Oaks Christian of Westlake Village, Eastlake of Chula Vista and Clayton Valley of Concord lead the bunch among this group of teams with a few “hunches” that we are going with. Go inside to this post as well for 20 more teams on the bubble.
Note: Check below for writeups and analysis of the teams ranked from No. 31 to No. 50 in the Cal-Hi Sports Preseason 50. During the season, all writeups and analysis will be part of our Gold Club coverage of California prep football. Nobody knows California prep football like Cal-Hi Sports, now in our 36th year. To check out your subscription today, CLICK HERE.
Contributing to these rankings and writeups: Ronnie Flores, Harold Abend, Paul Muyskens
31. OAKS CHRISTIAN (WESTLAKE VILLAGE)
2013 Record: 8-3
Outlook: Veteran coach Bill Redell is back at the helm of the Lions’ program after two years and hopes it will help the team make the jump to the higher level of football in the CIFSS Pac-Five Division. The talent level remains high, but this year’s team does have some shoes to fill. Duke-bound Reno Rosene (6-5, 300) and Jalen Larry (6-4, 280) lead a strong offensive line while WR Alex Bachman (Wake Forest) and D1 college prospects Eddie Rudinski (LB), Trevor Howard (DE) and Andre Chevalier (LB) also return.
First Game/Schedule: The Lions are used to taking trips to Bakersfield for the first game and will do it again on Aug. 29 to play the Drillers at Griffith Stadium. The second game against Cathedral Catholic of San Diego is no cakewalk, either.
32. EASTLAKE (CHULA VISTA)
2013 Record: 10-2
Outlook: Lee Price takes over for John McFadden as the head coach of the Titans and will try to maintain the momentum of the last few seasons. The Titans, who reached the CIF San Diego Section Open Division semifinals before losing 33-30 to Oceanside, have some graduation losses to overcome, but have perhaps the top backfield in the section with Isaiah Strayhorn (5-7, 165, Sr.) and Traylon Reed (5-11, 185, Jr.). Strayhorn rushed for 1,273 yards and 14 TDs last season while Reed went for 1,063 yards on just 85 carries. He’s regarded as one of the top junior RBs in the state.
First Game/Schedule: Desert Ridge of Arizona will provide the opposition in the first game on Aug. 29. The Titans will then hit the road for an intersectional matchup at preseason No. 39 Los Alamitos.
33. CLAYTON VALLEY (CONCORD)
2013 Record: 10-2
Outlook: The defense already was going to be good this season, but the Ugly Eagles defense got all the more ugly for other teams this season with the addition of De La Salle transfer DL Kahlil McKenzie who has committed to Tennessee and is one of the top players not just in the state but in the nation. Senior RB Miles Harrison was recently ranked as our No. 16 runningback in the state and returns after rushing for 2,020 yards and 34 touchdowns last year. Besides the big addition of McKenzie to the defense, Clayton Valley also returns six of its top seven tacklers from last year, including LB Richard Peralta, LB Jax Carter and DE Grifen Bentley.
First Game/Schedule: The Eagles will wait until Saturday night on Aug. 30 to open their season as they play against Carson of Nevada at the Honor Bowl in Loomis (we’ll be there). Before league play, they also will be tested in games against Tracy, Cardinal Newman of Santa Rosa and Napa.
34. RANCHO VERDE (MORENO VALLEY)
2013 Record: 11-3
Outlook: After getting to the CIFSS Central Division final last year and losing by one point to Heritage of Menifee, the Mustangs will be in the new Inland Division this year and look like a team to beat. The main reasons for optimism are an offensive line led by All-American candidate Tevita Halalilo (6-4, 320, Sr.), who has committed to UCLA, blocking for Elite 11 QB Sheriron Jones (6-3, 190, Sr.). Jones, who can get overlooked in this year’s spectacular crop of California QBs, is nonetheless a dynamic talent who has committed to Florida.
