For the final 20 teams in our massive preseason state football rankings package, we start out with one of the top three teams from the CIF San Diego Section. This post also includes two more teams from the CIF Southern Section’s Mission League, a team with perhaps the top sophomore quarterback in the state and a couple of squads that probably aren’t going to like being in this group because they’re used to being higher in the state pecking order. We also have added additional teams on the bubble that we’ll be following closely that could all move up as some of those in the first 50 begin to lose.
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(All teams listed with last year’s win-loss record, not counting forfeits)
(This is the start of the 41st consecutive season in which Cal-Hi Sports has provided state rankings for California high school football teams)
31. MISSION HILLS (SAN MARCOS) 5-7
CIF San Diego Section Division 1 runner-up
Head Coach: Chris Hauser
With 159 wins in 19 seasons at Mission Hills, Hauser has had years in which the Grizzlies have been near the top of the San Diego Section. For them, 2018 was a down year. All the pieces look good for 2019 to be special. The consensus among our sources in the section has Mission Hills third for the preseason behind Cathedral Catholic and St. Augustine and we agree. Fourteen starters are back and there’s a 9-1 JV team coming up as well. The defense is loaded with Pac-12 recruit Quinton Hadnot on the corner. There’s also Skai Donnell (two interceptions) and junior Elisha Lloyd in the secondary. At linebacker, leading tackler McKyle So’oto (105 tackles) returns while undersized Jason Boyle had 89 tackles. Boyle also plays running back and seems to be a safety prospect for the next level. Both lines are big, strong and experienced with Shiloh Seau (5-11, 280) leading the way on defense. On offense, the line should be anchored by Noah Arce (6-4, 265). Of course, Hadnot is a big-time receiver on the offensive side of the ball and will team with Joe Smith to provide a pair of quality targets.
First Game: Friday, Aug. 23 at Palos Verdes (PV Estates)
32. NOTRE DAME (SHERMAN OAKS) 9-4
CIF Southern Section Division 2 semifinals
Head Coach: Kevin Rooney
Wow, what a secondary the Knights had last season as they picked off an amazing team total of 27 interceptions in their 13 games. Most of that group is back, including Andre Bray (seven), Sean Guyton (five), Evan McLurkin (four) and Justin Horton (three). The defense has another major returnee in junior linebacker Jacob Moore. He was an all-state sophomore and showed great intensity going sideline-to-sideline making tackles in the game that we saw. On offense, Rooney has often had a lot of success with experienced quarterbacks and he has another one this season in Cooper Meek, who can run or pass equally well. Another to watch on offense is junior WR Anthony Spearman. While we like the group of returning players at Serra (Gardena) and Alemany (Mission Hills) a little better than Notre Dame among those teams in the Mission League, the Knights look good too and are more than capable of getting to nine wins or even 10 once again.
First Game: Saturday, Aug. 31 vs. Desert Vista (Phoenix, Ariz.) at Honor Bowl (San Diego).
33. HELIX (LA MESA) 8-5
CIF San Diego Section Division 1 finalist
Head Coach: Robbie Owens
Four-year varsity player Elelyon Noa heads up a group of 14 returning starters at Helix, who should contend once again in the CIF San Diego Section Open Division. Noa helped Helix win the SD Open title two years ago and the team eventually got to Sacramento where it lost to Folsom in the CIF D1-AA state final. Noa has 1,798 yards and 18 TDs in his career in just playoff games alone and should go over 5,000 career yards early in the season. The Highlanders have another honors candidate in WR/DB DelShawn Traylor. He had four interceptions last season, but also is an option QB and has committed to Army to play that position in college. In the line, Leandre Rayle (6-6, 355) and junior Shawn Martinez (6-1, 280) are promising while others to watch on defense include Jaiden Brown in the secondary and Jeremiah Fletcher and John Carroll at linebacker.
