A 3-7 and a 7-6 team from last year get into the mix among this group of squads. Last season’s two CIF Division III state bowl game participants also are featured.
Congratulations to the following 20 teams, which comprise the third post in a set of three that contains a special 50-deep preseason version of the Cal-Hi Sports Overall Top 25 Football Rankings. Each week, once the season starts, all write-ups, analysis and CIF bowl breakdowns, much like you are seeing below, will be part of the Cal-Hi Sports Gold Club membership. We will continue to provide the Top 25 rankings list and top three teams for each CIF bowl game division (also in a list) to non-members. To join the Gold Club today, CLICK HERE.
Note: Harold Abend, Ronnie Flores and Paul Muyskens contributed to this post. All teams listed with win-loss record from 2012.
31. SERRA (SAN MATEO) 9-3
Why This Ranking: The CCS Open Division semifinalist that lost 17-12 to Bellarmine in that game and 35-34 to the Bells during the regular season is always tough, and although the Padres lost a lot of their offense and are inexperienced at some positions, they still return a solid group of three starters on offense and five on defense, with the strength of the team up front on defense. No one has a tougher schedule than what bright young head coach and De La Salle disciple Patrick Walsh has lined up so don’t be surprised if this team bounces around the rankings a bit.
First Game/Schedule: “Our first game is putting us in the fire right off the start,” said Walsh, whose Padres open September 7 at home against No. 1 De La Salle. After that, it’s a yearly matchup with Encinal (Alameda), and then another faceoff for the second-straight year with Buhach Colony of Atwater, only this year at home. The WCAL opener is with Bellarmine at San Jose City College.
Outlook: One of the biggest positive changes is that Walsh has added two new young staffers that were at Mountain View St. Francis under last season’s coach that he says “will add a breath of fresh air.” Another positive is a defensive line that will be anchored by 6-foot-5, 275-pound Notre Dame-committed Matthew Dickerson. Another player Walsh is very high on is 6-2, 225-pound senior WR/DB Hamilton Anoa’l, who was hurt most of last season but still garnering college interest. Another top returner on the defensive line is Daniel Lavulo.
32. PITTSBURG 8-4
Why This Ranking: It makes sense to put one De La Salle disciple of Bob Ladouceur right behind another, especially with the amount of talent Pirates’ head coach Vic Galli returns. Pittsburg is always loaded with athletes just as the team has been since they were the last Bay Area team to beat De La Salle, and that was back in the 1991 CIF North Coast Section Division 4A title game.
First Game/Schedule: Friday, August 30 at Analy in Sebastopol. Analy should give Pittsburg a good game especially if the Pirates are looking past them to No. 25 California and the annual matchup with Monte Vista in week three.
Outlook: The Pirates have had some key players leave the team but they still have seven key returners and a long list of key newcomers. Those returning are led by RB/DB Harris Ross. The 5-10, 175-pound Ross came on late and only played nine games but still rushed for 911 yards and six touchdowns. Other key returners are on the line, which should be the strength of the team. They include De’Angelo Powell, Larry Serna-Cruz, Jay Oliver, Antonio Baldazo and Rene Cardona. Keith Walker, a 6-3, 190-pound junior, takes over at quarterback.
33. SERVITE (ANAHEIM) 3-7
Why This Ranking: Last year’s record is jarring, but many of the games were close and it’s not like the Friars don’t have a strong track record from 2011, 2010, 2009, etc. Almost the entire offense is back and while the coaching change of Troy Thomas (now at Crespi) to A.J. Gass could be a concern there seems enough talent on-hand so that a top 35 preseason ranking is justified.
First Game/Schedule: Servite might be playing the toughest schedule in the state. The opener is Aug. 30 at nationally ranked Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas. The next four would be preseason No. 6 Long Beach Poly, No. 40 La Mirada, No. 22 Huntington Beach Edison and then No. 1 De La Salle. Then comes the Trinity League after that.
Outlook: BYU-commit Neil Pauu returns to lead the offense at quarterback. Other notable skill players to watch include receiver Tony Brown, running back Andrew Moore and junior receiver Equanimeous St. Brown.
34. HELIX (LA MESA) 9-2*
Why This Ranking: The CIF San Diego Section Division II semifinalist would have possibly been ranked higher if senior QB Josh Harris didn’t transfer to Oceanside after passing for 2,013 yards and 18 touchdowns last season. There is still some strong returning talent and great coaching from Troy Starr and his staff.
