Which of these teams is most likely to get upset this weekend? You tell us in latest poll. Go inside here as well for writeups and in-depth analysis of the first 12 teams in the CalHiSports.com Top 25. This week’s new CIF State Bowl Game Rankings will be posted on Tuesday.
(After games of Saturday, Nov. 10)
(Previous ranking in parentheses)
(Writeups by Mark Tennis, Ronnie Flores, Harold Abend, Paul Muyskens)
1. (1) DE LA SALLE (CONCORD) 10-0
Why This Ranking: There wasn’t a single team from among the first 20 in last week’s State Top 25 that lost so there was no need to make any changes at the top. Some teams, like the Spartans, had a first-round section playoff bye. Others just blew out overmatched first-round opponents.
Weekend Result: De La Salle coaches seem to have mixed feelings about having a first-round bye in the CIF North Coast Section Division I playoffs. Although there were some decent tests against East Bay Athletic League opponents, a week of resting bruises might be good. On the other hand, this is a program that wants to continually get better and that’s hard to do only in practice.
Up Next: Pittsburg is the last team to deny the Spartans an NCS title with a win in the 1991 championship. The Pirates (8-3) will be this year’s quarterfinal opponent on Friday and will not be easy to dispatch. Pitt avenged one of its three losses in a huge way last week by flying past Monte Vista of Danville 52-29. Earlier, Monte Vista beat Pitt 44-14. Coach Vic Galli’s squad also has a win over defending CIF Sac-Joaquin Section D1 champ Granite Bay (28-27) and lost by just one point to Freedom of Oakley (49-48). Pitt players are never afraid of playing De La Salle, either.
2. (2) NARBONNE (HARBOR CITY) 11-0
Why This Ranking: The Gauchos were expected to easily defeat Locke of Los Angeles, which came in 4-6, in their L.A. City Section playoff opener and did just that, 57-14. The Gauchos not only have to win, but win impressively leading up to the section title game to hold off the two 11-0 teams right behind them in the ratings.
Weekend Result: Locke simply couldn’t stop the Gauchos’ running game, trailing 50-0 at halftime, as Tony Gates and Johnell Jackson combined for 242 yards rushing. Gates was particularly effective, rushing for 151 yards and four touchdowns, including a 31-yarder on Narbonne’s second play from scrimmage, on only five carries. QB Troy Williams completed 13 of 14 passes for 161 yards and four touchdowns all before intermission.
Up Next: The Gauchos move on to the L.A. City Section Div. I quarterfinals against 6-5 Garfield of Los Angeles. The Bulldogs are battle-tested having played CIF Southern Section teams such as St. Bonaventure and Edison of Huntington Beach.
3. (3) VISTA MURRIETA (MURRIETA) 11-0
Why This Ranking: Holding off Mission Viejo for the No. 3 spot in the state and No. 2 spot for Southern California, the Broncos didn’t fall victim to an upset in their CIFSS Inland Division playoff opener. Vista Murrieta will need to continue to dominate and hope eventually that the champion of the CIFSS Pac-Five Division is one of those teams with a loss (on-the-field).
Weekend Result: After back-to-back shutouts to end the regular season, the defense again shined as it allowed just six points in a 34-6 win against South Hills of West Covina. Offensively, quarterback Nick Stevens rushed for 113 yards and two tocuhdowns while also passing for 112 yards and a score. Bezhawn Hill opened the scoring with a 19-yard touchdown run and would finish with 106 rushing yards and two touchdowns on the night. Su’a Cravens did not suit up for the first half but suited up to play the second half after it was originally planned to not play him in order to recover from injuries.
Up Next: The Broncos will play host to a Norco squad that opened the playoffs with a 50-22 win over Redlands East Valley. Since losing three straight games in mid-October, the Cougars have won four straight by a combined score of 175-46. The two squads last faced each other back in November of 2010 in the second-round of the playoffs and the Broncos were victorious 45-6.
4. (4) MISSION VIEJO 11-0
Why This Ranking: There’s no place to move up despite the Diablos’ offensive juggernaut continuing to roll in a first-round CIFSS Pac-Five win over Westlake (Westlake Village) that saw them score 40 or more points for the eighth time this season.
Weekend Result: The Diablos trailed 3-0 early but the deficit didn’t last long in a 42-10 shellacking of visiting Westlake. The offense did its part but it was the defense that came up big again, particularly defensive back Hunter Remington. One week after picking off three passes and returning one for a TD, the 6-foot, 180-pound junior had two more interceptions and returned both for scores, from 89 and 42 yards out. Max Redfield, a two-way star who last week de-committed from USC, had an interception he returned 79 yards to pay dirt. Daniel Pesak had a fourth pick. The offense got TD runs from Garrett Marino, Daniel Marx and Alex Suchesk.
