Before it played Edison and scored a thrilling 22-20 victory over Edison last week, there was a moment of silence for former Mater Dei lineman Tyler Nicholas Holtz.
His brothers stood on the sidelines with a U.S. Army detail assigned to stay with them during the time of their loss. What they saw was a team that could have been 4-0 finally win its first game -- on the last play of the game.
Holtz, of Dana Point, was killed on Sept. 24 in the Wardak province of Afghanistan. He was 22.
A 2007 graduate of Mater Dei, Holtz was an offensive and defensive lineman who joined the United States Army after high school. He became an Army Ranger, and was a team leader when he was killed in a small arms firefight.
The death of Holtz, a member of Company B, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment based in Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., was used as a teaching point during the week, and it clearly meant something to coach Bruce Rollinson.
Mater Dei has a history with the military; it annually raises funds or does work through its Monarchs For Marines foundation.
Before the game, school president Pat Barrett took Mater Dei’s winless season in stride. “This is a football game,” Barrett said. “The young man who died, that’s important.”
Col. Mark Odom, commander of the 75th Ranger Regiment, said that Holtz “had the stuff from which legends are made and possessed the character which makes the foundations that our Army and nation are built on.”
The football team will wear Holtz’s initials on its helmets the rest of the season.
Holtz is survived by his father, Andrew Holtz of Capistrano Beach, and mother Karen Holtz of Dana Point, and brothers Michael, 26, Hayden, 20, and Luke 17, who were on the sidelines Friday along with some Army soldiers.
“[Holtz] was a courageous and incredibly talented Ranger who died while leading his men against determined insurgents," Odom said. "[He] personified the Ranger Creed to the final moments of his life and his actions inspire us to do the same.”