(After games of Saturday, Nov. 24)
(Previous ranking in parentheses)
(Writeups by Mark Tennis, Ronnie Flores, Harold Abend, Paul Muyskens)
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1. (1) DE LA SALLE (CONCORD) 12-0
Why This Ranking: It’s that time of the year again, when most teams are finished, compared to the Spartans just getting into their higher gear. De La Salle will continue to be No. 1 in the state until a California opponent gets a win. The last time that happened was in the 2008 CIF Division I bowl game.
Weekend Result: Before Amador Valley of Pleasanton was able to get its first first-down in last Friday’s CIF North Coast Section Division I semifinal, De La Salle already had a 28-0 lead. The eventual 49-0 victory – which also marked the team’s 29th straight win in a section semifinal – was highlighted by junior quarterback Chris Williams’ three touchdown passes, two that went to senior Andrew Buckley. Tiapepe Vitale added two touchdowns on the ground and caught the other scoring pass by Williams.
Up Next: Coach Bob Ladouceur’s club will need to keep playing at its best in this Friday’s NCS Division I championship against 12-1 James Logan of Union City. Although the Spartans have won 20 straight NCS finals, Logan displayed it would be a formidable opponent by racing past California of San Ramon 40-7 in its semifinal. Earlier in the season, De La Salle’s win over the same team was 27-14. That doesn’t make the Colts favored, far from it, but they are strong enough to make things interesting, especially if there’s a couple of early DLS turnovers.
2. (2) NARBONNE (HARBOR CITY) 13-0
Why This Ranking: Similar to the quarterfinal round, the results of some key playoff semifinal games makes the Gauchos’ resume even that much stronger. Narbonne has a win over both CIFSS Pac-Five finalists, No. 4 Mater Dei and No. 12 Long Beach Poly, including a 56-0 drubbing of the Jackrabbits. We recall instances where a fellow CIF Southern Section club has beaten both Pac-Five finalists, but not an L.A. City section team. On top of that, Narbonne owns a victory over CIFSS Western Division finalist Gardena Serra.
Weekend Result: The Gauchos defeated Marine League rival Carson for the second time this season with a 39-12 semifinal victory. Narbonne was in control until WR A.J. Richardson fumbled on a sweep and Carson’s Manoah Pearson returned it to make the score 20-12. Richardson made amends when he turned a third-down pass from QB Troy Williams (8-13, 159 yards) into a 65-yard touchdown reception.
Up Next: The Gauchos will face No. 7 Crenshaw in a highly anticipated L.A. City Section Division I final next Saturday at East Los Angeles College. Crenshaw has been playing lights out since the middle of the regular season and Narbonne will have to be in the conversation for best L.A. City team of all-time if Mater Dei wins the Pac-Five title and the Gauchos record yet another blowout win themselves. A victory also would just about guarantee a bid for Narbonne into the CIF Southern California Open Division bowl game.
3. (3) VISTA MURRIETA (MURRIETA) 13-0
Why This Ranking: It’s on to the CIFSS Inland Division finals the Broncos will go as they shut out Rancho Cucamonga for a 34-0 win in the semifinals last Friday night. Not only did the No. 4 team in the rankings lose for the second week in a row, but so did the No. 5 team as both St. John Bosco of Bellflower and St. Bonaventure of Ventura suffered defeats. The Bosco loss also greatly enhances Vista Murrieta’s chances for the CIF Southern California Open Division bowl game since the CIFSS Pac-Five division will for certain not produce an unbeaten or even a one-loss champion.
Weekend Result: Leading just 7-0 at halftime, the Bronco defense came up huge in the second half with a big goal line stand to keep the lead and then the offense took over, scoring 27 points in the final quarter and a half of play. With the Cougars facing a third and goal at the one-yard line, Su’a Cravens made a tackle for a loss and then Bryce Smith’s tackle on fourth down had the them coming up a yard short of a score. Nick Stevens, who had rushed for the lone touchdown of the first half, then led a 99-yard drive to make it 14-0 before adding 20 more points in the fourth quarter. Stevens completed 10 of his 20 pass attempts for 114 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for a score. Kishawn Holmes scored the game’s final touchdown on an 87-yard run while Phillip Jones-Ward intercepted a pass and returned it 26 yards for six points.
