As the preseason football coverage on CalHiSports.com continues to build (even though we’re still working on end-of-school-year honors for 2017-18), here’s some of the most pressing questions we see as the 2018 football season across the state is about to begin. It’s about transfers, competitive equity, the rich getting richer and which players may be the ones who are in the strongest positions to land the highest honors when it’s all said and done.
Note: We hope you enjoy this free post on CalHiSports.com. We will be starting our annual preseason all-section and all-area teams as our way of touring the entire state within the next week and all of those preseason teams will be for Gold Club members only. Plus, we also have updated player rankings for the Class of 2019 and some updated all-time state football record lists that will be Gold Club only. The actual preseason State Top 50 team rankings will be free, but all regular season rankings after that will be Gold Club. To sign up today and still for just $9.99 for three months, CLICK HERE.
What will be the biggest impacts of starting the season one week earlier?
Asking this question after the recent heat wave in Southern California (and we know there will be one similar coming up in the north because there always is) and the answer is obvious. That’s the extra week of practice in August for all teams who are playing their first games on August 17.
Almost all coaches in the state already have a lot of experience dealing with practicing in August heat, but it is getting hotter and hotter every year (that’s not politics but facts) and coaches are going to have to get creative in finding ways to beat the heat and getting their teams ready to play.
Can anything be done by the CIF to halt the wave upon wave of transfers that seem to mostly be heading to the same few schools?
Of course, we’re talking about Mater Dei (Santa Ana) and St. John Bosco (Bellflower) but those two aren’t alone. At least we can be glad that in California we have two super powers that are basically in an arms race and therefore aren’t going to dominate each other. We’re not like Nevada with one super power that just completely slaughters everybody else.
The CIF really can’t do much to tell parents not to move and to prevent them from sending their kids to whatever school they choose. It just may be a case of letting the marketplace play itself out. At what point does a kid and a parent decide that being a star player and staying with friends at the school they’ve grown up with is preferable to moving someplace else and being much, much lower on the totem pole? And college coaches don’t care one way or the other. Perhaps even more schools also will become as active as Mater Dei and St. John Bosco in getting transfers, which would tend to spread it around a bit more. It’s certainly not there yet.
What will happen with the CIF moving its top five state football bowl game championships from Sacramento State to Cerritos College?
Sac State was fine, but the locals showed little interest in coming out to watch Mater Dei, St. John Bosco or De La Salle and with the Open Division now back in the south the CIF should have bigger crowds just for the simple reason it’ll be a lot easier for the thousands of Mater Dei or St. John Bosco followers to attend.
When the games previously were at the Stub Hub Center in Carson, the CIF hadn’t yet started its 13-division system so moving it back to SoCal and away from NorCal changes the protocol over which teams will host state finals in those lower divisions. Instead of the SoCal team hosting (like Vincent Memorial of Calexico, Orange and Southwest of El Centro last year), the NorCal team would be hosting. The long road trips like St. Bernard’s of Eureka to Saddleback Valley Christian of San Juan Capistrano would now be made by the SoCal team having to go north.
How did competitive equity seeding work in last year’s CIF state bowl games and what changes are in store?
With only section champions still involved in the football playoffs, the differences aren’t that great and the seedings were somewhat predictable. We thought the CIF might look at horrific travel more closely but didn’t hesitate in sending teams on 500-mile trips or longer.
With much of the north still not doing competitive equity playoff seeding at the section level and with the CIF Southern Section trying to tweak its system further, the day is going to come real soon when we’ll have a school with 3,000 students or more from the CIFSS playing in a lower division CIF state final against a school from the north with 400 or fewer. Large public high schools being able to play in the absolute lowest divisions is the worst part about competitive equity because it makes it harder and harder for those traditional small town teams we’ve covered for so many years to have a chance.
Who are the top early preseason contenders to be 2018 Mr. Football State Player of the Year?
You have to look at the quarterbacks of the top two projected teams first and that would be Bryce Young of Mater Dei, the junior transfer from Cathedral of Los Angeles, and returning junior D.J. Uigalelei of St. John Bosco. Uigalelei is the returning State Sophomore of the Year and is getting national attention similar to when last year’s Mr. Football, J.T. Daniels, was coming into his second season with the Monarchs.
Since Mr. Football is not position-specific, many past winners have been two-way talents. Mater Dei has one of those too with Bru McCoy, but whether he’ll be able to pile up the necessary statistics for the absolute highest honors on the prep level could be difficult. De La Salle has one of its top two-way players ever in Henry To’oto’o. He has an All-American skill-set at linebacker and could be the team’s leading running back. For the Spartans to become really great, though, other running backs probably are going to have to star so Henry doesn’t get too worn down.
At Folsom, we picked WR-DB-KR Joe Ngata as State Junior of the Year and believe he is underrated as a national recruit. Regardless, Ngata could see a lot of double-teams this season so the Folsom QB, Kaiden Bennett, may be the one at the end with the most impressive stats.
Pretty much everyone in the state is rooting for Ryan Hilinski of Orange Lutheran to have a Mr. Football type season in light of what happened to his family in the spring (brother Tyler committed suicide) but having to play both MD and Bosco in league will make that tough.
Finally, can’t forget either QB Jayden Daniels of San Bernardino Cajon and DE Kayvon Thibodeaux of Oaks Christian. Daniels passed for 5,139 yards and 62 TDs (with more than 8,000 yards and 79 TDs with rushing added in) as a junior and another year like that or better makes him a contender. As for Thibodeaux, he’s still the consensus No. 1 recruit in the state among seniors. For him to be Mr. Football probably requires him to pile up even more sacks than before and add even more catches and touchdowns as a tight end or goal-line rusher on offense.