More State Schools of the Year

The Buchanan of Clovis wrestling team won CIF section & state titles in helping school to best in state boys honor while Great Oak of Temecula's girls runners, led by Destiny Collins in front, helped their school earn its first state school of year nod. Photos: &

The Buchanan of Clovis wrestling team won CIF section & state titles in helping school to best in state boys honor while Great Oak of Temecula’s girls runners, led by Destiny Collins in front, helped their school earn its first state school of year nod. Photos: &

Baseball and wrestling No. 1 finishes spark Buchanan of Clovis to School of the Year choice for boys sports only. Great Oak of Temecula, meanwhile, gains the nod for girls sports only. Other schools gaining overall statewide sports excellence accolades for 2015-16 include Mira Costa of Manhattan Beach (D2), Cathedral Catholic of San Diego (D3), Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth (D4) and St. Joseph Notre Dame of Alameda (D5). Seven more schools also are honored with special mentions and writeups to salute top players and coaches.

For announcement of overall State School of the Year, CLICK HERE.

For honorable mention State Schools of the Year, CLICK HERE.


Congratulations to the following schools for collecting a statewide all-sports honor for the 2015-16 school year (please note that for our criteria we are going to favor schools that have been in our state rankings for football, boys basketball, girls basketball, baseball & softball plus schools that have won CIF state titles or have placed high in CIF state meets):

Boys Sports Only:
Buchanan (Clovis)

Most of the highest state-ranked teams for the Bears during the 2015-16 school year came on the boys side so while they were edged out for the overall State School of the Year honor by Torrey Pines they did come out on top for boys sports.
Buchanan logo
Just like Torrey Pines being first overall, it was extremely close for boys sports only. The difference for Buchanan is that it was No. 1 in both baseball and wrestling. Neither Loyola of Los Angeles or De La Salle of Concord (last year’s winner) could match with two No. 1 teams, although Loyola’s depth was arguably better.

Buchanan also was fifth in boys team scoring at the CIF state track meet, which is held at its on-campus Veterans Memorial Stadium. The Bears also went 33-4 in volleyball (top 10 in state) and were 20-2-7 in soccer.

Loyola’s No. 1 team for the state came in soccer. The Cubs also would have been No. 1 in volleyball but lost in the CIF SoCal Division I title match to Mira Costa of Manhattan Beach, which was a team they beat in the CIF Southern Section finals. Loyola, which won the CIFSS Commissioners Cup this year for an unprecedented eighth time, also had top teams in the CIFSS for swimming and diving along with lacrosse.

De La Salle’s No. 1 team for the state, of course, was in football. The Spartans also were fifth in the final overall state rankings in basketball after they lost to Chino Hills in the CIF Open Division state final. Then they wrapped up a NorCal No. 1 sweep (not counting the Central Section as from the north) in football-basketball-baseball by winning the CIF North Coast Section title in baseball and ending No. 2 in the final state rankings behind only Buchanan.

Girls Sports Only:
Great Oak (Temecula)

This category has been the domain of San Jose Archbishop Mitty in recent years but this time the Monarchs couldn’t make it three girls sports State School of the Year selections in a row.
Great-Oak logo
Although Mitty added another CIF state title and No. 1 state finish in girls volleyball and was No. 5 in the final state rankings in girls hoops, the Monarchs weren’t quite as strong looking at the entire picture.

That gave both Great Oak and Torrey Pines the ability to go ahead. Sure, we could have listed Torrey Pines for this category as well, but wanted to get Great Oak some deserved recognition for the first time.

The Wolfpack were able to capture this honor led by HS GameTime Girls Athlete of the Year Destiny Collins. Headed to Texas, she raced to the CIF individual cross country championship for D1 while her team captured the team title for the fourth year in a row. Great Oak also finished tied for third in team standings at the CIF state track meet.

Led by Autumn Storms, the Wolfpack also went 17-7 in softball with a high state ranking that mostly was due to being the only team to get a win over No. 3 in the state Grand Terrace.

Another girls team to shine for Great Oak was in volleyball where head coach Mark Motluck guided the girls to a 26-4 record and a Southwestern League championship.

Great Oak boys’ teams weren’t figured into the mix, but not to be missed is that the boys cross country team also won the CIF D1 state title and that the boys also were second in the CIF team standings at the state track meet.

Division II:
Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach)

Locals will find it funny that this choice actually came down to the Mustangs and their arch-rivals from Redondo Union (Redondo Beach).

The strength of Costa’s case is having won the CIF girls golf state team title and also finishing No. 1 in the state and nation in boys volleyball after the Mustangs beat Loyola in the CIF SoCal D1 final.

