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Prep football luncheon: Everything set for No. 1 vs. No. 2 at the Rose Bowl


To play a football championship game in the 100-year-old Rose Bowl, known as “The Granddaddy of Them All,” makes the Southern Section Division 1 championship game between No. 1 Santa Ana Mater Dei (12-0) and No. 2 Bellflower St. John Bosco (11-1) a historic night for high school football in Southern California.

Yes, these are All-Star teams. It will be an unprecedented sixth consecutive season that Mater Dei or St. John Bosco will be the Division 1 champion and the fifth time in the last six seasons the two Trinity League schools have met for the title. That’s no longer considered a trend or fluke coincidence. It has become a fact that they’ve separated themselves from the competition. Their semifinal victories by scores of 52-0 and 41-6 are proof how dominant they have been this season.

At the championship luncheon Monday at the Rose Bowl featuring all 28 teams playing for 11-man championships this weekend, it was a treat for players to take a moment to step onto the Rose Bowl field, look around the empty seats and have some satisfaction of how far they’ve come. St. John Bosco safety Ty Lee, a UCLA commit, gave three of his teammates a little Rose Bowl tour.

Chargers general manager Tom Telesco was the featured speaker at the luncheon. He showed off the Super Bowl ring he won with the Indianapolis Colts. “This is nice and will be in a safe for the rest of my life,” he said.

Telesco made it clear what he cherishes most: “It’s the memories you have. You’ll never forget.”

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More than 5,000 tickets were sold over the weekend for the Division 1 final. St. John Bosco quarterback Pierce Clarkson, who didn’t play in the second half of Mater Dei’s 17-7 victory over the Braves after he entered concussion protocol, said he’s looking forward to getting a second chance.

Aidan vs. Aidan: In another life, another time, Cypress quarterback Aidan Houston’s favorite receiver was Aidan Chiles, the Aidan-to-Aidan connection running wild across Pop Warner fields.

“I liked him,” Houston said, smiling.

He might like him a little less between the lines on Friday night, when Cypress takes on Downey for the Southern Section Division 4 title. Houston will captain the Centurions against none other than former favorite target Chiles, who’s now starring behind center for the Vikings.

“Man, I’m just thinking,” Chiles said Monday, “it should be a fun one.”

Both began their high school football careers at Los Alamitos, where freshman Houston and sophomore Chiles backed up Malachi Nelson in 2020. Seeking freer pastures, Chiles transferred to Downey after that season, while Houston left midway through 2021 for Cypress.

Given the reins to their own programs, they’ve flourished. After a broken wrist ended a promising junior season early, Chiles has become one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the state, throwing for 33 touchdowns and running for nine more in his senior season. He committed to the first college, Oregon State, to offer him a scholarship, steadfast in that choice as more offers flew his way during a banner senior year.

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“To be honest,” Chiles said, when asked to reflect on the injury, “I wouldn’t change anything.”

Houston, meanwhile, is a gamebreaker in his own right, a dual-threat quarterback capable of multiple touchdowns through the air or on the ground on any given night. The junior has passed for 2,942 yards and 28 touchdowns and run for 1,106 yards and 19 touchdowns. So the fireworks are coming Friday night.

Little brother stars: Running back Troy Leigber of Laguna Hills has led his team to the Division 9 championship game by rushing for 2,133 yards and 37 touchdowns. His brother, Mitch, is a running back at Stanford.

Turnaround: Sierra Canyon had dropped out of The Times’ top 25 rankings after early season losses, but now the Trailblazers are 9-4 and playing for the Division 2 championship. How did the turnaround take place?

“I’m proud of the kids,” coach Jon Ellinghouse said. “They stood true to our plan. We always believed we could be something special. This is an incredible experience.”

Sophomore running back Dane Dunn has stamped himself as a player to watch with 1,609 yards rushing and 20 touchdowns.

Feeling relieved: La Cañada St. Francis coach Dean Herrington had good news to report about his brother, Rick, head coach at Newhall Hart. Last Friday, Rick suffered a heart attack while playing golf. He underwent a triple bypass operation at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital. Dean got the text right before the opening kickoff in the semifinals that he was out of surgery. “Doctor says he will be as good as new,” Dean said.



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