If the Bishop Amat High School football team comes up in its season opener against Mater Dei on Friday night, the reasons will likely hit close to home.
In a strange twist, two of the San Gabriel Valley’s most talented players won’t be in uniform for Bishop Amat, but Mater Dei, instead. And the question on a lot of people’s minds is how did these two get away. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. at the Santa Ana Bowl.
When Mater Dei throws on Friday night, the Monarchs will likely target 6-foot-5 receiver Andre Collins Jr., who doesn’t live anywhere near Orange Country. Nope, Collins Jr. lives in Hacienda Heights.
And protecting the Monarchs’ quarterback so that he can get Collins Jr. the ball is USC-bound offensive tackle Frank Martin II, who lives in West Covina. Both Collins and Martin have been carpooling to Santa Ana since their freshmen year.
“I think it’s unnecessary, but I don’t think it’s weird,” Bishop Amat head coach Steve Hagerty said when asked whether it was strange to have two standouts from Amat’s talent pool playing for Mater Dei. “There’s always kids that are doing that. I think it’s been going on for a while. I don’t think traveling to school is an issue. I think they’re looking for the best fit.”
“I saw the Martin kid around our place a few times. He always in a USC shirt. As far as I knew, he was interested in Bishop Amat and then the next thing I know, he’s at Mater Dei.”
Forget about Amat, why didn’t Martin go to West Covina, which was coming off a dominant showing in the CIF playoffs when he was entering high school.
“His dad went to school here and graduated right when I started coaching,” West Covina head coach Mike Maggiore said. “I did not know he had a kid and his kid was 6-4 or 6-5. But a couple kids told me there’s a big kid in West Covina and they didn’t know where he’s going to go. In this case, it turned out to be a high-level Division 1 prospect. But I don’t feel like we ever had a chance. He never came over to look at our school.
“It’s definitely disappointing. Just seeing any kid that lives in your city but doesn’t want to come to your school, it is disappointing. I think it would be more disappointing for a public school. But for a kid to travel that distance, it’s almost like they don’t really trust what you’re doing. In my opinion, the kid could have been a high-level Division 1 prospect at any school he played at.”
Although neither Collins or Martin wound up as Hagerty’s responsibility, they will both certainly be his problem on Friday night. Collins appears on the cusp of a breakout season and will be tough to cover given his frame. Martin should be quite an issue for an Amat defensive line that is dealing with injury and suspension.