This massive package was first done in 2015 with 50 teams and then done again after 2016. We have now updated it a third time with teams from 2017, 2018 and 2019 but didn’t cut any teams out and have simply grown the list. The major shift is to jump five of the six of the dominating teams from Mater Dei of Santa Ana and St. John Bosco of Bellflower in those seasons quite high in the all-time greatest rankings. Since the only one of those to sweep the other one twice was Mater Dei of 2017, that team of Monarchs comes in the highest and in fact has joined the top five. We’re still going with Concord De La Salle of 2001 as No. 1. 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 65 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. 65 (GOLD CLUB), CLICK HERE.
Before beginning to go through these 65 trips down memory lane, this is not a ranking of the 65 “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 been done in baseball and softball, 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), the late 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 twice since then. At the time of the first 50 being done, no one knew that the teams at Mater Dei and St. John Bosco would become such magnets for elite, talented transfers. Combine all that talent with first-class coaching and it’s a part of competitive equity that the CIF can’t fix. These teams in 2019 also were led by the two best quarterbacks in the nation. We are still going with De La Salle of Concord 2001 at the top but all six of the last MD-Bosco teams would be hard-pressed to be beaten by any other schools at any other time. Again, though, we’re looking at greatness and not just players getting D1 college scholarships.
In expanding the list to 65, that also made it possible not to cut any teams from the previous packages while adding all of the MD-Bosco squads. We want to welcome other new teams into the all-time rankings — Edison (Huntington Beach) 1980, St. Paul (Santa Fe Springs) 1981, Bakersfield 1990, Folsom 2010 and De La Salle 2013.
In addition, Ronnie was invaluable for providing some of the writeups and was consulted several times as the initial rankings were being done. We’ve also spoken to several De La Salle Athletic Hall of Fame board members in these last few years about that school’s teams that should be highest in these rankings as well as the teams that the Spartans have had to play.
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 65 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) 2013
De La Salle (Concord) 2014
De La Salle (Concord) 2015
Edison (Huntington Beach) 1980
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
Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 2017
Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 2018
Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 2019
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
St. John Bosco (Bellflower) 2018
St. John Bosco (Bellflower) 2019
St. Paul (Santa Fe Springs) 1981