First Game/Schedule: A matchup at home on Aug. 29 against Citrus Hill of Perris (which went 13-1 last season) starts it all for Rancho Verde. There is also a preseason game later against Redlands East Valley, which could be another major contender in that new CIFSS Inland Division.
35. DEL ORO (LOOMIS)
2013 Record: 13-3
Outlook: Despite some question marks on both sides of the ball, head coach Casey Taylor has had his squad become a model of consistency as it has won at least 10 games in eight of the last 10 years. Losing a QB who passed for over 2,500 yards and a RB who rushed for over 2,000 yards won’t be easy but Del Oro does have a talented returner to carry the ball in Tevon Ryhne and the leading receiver last year, Trey Udoffia, was just a sophomore. Junior FS/WR Justin Burrage is the leading returning tackler after making 30 tackles as a sophomore. Taylor’s squad also will be bolstered with the addition of many players from an impressive JV team that in one game even beat De La Salle.
First Game/Schedule: Most teams would like to start the season at home but you could certainly understand if some of the Golden Eagles wished that their season opener was in Hawaii instead of at home against Kamehameha of Honolulu. Already going to be tested with games against Sac-Joaquin Section powers like Folsom and Granite Bay in league, they loaded up the non-league portion of their schedule with games against preseason No. 13 Vista Murrieta and preseason No. 2 De La Salle of Concord in addition to Kamehameha.
36. EDISON (FRESNO)
2013 Record: 9-2
Outlook: There are many in the Valley who are ranking the Tigers No. 2 behind Bakersfield. While we wouldn’t go that far, mainly because Edison’s track record in recent years hasn’t been that great and because frankly we like Clovis North more, this is still a legit statewide team to watch. Versatile A.J. Greeley (5-11, 185, Sr.) will be used on offense, but on defense he’s more of a big-time prospect along with DB Tyler Horton (6-0, 180, Sr.) and LB Anthony Shepard (6-2, 200). On offense, also look for QB Hunter Swearingen and WR Khai Williams.
First Game/Schedule: Coach Matt Johnson’s squad starts out with a matchup on Aug. 28 against Buchanan of Clovis. The Tigers then play Bakersfield in what could be a No. 1 vs. No. 2 contest in the CIF Central Section. Assuming Clovis North isn’t going to get past Folsom on the same night, the winner of the Bakersfield-Edison game on Sept. 5 would probably then be the No. 1 team in the section.
37. FOOTHILL (PLEASANTON)
2013 Record: 8-3
Outlook: While we didn’t end up putting the Falcons either second or third in the CIF North Coast Section to start the season, they are solidly in the Preseason 50. Head coach Matt Sweeney is one of the best in East Bay history and has some elite players to build around, including QB Kyle Kearns, who has committed to SMU and is the best from Foothill since current Oregon State star Sean Mannion. The squad’s top recruit is USC-bound WR-DB Isaiah Langley. WR Cale Quistgard, jr. LB Cash Connolly and WR/DB Isaiah Floyd also should be key contributors.
First Game/Schedule: The Falcons begin on Aug. 29 at home against San Leandro. Before beginning East Bay Athletic League play, they also meet Freedom of Oakley and Castro Valley.
38. OAK RIDGE (EL DORADO HILLS)
2013 Record: 12-2
Outlook: Although the Trojans are going to be hard-pressed to match last season’s record due to joining the Sierra Foothill League (Del Oro, Granite Bay, etc.) along with Folsom and having a lot of starters to replace, they still look like one of the top teams in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section. That’s mainly because of QB Ian Book (6-2, 175, Jr.), who was all-state sophomore last year after passing for 2,558 yards and 30 TDs with just five interceptions. Two other top returnees are RB Stephen Douglas (5-10, 175, Sr.) and DB Drew Lackowski (6-0, 175, Sr.), who led the team with six interceptions.
First Game/Schedule: Coach Eric Cavaliere’s club starts out on Aug. 29 at Whitney of Rocklin. A matchup with the coach’s alma mater, Vacaville, follows and then it’s Sacramento Burbank before league play commences.
