The Monarchs hope it’s a sign that they can bounce back when the real games start this fall.
Mater Dei reached a third consecutive Air Strike final but fell to receiver-loaded Alemany of Mission Hills, 28-12, at Dana Hills.
The Monarchs missed the playoffs last season — a rare occurrence for the Trinity League school — but offered plenty of competitive fire Saturday.
Mater Dei handed defending Pac-5 Division and state Division 1 bowl champion Santa Margarita its first passing defeat this offseason, 33-21, in the quarterfinals. The Monarchs also handled Mission Viejo and rising junior quarterback Ian Fieber, 34-19, in the semifinals.
Mater Dei senior-to-be quarterback Ryan McMahon had a strong day as did senior wide receiver/linebacker Thomas Duarte.
Duarte delivered an impressive performance against Santa Margarita. During once stretch, the senior caught a touchdown and grabbed an interception on the ensuing possession.
On defense, junior cornerback Jonathan Lockett was again tough while fellow corner Treavon Coley, a senior, enjoyed a breakout afternoon. Coley returned an interception for a score against Alemany. Lockett made a spectacular, over-the-shoulder interception in the end zone against Alemany.
“Guys don’t have their heads down about last year,” Mater Dei senior-to-be wide receiver/linebacker Thomas Duarte said. “Today, we came together a lot and we grew as a team. I’m real happy.”
Mater Dei finished second to Long Beach Poly in the finals of the 2011 Air Strike. The Monarchs won the event in 2010.
Alemany, also a Pac-5 team, featured senior wide outs — Steven Mitchell and Devin Ross — with multiple Division 1 offers and an impressive sophomore-to-be, Desean Holmes, who caught a long touchdown on the first play of the championship.
More coverage to come.