First Game/Schedule: The Highlanders will face Punahou of Honolulu, Hawaii in their season opener. They will continue facing out of state teams when they host Northridge of Layton, Utah before their first game against a California team when they host Cathedral Catholic of San Diego.
Outlook: Senior DB/WR Jalen Davis (5-9, 170) was named to the All-San Diego Section second team last season and should be a key part of the secondary. Sophomore DL/TE Forrest Hanlon (6-2, 200) and senior LB Rueben Leasau should be among the key cogs on defense.
35. DEL ORO (LOOMIS) 7-6
Why This Ranking: It was not your typical team that was barely over .500 last season. The Golden Eagles started 0-4 with some tough games before getting hot and then reaching the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division II semifinals where they lost by just three points to Elk Grove.
First Game/Schedule: Opening the season against No. 47 James Logan of Union City at the Battle for Veterans event, it’s quite something when you can say that the easiest game before league season gets going may be the game against Grant of Sacramento. Del Oro travels to play No. 1 De La Salle in Concord later in September.
Outlook: The Golden Eagles are going to have a chance to earn their way much higher in the rankings before Sierra Foothill League play begins. The leading receiver and tackler from last year, senior TE/DE Tyler Meteer (6-4, 190), returns as a key part on both sides of the ball while senior OL/DL Tanner Woods (6-1, 240) had 66 tackles and 10 sacks last season. Transfer Junior Jenkins from Highlands of North Highlands could be one to watch at running back and linebacker.
36. MARIN CATHOLIC (KENTFIELD) 14-2
Why This Ranking: The are some big holes to fill for the team with the second best record in the state to De La Salle since 2010. From all appearances, however, head coach and cancer survivor Mazi Moayed has plugged them well, particularly at quarterback, where first-year starter Morgan Mahalak turned heads at the Nike Elite 11 competition, made the finals, has received an offer he accepted from Oregon, and hasn’t had a varsity start. If Mahalak does what everyone feels he can do, and with a very strong supporting cast, it could very well be a showdown with El Cerrito again for the NCS D3 title and a potential spot in Carson.
First Game/Schedule: The Wildcats open against the same two teams, only this year its Miramonte at home on Aug. 31, and then Catholic school rival and namesake Wildcats of St. Ignatius on the road in San Francisco. If Marin Catholic can get through the first three games unscathed, it should have little trouble once again in the Marin County Athletic League where they’ve gone undefeated the past five seasons.
Outlook: Despite losing Jared Goff, the new starting quarterback at Cal, Moayed feels this may be one of his best well-rounded teams ever. All State selection Andrew Celis will be the main target for Mahalak, but there are others in the offensive arsenal and several quality returners on defense. Anchoring the line will be 6-foot-3, 265-pound Nathan Bozin with help from fellow senior Felix Lemerle. Besides doing the placekicking, Navy-committed lacrosse player Chris Hill will also start at defensive back and see some time as a receiver. Sam Killpack will start at running back and play defensive back as well where last year he had a team high eight interceptions.
37. SANTA MARGARITA (RANCHO SM) 9-3
Why This Ranking: Insiders at the school think it feels like an “8-4 or 9-3” type of season, which may be true, but based on the regular season schedule that’s still a strong enough effort that could merit a final top 25 state ranking.
First Game/Schedule: The first two games will be telling, starting on Aug. 30 at Bishop Amat of La Puente. The next week, national power Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas will come for a home game. Then later on, of course, Santa Margarita will battle St. John Bosco, Mater Dei, Servite and the rest in the Trinity League.
Outlook: There are a lot of holes to fill from last season, but there are five starters back on offense and defense. Transfer Jeremy McNichols, who played at Lakewood last year, is a Utah commit and will provide game-breaking skills on offense. The offensive line will be young, but still big, led by junior Austin Maiken (6-5, 290) and junior Will Sorenson (6-4, 305). On defense, watch for safety Jonathan LaBounty and defensive end Taylor Prenovost.
38. HART (NEWHALL) 8-4
Why This Ranking: Not many teams can say they return the top QB, RB, WR and tackler, but the Indians can as they look to improve on last season that saw them lose in the Southern Section Northern Division quarterfinals.
