More State Schools of the Year

Santa Margarita girls swimmers show who’s No. 1 (left) after dominating triumph at CIF state championships in Fresno. Sorry we had to crop out the coaches to get the photo to fit but got all the swimmers’ faces. At right, members of Concord De La Salle’s baseball team salute their fans after completing 29-1 season. A few days later the Spartans completed another strong school year of athletics by finishing 5th at CIF boys golf finals. Photos: & Mark Tennis.

For boys sports only, De La Salle of Concord was considered top five in the state in three sports and also had enough success in other sports to gain another state overall excellence honor. On the girls side, it also was close but CIF Southern Section Commissioner’s Cup winner Santa Margarita (Rancho Santa Margarita) was the school that finished on top. Other schools gaining overall state sports excellence honors for 2018-19 are Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland (D2), Campolindo of Moraga (D3), Harker of San Jose (D4) and St. Margaret’s of San Juan Capistrano (D5). Check inside for writeups of those schools and for every other school that is appearing on our Top 10 ticker at the top of our home page.

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 2018-19 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 championship events.)

Boys Sports Only:
De La Salle (Concord)
While it’s been hard for the school’s vaunted football program to stay close to the SoCal super powers of Mater Dei and St. John Bosco, the Spartans remain near the top of the state for overall athletic excellence and when they have a good year then honors have tended to happen. This year would have to be considered good to great by their standards.
Football’s runner up finish in the CIF Open Division state final to Mater Dei was by a closer margin than the previous two Open Division losses (35-21). Plus, head coach Justin Alumbaugh’s squad still was generally regarded as a top 10 national team, behind in the state only to the Monarchs and Braves. Quarterback Dorian Hale’s play as a sophomore was part of the reason for that success and he’ll be back this season.
DLS was later runner-up in the state to no one in baseball as the 29-1 Spartans were named State Team of the Year. They won their fourth straight CIF North Coast Section title and came within one run (3-2 loss in second game) of going 30-0. Junior pitcher Kyle Harrison (UCLA commit) and graduating senior Chris Santiago were the team’s top honors collectors.
A third DLS team to get a top five in our evaluations was in boys golf. That was based on their fifth-place showing in the CIF state golf championships. Longtime Spartans’ football defensive coordinator Terry Eidson was the head coach of that golf team.
Additional highlights of the year came in boys basketball (won NCS D1 title and lost in NorCal Open semis to Sheldon of Sacramento), boys lacrosse (ranked No. 7 in the West Coast), boys cross country (11th in CIF state final) and boys soccer (runner-up in NCS D1 playoffs). The Spartans also scored points in the CIF state wrestling finals and had individual champion Kyle Parco.
This is the seventh time that De La Salle has been State School of the Year for boys sports since 1985. This includes four times for the decade of the 2010s (2011, 2012, 2015, 2019). The Spartans also have been overall State School of the Year four times (which is hard for them to get because obviously they don’t have girls teams to add onto their title totals).

Brianne Riley was an All-American girls soccer player at Santa Margarita who will play next at UCLA. Photo: @SMEagleSoccer /

Girls Sports Only:
Santa Margarita (Rancho SM)
A school that has won the CIF Southern Section Commissioner’s Cup seven times is now adding an all-sports statewide athletic excellence selection. The Eagles won that compilation of points for girls sports (based on CIFSS playoff finishes and scoring in non-playoff style championships) by five points over second-place Eleanor Roosevelt of Eastvale. No other school can match the Santa Margarita girls for CIFSS Commissioner’s Cup titles and the school’s 10 combined boys-girls titles also leads the section.
Santa Margarita won three CIFSS girls championship plaques in swimming/diving, water polo and track and field. Additional points came from girls golf (semifinalist or third-place) and girls basketball (semifinalist or third-place). The girls track section crown also was that program’s fifth in a row.
Earning this statewide honor, though, requires some statewide success and Santa Margarita did that mostly with its swimming and diving program. The Eagles won their second straight CIF state team title by a comfortable margin (230 points to 165) over runner-up Torrey Pines (San Diego). Junior Ella Ristic won two individual titles and was on two first-place relay squads. Ristic broke a CIF meet record in the 200 free (1:45.82) and also won in the 100 free (49.24). Anicka Delgado, also a junior, added a win in the 50 free and was second in the 100 fly.
We check for more than just teams that were in the top three of section playoffs, too. This helped for Santa Margarita in our calculations because the cross country team came in 11th in the CIF D1 state final plus we ranked the softball team at No. 9 overall in the state after it earned a co-title in the Trinity League, beat Oaks Christian of Westlake Village in the CIFSS D1 playoffs and lost to state No. 3 Great Oak in the quarterfinals.

