St. John Bosco Aiming For National Title In 2022
St. John Bosco Aiming For National Title In 2022
St. John Bosco has made quite a name for itself over the years, academically and on the gridiron. The Braves have taken aim at a national title in 2022.
St. John Bosco has made quite a name for itself over the years, both academically and on the gridiron.
The private, all-boys Catholic school sits on a beautiful 36-acre campus in Bellflower, California, in southeast Los Angeles County. With 96% of its students continuing their education at top universities around the country, Bosco's academic curriculum has lived up to its college preparatory status.
The same can be said for the football program.
Entering his 13th season as head coach, Jason Negro has guided the Braves to three state championships and two mythical national championships.
In 2021, they finished 10-2, before bowing out in the CIF Southern Section 1 semifinals. The team has finished among the nation's top 10 in the MaxPreps poll for six consecutive seasons, winning its most recent unofficial MaxPreps national championship in 2019.
It's one thing to have a consistently great crop of talented players year after year, but quite another to get them to buy in to a coach's philosophy. That wouldn't be possible without a strong support system throughout the entire school.
"Being a brotherhood, both on and off the field - that's what helps me translate that into my program and allows me to continue to teach our kids those same morals and ethics," Negro said. "It's a collaborative approach, it's not just the football program. The school does a really good job of setting the tone, and we just run with it."
While other schools change coaches and support staffs on a regular basis, Negro is proud of the consistency he's been able to maintain with his personnel.
"I have an incredible staff," he said. "I have a director of football operations (Jessie Christensen). My coaching staff is absolutely phenomenal. I've been in a position to be able to retain some really talented guys. There's a lot of consistency in my staff. When you have a consistent group of people that are all really talented, and you let them go to work, they're able to accomplish some pretty incredible things."
Negro isn't one to shy away from the words 'national champions,' even if it is in a mythical sense. The polls align with his, and the program's, high expectations.
"Here at Bosco, we've built a brand that we want to be a nationally relevant program," he explained. "We've gone out and played some nationally ranked teams all over the country. This is exactly where we want to be. On paper, our team shapes up pretty well, but you have to go out there and play the games. Every time we get on the field, we're gonna face an opponent that wants to knock off No. 1."
St. John Bosco stays at No. 1 in Press-Telegram football Top 10 rankings but Millikan, St. Pius, La Mirada & Jordan are moving up the rankings. @boscofootball @MillikanHSFB @PMA_Football @LaMiradaHSFB @LB_JTown_FB https://t.co/KsKZYlucj0— John W. Davis (@johnwdavis) August 22, 2022
The Braves have been busy in the weeks leading up to the 2022 season.
They conducted a seven-day minicamp and scrimmaged against another area team. Negro is excited about the way the entire team is coming together this early in the campaign.
"We're virtually healthy in every area we need to be, knock on wood," Negro said. "We're a 12-month program, so we've been working with our guys since January. We have a pretty good understanding of what their capabilities are."
Defense may be the strength of the Braves' squad this season.
Five-star lineman Matayo Uiagalelei, younger brother of current Clemson quarterback DJ Uiagalelei, is the No. 2-ranked edge rusher in the 2023 class, according to 247Sports. He also plays tight end on the offensive side of the ball.
Linebacker Kyngstonn Viliama-Asa, who missed his sophomore season with a knee injury, is back.
The secondary will be anchored by four-star prospects Aaron Williams, R.J. Jones, Jshawn Frausto-Ramos and three-star prospect Ty Lee. Williams is committed to Louisville, Jones to California, Frausto-Ramos is committed to Stanford and Lee is headed to UCLA.
"Defensively, we're a little bit ahead of where we are offensively," Negro said. "That's typical when you go through a fall camp. The defense is going to have the advantage because our offense isn't necessarily game-planning against them. They're just trying to get all their installs in."
Last season, four-star Louisville commit Pierce Clarkson split quarterback duties, throwing for over 1,500 yards and 17 touchdowns. This season, he moves into the role of a full-time starter. That responsibility comes with its share of high expectations, but Negro doesn't want Clarkson to spend too much time thinking about them.
"One of the things I really have to work with him on is not trying to do too much," Negro explained. "Now that it is his team, I think sometimes he feels he bears the responsibility of having to score every time the ball is snapped. That's certainly not the case, especially against the teams we play."
Bosco kicks off its 2022 season by traveling to Texas to face the Allen Eagles in the Tom Landry Classic. They also will make a trip to Eugene, Oregon, in September.
The fact the Braves can make trips of this magnitude is another testament to the support of the entire school.
"It's unique," Negro said. "I'm a big believer in providing kids with unique experiences beyond the field. This is one way for us to take 77 kids and 23 other individuals on our staff and put them in a position to talk about being good citizens and understanding what it's like to be part of a team, trying to come together as a collective group. If you come across some adversities in the future, you'll be able to reflect back upon some of those experiences and learning times we've had."
Along with executing the Xs and Os on the field, the biggest key to the Braves winning that mythical national title comes down to focus.
"We can't become complacent," Negro said. "We can't let our guard down. It's going to be a 15-week season. For us, we have to bring our A game every single week. We've got some challenges ahead of us. Anytime you're working with young people, if they lose their focus, things can unravel really quickly. We cannot allow that to happen."
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