First Game/Schedule: Heading on the road, the Indians will open the season in Corona taking on Santiago before their toughest non league game of the season on September 6 against No. 12 Chaminade of West Hills.
Outlook: This could be a special season at Hart with junior QB Brady White (6-2, 180) among the conversations as one of the top junior quarterbacks in the state. He passed for 2,575 yards and 23 touchdowns last season and his top target from last season will again be junior Trent Irwin (6-2, 185), who had 53 catches for 1,053 yards and eight touchdowns last season and already has offers from Cal and Colorado. Also returning is senior RB/ATH Connor Wingenroth (5-11, 190), who led the team in rushing, and senior LB Garrett Updegraft (5-11, 205), who led the team in tackles last season. TE Davis Koppenhaver is yet another who is among the best at this position in Southern California.
39. ST. MARY’S (STOCKTON) 9-3
Why This Ranking: There’s a reason that the Rams’ game at home against No. 1 De La Salle was chosen to be on national TV and that’s because of last year’s close game against the Spartans in Concord. A strong group of returning players also are back, including quarterback Kaleb Parrish.
First Game/Schedule: The Rams begin with a trip to Bakersfield on Aug. 30 to meet Stockdale. Before playing De La Salle on Sept. 13, there’s another tough customer to deal with at home against Central Catholic of Modesto.
Outlook: Parrish had a completion percentage of 65 percent as a junior with 2,273 yards and 26 TDs. He will again have a lot of top receivers to work with, led by three-year starter Brian Pascual along with senior Jalen Ratliff. Head coach Tony Franks also is impressed so far with a bigger than usual offensive line, which will include 6-foot-4, 300-pound junior Jonah Ocon.
40. LA MIRADA 9-2
Why This Ranking: There are some big-time talented players from last year’s team coming back and it was a group that went undefeated in the Suburban League before a one point loss in the CIFSS Southeast Division quarterfinals.
First Game/Schedule: La Mirada heads on the road to take on Tesoro of Rancho Santa Margarita in its opener, then returns home to face two teams in our preseason rankings — No. 41 La Habra and No. 33 Servite of Anaheim.
Outlook: Expected to again go undefeated in the Suburban League, the offense will be capable of so much more. Senior RB Adam Carrasco (5-6, 190) rushed for 1,416 yards and 15 touchdowns last season while senior WR Dallis Todd (6-5, 210) was granted another year of eligibility and was our No. 5 WR prospect in the state. Then there’s senior TE/LB Tyler Luatua (6-4, 215), who is the team’s biggest prospect and was an easy choice for us to have as the No. 1 TE prospect in the state. On top of all that is 6-foot-4, 215-pound junior QB Kevin Dillman, who could be one of the top juniors in the state.
41. LA HABRA 8-4
Why This Ranking: Winners of their last 30 league games, the Highlanders haven’t lost a league contest since 2006 so while they may have some questionmarks, it’s a safe bet that they’ll capture a league title and make the postseason.
First Game/Schedule: La Habra will open the season against El Toro of Lake Forest in a game to be held at Trabuco Hills. Before the Freeway League gets underway, the team will go on the road and take on No. 40 La Mirada and they’ll also face No. 11 Mission Viejo.
Outlook: La Habra has been a mainstay in the CIFSS Southwest Division playoffs and should be back this season with three big-time D1 recruits leading the way. OL Toa Lobendahn (6-3, 295) has committed to USC, OL-DL Greg Gaines (6-2, 295) is headed to Boise State and TE/WR Darrell Cloy Jr. (6-4, 225) has verbaled to Arizona. If a bit more depth develops, this could be a really good squad.
42. LUTHER BURBANK (SACRAMENTO) 12-1
Why This Ranking: Winners of their first 12 games last season before losing in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division II semifinals to Oak Ridge of El Dorado Hills, the Titans have enough back to possibly make another run this season.
First Game/Schedule: Burbank starts the season at Napa and then goes on the road to take on No. 21 Pleasant Grove of Elk Grove and Grant of Sacramento. A likely 7-0 season in Metropolitan League play would then probably happen.
