In this new era of name, image and likness deals for high school athletes, it might be time for UPS to sign quarterback Elijah Brown and receiver Marcus Brown of Santa Ana Mater Dei to bring back their 2002 commercial, “What can Brown do for you?”
Not related but good friends since elementary school, the Browns put on a passing and catching clinic to help the No. 1-rated Monarchs roll to a 43-20 victory over No. 3 Corona Centennial on a warm night in the Inland Empire. The Browns connected three times for touchdowns on pass plays of 16, 55 and 63 yards.
Marcus Brown, a junior, has emerged as a top target for Elijah Brown. The two lived in the same neighborhood growing up and used to carpool to school. “He’s finally getting the chance to show what he can do,” Elijah said.
It was complete domination for one half of high school football in a game that was supposed to be competitive. Mater Dei sent a powerful message that it has no intention of relinquishing its No. 1 ranking anytime soon.
With quarterback Elijah Brown throwing his usual precision passes, sophomore running back Jordon Davison accelerating as if he were Raleek Brown, now at USC, and the Monarchs’ defense allowing just two first downs, Centennial proved no match in the first 24 minutes, falling behind 29-7 at halftime. The Monarchs scored 29 consecutive points after a 7-7 first quarter to open a 36-7 lead in the third quarter.
Centennial tried to pass, but quarterbacks Izzy Carter and Carson Conklin were a combined three for 13 for nine yards in the first half. The Huskies tried to run, but except for an 83-yard touchdown run by Carter on a quarterback draw, the running game was nonexistent.
Meanwhile, Elijah Brown improved to 20-0 in three seasons as a starting quarterback. He finished 15 of 21 passing for 290 yards and also scored a touchdown. Marcus Brown had six catches for 178 yards. Davison rushed for 153 yards in 24 carries and scored a touchdown. Conklin had a touchdown run and touchdown pass in the second half for Centennial.
Another impressive player was sophomore receiver Marcus Harris of Mater Dei. He made a diving catch and added another on fourth down to keep a Mater Dei drive alive in the first half. Mater Dei outscored the Huskies 22-0 in the second quarter.
There are only a few football games all season that truly generate the kind of excitement and intrigue from various parts of California as the meeting of No. 1 Mater Dei, with a 19-game win streak, taking on Centennial and veteran coach Matt Logan.
“This is the one that has me concerned … my kids better be mentally ready,” Mater Dei coach Bruce Rollinson said before the game.
Centennial sold out its allotment of 1,900 tickets online in 35 minutes. Mater Dei’s share of 2,000 took several days to be sold out. Coming down the 91 freeway on a Friday night from Orange County requires a little more prodding and sacrificing, especially on Labor Day weekend, and there’s always the option of staying home and watching the game on Bally Sports West in an air-conditioned living room.
Recognizing that Mater Dei’s coaching staff had been doing a good job figuring out Centennial formations in recent years, holding the usually high-scoring Huskies to 16, 12 and 14 points, Logan was supposed to bring out some new formations and passing routes, trying to force the Monarchs to do a little adjusting in their defensive schemes.
Dropped passes and failure to execute left the Huskies stumbling. They also lost the ball twice on fumbles.
While the focus Friday night was on the field, off the field, Mater Dei continues to offer no new information regarding allegations in a lawsuit filed last year by the parents of a former football player that there has been a culture of hazing in the program.
The former school president announced last December that a law firm had been hired to conduct a school-wide safety assessment. A spokesman for the Diocese of Orange said earlier this week in an email, “The assessment remains in progress.”
That’s 10 months and counting.