Smaller number, bigger impact for QB
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.”