Another highlight of the year for the Mustangs was winning the Boras Classic baseball state tourney title. Although the baseball team later was upset in its first CIFSS playoff game, it did beat Redondo once and finished 22-7. Mira Costa also was fifth in the CIF D2 boys cross country race, placed ninth in D1 girls cross country and went 23-10 in girls basketball.

This is Mira Costa’s first-ever State School of the Year, a fact we had to check several times because it’s not as if the Mustangs have never been near the top of the state before in sports like girls volleyball, boys volleyball and more.

Brandon McCoy had a breakout boys hoops season for Cathedral Catholic and will be one of nation's top seniors next year. Photo: Ronnie Flores.

Brandon McCoy had a breakout boys hoops season for Cathedral Catholic and will be one of nation’s top seniors next year. Photo: Ronnie Flores.

Division III:
Cathedral Catholic (San Diego)

If there was a rival to State School of the Year Torrey Pines in the CIF San Diego Section, then Cathedral Catholic would have to be the pick.

The Dons also did enough with six CIFSDS titles plus great depth across the board in landing their fourth D3 State School of the Year crown. They were previously the winner in this division for the 2012-13, 2009-10 and 2007-08 school years. When the school was known as University of San Diego, it was tops in the state for medium schools in 1994-95.

Winning the CIF SoCal D2 title in girls soccer and collecting the CIF San Diego Section Open Division baseball title under State Coach of the Year Gary Remiker were two leading highlights of the year. State Junior of the Year Brandon McCoy also shined when the Dons beat nationally ranked Sierra Canyon in the CIF SoCal Open Division boys basketball playoffs. The school also placed seventh in the boys and fifth in the girls in the CIF D3 cross country state finals. In addition, Cathedral Catholic went 25-5-1 in softball.

Division IV:
Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth)

This may be the last time that Sierra Canyon can be considered D4 in anything with the new CIF Southern Section competitive equity-based playoff divisions coming online for 2016-17, but for 2015-16 the Trailblazers can be D4 and they’re School of the Year

Kicking off a successful school year, the Sierra Canyon football team won its first 14 games of the season before a heartbreaking 36-35 loss to San Marino in the CIF State Small Schools Open Division SoCal Regional. While the football team was making noise outside, the girls volleyball team was making some noise inside the gym as they went 24-6.

Both Sierra Canyon basketball teams had hopes of an open division state championship following CIF divisional state crowns from the year before. The girls made the CIFSS Open Division semifinals and finished ranked No. 15 in the state while the boys lost in the CIFSS Open Division championship game to Chino Hills and finished the year at No. 4 in our state rankings.

Concluding the school year, Sierra Canyon then went 20-11 in softball and reached the CIFSS Division VI semifinals.

This is the first time that the Trailblazers are going into the state record files as a state school of the year.

St. Joseph Notre Dame head coach Don Lippi gets a hug moments after his team won CIF Division V state crown. Photo: Mark Tennis.

St. Joseph Notre Dame head coach Don Lippi gets a hug moments after his team won CIF Division V state crown. Photo: Mark Tennis.

Division V:
St. Joseph Notre Dame (Alameda)

Winning the tip for this honor in a close call over Flintridge Prep of La Canada is the Pilots, who once again captured a boys’ basketball D5 state championship under legendary head coach Don Lippi. The 55-50 win over St. Bernard’s of Playa del Rey also enabled the Pilots to capture their sixth state title in program history.

At the same time, the girls’ basketball team also had a deep postseason run when it reached the CIF NorCal Division V championship game before having the season end with a loss to eventual champion Eastside College Prep.

While St. Joe didn’t take home the final D5 No. 1 state ranking in baseball, the Pilots did finish No. 2 in our divisional rankings after going 25-5 and winning the CIF NCS Division V section championship with a dominating 10-1 win over College Prep of Oakland.

Other teams to help St. Joe earn this honor include the softball team (went 14-10 and finished No. 9 in the D5 state rankings), the girls cross country team (second place in D5 at state meet) and the boys cross country team (13th in D5 at state meet).

Flintridge Prep swept both the boys and girls D5 titles at the CIF state cross country finals and was outstanding in boys basketball, girls basketball and baseball.

This is the third time in four years that St. Joseph Notre Dame has captured the D5 State School of the Year honor. Before that, the Pilots had not been selected before.

(Note: Schools of Distinction listed in alphabetical order)

School of Distinction:
Bellarmine (San Jose)

Kicking off an incredible school year, the Bells’ football team led by State Coach of the Year Mike Janda went 13-2 and captured the CIF Division I-AA NorCal championship with a road win over Folsom before losing to Mission Viejo in the state bowl game. Also capturing a NorCal championship was their boys volleyball team as senior captain Jacques Abi-Hanna led the attack during a CIF NorCal Division I championship season. Other teams to stand out included the golf team finishing tied for third in the CIF state tournament, boys swimming which finished sixth and the Bells’ boys cross country team that finished in sixth place in the CIF D1 race.

