Smaller num­ber, big­ger im­pact for QB

San Francisco Chronicle - - FOOTBALL - By Mitch Stephens MaxPreps se­nior writer Mitch Stephens cov­ers high school sports for The San Fran­cisco Chron­i­cle.

The sight of No. 90 go­ing un­der cen­ter in the sec­ond quar­ter of last sea­son’s state cham­pi­onship game seemed al­most hu­mor­ous, if not a wav­ing of a white flag.

Lit­tle did Mater Dei-Santa Ana know that then-fresh­man Do­rian Hale was prob­a­bly the best quar­ter­back in the De La Salle-Concord pro­gram.

If the Mon­archs didn’t know then, they cer­tainly know now as Hale — now sport­ing No. 20 — has be­come a dual threat head­ing into the re­match of the teams in Satur­day night’s CIF Open Divi­sion Bowl Cham­pi­onship at Cer­ri­tos Col­legeNor­walk (Los An­ge­les County).

“They prob­a­bly saw this skinny kid with a big num­ber and won­dered, ‘What the heck?,’ ” De La Salle coach Justin Alum­baugh said. “He’s still skinny, but he’s def­i­nitely some­one they have to ac­count for.”

If an elite de­fense isn’t the big­gest rea­son the Spar­tans can turn around a 52-21 loss to Mater Dei, then it might be Hale, a 6-foot, 180-pounder, who will force the Mon­archs to play dif­fer­ently.

Like ev­ery de­fense the Spar­tans

faced last year, Mater Dei stacked eight or nine in the box and dared De La Salle to pass.

With Hale — who was 4for-6

pass­ing against the Mon­archs — pos­ing a threat, not only do the Spar­tans have a ca­pa­ble aerial at­tack, but their run­ning game is more po­tent, too.

In 12 games last sea­son, the Spar­tans threw for 1,121 yards (17.2 yards per re­cep­tion) and six touch­downs. Through 12 games this sea­son, Hale has com­pleted 59 of 100 for 1,280 yards (21.7 yards per com­ple­tion) with 13 touch­downs. He also has rushed for 278 yards and eight touch­downs.

In a 42-7 North Coast Sec­tion Open Divi­sion ti­tle win over Lib­erty-Brent­wood on Satur­day, Hale ac­counted for 148 yards and three scores.

The quar­ter­back spot, a con­cern the pre­vi­ous two years for the Spar­tans, has emerged as a strength.

“He’s im­proved across the board,” Alum­baugh said. “He’s grown phys­i­cally, he’s a more pow­er­ful run­ner and a more ac­cu­rate passer. He throws to spots now.”

A big part of Hale’s mat­u­ra­tion and im­prove­ment is be­cause of se­nior backup quar­ter­back An­drew Jones, who was a part-time starter in 2017. Jones (6-3, 180) also has im­proved — “I hon­estly think he can play col­lege foot­ball,” Alum­baugh said — but his at­ti­tude and men­tor­ing has been more im­pres­sive.

“He’s shown great ma­tu­rity and self­less­ness,” Alum­baugh said. “Those two are al­ways sit­ting next to one an­other. There’s a lot of re­spect be­tween them. I’m just as proud of Jones as I am of Do­rian.”

Mater Dei tur­moil? The Los An­ge­les Times wrote on Twit­ter on Wed­nes­day that “sev­eral (Mater Dei) play­ers could be sus­pended” for Satur­day’s game fol­low­ing an in­ci­dent in the Mater Dei locker room af­ter its South­ern Sec­tion Divi­sion 1 vic­tory over St. John Bosco Bellflower. Calls to Mater Dei coach Bruce Rollinson were not im­me­di­ately re­turned.

Alum­baugh heard more de­tailed re­ports Mon­day, but wasn’t shar­ing them with ei­ther the me­dia or his team. The Spar­tans are sched­uled to char­ter a bus Fri­day morn­ing for South­ern Cal­i­for­nia. Snow flur­ries on the Grapevine might force them to take High­way 101.

“Those re­ports aren’t even a blip on our radar,” Alum­baugh said. “We’ve got to get 70 teenagers down there safe and pre­pare for the No. 1 team in the coun­try.”

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