Mater Dei football coach Bruce Rollinson retiring at end of year

After 34 years at Santa Ana Mater Dei, longtime Monarchs head coach Bruce Rollinson is retiring at the end of the season, the school announced Thursday.

Under Rollinson’s tenure, Mater Dei has grown into one of the top football programs in the country, winning three state championships in the last five seasons. The Monarchs are currently the top-seeded team in the Southern section, leading a 10-0 record into Friday’s Division 1 playoff match against San Juan Capistrano JSerra.

“I recently decided that this year will be my last year as head coach of Mater Dei football,” Rollinson wrote in a statement. “Having played at Mater Dei more than 50 years ago, 47 years as a coach at Mater Dei and 34 years as a head coach, it should be easier for next year to make that decision at this point given that the entire starting XI is in the Next year Coach and Mater Dei will return to continue our tradition of success.

“In the months following the season I am blessed to be able to be closely involved in the selection of the new head coach. And going forward, I will support the program in any way I can.”

Mater Dei and Rollinson have been embroiled in controversy after the family of a former Mater Dei soccer player filed a lawsuit last year detailing a culture of bullying within the program that left their son with a traumatic brain injury. Rollinson and Mater Dei have kept quiet on the matter. A spokesman for the Diocese of Orange said earlier this week that a safety assessment launched by the school 12 months ago was “in progress”.

Allison Bergeron, senior director of communications and media relations at Mater Dei, said she “didn’t know” when asked if the announcement was incidental to any new information uncovered in the investigation.

“It’s sad to see the era end…but it’s great that Coach will support the school in finding a suitable successor,” said Bergeron.

In 34 years as head coach, Rollinson has amassed a 339-86-2 record, coaching Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks Matt Leinart and Bryce Young and over a hundred future college football players. Mater Dei has not lost a game since 2019.

“Obviously he’s a legend,” said Mission Viejo coach Chad Johnson, “and obviously high school football lost a great.”

Jason Negro, the head coach of rival Bellflower St. John Bosco, said of the news: “Bruce is a friend of mine. We’re a lot closer than people would expect. I appreciated the rivalry we had between our two programs. I am sad that he is retiring. I relish the opportunity to play these guys and embrace the greatness his program has bred in mine.” Mater Dei football coach Bruce Rollinson retiring at end of year

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