As part of our project to rank the Top 25 or Top 50 greatest high school football teams in California history, here’s some teams to start with from various parts of the state other than the Sac-Joaquin. Comment below on your favorite team ever.
For All-Time Top 10 Greatest SJS Teams and more on criteria, CLICK HERE.
San Francisco Bay Area (CCS/NCS)
The obvious difficult aspect of this region is all of the various unbeaten and No. 1 teams from Concord De La Salle. Since greatest infers possibly being No. 1 in the nation by multiple sources (not just a computer), the seven DLS teams that have been No. 1 in the nation were for 1994, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003.
Some of those 151-game win streak teams, however, did have to play a monster opponent and some did not. Our first inclincation therefore is for DLS 2001 to be its greatest. DLS 2001 featured its best QB ever (Matt Gutierrez) in his senior year, its best RB ever (Maurice Jones-Drew) in his junior year and its best two-way lineman ever (Derek Landri) in his senior year. All three of those players went to the NFL. The Spartans that year also had to beat what is still probably the most physically imposing team we’ve ever seen, Long Beach Poly 2001, which had four future NFL players and six to seven more who were starters at big-time colleges.
Of the most recent DLS teams, 2010 is the one that beat 14-0 Servite by 48-8 in the state bowl game, beat Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas and had one of the school’s top QBs (Bart Houston). This year’s team ranks high for its scoring and rushing but its defense wasn’t on par with some of the others.
For non-DLS teams, Vallejo 1954 definitely will make any all-time state list and probably near the top. The Apaches (9-0) were led by legendary Dick Bass (L.A. Rams) and many other future college standouts. San Jose Bellarmine 1965 (9-0) only allowed one TD and that was a defensive pick six and had a future NFL player (Dan Pastorini). Bellarmine’s 1981 team (12-0) was No. 1 in the state and had one of the best collection of linemen we’ve still ever seen.
You also have include the Pittsburg High team of 1991 that beat De La Salle in the NCS final with Regan Upshaw, Pitt’s unbeaten 1964 team, St. Francis of Mountain View (13-0) for 1983, Berkeley 1957 (8-0).
CIF Central Section
We begin with an old-time team from this section. Bakersfield 1927 was the last CIF state champ until 2006 and went 12-0 with 387-19 scoring advantage. The Drillers won the state final 38-0 over Fullerton. Bakersfield also had several other CIF state title teams in the 1920s.
Our favorite ever seen in person may still be Mt. Whitney of Visalia 1978. The Pioneers (13-0) featured one of the best high school linemen to ever play in California, Don Mosebar (later a long-time pro), along with WR Mike Young (NFL), a QB in Mark McKay who later started at San Diego State and RB Lupe Sanchez (who also played a little in the NFL).
CIF L.A. City/Southern Section
It’s hard to lump these together, but we’re doing this to invite contributions and the two sections back in the 1970s, for example, were more closely matched at the top.
For the L.A. City Section, our own Ronnie Flores already produced an all-time ranking of great teams more than one year ago. In case you missed it, CLICK HERE.
One team not on that list but could be on due to the “greatest” criteria might be Los Angeles for way back in 1898. The Romans beat and tied USC that year and still have the state record for most games played in an unscored on season (10) and also ended up with 15 straight shutouts for another state record that will never be broken.
When St. John Bosco beat De La Salle last season, we wrote that the Braves were perhaps the best team from the region in 20 years since Eisenhower of Rialto (14-0) in 1993. But even though Long Beach Poly 2001 lost to De La Salle in that epic No. 1 vs. No. 2 national matchup, we’d put that Jackrabbits’ squad up there as well.
Other teams from the region that have been unbeaten and No. 1 ranked in the nation have been Fontana 1987 (13-0), Blair of Pasadena 1969 (13-0), Loyola of Los Angeles 1975 (13-0) although we have always had Cordova 1975 higher in our rankings and El Rancho of Pico Rivera 1966 (13-0). Note that we’re counting old San Diego High teams for San Diego even though those teams were CIFSS back then.
We’d also be remiss not to include Mater Dei 1994 and Mater Dei 1996, which were No. 1 by USA Today but No. 2 in our state rankings behind De La Salle. And the Monarchs of 1998 might have been as good as those other two since they knocked off a very good unbeaten Poly team in the final and lost by only one score to DLS in that 1998 game at Anaheim Stadium.
Mission Viejo 2004 also deserves a shout out. The Diablos (14-0) almost forced a tie for the final No. 1 ranking between them and Southlake Carroll of Texas and that was the group that had Mark Sanchez at QB.
CIF San Diego Section
The first place we’ll start from Border Town and its surroundings is up north at Vista where the late legendary coach Dick Haines had some phenomenal bunches. Vista’s 1985 team (13-0) and its 1974 team (13-0) were both No. 1 in the state.
Of course, every year is different and greatest is in the eye of the beholder.
San Diego High had its glory years when it was in the CIF Southern Section, but had some teams that certainly could be called all-time great. The Cavers of 1916 were No. 1 in the state, beat USC’s freshman team and were led by many players who went on to form Cal’s wonder team of 1920. San Diego High also was No. 1 in the state in 1955 at 11-0-1.
If we didn’t mention a team you think should be included, remember this post is just to get the ball rolling. Comment below to tell us why a team should be considered and remember that it’s “greatest” and not “best” teams ever.
Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports
Really cool article, some other SD teams to consider in the relatively recent past could include El Camino (1999, 90-92), Oceanside (1995, 2009, 2002, 2004, 2007, 2008) Morse in the late 1980s, Helix (2001, 2011), Sweetwater in the 70s, Carlsbad in 2006
Please don’t forget about the 1st championship football team out of Dominguez High School in compton, CA 13-1 record every play game was won by 20 or more points including the championship game versus Ayala from chino, ca…. That was the Dominguez high school senior class of 1997.