It shouldn't be this easy.
Yes, the Don Bosco football team is No. 1 in the country, but Saturday was supposed to be a test. No. 6 Mission Viejo (Calif.) was in town and presented a real threat to knocking Bosco off the mountain and snapping its 35-game win streak.
Like it has so many times in the past, though, Bosco made Saturday's matchup look like a complete mismatch, winning 35-7. It was that easy.
"We were watching film all week and film study and it's basically knowing our opposition, and we came out here and it was easy," senior defensive back Elijah Shumate said. "We knew our assignments and played hard and teams can't keep up with our pace."
Bosco got its season off to a rousing start with its demolition of Mission Viejo in their season opener in front of thousands of people at Granatell Stadium in Ramsey, N.J. The Ironmen dominated both sides of the ball and controlled the game as they registered their 36th straight win.
While he couldn't attend the game, Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, a former Diablo, played a role in allowing this showdown to happen as he donated money to Mission Viejo to allow them to make the cross-country trek.
"It's preparation and hard work. Nobody works like us. To everybody else this is just high school football, but to us this is our life," sophomore running back Jabrill Peppers said. "We're out here every day, Sundays, it doesn't matter, we're out here every day preparing and we've been preparing since January."
While Bosco dominated both sides of the ball, its up-tempo offense proved to be the biggest key in the game. On the first two drives, the Ironmen ran a vanilla offensive package, not using their hurry-up offense. Head coach Greg Toal said this was a calculated maneuver to pace the Diablos defense.
On the third series, they introduced their up-tempo offense and Mission Viejo didn't stand a chance. The combination of power with senior John Wilkins and speed with Peppers gashed Mission Viejo for yard after yard on that drive, eventually culminating in a 1-yard touchdown run by Wilkins for a 7-0 lead.
Wilkins ran for 126 yards on 22 carries and two scores while Peppers had seven touches for 57 yards and two scores. Shumate also added a late touchdown on a 11-yard score to give the game its final score of 35-7. The fast pace just proved too much for Mission Viejo to keep up with on this night as Bosco led 28-0 before the Diablos ever scored.
"They tell us every day that nobody can play at our pace, there's nobody that conditions like us," Peppers said. "We knew that was going to happen, nobody can keep up."
Defensively, Bosco dominated at the line of scrimmage and its secondary had four interceptions. Mission Viejo could not create holes for its stud running back, Southern California recruit Jahleel Pinner, and the Diablos had to look to pass to try and move down the field.
That strategy didn't work. Don Bosco picked off quarterback Alex Bridgford four times in the game. Senior Kyle Sakowski had two interceptions while Yuri Wright and Alquaddin Muhammad each had one interception.
"Kyle's is a captain and a great leader and just a tough kids who makes plays," Toal said. "He's a great football player, he's the unsung hero, he doesn't get the credit he should and he's great football player who does so much for us."
For as good as Bosco played, here's the scary part for future opponents, such as Manatee, who they play Sept. 16: Bosco's coach and players all said they could have played better. Yes, they thought they could play better after a 28-point win against the No. 26 team in the country.
It's scary to think what that better team will look like.
"It was a little statement tonight but we didn't play to our potential, we can play a lot better than this," Peppers said. "In my opinion, we should have won by 40 points."