First Game: Friday, Aug. 23 vs. Cajon (San Bernardino)
34. VISTA MURRIETA (MURRIETA) 8-3
CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs
Head Coach: Eric Peterson
At the end of last season, especially in a win over Murrieta Valley that decided the Southwestern League title, Robert Coleman emerged as a star quarterback for the Broncos. He’s back for his senior season and that means the team should be back among the best in the top division of the CIFSS. Coleman accounted for more than 1,000 yards and 20 TDs when it was all said and done. There is additional returning strength at other positions on the field. Hunter Escorcia, recruited as an athlete and committed to San Diego State, had 37 tackles and four interceptions on defense. The secondary also welcomes back the speedy Tyreese Shakir along with defensive end Peni Masiva (51 tackles, four sacks). On offense, Coleman should have some effective options to throw to or to hand off. RB Raqueal Wagstaff rushed for more than 400 yards as a junior.
First Game: Friday, Aug. 30 vs. Los Alamitos at Cerritos College.
35. BISHOP AMAT (LA PUENTE) 8-3*
CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs
Head Coach: Steve Hagerty
While Lancer fans might not like to see their team pegged behind three other teams from the Mission League (Serra, Alemany and Notre Dame), that should be a great battle in that league and we do believe they will remain in the middle of it. The reason for the lower preseason ranking than the other three even though Amat beat all three of them last year is that most of the starters from last season are gone, including Mission League Player of the Year Blake Archuleta (quarterback). The good news is that highly recruited D1 running back Damien Moore is back after missing a year with a knee injury. DB Dyson McCutcheon, a junior who is the son of former Lancer great Daylon McCutcheon, plus DLs Elijah Ponder (6-4, 225 with an offer from Colorado State) and Ethan Rodriguez (6-5, 245 with an offer from San Jose State) are others to look for on defense. Hagerty also should be helped out with players coming up from an 8-1 JV team.
First Game: Thursday, Aug. 22 vs. Diamond Ranch (Pomona)
36. WILCOX (SANTA CLARA) 14-1
CIF Division 3-A state champion
Head Coach: Paul Rosa
After getting a win in the first game last season over Valley Christian, the Chargers went on to finish unbeaten until the title game of the CCS Open Division 1 playoffs where they lost to Menlo-Atherton. They came back to win a state title by knocking off previously unbeaten Capital Christian of Sacramento and then beat Kaiser of Fontana. Since the first game this year is against Valley Christian again and VC is starting out in the top 20 of the state, we thought it made sense to rank the Chargers fairly high as well. They actually have a lot of top returning players too. Topping the list is coach’s son Paul M. Rosa. He ripped off 1,588 yards rushing as a junior with 20 TDs and he caught eight more TD passes. The younger Rosa also had three interceptions on defense and had 47 kicking points. A new QB must step up, but others on offense coming back include top tackles Scott Smith (6-5, 295) and Osiris Niko (6-2, 265). The Chargers feature five returning starters on defense, led by Roan Poulivaati, a linebacker who was just selected to our preseason All-CCS squad.
First Game: Friday, Aug. 30 vs. No. 17 Valley Christian (San Jose).
37. RANCHO VERDE (MORENO VALLEY) 13-1
CIF Southern Section Division 3 finalist
Head Coach: Pete Duffy
The Cougars are coming into the season after they lost their only game last year in the CIFSS D2 title game to Upland in which they didn’t have freshman QB A.J. Duffy available. Before that game, Duffy had passed for 2,984 yards and 40 TDs with another 200 yards in rushing. He probably would have been State Freshman of the Year and could be the state’s top sophomore quarterback this season. There are some x-factors, however, for Rancho Verde to get back to a CIFSS final. Coach Duffy has a lot of graduation losses to deal with, including running back, receiver and the Division 1 State Athlete of the Year (Jaxen Turner). Other building blocks include RB Jordan Jefferson, who had nearly 700 yards rushing last season, junior LB Kenya Dorsey (one of the team’s leading tacklers) and junior DB Demond Young (two interceptions).
First Game: Friday, Aug. 23 vs. Quartz Hill.