Boss Tagaloa helped De La Salle win its sixth CIF Open Division state title in seven year. Photo: Harold Abend.

Boss Tagaloa helped De La Salle win its sixth CIF Open Division state title in seven year. Photo: Harold Abend.

School of Distinction:
Brea Olinda (Brea)

While they may not have the depth like some of the other schools, the Wildcats did collect two CIF state championships and that’s always worthy of praise. Brea’s state titles came in girls basketball and boys cross country. Led by veteran head coach Jeff Sink, the Wildcats won the CIF Division I state final on the court over St. Francis of Sacramento. Running their way to a respectable seventh place in the CIF Division III state cross country meet on the girls side, it was the Brea boys that did even better by capturing the D3 state cross country championship. Austin Tamagno also was named by OC Varsity as its cross country athlete of the year since it was the Wildcats’ second straight state title.

School of Distinction:
De La Salle (Concord)

If it’s any consolation, the Spartans would still be our NorCal School of the Year counting the Central Section for the south. Their football-basketball-baseball sweep also was bolstered with a fifth-place showing in the CIF state golf tournament and a ninth-place showing in the CIF state wrestling championships. While DLS arguably has never done better in the big three sports, the Spartans have done better in some of the other sports and this time there were other schools, including Torrey Pines, Buchanan and Loyola, who all may have had their best years ever.

School of Distinction:
La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad)

Last year’s Division II state school of the year came up short of repeating for that honor but did have a solid school year. In the fall, the LCC girls cross country team finished second and the boys finished fourth in the Division III state meet. Despite coming up short for a CIF San Diego Section Open Division championship, the baseball team captured the Avocado West League title and had one of its players, outfielder Mickey Moniak, selected as the first pick in the MLB Draft. The Mavericks also reached the CIF Southern California Division II regional semifinals in boys soccer while their girls volleyball team went undefeated in Avocado West League play and won the CIF San Diego Section Division I championship (Torrey Pines was in the Open Division).

Members of Loyola's soccer team celebrate after they won CIF Division Southern California. Photo:

Members of Loyola’s soccer team celebrate after they won CIF Division Southern California. Photo:

School of Distinction:
Loyola (Los Angeles)

Not only did the Cubs win this year’s Commissioner’s Cup in the CIF Southern Section for the eighth time, but they also won it by 10 points in that section’s scoring formula. As previously mentioned, Loyola had high state placings in soccer (first), volleyball (second) plus swimming/diving and lacrosse. The Cubs also won a CIF state title for D2 cross country and reached the CIFSS D1 semifinals in water polo.

School of Distinction:
Mater Dei (Santa Ana)

Softball led the way for the Monarchs this time when they won the CIFSS Division I championship and finished at No. 2 in our final state rankings. While they may not get the attention that some of the school’s bigger sports get, their boys water polo team was once again one of the top teams in the state and nation led by attacker Thomas Dunstan, who was selected to play with the U.S. Olympic Team in the upcoming Olympics. Playing in the Trinity League, Mater Dei’s football team went 10-3 and advanced to the CIFSS Pac 5 semifinals before losing by six points to the eventual section champion Centennial of Corona. Both of their basketball teams won 27 games, but neither one was satisfied and there’s a good chance both will be at or near the top of the state once again next season. In fact, the 2016-17 year shapes up like it might be one of the best yet for MD and this is a school that was State School of the Year for 2012-13 and 2013-2014.

School of Distinction:
Redondo Union (Redondo Beach)

While the Sea Hawks’ football team had a nice 10-3 season that included two postseasons wins it was the school’s girls volleyball team that made the biggest impact to start the season when it won 37 games and captured the CIF Division I state championship led by Daily Breeze co-players of the year Megan Rice and Norene Iosia. Led by our Medium Schools Baseball Player of the Year Sean Reynolds, Redondo later won the CIFSS Division III championship to conclude the school year. At the same time as baseball was winning a section title, the softball team also reached the CIFSS Division III championship game and earlier in the school year both of the basketball teams had solid seasons, including the boys who reached the CIFSS SoCal Division I championship game before losing in overtime to eventual champion Crespi of Encino.

Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of He can be reached at Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports

Enjoy this article?

Find out how you can get access to more exclusive content, one-of-a-kind California high school sports content!

Learn More

One Comment

  1. Dwight Fisher
    Posted August 22, 2016 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    SJND also have the top div ll girls tennis players. Winning both singles and doubles. First time in school history.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


    Latest News

    Insider Blog