The highest-profile quarterback in the state wasn’t throwing passes on this scorching July day, but even without Mater Dei standout J.T. Daniels slinging balls around, the Battle at the Beach still provided a sneak preview of the upcoming football season.
The 7-on-7 passing tournament at Edison High School in Huntington Beach featured skill players from four Trinity League teams; Mater Dei, Servite, JSerra and St. John Bosco.
Mater Dei won the 20-team tournament with a 7-6 victory against St. John Bosco in the championship game.
The win was even more impressive considering the Monarchs played without Daniels, last season’s Trinity League most valuable player, Orange County Register offensive player of the year and Gatorade state player of the year.
Daniels was at the tournament and called plays from the huddle, but didn’t throw, electing to rest his arm instead. In his place, senior Luke Petroff led the offense through the first four rounds and sophomore Carter Freedland guided Mater Dei through the last three, all victories.
“It’s the next man up mentality,” Daniels told the OC Register. “We kind of have dudes all over the place. One guy is out, the next guy is up. It’s not too big of a deal.”
The Monarchs were also without two of their top receivers in Amon-Ra St. Brown and Bru McCoy, both of whom were nursing minor injuries. That left Mater Dei shorthanded, but not barehanded, as Nick Remigio stepped up and caught the lone touchdown throw against St. John Bosco.
“It’s like I told them at lunch,” Mater Dei coach Bruce Rollinson said. “‘You’re Mater Dei. You need to represent. We can be in this situation (with injuries) in Game 6. You all practice hard. You all have numerous, numerous reps. It can’t be too big for you. You have to settle down.’”
JSerra and Servite had their top quarterbacks in action and they performed well in the 90-degree heat.
Matt Robinson of JSerra looked in command as he led the Lions to a 16-12 win against Alemany of Mission Hills in the first game. Robinson, who committed to Montana in late June, threw for 2,053 yards and 20 touchdowns in 11 games for JSerra last season.
Robinson will face an adjustment under first-year coach Pat Harlow, but Harlow liked what he saw at the Battle of the Beach.
“He looks good,” Harlow said of Robinson. “He’s putting the ball on guys. Now we have to catch the ball. … The kid’s got a whip. He can throw.”
TJ McMahon and Caden Bell rotated at quarterback for Servite and helped the Friars to a 4-0 record in pool play. Whoever wins the starting role at Servite, the Battle of the Beach showed the quarterback will be supported by some talented receivers.
Delon Hurt and Julius Irvin of Servite were two of the more exciting pass catchers on the day, highlighted by a long touchdown reception by Irvin, who’s also a highly recruited defensive back.
The catch of the day, however, belonged to Mater Dei tight end Mike Martinez. The 6-foot-5, 235-pound junior snared a pass one-handed to secure an extra-point that made the difference in the one-point win against St. John Bosco.
The real season begins Aug. 25, when all six Trinity League teams will open with road games.