Jada Holland was a rock for all of her years as a guard at Bishop O’Dowd. Photo:

Division II State School of Year:
Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland)

A school known for its recent CIF state title success in boys and girls hoops got it done as a multi-sport powerhouse for the 2018-19 school year and is getting its second-ever overall excellence statewide honor. The first for the Dragons was for medium schools for the 1992-93 school year.
In the fall, O’Dowd reached the CIF Division I state final in girls volleyball before losing to Temecula Valley of Temecula. Head coach Napoleon Kaufman’s football team (12-2) contributed by winning the CIF North Coast Section D2 title 16-15 over Marin Catholic of Kentfield. Stanford-bound RB Austin Jones was that team’s leading player. The girls cross country team also was fifth in the CIF D4 state finals.
O’Dowd had another solid year on the court in the winter. The girls won the CIF NorCal D1 crown with a victory over Bear Creek of Stockton before losing in the state final to Rosary of Fullerton. Sophomore Kennedy Johnson and freshman Amaya Bonner were both all-state underclass so the future looks bright for that program, too. The O’Dowd boys, meanwhile, went 23-9 and went to the CIF NorCal D1 semifinals before a loss to James Logan of Union City.
The spring at O’Dowd almost featured an NCS D2 title sweep in baseball and softball. The softball team won its title game over Antioch, while the boys lost to Alhambra of Martinez.

Division III:
Campolindo (Moraga)

The Cougars have been seemingly in contention for this divisional honor every year for about the last 13 or 14 years and this time they’re the winners once again. This is the sixth time Campolindo has been D3 State School of the Year in athletics since 2005. The last two times it has happened has been for the 2011-12 school year and for 2014-15.
A CIF state title was achieved for 2018-19 in boys basketball. That was for Division II (based on competitive equity seeding), but for the CIF North Coast Section and generally for most sports the Cougars have been D3 so that’s where we put them for overall athletics. With the help of State Freshman of the Year Aidan Mahaney and his senior brother (Carter), Campo topped Colony of Ontario to win the CIF D2 state title.
Additional success for this year came in boys cross country (2nd in CIF D3 state final), girls cross country (3rd in CIF D3 state final), girls swimming (7th in CIF state team scoring no divisions), boys swimming (11th in CIF state team scoring) and boys volleyball (NorCal playoffs). Edward Buckley was the highest finisher in that boys cross country race (8th) while the girls had Paloma Hancock, Sopie Webster and Alicia Hober all getting up into the top 20.

These four swimmers comprised all of the Harker Academy team that raced to fourth-place showing as a team at 2019 CIF state championships. Photo: @HarkerAthletics /

Division IV:
The Harker School (San Jose)
It easily could have been Harker placed for Division V and St. Margaret’s for Division IV, but since two of the reasons St. Margaret’s was selected was for how well it did in D5 boys/girls cross country we went with Harker in D4 and St. Margaret’s in D5. Those two programs were the best for what we call small schools even though in some of the sports they excelled at the highest levels regardless of division.
This is the first all-sports State School of the Year honor for Harker. The Eagles frankly haven’t been very strong in the five primary sports we cover on (football, boys hoops, girls hoops, baseball, softball) but we didn’t miss how well they did in many other sports.
Harker’s boys volleyball team actually went to the CIF NorCal D1 final where it lost in a 3-2 heart-breaker to Monta Vista of Cupertino. Graduating senior Jarrett Anderson paced the squad with nearly 400 kills. Earlier, head coach Chad Gordon’s club beat vaunted teams like Corona del Mar of Newport Beach en route to a fifth-place showing at the Best of the West tourney.
It also didn’t take long to see that Harker’s boys swimming team placed fourth overall in the CIF state team championships. Ethan Hu sparked that quest with state record winning times in the 200 IM and 100 fly.
In girls golf, the Eagles were second in the CIF Central Coast Section and were seventh in the NorCal championship. Natalie Vo also qualified for the CIF state final.
Additional success for the Eagles came in girls lacrosse (CCS semifinals), boys soccer (CCS D4 semifinals) and girls volleyball (CCS D2 finals & NorCal playoff qualifier). Harker squads also reached the CCS playoffs in girls basketball, boys basketball, girls tennis and girls water polo.

