This massive package was first done one year ago with 50 teams. We have now updated it with teams from the 2015 season and 2016 but didn’t cut any teams out. Since Corona Centennial and St. John Bosco played in one of the most historic CIF Southern Section finals ever in 2015, last year’s teams will be higher in the all-time rankings than this year (at least for now). Go inside here for intro/criteria and links to all five Gold Club posts for writeups celebrating each of these all-time great teams.
Note: All of the writeups, grid logs, photos and more for all of these teams are for our Gold Club members only. If you’ve thought about joining, just going through this attempt at ranking the greatest football teams in state history may be worth it just by itself. For details, CLICK HERE.
FOR TEAMS RANKED FROM NO. 1 TO NO. 10 (GOLD CLUB), CLICK HERE.
FOR TEAMS RANKED FROM NO. 11 TO NO. 20 (GOLD CLUB), CLICK HERE.
FOR TEAMS RANKED FROM NO. 21 TO NO. 30 (GOLD CLUB), CLICK HERE.
FOR TEAMS RANKED FROM NO. 31 TO NO. 40 (GOLD CLUB), CLICK HERE.
FOR TEAMS RANKED FROM NO. 41 TO NO. 55 (GOLD CLUB), CLICK HERE.
Before beginning to go through these 55 trips down memory lane, this is not a ranking of the 55 “best” teams in state history because obviously many teams from 50, 60, 90 years ago wouldn’t be able to step on the same field with some of the super-fast, super-sized squads of modern times.
Greatness is about historical context, it’s about being that much better than one’s contemporary competition and it’s about being No. 1 in the state and No. 1 in the nation, which in most years in California was mythical and not determined on the field. It’s still purely mythical nationally.
Arguing about which teams deserve to be ranked higher and which teams have been missed is the point of such a task. It’s expected and kind of fun.
For these all-time state rankings, which also have previously been done in baseball, we are not going to go against our own published state rankings for a given season. Other than one exception, if a team was not No. 1 in the final Cal-Hi Sports rankings it wasn’t going to be ranked in this package in front of the team that was ranked higher for that season.
Secondly, finishing No. 1 in a credible national ranking also was used as a barometer to measure a team’s greatness. We also were looking for historical achievements plus we received input from several individuals, particularly managing editor Ronnie Flores, who previously compiled an all-time ranking of top teams for the L.A. City Section, along with Bob Barnett (CIF Central Section historian), Bruce McIntosh (legendary football scores compiler) and the duo of Steve Brand and Rick Smith of San Diego. Bruce’s scores of each team also was available to us for usage and we decided to include them all.
After initially doing this feature before the 2015 CIF state championships, we have updated it again after the 2016 CIF state championships. We did move a few teams around as well, but no new teams in the top 25. The trickiest part is how to handle all of the teams from Concord De La Salle. This year’s team that went 11-2 and lost to St. John Bosco 55-33 in the CIF Open Division state final doesn’t make it, but last year’s team that knocked off a 14-0 Corona Centennial team 28-21 in the same game certainly does.
In expanding the list to 55, that also made it possible not to cut any teams from last year’s package while adding both this year’s team at St. John Bosco and the team that the Braves beat in the CIFSS D1 final from Mater Dei of Santa Ana into the mix.
In addition, Ronnie was invaluable for providing some of the writeups and was consulted several times as the actual rankings were being done. We also spoke to several De La Salle Athletic Hall of Fame board members about that school’s teams that should be highest in these rankings.
We didn’t speak to them but found work from the following to be very helpful in this endeavor: Doug Huff (founder National Prep Poll and Student Sports/ESPN FAB 50), Mike Guardabascio (Long Beach Press-Telegram), Eric Sondheimer (L.A. Times), Joe Davidson (Sacramento Bee) and Pat Jacobs (Los Angeles Loyola).
Finally, of course, nothing we’ve ever done, including this project and the Cal-Hi Sports State Record Book & Almanac, would be possible without all the research that was done for so many years by our founder, the late Nelson Tennis (1936-2004).
Here is an alphabetical list of the 55 teams we’ve decided to include in this feature:
Banning (Wilmington) 1980
Bellarmine (San Jose) 1965
Bellarmine (San Jose) 1981
Bishop Amat (La Puente) 1971
Bishop Amat (La Puente) 1992
Bishop Amat (La Puente) 1994
Blair (Pasadena) 1969
Bonita (La Verne) 1942
Centennial (Corona) 2008
Centennial (Corona) 2015
Cordova (Rancho Cordova) 1975
De La Salle (Concord) 1992
De La Salle (Concord) 1994
De La Salle (Concord) 1998
De La Salle (Concord) 1999
De La Salle (Concord) 2001
De La Salle (Concord) 2003
De La Salle (Concord) 2010
De La Salle (Concord) 2014
De La Salle (Concord) 2015
Eisenhower (Rialto) 1993
Elk Grove 1998
El Rancho (Pico Rivera) 1966
El Toro (Lake Forest) 1986
Grant (Sacramento) 2008
Long Beach Poly (Long Beach) 1919
Long Beach Poly (Long Beach) 1959
Long Beach Poly (Long Beach) 2001
Loyola (Los Angeles) 1975
Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 1998
Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 1994
Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 1996
Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 2016
Mission Viejo 2004
Morse (San Diego) 1990
Mt. Whitney (Visalia) 1978
Oaks Christian (Westlake Village) 2006
San Fernando 1974
San Diego 1916
San Diego 1955
Servite (Anaheim) 1982
St. Bonaventure (Ventura) 2005
St. John Bosco (Bellflower) 2013
St. John Bosco (Bellflower) 2016