We’ve changed our ticker at the top the site to reflect an early preseason state top 10 for the 2018 football season. These could change when the preseason State Top 50 package is released early next month based on additional transfers and additional information plus reports of what some of the more local preseason rankers are thinking.
1. Mater Dei
At the end of 2018, Bosco’s returning talent looked a lot better and it may still be, but the early season schedule with MD playing Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas on Aug 24 and then IMG Academy in September makes it obvious to start last year’s No. 1 team in the state and nation in the same spot.
2. St. John Bosco
The Braves don’t play anyone early on close to Bishop Gorman or IMG, but would move to No. 1 if Mater Dei were to lose either of those games. Then the winner of the first MD-Bosco game would be No. 1 and then the winner of the second game (again likely in the CIFSS D1 final) would be No. 1 and likely No. 1 at the end of the CIF Open Division state final.
3. De La Salle
This program’s long reign atop Northern California will be seriously challenged by Folsom when the two meet in a monster season opener on Aug. 17. This year’s team should be better than the last two, but also again probably not that close to either of the big two down south.
Many will look at the lineup of those coming back for the Bulldogs and will pick them to beat De La Salle. The offense in some areas (receivers, running back) should be even better than they were in 2014 and while QB Kaden Bennett isn’t quite like Jake Browning he’s very, very effective. Still, for Folsom to be ranked ahead of De La Salle, that will require beating De La Salle.
5. Centennial (Corona)
The Huskies may be closer to the next group of top teams in Southern California than they’ve been to MD and Bosco in recent years, but you never know what head coach Matt Logan may come up with. Early schedule is brutal with games vs. Orange Lutheran, Pitt and Narbonne.
6. Lutheran (Orange)
WR Kyle Ford was one of the best players at last week’s The Opening held at the Dallas Cowboys’ training facility. QB Ryan Hilinski and many others also are back. A big early season win at OCC over Centennial could prove a lot.
7. Oaks Christian (Westlake Village)
This team won the CIFSS D2 title last year, then lost to Helix in CIF D1AA bowl game. Great returning talent, led by DE Kayvon Thibodeaux and RB Zach Charbonnet, but also moving up to CIFSS D1 with MD and Bosco.
8. Narbonne (Harbor City)
Both the Gauchos and Pittsburg, last year’s two CIF D1A state finalists, look loaded but Narbonne won that game and will start out 2018 higher. There’s a lot of graduated talent to replace, but the line is loaded (led by OL Jonah Tauanu’u) and newcomers may fit it nicely at RB and QB.
The Pirates definitely will challenge DLS in the NCS. QB Trey Turner’s return from knee surgery is the key. If it goes well, last year’s QB (Justin Boyd) can go back to WR. DT Jacob Bandes also one of best in nation at his position.
10. Mission Viejo
Summer 7-on-7 stuff doesn’t count for that much, but MV beating Bosco at the Battle of the Beach last weekend shows that new head coach Chad Johnson (former Bosco offensive coordinator) will keep the Diablos near the top of SoCal. It’ll help he has a returning QB and some other solid skill players back.
Central of Fresno was the best in the Central Section last year and should start out on top there again with QB Trent Tompkins among the returnees. It’s more up in the air in San Diego as Helix has a lot to replace but teams with a lot of returning talent (like Madison & Cathedral Catholic) really didn’t do enough last year to be that high in the preseason. In the CCS, St. Francis of Mountain View has RB Darrell Page, DE Josh Pakola and probably best overall group of returnees. Also can never count out the talent at Gardena Serra. In CIFSS, Upland wasn’t moved to D1 from D2 and therefore looks to be a big favorite in that division and also to win a state title (unless it has to play De La Salle).