SPORTS: Braves Return to Field To Defend Their Throne

by Diego Santizo, Sports Editor

After a long delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bosco Football is back, as the Braves are set to take on Sierra Canyon at Panish Family Stadium tomorrow. Despite some new names and younger players leading the team this year, the Braves are still overwhelmingly favored to defend their championship throne.

Aug 25, 2017; Ft Lauderdale, FL, USA; St. John Bosco Braves teammates take to the field prior to the game against the St. Thomas Aquinas Raiders at Brian Piccolo Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The last time St. John Bosco played in an official game wearing its school uniforms, it was while beating De La Salle High School in the 2019 state championship that also crowned the Braves the undisputed National Champions. Prior to the COVID-19 shutdown, St. John Bosco were originally scheduled to kick off their season with an opening game against the same Northern California powerhouse De La Salle, but that game was canceled as the pandemic forced the state to shove football back several times.

St. John Bosco will now instead host reigning CIF-SS Division 2 champion Sierra Canyon this Saturday on their home turf looking to show the world they haven’t missed a beat. Last Saturday, St. John Bosco and Damien High School got together at Damien for a scrimmage before both team’s upcoming season openers. 

While they spent the first half hour working on special teams and scrimmaged just two quarters, it was worth it for both teams to finally feel what it’s like to trade paint again. It won’t be a full season, but for St. John Bosco High School Head Coach Jason Negro, it’s something to celebrate.

“It was just exhilaration and excitement and I was just so happy for all of the student athletes in California to have an opportunity to get back on to the playing field and to do something they loved,” said Negro in an interview with Spectrum News. “That’s something to really shout about and I’m looking forward to coming out of that tunnel and watching these kids compete.” 

St. John Bosco won the Division 1 CIF Southern Section championship in 2019 against Mater Dei, and even though they lost a lot of great seniors from that team, there is enough talent in the pipeline to win a Trinity League title this spring. Bosco sophomore Pierce Clarkson and junior Katin Houser are competing to win the starting quarterback job. Both are Division 1 recruits and both will play this spring. 

Clarkson and Houser will be protected by the best offensive line in California led by USC-signee Max Gibbs, UNLV-signee Anton Ambuehl and 2022 four star recruit Earnest Greene. Junior running back Rayshon Luke looked great in St. John Bosco’s scrimmage against Damien last weekend. Tight ends senior Adam Awaida and sophomore Matayo Uiagalelei, as well as senior receiver Jode McDuffie, will be the primary pass catchers this spring for the Braves.

On defense, St. John Bosco brings back a great group of linemen in Uiagalelei and juniors Jairus Satele and Nathan Burrell. Seniors Andrew Simpson, a Kansas signee and Benny Lockhart are the team’s top returning linebackers.

There are no CIF Southern Section playoffs or championships during the COVID-shortened season. Teams can play as many as six games and will finish the weekend of April 16-17, but every team is looking to make the best of the next six weeks playing the sport they love after being away from it for nearly a year and a half.

Senior students from Bosco and St. Joseph’s are invited to a special watch party on Bosco’s campus for Saturday’s Football game against Sierra Canyon. Although there cannot be a physical attendance at the stadium a couple hundred feet away,  students can be together on the campus safely. St. John Bosco asks that everyone attending follow the appropriate guidelines. 

The event is only for SJ and SJB students and parking is $10, but the event is free for the Class of 2021. It is encouraged for students to carpool safely to the event. 

The Braves have a lot of big names at linebacker and in the secondary – but they’re young. Can their freshmen and sophomores on defense rise to the occasion and lead St. John Bosco to a Trinity League title?

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