39. LOS ALAMITOS
2013 Record: 9-3
Outlook: We’re going with the Griffins to start out as the team to beat in the Sunset League. Head coach John Barnes, who is the winningest current coach in the state, welcomes back 13 starters from last year and has a 9-1 JV team coming up. The team’s top honors candidate is punter Blake Johnson, one of the best in the nation, but Johnson also is a standout linebacker. LB Matt Locher (6-3, 240, Sr.), who is coming back from a foot injury that knocked him out for most of last season, is another key returnee. Watch as well for RB/LB Denzal Brantley (6-1, 210, Sr.).
First Game/Schedule: It should be a win when Los Al opens against Paramount on Sept. 5. The two toughest non-league encounters should come against preseason No. 32 Eastlake of Chula Vista and preseason L.A. City Section favorite Narbonne of Harbor City.
40. ST. AUGUSTINE (SAN DIEGO)
2013 Record: 11-2
Outlook: Last year’s CIF San Diego Section Division II title plus the head-to-head win over arch-rival Cathedral Catholic nearly put the Saints into the CIF D2 SoCal bowl game and would have if Gardena Serra and not Chaminade had won the CIFSS Western Division crown. Alas, it’s a new year and the Saints could be even better. Elijah Preston (5-6, 170, Jr.) returns to the backfield after rushing for 1,484 yards and 17 TDs. The defense welcomes back all-state candidates Quinn Seau (6-1, 213, Jr.) at LB and Frank Buncom (6-2, 190, Sr.) at DB plus many more.
First Game/Schedule: The Saints could make a major statement in their first game on Aug. 29 against preseason No. 21 Oceanside. They also meet preseason No. 32 Eastlake of Chula Vista, preseason No. 13 Vista Murrieta and will play at Loyola of Los Angeles in the first on-campus game there since the 1940s. If it was the same format as last year, all of that would be huge if St. Augustine was going for another D2 South bowl bid. Since the San Diego Open Division, however, will no longer be predetermined, the Saints (along with Cathedral Catholic) will now probably be in the Open Division and thus would have to win that title to become eligible for the D1 South bowl game (a much harder task).
41. NARBONNE (HARBOR CITY)
2013 Record: 11-3
Outlook: After fielding one of the L.A. City’s better teams in the last generation in 2012, last season was supposed to be a rebuilding year. Narbonne promptly went unbeaten in the Marine League and advanced to the L.A. City Section Division I final where it lost to Crenshaw of Los Angeles. With its stable of athletes, solid depth (especially on the D-Line) and the tradition built in recent years, the Gauchos are the favorites to capture their third section title in 12 years. Top returnees include WR/DB Jontae Roberson (6-0, 180, Sr.) and DB Trey Bierria (6-1, 185, Sr.) and two-way lineman Kanakai Lua (6-1, 315 Sr.)
First Game/Schedule: With the amount of quality players coach Manual Douglas has in the fold, you’d expect the L.A. City Section favorite to start the season in or near the top 20. We’re going to take a wait and see approach, however, because the section’s teams were just not very strong last season. ‘Bonne opens with Palos Verdes on Aug. 28 and then we’ll see how they compare against the state’s elite when it battles Long Beach Poly, Alemany and Serra of Gardena in consecutive weeks.
42. CALIFORNIA (SAN RAMON)
2013 Record: 11-3
Outlook: Eleven starters return for head coach Eric Billeci from a 2013 squad that reached the CIF North Coast Section Division I final. Most of the returning strength is on defense where six starters are back and many of the top tacklers. Among that group is LB Lorenzo Richardson, DB Simi Hingano and DB Zac Guardino. Billeci also has always had teams that can run the ball. Helping that to happen again will be an offensive line led by three-year starter Tyler Whisenhunt (6-4, 280).
