easy time with host Mater Dei (1-4) on the way to a 14-0 halftime lead. Bonita dominated up front on both sides of the ball, creating holes for its running game while limiting the Crusaders’ offensive effectiveness. But the Barons led Mater Dei back in the game in the second half as Crusaders QB Marco Morales tossed a pair of TD passes himself to make it 14-14 through three periods.
Key stats: Posada was an effective 8 of 13 for 124 yards and 3 TDs, including four passes for 88 yards to Garza. ... Mater Dei didn’t get its first first down until the second quarter and totaled just 57 yards of offense in the first half.
Quotable: “I’m proud of you that you didn’t quit,” first-year Bonita Vista coach Chris Thompson told his team after the game. “But we’ve got to do the little things. ... You’ve got to be humble when it’s going your way and be hopeful when it’s not going your way.”
Quotable, too: “With the O-line blocking, it was a straight shot to the end zone,” Garza said of his winning score. “We needed to rally back. This was huge (after losing three in a row).”
Scene and heard: Pregame entertainment was provided by a three-piece band comprised of Mater Dei students set up on the track at the 35-yard line. They were quite good. Was going to request an Eagles song before noticing the bass player wearing an AC/DC shirt and the drummer sporting Metallica. So much for a little Peaceful, Easy Feeling. ... Crusaders players stop and say a prayer at a statue of the Virgin Mary, the school’s patron saint, before taking the field. The statue was one of the few items to make the 10-mile trip from Marian Catholic High when the new campus opened six years ago. ... It was kind of a fashion faux pas with both teams dressed in gold and navy blue, although Mater Dei’s uniforms were modeled after Notre Dame, right down to the golden-domed helmets. ... It was a late-arriving crowd on the visitors’ side, making one wonder if they were Barons fans or Dodgers fans.
Hair-razing: “This is all due to young guys like you,” Thompson said to his players while rubbing his bald head after the win.
Some catch: Mater Dei WR/FS Iman Chatman-Dixon has a scholarship offer from Northern Arizona and interest from Mountain West and Pac-12 schools. Although playing with a cast on his right hand because of a thumb injury, Chatman-Dixon still had a TD catch two weeks ago against St. Augustine and nearly a dozen tackles last week against Imperial. “He’s got the best ball skills I’ve ever been around,” said Mater Dei coach John Joyner. “The kid’s hands are incredible. He’s a real natural free safety and as a receiver he can go up and get it, he can run by guys. He’s a pretty special kid.”
Getting ready: Mater Dei’s preparation on game day is a little different from most schools. The players and coaches attend Mass right after school gets out on Fridays, ramping up from there until kickoff. “It’s a special thing that we’re able to do being at a Catholic school,” said Joyner. “We’re all men of faith. We get to share it together. Father always has a little fire and brimstone homily.”
Food review: Went with the Crusaders Beef Burrito, served with a smile from Sylvia, and was not disappointed. If only the Crusaders’ front line had as much beef. The burrito earned four belches on our five-belch scale.