Up Next: Two of the Southland’s premier public school football programs now clash in Round 2 when Long Beach Poly travels south to Orange County. Poly began the year state-ranked but three straight losses in weeks two, three and four dropped them out, however since then the Jackrabbits have won seven straight, including a 40-25 opening-round home victory last week over La Puente Bishop Amat, which at one point was in the State Top 25. The seedings favor the Diablos but this could be an interesting game with the winner likely facing third-seeded No. 5 St. John Bosco in the semifinals.
5. (5) ST. JOHN BOSCO (BELLFLOWER) 11-0*
Why This Ranking: Every team ranked ahead of the Braves either was idle or won impressively, so they hold steady in this spot with their win over Tesoro of Las Flores. Keep in mind because No. 6 St. Bonaventure is the No. 1 seed in the CIFSS Pac-Five playoffs, Bosco would meet No. 4 and second-seeded Mission Viejo in the semifinal round. *Indicates four losses by forfeit not included.
Weekend Result: Bosco gave up a late second quarter touchdown to Tesoro and the game went into halftime tied 17-17. After a good tongue lashing by its coaches and some owning up by players, Bosco played much better in the second half. The Braves scored on their first two possessions to take a 31-17 lead en route to a 38-17 win. Sophomore QB Josh Rosen (229 yards passing) completed seven of his eight pass attempts after intermission.
Up Next: Coach Jason Negro’s team takes on 8-3 Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks in the Pac-Five quarterfinals. Notre Dame has more talent than Tesoro and is battle-tested, as all three of its losses (Gardena Serra, Chaminade, Alemany) were by less than a touchdown. The Knights also are state-ranked, moving into the State Top 25 this week at No. 22.
6. (6) ST. BONAVENTURE (VENTURA) 10-1
Why This Ranking: We could have a tough choice next week if the Seraphs avenge their only loss in their next game, but this week there’s no reason to change anything involving CIFSS Pac-Five teams Mission Viejo, St. John Bosco or St. Bonaventure. All three won their games easily, but that may not be the case this week.
Weekend Result: Is Ricky Town the best sophomore QB in the state? You’ll get arguments from Folsom (Jake Browning) and from St. John Bosco (Josh Rosen), but he’s certainly making a name for himself. In last Friday’s 39-7 win against Cabrillo of Lompoc, Town completed 12 of 19 for 242 yards and four touchdowns. Nicholas Rodriguez was his top target with four catches for 113 yards, including a 63-yard score.
Up Next: It’s going to be a showdown now for every week until St. Bonnie ends the season, which it is hoped comes in the CIF Open Division state bowl game on Dec. 15. This week, the Seraphs travel to play No. 12 Santa Margarita for the second time this season in the CIFSS Pac-Five quarterfinals. Earlier, before Santa Margarita lost standout QB Johnny Stanton for the season with a knee injury, St. Bonaventure played well but lost to the Eagles 35-27. At the time, some even had Santa Margarita ranked No. 1 in the nation.
7. (7) MATER DEI (SANTA ANA) 9-2
Why This Ranking: The Monarchs dropped a spot last week to make room for Marmonte League champ St. Bonaventure and could move up next week depending on the outcome of the other CIFSS Pac-Five quarterfinal games. Mater Dei will have to defeat No. 20 Alemany to remain high in the final ratings. Alemany lost to No. 8 Centennial and unranked Crespi of Encino during the regular season.
Weekend Result: Head coach Bruce Rollinson made a quarterback switch to begin the postseason, going with junior Chase Forrest over senior Ryan McMahon. A quarterback switch at this time of the season at one of the state’s better programs in the state’s toughest playoff division is usually a sign of trouble, but Rollinson liked Forrest’s improvement in recent weeks.
He also likes the way his offense responds when Forrest is in the game and is comfortable using either signal-caller. Forrest proceeded to complete 12 of 14 passes for 168 yards and four touchdowns in Mater Dei’s 71-10 Pac-Five first-round victory over Lakewood.
Up Next: Mater Dei will take on 8-3 Alemany of Mission Hills at home in this week’s quarterfinal game. Regardless of who is under center for Mater Dei, No. 20 Alemany will put much more pressure of Mater Dei’s offense to score than Lakewood.
8. (8) CENTENNIAL (CORONA) 10-1
Why This Ranking: Like the rest of the first 20 teams from last week’s rankings, the Huskies made sure their championship dreams didn’t come to an unexpected early end. The No. 2 seed in the CIFSS Inland Division playoffs saw followed up their impressive finish to the regular season with a nice win over Los Osos of Rancho Cucamonga. It’s still looking like it will be unbeaten Upland in the semifinals and then defending champ Vista Murrieta in the final.
Weekend Result: With a high-flying offense that is now averaging over 51 points per game, Robert Webber completed 13 of his 19 pass attempts for 185 yards and two scores in a 47-21 win over the Grizzlies. Junior Tre’ Watson led the rushing attack with 162 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries while Austin Renken carried 11 times for 72 yards and two touchdowns.
Up Next: Coach Matt Logan’s club will now have to go on the road to Murrieta to face 10-1 Murrieta Valley, which opened the playoffs with a 35-27 win over Eisenhower of Rialto. Murrieta Valley, which lost only to Vista Murrieta in the regular season, also debuted at No. 24 in this week’s State Top 25.