First Game/Schedule: The Grizzlies begin the season with a bang since the first game on Aug. 29 will be at home against preseason No. 11 Pittsburg. With a win in that game, the team probably would be unbeaten heading into East Bay Athletic League play.
43. GRANITE BAY
2013 Record: 8-4
Outlook: When Ernie Cooper last coached at Granite Bay he was hoisting the CIF D1 state bowl game trophy. His one-year absence is over, which should result in another solid season. While the offense needs some rebuilding, Granite Bay’s defense should be one of the best in Northern California. LB Cameron Smith (6-3, 225) has been the leading tackler since his sophomore season and is committed to USC. LB Drew Tonda also is back after almost getting in on as many tackles as Smith. Another key defender should be DB Tre Ball.
First Game/Schedule: The Grizzlies are starting later than most on Sept. 5 with a home game against Cosumnes Oaks of Elk Grove. They meet preseason No. 5 Folsom on Sept. 26 in the first Sierra Foothill League contest, then have a non-league game on Oct. 3 against Aptos. That one will be fun since Cooper came from Aptos to start the Granite Bay program and since Aptos is now being coached by Randy Blankenship (who once led Nevada Union to SJS titles).
44. SANTIAGO (CORONA)
2013 Record: 6-6
Outlook: This is another team in which the win-loss record from last year doesn’t mean much because two of the losses were by just one point (both to Upland) and other than a loss to Norco the rest were all competitive against higher-ranked opponents. Santiago’s fortunes begin and end with the return of QB Blake Barnett, the MVP of the recent Elite 11 finals in Oregon and committed to Alabama. Barnett seems certain for a 3,000-yard season but players around him will need to develop if there’s hope of challenging Corona Centennial in the Big VIII League. Three other players expected to be key contributors are TE Woody Brandom (6-4, 230, Sr.); LB Travis Shollin (6-2, 235, Sr.) and junior PK Jake Roberts (60-for-62 PATs, 6-of-8 FGs).
First Game/Schedule: A matchup on Aug. 29 at home vs. Redlands gets things going for the Sharks. Later in September, they will be tested more severely in games with Santa Margarita and Hart of Newhall. The QB play in those games should be amazing.
45. SANTA MARGARITA (RANCHO SM)
2013 Record: 4-6
Outlook: Our fifth team from the Trinity League in the Preseason 50 may still be a year away from returning to the level it was at early in the 2012 season before then-QB Johnny Stanton got hurt. It’s also still too hard for us to forget how close the Eagles were (they actually did win the game but suffered from an official’s call) to beating Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas last year so we just couldn’t leave them out. QB K.J. Costello (6-4, 205, Jr.) could be one of the nation’s top junior QBs and will be joined by other returning starters such as WR Kyle Sweet (6-0, 190, Sr.) and LB Tanner Matthews (6-3, 205, Jr.).
First Game/Schedule: New coach Rick Curtis will have the Eagles ready for the first game on Aug. 29 vs. preseason No. 30 Bishop Amat. Another matchup with Bishop Gorman also is a highlight of the non-league schedule.
46. HERITAGE (MENIFEE)
2013 Record: 13-1
Outlook: Head coach Kraig Broach’s team counts six starters back on defense and although there aren’t as many regulars returning on offense he does have incoming junior QB Brett Virgin, who directed last year’s team to the CIFSS Central Division crown as a sophomore with nearly 1,500 yards passing and more than 700 rushing. The key stoppers looking to have huge senior seasons include LB Christian Decker-Weible (5-11, 230); LB Reggie Murphy (6-5, 230) and DL Axel Uveakovi (6-3, 280).
First Game/Schedule: The Patriots travel to play La Quinta in their season opener. The toughest non-league game may be on Sept. 26 against Etiwanda of the Baseline League.
