ESPN’s decision announced on Tuesday to move Friday’s game in Las Vegas from ESPNU to a more attractive slot on ESPN reflects the No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup in some national rankings. How big the game is, however, depends just as much about what happens to the Braves afterward than it does about what happens on Friday.
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From our four years of doing FAB 50 national rankings as part of ESPN and the defunct ESPNHS, setting up No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchups became almost a science and was encouraged by all involved.
When this year’s game between California defending Open Division state champion St. John Bosco of Bellflower and Nevada powerhouse Bishop Gorman appeared on the schedule for Friday, Sept. 26, it was therefore not a shock that it became a No. 1 vs. No. 2 and once it did that it would get moved from ESPNU to ESPN.
Are these truly the top two teams in the nation? We did national rankings for longer than anyone — other than Doug Huff of West Virginia and Dave Krider of Indiana — and no one really knows for sure. We can only say that there is enough evidence based on actual results that Florida teams should be given benefit of the doubt.St. John Bosco didn’t have much of a chance of losing prior to Friday’s game even though the Braves played two fairly decent out-of-state programs – St. Louis of Honolulu (Hawaii) and Central Catholic of Portland (Oregon). We haven’t seen them in person yet this season, but some who have basically have said they are as potent as ever on offense – with UCLA-commit Josh Rosen at QB and junior speedster Sean McGrew at RB – but not as strong on defense.
Bishop Gorman, on the other hand, has had to scrape by in two close games in order to set up Friday’s matchup. The first was 23-20 over Bingham of Utah while the second was 43-42 to Centennial of Corona, Calif. Against Centennial, the Huskies led 42-28 in the fourth quarter and lost on a late TD, a late two-point conversion and then fumbled away their chance for the win. Two of Gorman’s top players have been sophomores Tate Martell (a quarterback) and Tyjon Lindsay (a running back), who both transferred in from Poway near San Diego.
Because Nevada is such a small state and Bishop Gorman has the goal of winning national rankings championships, the only way that can happen is for the Gaels to schedule as many top teams as possible from outside the state.
St. John Bosco joins Servite of Anaheim, Centennial and Santa Margarita as CIF Southern Section Pac-Five Division squads to play Bishop Gorman this season.
For Gorman to have a realistic chance of being a consensus national rankings champ, however, just beating the Braves on Friday is not going to be enough.
The key will be for the Gaels to become huge fans of St. John Bosco afterward and hope that the Braves can once again win the CIF Open Division state bowl game, preferably with no other losses on its record.
There are other scenarios as well that might not favor Bishop Gorman even if it was to win on Friday. What if Mater Dei of Santa Ana, for example, which already has a more impressive win over Corona Centennial this year than the Gaels, were to end up beating St. John Bosco as well and also were to win the CIF Open Division state bowl game?
And one California team that Bishop Gorman head coach Tony Sanchez (formerly from California of San Ramon) knows all too well also could end up with a stronger No. 1 national argument.
That would be De La Salle of Concord. The Spartans play Servite this week and if they win stand a very good chance of being unbeaten heading into the CIF Open Division state bowl game. A DLS win in that game (possibly over Bosco) also would give the program five state titles in six years not to mention a fairly easy win over Bishop Gorman in the only matchup when the two schools played in 2010.
Since we’re only doing California football coverage this year as opposed to national, we can openly root for the Braves to beat the Gaels on Friday. Bosco probably would be a favorite, too, except that Bishop Gorman has traditionally played the Southern California schools very strongly at home.
If you’re from the CIF state office or a fan of California high school football in general, the best case scenario is for Bosco to win on Friday followed by De La Salle beating Servite on Saturday. It then wouldn’t matter much which team comes out of the CIFSS Pac-Five Division as long as that team was undefeated and then playing an unbeaten DLS team for all the marbles. Now that would perhaps truly be a No. 1 vs. No. 2 national matchup.
Wins by both Bosco and Servite this weekend might not be great for the State CIF but would be even better for the CIF Southern Section. The Pac-Five and Trinity League races would only get even more insane than they already shape up to be.
Folsom actually may be just as good as all of these teams, too. With no NorCal Open Division game this year, however, it’s hard to envision the CIF choosing the Bulldogs over the Spartans to play in the Open Division state game if both are unbeaten. Too many people saw what happened in the NorCal game the last two seasons. We assume the Folsom players would love to be able to take another crack at DLS but when they are celebrating on that Friday night in Carson at 16-0 with a CIF D1 title in hand and with a quarterback (Jake Browning) who has just finished the season with more than 100 touchdown passes, we think they will be satisfied.