Division V:
St. Margaret’s (SJ Capistrano)
This is the third time this decade that the Eagles have topped our charts for schools classified as Division V for most sports. Their first two were for 2009-10 and 2011-12.
Cross country got the ball rolling at the CIF state finals in Fresno with a first-place finish in D5 boys and a second-place in D5 girls. Sophomore Jackson Adelman ran to a second-place showing as an individual to spark the boys title. Andi Carnell (6th place) led the girls. The Tartans flipped places with San Francisco Lick-Wilmerding in both races as Lick-Wilmerding was first in the girls and second in the boys.
St. Margaret’s had boys-girls soccer success that was the highlight of the spring. The boys were runner-up in their CIFSS division and then lost to Troy of Fullerton in the D4 SoCal playoffs. The girls also were second in their CIFSS division but in the CIF SoCal D4 playoffs went all the way and beat La Salle of Pasadena 2-1 in the title match.
Lacrosse would have to be the school’s best sport, however. St. Margaret’s won the U.S. Lacrosse Southern Section girls championship with a 17-6 victory over Redondo of Redondo Beach. The brilliant goal-keeping by Ellie Jones sparked the win. The girls later were ranked second overall in the West. The boys lacrosse team was fourth in those same final season rankings (behind only Torrey Pines of San Diego for the California schools). The Tartans won the Orange County title 17-10 over Foothill of Tustin.

(Note: If we were doing a top 10 ranking for schools of year, Buchanan would be first, Mater Dei of Santa Ana second, Great Oak of Temecula third, Torrey Pines of San Diego fourth, De La Salle fifth, Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth sixth, Harvard-Westlake of Studio City seventh, Santa Margarita eighth, Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland ninth and Jesuit of Carmichael in 10th. Writeups for Buchanan, De La Salle, Bishop O’Dowd and Santa Margarita appear above. Here below would be Mater Dei plus the rest of the schools in the top 10.)

Shakobe Harper was one of many Mater Dei football players who gained all-state recognition. Photo: @MDFootball /

2. Mater Dei (Santa Ana)
We were actually a little shocked that the Monarchs didn’t win any of the CIFSS Commissioner’s Cup crowns. Looking deeper, part of the reason is a scoring system that is still based strictly on teams winning CIFSS titles in any division and provides no points for teams that are in Open Divisions. Mater Dei’s boys basketball team, for example, clearly was better than Santa Margarita’s as an Open Division team while the Eagles were in CIFSS D1. That doesn’t matter in Commissioner’s Cup scoring with Santa Margarita getting five points for winning a section title while Mater Dei got one point in boys hoops despite the team going to the SoCal Open final before losing to Sierra Canyon.
The Monarchs couldn’t quite match Buchanan’s depth but at the top with football and girls volleyball added to the boys basketball it was definitely a year to celebrate. Head coach Bruce Rollinson’s football team repeated as CIF Open Division state champion with a 35-21 victory over De La Salle of Concord and got a showcase performance from Mr. Football State Player of the Year Bru McCoy. The girls volleyball team was on a mission all season after losing in the CIF Open Division state final from the year before and rolled to its first state title with a straight sets triumph over Central of Fresno.
More success also came from the Monarchs this year in girls basketball (sixth in the final state rankings), boys track (2nd place in its CIFSS divisional meet), boys tennis (2nd place in section) and boys soccer (SoCal D1 quarterfinals).

3. Great Oak (Temecula)
The Wolfpack really have it going in cross country and if they keep doing what they’ve been doing in that sport probably will get one of these State School of the Year selections very soon. At last November’s CIF state finals in Fresno, Great Oak repeated the feat of sweeping the boys-girls Division I race and were ranked near the top of the nation in both genders as well. Like Mater Dei, Great Oak also had a third team that was near the top of the state and that was in softball. Head coach David Mercado’s girls went to the CIFSS D1 final before a loss to state No. 1 and national No. 2 Norco. The team also was No. 3 in the final State Top 40. The Wolfpack also won a CIFSS D3 championship in baseball.

