It was so windy Saturday afternoon at Sacramento State with gusts of 45 mph that the goal posts danced, or at least swayed.
Same with the surrounding light poles. And efforts to raise the American flag by the scoreboard were futile, so the idea was scrapped, the fear that it would shear off and land on Highway 50.
It was so blustery that there was discussion of postponing games and perhaps relocating to a local high school for some Sunday action.
It would have been an unprecedented move, but three CIF State Championship games were played in the third and final year of a contract at Hornet Stadium. And about the only thing that really sizzled on an otherwise biting cold day and night was the hottest team in the country.
Mater Dei of Santa Ana blasted holes through the mystique of famed De La Salle in the Open Division championship of national powers.
The Monarchs, with a roster dotted by 19 Football Bowl Subdivision recruit prospects, beat the Spartans 52-21 to cap an exhaustively long 16-week season. And of all the prep teams that competed at Sac State this decade, including Sac-Joaquin Section and Northern California Regional title games, Mater Dei stands as the most formidable and talent rich.
The Monarchs will finish No. 1 in all the prep national rankings, the first time that’s happened since the program in Orange County finished on top twice in the 1990s.
This was Mater Dei’s first state final appearance since the inception of the bowls in 2006, and it was the Monarchs’ first win over De La Salle in five tries. De La Salle was in its record 12th successive state final, and it owns a 7-5 record, the seven victories also a record. The 52 points allowed are the second most allowed by De La Salle since 1979, behind the 56 Bosco of Bellflower dropped on the Spartans in rolling to the CIF Open title a year ago.
J.T. Daniels looked the part of USC commit with his laser throws, poise and ability to make plays. The junior passed for 233 yards and three touchdowns, two to national recruit receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown. Daniels also ran for two touchdowns for a Monarchs team that finished 15-0 and did not trail once this season.
Mater Dei pounced on six De La Salle turnovers.
Daniels said the season was one of “unfinished business.” Mater Dei had a team walk through and light practice on Friday night at Capital Christian High.
De La Salle coaches admired the talent and discipline of Mater Dei, though that opinion wasn’t necessarily shared by all. Public-school coaches often bristle at having to play private schools, and retiring Mission Viejo coach Bob Johnson said earlier in these playoffs after losing to the Monarchs that Mater Dei was, “the best team money could buy.”
De La Salle finished 11-2, and despite the rout, it still towers as the best team in Northern California.
The Spartans have not lost to a NorCal team – north of Fresno – since 1991. Their 289-game unbeaten streak against NorCal teams stands as one of the most remarkable feats in state history, but it is also an example of the staggering gap between not just De La Salle and the North but the gap between the SoCal super heavies such as Mater Dei and Bosco against the rest of the state in general.
Longtime reporters deemed Mater Dei as great a team as they’ve seen in state history. Steve Fryer, in his 40th year covering prep sports. called this Monarchs team the best he has seen.
The venue for the CIF bowls for upper-division teams the next two seasons will be at Cerritos College in Norwalk, which is where the Southern Section finals have been held. Mater Dei won the Southern Section this season and Bosco last season, and those teams attracted a sold-out gathering of 12,000 fans at Cerritos College earlier this month.
The two-day attendance for the CIF bowls at Sac State this weekend was 15,956.
CIF State finals scoreboard
Folsom 49, Helix 42
Serra 38, Cajon 14
Narbonne 28, Pittsburg 21
Saint Francis 22, Grace Brethren 13
Bishop Diego 41, Shasta 6
Steele Canyon 44, Half Moon Bay 42
Crenshaw 46, Placer 43
Milpitas 45, Southwest EC 41
McClymonds 42, Golden West 12
Fortuna 54, Katella 33
Strathmore 31, Orange 29
Galileo 38, Vincent Memorial 20