38. SAN JOAQUIN MEMORIAL (FRESNO) 14-1
CIF Division 2-A state runner-up
Head Coach: Anthony Gholson
Similar to preseason No. 20 Central of Fresno, the Panthers have a great returning nucleus on both offense and defense but will need a new quarterback to come through. In their case, the graduating QB is Alec Trujillo, who had 4,251 yards passing and 50 TDs and is now at San Jose State. SJM’s No. 1 returnee is nationally recruited receiver Jalen McMillan, who has committed to Washington. McMillan, also a track star with CIF state meet experience, hauled in 73 passes for 1,401 yards and 19 TDs last season. Another two-sport standout, Mac Dalena (Fresno State commit), is the Panthers’ version of Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman. He had 58 catches for 1,060 yards and 16 scores, does the kicking and probably could play running back if needed there. On defense, Tobin Phillips proved at the Nike camp showcase last spring that he’s one of the top defensive linemen in the state. The Stanford commit (6-4, 275) had 70 tackles last season. Another of the team’s top tacklers last season, junior LB Aric Eades, returns as well.
First Game: Friday, Aug. 23 vs. Kingsburg
39. MONTE VISTA (DANVILLE) 7-4
CIF North Coast Section Division 1 playoffs
Head Coach: Matt Russi
There are double-digit returning starters for the Mustangs, who lost in last year’s NCS D1 playoffs in a close game in the first round to eventual champion and arch-rival San Ramon Valley. They qualify as that one team from the East Bay Athletic League (besides De La Salle) that is expected to be one of the top teams in Northern California. Nate Rutchena, a three-year starter and top grid-hooper, leads the group. He had five interceptions last season, can catch anything near him as a receiver and holds six D1 college offers. QB Jack Stewardson also is among those back. He had 2,391 yards passing and 21 TDs as a junior. Jacob Oliphant, who had a SPARQ Rating of more than 110 at a Nike camp with a 4.3 in the 40, is another receiver to watch. Gavin Cribb, a junior running back who had 645 yards rushing last season, also should be dangerous.
First Game: Friday, Aug. 23 vs. Granite Bay
40. LA HABRA 7-4
CIF Southern Section Division 2 playoffs
Head Coach: Frank Mazzotta
Returning QB Ryan Zanelli wasn’t on the preseason All-Orange County team, but that had more to do with who else is from OC (Bryce Young & Ethan Garbers) than as a slight to him. He would have had a much better chance from a lot of other areas in the state. As a junior, Zanelli hit on 61 percent of his throws for 3,180 yards and 42 touchdowns. The University of Pennsylvania commit also will be aiming passes again to senior Clark Phillips, who became more of a two-way threat last year after earning all-state sophomore honors as a DB. Phillips is still mostly a DB recruit and is one of the best DBs in the state. He has nine career interceptions. Younger brother Bryce should be another of the team’s best. TE Mason West and preseason All-OC offensive lineman Andrew Ueli-Faatoalia (6-3, 300) are two more Highlanders to watch.
First Game: Thursday, Aug. 22 at No. 10 Upland
41. TORREY PINES (SAN DIEGO) 10-1
CIF San Diego Section Open Division runner-up
Head Coach: Ron Gladnick
The Falcons lost most of their starters on both sides of the ball after last season, which ended with a loss to Cathedral Catholic in the SD Open title game. They were a solid top 25 state team, but will have to work to get into that range of this year’s rankings. We still have them in the top 50 since it was a deep team and others seem ready to emerge, including sophomore QB Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi. The defense should be stout, especially at linebacker with Grant Anderson (6-2, 225) and junior Marco Notarainni (6-3, 195). Two others to watch are DE Dewey Egan and junior C/DT Luke Simsiman (6-2, 245).
First Game: Friday, Aug. 23 vs. No. 46 Los Alamitos.
42. LONG BEACH POLY (LONG BEACH) 8-3
CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs
Head Coach: Stephen Barbee
Wait, you thought this might be a year that the Jackrabbits weren’t going to be in the State Top 50? While they aren’t close to where they were just a few seasons ago (it seems like a lot of top players in the Long Beach/Central L.A. County region now all go to St. John Bosco), Barbee made strides in his first season and the Jackrabbits still have plenty of talent to at least be in the top 50 of the state. We probably would have put them higher than this had quarterback C.J. Montes (1,400 yards passing as a sophomore for Poly) not transferred. The Jackrabbits are now showing former Narbonne WR Eren East on their roster while the offensive line could be quite monstrous, led by three-year starter James Maae (6-2, 335). Others to watch include WR Keyonta Lanier and DB Tim Williams.