47. CORONA DEL MAR (NEWPORT BEACH)
2013 Record: 16-0
Outlook: It won’t be possible for the Sea Kings to do better this season after becoming the first team in state history to go 16-0 with their win in the CIF D3 state bowl game but they return plenty of talent this season, especially on the defensive side of the ball to possibly go undefeated once again. Led by senior DE Parker Chase and DB Bo St. Geme, they return 10 starters on defense, including seniors LB Hoyt Crance and DE Harrison Carter. While they are young on offense, they do return an outstanding running backs in Sr. Cole Martin, who rushed for 1,870 yards and 21 touchdowns. Leading wide receivers Cole Collins and St. Geme also both return.
First Game/Schedule: Looking to keep their 26-game winning streak intact, which is the longest in the state, the Sea Kings will open the season with a neutral site game against La Costa Canyon of Carlsbad. They end the non-league portion of their schedule with a nice stretch of games against El Toro of Lake Forest, Newport Harbor of Newport Beach and Tesoro of Rancho Santa Margarita. If they get by those three, another run at the CIF D3 state bowl game title certainly would seem possible.
48. LUTHERAN (ORANGE)
2013 Record: 7-4
Outlook: All six of the Trinity League teams were put into the Preseason 50 and it wasn’t that hard of a call. The Lancers may be battling to stay out of the cellar of the league standings, but would be a champion in many other leagues. They also remember only lost by 18-16 to Long Beach Poly in last year’s CIFSS Pac-Five playoffs. L.J. Northington (6-1, 180, Jr.) is expected to emerge as a dangerous QB. The defense, of course, will be led by DE/OLB Keisean Lucier-South (6-5, 225, Sr.), who is one of the state’s top college recruits.
First Game/Schedule: Head coach Chuck Peterson’s club plays Dominguez of Compton on Aug. 29 in its first game. The toughest test before league starts should be later against preseason No. 13 Vista Murrieta.
49. CRESPI (ENCINO)
2013 Record: 4-7
Outlook: With 15 returning starters and an easier non-league schedule, the Celts seem guaranteed of having a winning record this season. That’s not to say they’ll be a favorite in the new-look Mission League, but they’ll be in the mix. Most of the returning strength for head coach Troy Thomas is on defense, led by All-American candidate Marvell Tell (6-2, 175, Sr.) in the secondary. LB D.J. Beaver (6-2, 200, Sr.); DT Marcus Moore (6-3, 235, Jr.) and DL/OL Valmoe Sekona (6-5, 290, Sr.) are others to watch. On offense, a threat could be RB Torrance Brumfield (5-6, 170, Sr.).
First Game/Schedule: The Celts open on Aug. 29 at home with Sylmar. They have a chance to be unbeaten heading into the start of Mission League competition against Bishop Amat.
50. ENTERPRISE (REDDING)
2013 Record: 13-1
Outlook: The Hornets will need a new QB and couple of linemen to emerge, but have most of their top players back from last year’s CIF Northern California D2 championship team. RB Izzy Matthews rushed for 2,200 yards and 32 TDs and is the top offensive returnee. On defense, three-year standout Nick Tomasin returns with more than 300 career tackles and should end up along with Matthews at a D1 college.
First Game/Schedule: For Enterprise to get more respect from around the state during CIF bowl consideration, playing a tougher schedule is more important than not losing. Facing teams outside of the CIF Northern Section also is key to that so the first game on Sept. 5 vs. Whitney of Rocklin and more of a test later on against Vacaville is great to see.
Next 20 TEAMS On The Bubble
(Listed With 2013 Final Record)
•Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 11-2
•Cathedral Catholic (San Diego) 11-2
•Crenshaw (Los Angeles) 10-4
•El Diamante (Visalia) 12-1
•Franklin (Elk Grove) 8-4
•Jesuit (Carmichael) 9-4
•Liberty (Bakersfield) 9-2
•Loyola (Los Angeles) 4-6
•Madison (San Diego) 9-2
•Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks) 7-4
•Redlands East Valley (Redlands) 5-6
•Sacred Heart Prep (Atherton) 13-2
•San Clemente 2-8
•St. Francis (Mountain View) 9-4