Up Next: For the third year in a row, Vista Murrieta will face No. 5 Centennial of Corona in the section finals. The Broncos also will look to keep their now state-best 27-game on-the-field winning streak alive. Last season, the Broncos defeated the Huskies 35-28 after losing two years ago 45-21 in the finals, which was their last on-the-field loss. We saw both of those games and plan to be there Friday for the trifecta.
4. (6) MATER DEI (SANTA ANA) 11-2
Why This Ranking: The Monarchs move up two spots after handing previous No. 5 St. Bonaventure its first shutout since the last game of the 1994 season. The Monarchs obviously must now be in front of the Seraphs and the St. John Bosco club they lost to doing the regular season. Bosco could still be higher than Mater Dei for the final rankings, but that would probably take the Monarchs losing to Long Beach Poly in this week’s title game.
Weekend Result: Mater Dei advanced to the CIFSS Pac-Five finals for the first time since 2002 with a 21-0 win over St. Bonaventure. It was the Monarchs’ most complete win in many seasons, as they held Seraphs’ standout back Zach Green to 87 yards and sacked sophomore QB Ricky Town five times and limited him to 45 yards passing. Mater Dei junior QB Chase Forrest, meanwhile, was on fire as he completed 13 of 14 passes for 161 yards and one touchdown.
Up Next: Mater Dei takes on Long Beach Poly in the CIFSS Pac-Five Division finals. It’s a public-private school rivalry that was one of the state’s best in the 1990s and usually brings out the best in both clubs, whether it’s a passing league or playoff game. Poly’s running game will be even harder for Mater Dei to stop than St. Bonaventure’s, but on the other hand Mater Dei’s offense is more potent than St. John Bosco’s.
5. (7) CENTENNIAL (CORONA) 12-1
Why This Ranking: At this time of the year, simply winning almost guarantees you to move up at least one spot or two in the rankings. For the Huskies, that’s true after they earned their way to the CIFSS Inland Division championship game for the third year in a row with a 46-36 win over previous No. 10 Upland. Their lone loss of the season was to previous No. 5 St. Bonaventure of Ventura, but the Seraphs’ season came to an end with a loss to previous No. 6 Mater Dei. If Centennial were to lose to Vista Murrieta in this week’s final, then St. Bonnie would go back in front. If Centennial wins, it would then make plans for a CIF regional bowl game.
Weekend Result: Robert Webber and the Huskies’ offense continue to light up the scoreboard even as the postseason gets deeper. Webber passed for 342 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 93 yards and a score in a 46-36 win over the Highlanders. Jumping out to an early 22-7 lead after the first quarter, the Huskies actually trailed 28-25 entering the fourth before winning the final quarter 21-8. Chase Krivashei caught eight passes for 186 yards and two touchdowns while Tre Watson rushed for 62 yards and the go-ahead score on 12 carries. Junior John Plattenburg had two interceptions to lead a defense that intercepted Nate Romine four times on the night.
Up Next: In a rematch of the last two CIFSS Inland Division championship game, coach Matt Logan’s squad takes on No. 3 Vista Murrieta of Murrieta. The Huskies were the last team to defeat the Broncos on the field as they won the section title two years ago 45-21 before losing in last year’s championship 35-28.
6. (9) FOLSOM 13-0
Why This Ranking: The Bulldogs were nipping at the heels of Franklin of Elk Grove for the No. 2 spot in Northern California behind De La Salle of Concord, and they easily earned that spot this week after the Wildcats lost and the Bulldogs moved on to the CIFSJS Division II championship game for the third year in a row. Also continuing to improve the Bulldogs’ strength of schedule is No. 18 Oak Ridge of El Dorado Hills, which advanced to the CIFSJS Division I championship game after defeating previously undefeated Burbank. Oak Ridge’s lone loss was to Folsom.
Weekend Result: For the second week in a row, Folsom scored 49 points as they defeated Buhach Colony of Atwater 49-22 in the CIFSJS Division II semifinals on Friday night. Leading just 7-6 after one quarter, the Bulldogs scored four touchdowns in the second to lead 35-6 at halftime. Jake Browning completed 14 of his 22 pass attempts for 240 yards and three touchdowns and no interceptions. Lucas Owan caught three passes for 106 yards while Troy Knox caught five passes for 87 yards and a score. Sophomore Bailey Laolagi did a bit of everything in the win as he carried five times for 103 yards and two touchdowns, caught two passes for 26 yards and a touchdown while also intercepting a pass and returning it 90 yards for a score. Browning now has 58 TD passes on the season and has broken the state sophomore record of 57 set in 2004 by Oaks Christian’s Jimmy Clausen. He only needs five more to tie the state record of 63 set in 1999 by Robert De La Cruz of Los Angeles Cathedral.