First Game: Saturday, Aug. 31 vs. Punahou (Hawaii) at Moorpark
43. OAK RIDGE (EL DORADO HILLS) 8-4
CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division 1 semifinals
Head Coach: Eric Cavaliere
We spent a lot of time looking at which team from the Sacramento area other than Folsom to get into the top 50. All of the contenders, including Del Oro (Loomis) and Jesuit (Carmichael), just lost a ton of seniors from last year. Granite Bay has a lot of returning players, but at 6-5 from a year ago didn’t do enough to be moved up that high. We settled on Oak Ridge. The Trojans would have been higher had not quarterback Matt Jenner moved back east, but upcoming junior Justin Lamson should be more than fine. He’s also one of the team’s top returnees on defense. As one of six sophomore starters that Cavaliere had, Lamson had 69 tackles and two interceptions. Oak Ridge has 10 returning starters in all with another key one being WR/RB Avant Jacobs (42 catches, 720 yds, 7 TDs). The offensive line has D1 recruit Nick Scalise (6-6, 295) while the defense also has two others who had 50 tackles or more last season — Hunter Nabers (a junior) and Ryan Enney.
First Game: Friday, Aug. 23 vs. Lincoln.
44. SOUTH HILLS (WEST COVINA) 14-1
CIF SoCal Division 2-A runner-up
Head Coach: Danilo Robinson
Robinson is in his first year with the Huskies after previous head coach Matt Bechtel left to take the top job at Damien (La Verne). The cupboard, especially on offense, is certainly quite full. Leading the way off of a 2018 squad that was 14-0 after winning the CIFSS D6 title and then lost to Lawndale in a SoCal regional bowl game (D2-A) will be junior QB Khalil Ali and senior RB Jaoquin Elliott. Ali amassed 2,476 yards through the air last season with 24 TD passes and he also had 289 yards rushing and two scores. Elliott took 21 of his carries into the end zone for scores and ended up with 1,720 yards rushing. South Hills has yet two more top returnees on offense in Thonye Charles and Jordan Sanchez. Charles caught 45 passes last year for 889 yards and 11 TDs. Sanchez had 52 catches for 806 yards and eight TDs. The big questions that Robinson and his staff must deal with are on defense since just about all of the leading tacklers have graduated.
First Game: Friday, Aug. 23 vs. Eisenhower (Rialto)
45. CARDINAL NEWMAN (SANTA ROSA) 11-1
CIF North Coast Section Division 3 Co-Champion
Head Coach: Paul Cronin
The only loss the Cardinals had last season was to eventual CIF D1-A state champ Liberty of Brentwood. They had their own state title hopes dashed by a coin flip loss to Eureka that decided which of the two finalists from the NCS D3 playoffs would get a bowl slot. Some of the best Newman teams we’ve ever seen have had experienced, talented dual-threat quarterbacks. Cronin has one this season with Jackson Pavitt. The senior passed for 2,494 yards and 30 TDs with just three interceptions and he rushed for 552 yards plus 11 more scores. Leading rusher Sean Moran also is back, but he’s just as valuable on defense where he had 70 tackles last season. There are spots to replace at receiver, but the athletic Giancarlo Woods is expected to step up. The team’s two other preseason All-Redwood Empire picks were OL Mitch Russell, a junior, and senior DL Dan Boyle.
First Game: Thursday, Aug. 22 vs. Fortuna at Healdsburg Rec Park
46. LOS ALAMITOS 9-2-1
CIF Southern Section Division 2 second round
Head Coach: Ray Fenton
This would be our final preseason top 50 club from Orange County. We like the Griffins because they have 11 returning starters from a team that tied No. 24 Corona del Mar for the Sunset League title and they are playing another top 50 squad to open the season. QB Cade McConnell is among the returnees. He passed for 1,880 yards and 23 TDs as a junior. RB Oscar Brown also returns after being one of the team’s leading rushers. Los Al has a solid group coming back on defense as well, led by LB Giovanni DeLeon (6-2, 220) and DL Zatyvion Miller (5-11, 270). A young player to watch is 6-foot-3, 270-pound sophomore tackle Robert Hamilton.
