By LOU PONSI     8/18/2022

All three Diocese of Orange High Schools—Mater Dei, Santa Margarita and Rosary Academy—compete in the Trinity League, which boasts some of the most successful athletic teams among the 558 schools within the CIF Southern Section. Trinity League schools not under the auspices of the Diocese of Orange are Servite, JSerra, St. John Bosco and Orange Lutheran.

OC Catholic’s fall sports preview will focus on the Diocesan high school teams in the sports of football, girls’ volleyball and cross country.

High School Football America has named the Trinity League as the toughest league in the nation. And any discussion of Trinity League football begins and ends with Mater Dei, the reigning league, CIF Southern Section Division 1, CIF State Division 1 and National Champions.

Entering his 33rd year as coach, Bruce Rollinson is leading a Monarchs team, which finished 12-0 last year and closed-out the 2021 season with the school’s third national championship over the past five years.

Quarterback Elijah Brown will once again be guiding the Monarchs on offense. The junior is 17-0 in his career, leading the Monarchs to two Trinity League crowns, a Southern Section Division 1 title and a state championship.

Junior running back Ajon Bryant, who averaged 9 yards per carry and scored seven touchdowns last season, will be one of the main ball carriers. Junior receiver Jack Ressler, who could step up as Brown’s favorite target, had 310 receiving yards and three touchdowns in 11 games last season.

The Monarchs’ young defense will likely be anchored by senior linebacker Leviticus Su’a and junior linebacker Tanner Williams.

The Eagles finished 6-5 overall and 2-3 in league last season and enter this season playing the fifth toughest schedule
in the nation according to

Quarterback Jaxon Potter threw for 2,869 yards and 23 touchdowns last season and is ranked by PrepRedone. com as the No.13 position prospect in the state.

Junior wide receiver Emmett Mosley proved himself at various South Orange County passing tournaments over the summer and is ranked by Cal-Hi Sports as the No. 12 prospect in the state among the “Hot 100” for the class of 2024.

The Mater Dei girls’ volleyball has achieved the same level of excellence as the Monarchs’ football team and will again be a Southern Section and state championship contender for the 2022 season. Mater Dei was 36-6 overall and 8-0 in league play last season and ranked No. 2 in the state and No. 4 in the nation. Monarchs’ girls’ volleyball coach Dan O’Dell said his team will play one of the nation’s toughest schedules, including a Sept. 14 match against national powerhouse Assumption High School  from Louisville on Sept. 14 at Mater Dei.

Mater Dei has appeared in the past eight CIF SS Division 1 finals and finished ranked among the top 10 in the nation for the fourth consecutive year in 2021.

“It will be a test for the girls to continue, and I know our luck will run out one day, but we will fight hard to keep that streak alive,” O’Dell said.

Returning starters Liv Hertzog, Babi Gubbins and Isabel Clark will lead the attack and returning libero Malyssa Cawa will anchor the defense, O’Dell said. “There should be more parity in CIF this year compared to last,” O’Dell said. “Along with us, Marymount, Vista Murrieta, Mira Costa, Sierra Canyon and Redondo should all be good … will make for some exciting matches.”

Santa Margarita, which finished 14-17 and 2-6 returns its top player, Grace Jackson, who led the Eagles in kills and blocks.

Sophomore Brooklyn Drumwright and junior Sophia Stalcup and Drumright who were second and third in kills respectively, also return. Rosary (13-10, 0-8) will look to improve under first-year head coach Niloofar Mojab, who expects senior captain Sarah Ybarra and returners Spencer Thiemann, Jeanna Sherremetta and Ella Paniagua to be the main contributors.

“We compete in one of the hardest leagues in the nation, and the goal is to challenge every opponent and make new records,” Mojab said. “We just need to stay focused, practice hard, be determined and have confidence on our capacities.

Santa Margarita cross country will look to improve on last season’s 14-17 overall record and 2-6 league mark.


The Santa Margarita boys are ranked No. 1 in Division 3 of the CIF Southern Section and return five runners from their last years Trinity League championship squad.

Junior Zac Gibson, an All-County honoree will be the Eagles top runner. In 2021, Gibson finished third in the Trinity League finals in a personal best
time of 15:26.6.

“Zac is an amazing kid,” Santa Margarita coach Mike Powers said. “Hard working, honest and kind. He shows up every day ready to get to work.”

The Eagles girls’ team returns every member of last year’s state qualifying squad.

Sophomore Sophie Polay will look to build on a stellar freshman campaign, in which she finished first in the Trinity League finals, fourth in the CIF SS Division 3 finals and eighth at the CIF State Championships.

Mater Dei Cross Country Coach Rick Martinez said his boys’ and girls’ squads are both young, but the coach is pleased with the progress they are making. The Monarchs’ girls, which finished second in the Trinity League finals last season, returns Kennedy Duralde, Maya Villa and Valerie Noria Key returners on the boys’ team include Dominic Calabrese and Colin Woodruff.

The young Royals will be led by junior Sophia Long and sophomore Ashley Hawley.