Outlook: Senior QB/ATH Ernest Jenkins (6-0, 190) returns after passing for over 900 yards and rushing for over 1,300 yards and 14 touchdowns while also back is Washington State-bound senior RB/CB Calvin Green (5-10, 175), who ran for over 1,100 yards and 12 touchdowns. Last year’s leading tackler, senior DT Ngalu Tapa (6-4, 265), returns while senior DB Kevin Powers (5-11, 205) and senior LB Benjamin Jones (5-11, 200) each had 100 tackles last season.
43. FREEDOM (OAKLEY) 9-3
Why This Ranking: The Falcons get some type of preseason state ranking for the first time in school history, and there are some that feel they could be the best team in the Bay Valley Athletic League. The main reason Freedom has people talking is because of running back Joe Mixon. The top running back prospect in the state and one of the top 10 in the nation has a ton of top-notch offers and has already visited Cal, Oklahoma and Wisconsin. Still, like Freedom learned last year, Mixon can put on a show but to stay with the top teams will take a team effort, and with only 22 players on the current varsity roster that could be a concern.
First Game/Schedule: Friday, August 30 hosting Amador Valley of Pleasanton. The Falcons open with two EBAL teams from Pleasanton, facing Foothill after Amador Valley. Then comes a real test on the road at Granite Bay.
Outlook: The 6-foot-2, 195-pound Mixon will be lining up behind and taking lots of handoffs from 6-1, 180-pound sophomore quarterback Joe Sweeney, who has looked decent this summer. Nine total starters also return, six on defense and three on offense. Standouts include 6-4, 225-pound defensive end Patrick Choudja and wide receiver Aaron Mullins.
44. NORCO 7-5
Why This Ranking: There is still plenty of talent for new head coach Larry Baker to have a great first season despite Todd Gerhart no longer at the helm and his son, QB Coltin Gerhart, now at Vista Murrieta. Perhaps the team will return to the smashmouth style that saw so much success in the middle of the 2000s.
First Game/Schedule: Billed as the “Hall of Fame Game,” the Cougars will open on Sept. 6 against Rancho Cucamonga. They face No. 16 Alemany of Mission Hills in their final non-league game of the season and then the next week they start Big VIII play on the road against No. 2 Centennial of Corona.
Outlook: Early on the season, it’ll likely going to be the defense that is key to Norco starting with four wins before the schedule gets tough. Senior LB Taylor Wille (6-2, 235) had a second best 111 tackles last season while also back is senior LB Jared Emanuele (6-0, 205) and senior DB Gabriel Barton (5-11, 175).
45. CRENSHAW (LOS ANGELES) 11-2
Why This Ranking: The Shaw made what some consider a surprise run to the L.A. City Section Division I final last season. It could happen again despite a small team numbers-wise. It’s a problem coach Robert Garrett has been able to overcome the last two seasons.
First Game/Schedule: Garrett wouldn’t schedule like he has if he didn’t have some players and the makings of a good team. Crenshaw opens up with No. 6 Long Beach Poly and plays three other CIFSS Pac-Five opponents (Loyola, Oaks Christian, St. John Bosco) in addition to Edison of Fresno. It’s sink or swim time for the Shaw.
Outlook: The talent is there, the question is does Crenshaw have the depth to survive its brutal non-league slate? QB Ajene Harris (5-10, 175) makes things go for the offense while LB Corey Walker (5-9, 185) is the sparkplug on defense. Kenneth Davis (5-11, 280) is the best player up front and the running game is in good hands with senior Jacob Knight (5-9, 180) and sophomore Aundre Carter (5-10, 160).
46. VILLA PARK 13-1
Why This Ranking: Other than two losses to Edison of Huntington Beach last season, the Spartans were perfect and they return several players on both sides of the ball, including their quarterback, and should be favored to win the Century League again.
First Game/Schedule: September 6 is the date the Spartans will kick off their season with a game against Valencia of Placentia. Three road games will follow before league play. The final of those non-league games takes place at El Toro of Lake Forest.
Outlook: With a schedule that’s without too many big games that you would circle as must see contests, the Spartans could very well go 9-1 or 10-0 during the regular season. Senior QB Dylan Osborne (5-11, 160) passed for 2, 371 yards and 18 touchdowns last season with senior TE/DE Luis Vecchio (6-1, 190) back after catching a second best 25 catches last season. Vecchio also had 60 tackles and three sacks last year. Punter Jason Sanders also is a returning All-State Underclass pick.