9. (9) FRANKLIN (ELK GROVE) 11-0
Why This Ranking: Remaining at No. 2 in our NorCal rankings, the Wildcats struggled in the opening half of play but stretched out the lead in the second half to defeat Nevada Union of Grass Valley in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Div. I playoffs. Folsom is still chomping at the bit right behind Franklin but the ranking between the two will likely hold until after the section semifinals. After that round, if both are still playing, the debate could get much louder.
Weekend Result: For the second year in a row, the Wildcats ended the Miners season as Kyran Harris rushed for 232 yards and three touchdowns in a 35-14 win. Franklin trailed in the first half 14-7 before taking a 21-14 halftime lead despite six turnovers. Christian Fonbuena added 104 yards rushing.
Up Next: Like last year, the Wildcats will face Lincoln of Stockton in the second-round after the Trojans defeated Merced 52-7. Coach Mike Johnson’s squad will be looking to get a bit of revenge for last season as it was defeated by the Trojans in the second round 56-27. Johnson and several of his assistants, including defensive coordinator Jim Rubiales, previously coached at Lincoln, some like Rubiales for many years.
10. (10) FOLSOM 11-0
Why This Ranking: Like Franklin of Elk Grove, the Bulldogs struggled a bit early on before taking control and going on to a comfortable first-round playoff win. Helping Folsom’s strength of schedule, both Pleasant Grove of Elk Grove and Oak Ridge of El Dorado Hills opened the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs with a win.
Weekend Result: Leading just 14-12 in the second quarter, the Bulldogs scored the game’s final 45 points for a 59-12 home win over Atwater in the Sac-Joaquin Division II playoffs. Sophomore Jake Browning continued to put up video game-like numbers passing as he completed 33 of his 45 attempts for 421 yards and seven touchdowns along with two interceptions. Troy Knox caught 13 passes for 158 yards and two touchdowns while Harry Lipnosky caught a pair of scoring passes as well.
Up Next: In one of several interesting rematches from last year in the SJS playoffs, the Bulldogs will face Vacaville this week in the D2 quarterfinals one year after losing 39-35 to Vacaville in the D2 championship game.
11. (11) UPLAND 11-0
Why This Ranking: For the first time in several weeks, there wasn’t an open spot for the Highlanders to move up to, so they remain just outside the top 10 after opening the CIFSS Inland Division playoffs at home with a win over Great Oak of Temecula. Upland also has now won 23 of its last 24 games.
Weekend Result: Delvin Batiste returned a fumble for a touchdown in the second quarter to help the Highlanders to a 28-0 lead at halftime in their eventual 35-6 win against Great Oak. The Wolfpack’s lone touchdown on the night against the Highlanders came on a fumble return as well. Nate Romine completed 10 of his 16 pass attempts for 155 yards and two touchdowns with both scoring tosses going to tight end Anthony Romero.
Up Next: Things will get a bit tougher this week as they will face 8-3 Redlands and with a win they would then play either face No. 8 Centennial of Corona or No. 24 Murrieta Valley of Murrieta in the semifinals.
12. (12) SANTA MARGARITA (RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA) 9-2
Why This Ranking: Word of the demise of the defending Pac-Five and 2011 CIF Division I Bowl Game champion is still premature after an impressive opening-round win over previous state No. 23 El Toro. Like the rest of the teams in the top 20 that won or had byes, there was no where to move for coach Harry Welch and his boys. It was still a solid showing against a top opponent.
Weekend Result: In a game played at Trabuco Hills, it was all Eagles in a 38-13 win over the Chargers. Quarterback Kyle Sweet is beginning to find his rhythm and rebounded well from the loss two weeks ago to No. 5 St. John Bosco. The sophomore was pitted against Utah-bound Connor Manning and more than held his own, passing for 208 yards and rushing for 65 more. Running back Ryan Wolpin came on strong in the second half, rushing for 162 of his 215 yards in the last two quarters. Defensive end Nick Begg led the defense with two sacks.
Up Next: The rematch that was anticipated when the seedings came out takes place when Santa Margarita hosts top-seeded St. Bonaventure, a team it defeated 35-27 in week five, but that was the game the Eagles lost Johnny Stanton. Look for Welch to try and run the ball behind the huge offensive line of Riley Sorenson, Ryan Kilander, Frank DiPietro and Dane Crane, just like it was done against El Toro in racking up 318 yards on the ground. This wiil be the fourth meeting between the two teams dating back to 2007 with the Seraphs holding a 2-1 advantage.
If SB is the top seed, why do they have to travil to RSM for this week’s playoff game?
I believe Santa Margarita was an away team last week and St. Bonnie was home. In the CIFSS, that means the away team hosts the next game if the opponent was home. When both teams are at home for the previous round or both away, they flip coins for home field. Yes, it’s a bit strange because in most sections of the state earning a high seed guarantees home games until the final. In the CIFSS, though, there’s just always been a strong belief that a championship team should win on the road.