4. Torrey Pines (San Diego)
There wasn’t a CIF state title for the Falcons in 2018-19, but they were considered No. 1 in the state in a sport (boys lacrosse) in which there is no CIF state playoffs. They also won a CIF SoCal championship and probably would be once again the best in the state in boys tennis. In addition, Torrey Pines came very close in two other sports that do have CIF state championships with a second-place finish in boys golf and a second-place finish in girls swimming (both spring sports). Torrey Pines also once again won the most CIF San Diego Section titles than any other school (although it was close this time with Cathedral Catholic). In boys tennis, the Falcons lost in the National High School All-American tourney to Harvard-Westlake, but came back to win the CIF SoCal D1 title with a 4-3 win over the Wolverines in the championship match. Additional highlights came from football (which was state-ranked for most of the season), boys soccer (played in SoCal regional D1 semifinals), girls soccer (also played in SoCal regional D1 semifinals) and girls volleyball (CIF SoCal Open Division quarterfinals and one of the state’s top-ranked teams for much of the season).

Cassius Stanley will play next at Duke after helping Sierra Canyon win back-to-back CIF state titles. Photo: Dylan Stewart /

6. Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth)
This school has been in the spotlight for its boys basketball program, which has added several high-profile transfers just in the last week with Ziaire Williams (from Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks) and Brandon Boston (from a school in Georgia) joining the mix that already had brought in the sons of NBA superstars LeBron James (Bronny) and Dwyane Wade (Zaire). But we’ve always known that Sierra Canyon has been much more than the hype surrounding its basketball players. Two times previously when it was considered for smaller school divisions the Trailblazers have been State School of the Year. It would be too hard to consider a school that is now Open Division in many sports as “small” or “medium,” but with the boys and girls basketball programs on a roll next year could see a repeat of this year’s CIF Open Division championship sweeps and No. 1 state rankings. The new players for head coach Andre Chevalier should provide that opportunity, but the graduating players — led by Cassius Stanley, Kenyon Martin Jr. and Scotty Pippen Jr. — deserve one last shout out as well. It was an easy win in the state final, but getting there wasn’t since the boys had to come back from a regular season loss to Rancho Christian of Temecula. For the girls, head coach Alicia Komaki’s club had to come back from a loss to league rival Windward of Los Angeles in the CIFSS Open finals. They did and with a lot of top players coming back — by guards Vanessa DeJesus and Ashley Chevalier (Andre’s daughter) — will be favored to win again in 2020. The other highlight of the year for the Trailblazers was winning the CIFSS Division III title in football and getting to the CIF D1-A state final where they lost a lead in the fourth quarter and fell to Liberty of Brentwood.

7. Harvard-Westlake (Studio City)
It was almost a phenomenal year for the Wolverines, but we have to give them a ton of credit for almost being No. 1 in the state in three sports. In boys water polo, Harvard-Westlake was considered the best team in Southern California for most of the season but was upset in the CIF Southern Section D1 final by University of Irvine and then in the CIF SoCal D1 finals got edged 10-9 by Newport Harbor. It had to be equally tough for the boys tennis team, which won the National High School All-American tourney 5-3 over Torrey Pines of San Diego but then in the CIF SoCal D1 finals were nipped by the same team 4-3. The third team to almost get it done was in baseball. Harvard-Westlake was No. 1 in the state for parts of the season and reached the CIFSS D1 final, but in that game fell 2-0 to Cypress. The Wolverines also were fourth in the CIF D4 state final race in girls cross country and scored points (14th overall) at the CIF state track meet (girls). They also were among the best teams in Southern California in both boys and girls hoops with Johnny Juzang (graduated early and now at Kentucky) and sophomore Kiki Iriafen (will be one of state’s top juniors next season) leading the way.

10. Jesuit (Carmichael)
The Marauders racked up an impressive 37 points to win the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Commissioner’s Cup (patterned after the CIFSS program and launched three years ago) on the boys side over St. Mary’s of Stockton. Section titles were won in boys cross country, boys soccer and boys track. Jesuit also was runner-up in water polo, swimming & diving, tennis and baseball. On the state level, Jesuit placed third in boys golf, third in boys track and got to the CIF NorCal D1 final in soccer where it lost to Bellarmine Prep of San Jose. Matt Strangio capped the year by blazing to a 4:08.07 clocking to win the 1600-meter race at the CIF state track final.

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

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  1. George
    Posted July 25, 2019 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    Jesuit also 5th in cross country for state D1.

  2. megan
    Posted July 25, 2019 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    De La Salle lacrosse won NCS Division 1 title this year.

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