47. JAMES LOGAN (UNION CITY) 12-2
Why this Ranking: No one in the Bay Area lost more offensive firepower than head coach George Zuber lost off his NCS Division I runner-up that was the only team in Northern California to rush for 100 yards against De La Salle in the title game loss. Still, with over 4,000 students, Logan re-loads fast and this group has looked very good at the summer camps and 7-on-7 competition.
First Game/Schedule: Friday, August 30 against No. 35 Del Oro at the Battle for Veterans event. Like De La Salle, the Colts play as an independent. After Del Oro, they face San Leandro and then Danville San Ramon Valley. There’s also a Week 7 matchup against No. 1 De La Salle.
Outlook: The California team the Colts smoked 40-7 in the NCS D1 semifinals is not the same team, and neither is Logan. After the way Zuber’s boys looked over the summer, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see those two fighting it out again to see who meets De La Salle. The top returner is 5-9, 175-pound cornerback and running back Ahki Muhammad, who verballed to Nevada over the summer. Another top returner that will anchor a huge line is 6-3, 300-pound Yoesphe Alebachew. Taking over at quarterback will be Christian Leota. The 6-2, 210-pound junior looked very good over the summer.
48. CITRUS HILL (PERRIS) 14-0
Why This Ranking: Down at this portion of the first 50, it’s hard to not give a nod to a team that was undefeated last season and returns a standout running back like senior P.J. Walker (5-11, 195), who rushed for nearly 2,000 yards and scored 36 touchdowns last season.
First Game/Schedule: The season opener and home opener will be against Poly of Riverside on August 30. The rest of Citrus Hill’s schedule doesn’t include a team that is in our preseason Top 50 state rankings.
Outlook: A game plan of hand the ball to San Diego State-committed Walker, our No. 13 ranked RB prospect in the state, might be more than good enough to have the Hawks running towards another undefeated season. Key returners on defense include senior OLB Chris Schumm (5-11, 190) and senior OLB Zach Kupka (5-11, 195).
49. MADISON (SAN DIEGO) 14-1
Why This Ranking: The Warhawks are the defending CIF Division III state bowl champs and could be as high as No. 3 overall for the preseason in the San Diego Section. They return 11 starters, including all-state sophomore quarterback/running back Kareem Coles.
First Game/Schedule: The opener will be Aug. 30 at San Diego Lincoln. The one non-league matchup to watch takes place on Sept. 20 against defending San Diego Division I champion Eastlake of Chula Vista.
Outlook: Coles passed for more than 1,800 yards and 24 TDs last season and rushed for another 960 more plus six scores. While running back Pierre Cormier will be greatly missed (now at Arizona), returnee Michael Garner is a home-run hitter and is getting college offers. The line should be in good shape as well with twins Sam and Jake Vermillion (both more than 260 pounds) as anchors.
50. CARDINAL NEWMAN (SANTA ROSA) 11-2
Why this Ranking: Any team coached by Paul Cronin has to be considered a legitimate Top 50 contender, so despite losing some key players on both sides of the ball, the Cardinals, with Elite 11 standout Keaton Dunsford at quarterback, snag the final spot.
First Game/Schedule: Friday, August 30 at Modesto Christian in Modesto. The game against Modesto Christian won’t really help Newman in the playoff power rankings, nor will Week 1 against Novato at home. What it will do is prepare them for the Week 2 showdown at home with No. 27 El Cerrito.
Outlook: As has been the case the past few seasons, the Cardinals will be fighting it out with No. 36 Marin Catholic for Redwood Empire supremacy. Last season, in a game they could have won, they lost 42-37 in the NCS Division III semifinals. This season could be more of the same. Besides the 6-foot-3, 215-pound signal-caller Dunsford, other top returners include Will Andrews, who will anchor the line. Kevin Lucey will be the top wide receiver and anchor the secondary, and Sam Wolfe will be key as both an offensive and defensive lineman.
TEAMS THAT JUST MISSED
Cathedral Catholic (San Diego) 9-2*
Central Catholic (Modesto) 14-2
Charter Oak (Covina) 10-2
Edison (Fresno) 9-4
Grant (Sacramento) 5-6
Rancho Verde (Moreno Valley) 10-4
Stagg (Stockton) 9-2
Valley Christian (San Jose) 7-6