Up Next: The Bulldogs will face No. 13 Elk Grove in the CIFSJS Division II championship game on Saturday night at Sacramento State University. With a win, the Bulldogs also should all but be assured of a chance to play in the NorCal Open Division bowl game the following week where they would likely face No. 1 De La Salle of Concord.
7. (12) CRENSHAW (LOS ANGELES) 11-1
Why This Ranking: The Cougars move up five spots this week and make it eight in the past two weeks as they completely rolled through their side of the L.A. City Section Division I playoff bracket. Crenshaw is playing as well as any team in the state in recent weeks, but will be going up against a team that has the state’s most impressive grid log (No. 2 Narbonne) heading into section finals week.
Weekend Result: Crenshaw exploded for 35 second-quarter points en route to a 59-10 victory over Venice in the L.A. City Division I semifinals. Similar to its 56-6 quarterfinal win over Dorsey, The Shaw scored in nearly every way conceivable while holding a potentially potent Venice offense to 61 total yards. Crenshaw junior QB Ajene Harris completed 18 of 33 passes for 272 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Up Next: The Cougars are now in the game most SoCal football fans have anticipated since the playoffs began — an L.A. City D1 title showdown against state No. 2 Narbonne. The title tilt between the L.A. City’s top two seeds and two best teams will likely include some offensive fireworks from both sides. If Narbonne makes mistakes which lead to a Crenshaw scoring surge in a short period of time (like mistakes did against Dorsey and Venice), the Cougars will have an excellent chance to pull off the upset.
8. (5) ST. BONAVENTURE (VENTURA) 11-2
Why This Ranking: Despite the Seraphs getting blanked by Mater Dei in the CIFSS Pac-Five semifinals, they can stay fairly high in the rankings because the Monarchs are now No. 4, because they have that early-season win over Corona Centennial and because they avenged their only other loss, which was the one to Santa Margarita.
Weekend Result: About the only highlight for St. Bonnie in its 21-0 loss to Mater Dei was senior running back Zach Green going for 87 yards on 13 carries. Other than that, sophomore Ricky Town had his troubles with two interceptions and was sacked three times. The shutout was the first for the Seraphs since 1996 and covers a span of 236 straight games.
Up Next: The season is over for the Seraphs, but moving up or down in the rankings is not. If Mater Dei beats Long Beach Poly this week and then follows it up with a CIF state title, in either D1 or Open, then St. Bonnie’s final ranking would obviously come up a few spots as well.
9. (11) BELLARMINE (SAN JOSE) 11-1
Why This Ranking: The Bells had just enough to get by Serra (San Mateo) in the CIF Central Coast Section Open Division semifinals. With the victory, veteran coach Mike Janda and his boys finally crack the top 10 for the state after winning their 17th straight game against West Catholic Athletic League opponents. Should the Bells win the title and end up with a lone loss to De La Salle, the commissioners probably won’t send them against Sparta again if Folsom wins this weekend, but they most assuredly will get a chance to represent NorCal by getting a bid for the D1 regional bowl game.
Weekend Result: For the second time this season, a game against WCAL rival Serra came down to one play and on each occasion the Bells’ defense has held suit. In the league meeting, the Bells stopped a 2-point conversion to preserve the win. This time, in a 17-12 victory, the Bells stopped Serra on downs from their own 10-yard line when Serra couldn’t get it in from the 3-yard line in three plays. On fourth-and-goal from the two and 48 seconds left, Bellarmine held.
Up Next: Bellarmine now moves into the CCS Open Division title game on Friday night against St. Ignatius at San Jose City College. A berth in one of the NorCal bowl games also is on the line. A Bellarmine win and Folsom loss may mean the Bells have to face De La Salle again. A win by St. Ignatius would likely have the Wildcats in the Division I game against either Granite Bay or El Dorado Hills Oak Ridge.