First Game: Friday, Aug. 23 at No. 41 Torrey Pines (San Diego)
47. PITTSBURG 7-4
CIF North Coast Section Open Division
Head Coach: Vic Galli
It’s funny to think of the Pirates sneaking up on people because in recent years they’ve been pushing more closely to be in the top 10 of the preseason state rankings, only to get derailed by injuries and overlooking teams they probably should have beaten. Galli loses a strong majority of starting players from last year, but there are a few key guys back, there’s a 10-0 JV team to draw from and we know the team is opening at St. Mary’s of Stockton, a team that Pitt drubbed 48-7 last season. It would be a bit insane to put St. Mary’s up there and not to even have the Pirates mentioned at all. The Pirates’ top returnees are OL/DL Sami Fonongaloa (6-3, 275), RB/DB Avant Muldrow and LB Joseph Luna (6-0, 225). They also will have one of the top junior offensive linemen in Northern California in 6-foot-6, 315-pound Ryan Lange.
First Game: Friday, Aug. 23 at No. 24 St. Mary’s (Stockton).
48. MARIN CATHOLIC (KENTFIELD) 10-4
CIF North Coast Section D2 runner-up
Head Coach: Mazi Moayad
Both the Wildcats and Redwood Empire rival Cardinal Newman are expected to eventually reach the NCS D4 finals this year in a new realignment that’s part competitive equity and part still enrollment (which is why both are now D4). The last time the two played in a section final it was a 59-56 win for Marin Catholic. The Wildcats have one of the most dominating players in Northern California on both sides of the ball in USC commit Jamar Sekona (6-3, 310). What may really make them go, however, is using the athletic Gaven Cooke as a receiver and DB instead of quarterback. Cooke had more than 2,300 total offense yards last season with 28 TDs. He is moving more to his natural positions due to the arrival of sophomore QB Michael Ingrassia. Marin Catholic also has some other top returnees, including LB Ryan Dolan (6-0, 225) and junior OL Kai Davison Peterson (6-2, 265).
First Game: Saturday, Aug. 24 vs. El Cerrito
49. LIBERTY (BAKERSFIELD) 12-2
CIF Central Section Division 1 runner-up
Head Coach: Bryan Nixon
It’s a great year for receivers in the Central Section and the Patriots have one of the best of them in Ramon Henderson. The 6-foot-3, 185-pounder has multiple D1 college offers and also could be used on defense and special teams. Nixon will need to replace most of last year’s top linemen and running back Sammy Stewart Jr., but two of the top defenders coming back are Dylan Holmes (100 tackles, seven sacks) and Dylan Tooker (96 tackles). Expectations also are high for upcoming quarterback Haden Mann, a 6-foot-2, 215-pounder who will be a dual-threat running and passing. And if Liberty even gets close to the other end zone, it will have one of the state’s top kickers, Brayden Blevins, ready to come out for a field goal.
First Game: Friday, Aug. 23 at Paso Robles
50. ST. FRANCIS (MOUNTAIN VIEW) 11-3
CIF Central Coast Section Open Division 2 runner-up
Head Coach: Greg Calcagno
The Lancers don’t have much back from last year, but what they do have are some rather large, rather intense and very effective linemen who should help them do what they do best and that’s grind it out on offense. They’ll need to do that in the first game against offensive juggernaut Corona del Mar, trying to keep the Sea Kings on the sidelines as much as possible. All-CCS offensive lineman Mose Vavao (6-3, 300) and West Catholic Athletic League defensive lineman of the year Afa Sanft (6-0, 300) are the leaders of those line groupings. St. Francis also has QB Ryan Daly back. He was thrust into the lineup due to injury last year and nearly got the Lancers back into the CIF state finals.
First Game: Friday, Aug. 30 vs. No. 24 Corona del Mar (Newport Beach)
20 MORE TEAMS ON THE BUBBLE
Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 6-6
Bullard (Fresno) 5-7
Chaminade (West Hills) 4-7
Clayton Valley (Concord) 9-2
Culver City 12-3
Del Oro (Loomis) 13-2
Granite Bay 6-5
Heritage (Menifee) 7-4
Lutheran (Orange) 5-6
McClymonds (Oakland) 12-2
Monterey Trail (Elk Grove) 13-1
Paraclete (Lancaster) 5-7
Pleasant Valley (Chico) 10-3
San Clemente 7-5
Santa Margarita (Rancho SM) 2-8
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