10. (16) CHAMINADE (WEST HILLS) 12-1
Why This Ranking: As the Eagles have been taking care of business against obviously over-matched opponents, results have been breaking in their favor throughout Southern California, including surges by both Serra of Gardena and Long Beach Poly. With Serra now having a win over Lompoc and with Poly beating Mission Viejo and St. John Bosco in consecutive weeks, it’s an easy move to jump both Chaminade and Serra closer to the top 10. This is due to Serra owning a win against Poly and Chaminade having a win against Serra from earlier in the season.
Weekend Result: Junior speedster Donovan Lee rushed eight times for 67 yards and two touchdowns, caught a 55-yard scoring pass from Brad Kaaya and had an interception on defense in a 45-7 win against Cathedral of Los Angeles in the CIFSS Western Division semifinals. Kaaya also shined by completing 14 of 16 for 199 yards. With the win, the Eagles advanced to their first CIFSS title game in their 60 years of existence. They had lost in the semifinals in both 2010 and last year.
Up Next: Chaminade will play in the CIFSS Western Division championship Friday at No. 11 Serra of Gardena. It’s a rematch from earlier in the season in the Mission League when the Eagles won 28-20. There aren’t too many teams that can match the speed of Serra’s playmakers, but with Lee, running back Terrell Newby (now with 43 TDs this season) and others, Chaminade does happen to be a team that can.
11. (18) SERRA (GARDENA) 11-2
Why This Ranking: As Long Beach Poly has gotten the upsets, the Cavaliers have to stay in front of the Jackrabbits in our rankings due to their win from earlier in the season. Their only losses are to No. 2 Narbonne and to No. 10 Chaminade and that’s a result that can be avenged this weekend. Serra also has a quality win from earlier in the season against Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks.
Weekend Result: Making head coach Scott Altenberg’s birthday a happy one, the Cavs took down previous No. 17 Lompoc 34-21 in the CIFSS Western Division semifinals. They ended Lompoc’s 32-game win streak (which was the longest in the state) and advanced to their third section title game in the last four years. Junior quarterback Jalen Greene tossed three touchdown passes and rushed for 81 yards on just eight carries. Two of his TD passes went to Darrell Fleury (20, 55 yards) with the other going to big-time junior Adoree Jackson. Malik Roberson, just a soph, had 21 carries for 179 yards and one score.
Up Next: The emotions of trying to avenge an earlier loss can be an advantage, but the Cavaliers also will have to focus on execution if they hope to beat No. 10 Chaminade in this Friday’s CIFSS Western Division championship. Due to strength of schedule and other factors, the winner of that game also will likely advance to the CIF Southern California Division II bowl game.
12. (19) LONG BEACH POLY (LONG BEACH) 10-3
Why This Ranking: It’s tough to rank the Jackrabbits due to their horrid start compared to what they’re doing now. But with wins in the last two weeks over teams that both were No. 4 and both unbeaten on the field, a major bump had to take place. In this position, they’re still behind two of the teams they lost to and primed to move up even more should they beat the next No. 4 team they’re playing, Mater Dei, in this Saturday’s CIFSS Pac-Five final at Anaheim Stadium.
Weekend Result: It was pretty much the same formula Long Beach Poly used to knock off Mission Viejo that worked again in last Friday’s 13-10 triumph against St. John Bosco of Bellflower: play shut down defense and ram the ball down the field with powerful running backs. The defense held the Braves to just 112 yards with the final big play being an interception by John Smith that iced the win in the final minute. Earlier in the fourth quarter, Smith set up the go-ahead touchdown (a one-yard plunge by quarterback Tai Tiedemann) by catching a 34-yard pass from Tiedemann inside the Bosco 5-yard line. Washington State-bound Gerard Wicks led the ground game with 26 carries for 127 yards and one score.
Up Next: The Jackrabbits will be making their first appearance in the CIFSS Pac-Five final since 2008 when they defeated Tesoro of Rancho Santa Margarita. They would later advance to the first CIF Open Division bowl game and lost to Grant of Sacramento. A Mater Dei-Long Beach Poly final in any sport is a spectacle and it should be again. Given their win-loss record, the Jackrabbits might be the underdog but their win over St. John Bosco also was, after all, against a team that beat Mater Dei.