For boys sports only, St. John Bosco of Bellflower is considered tops for the state for 2019-20 and has captured that honor for the first time in school history. On the girls side, it was as difficult as ever to break up a close group but the nod has gone to Cathedral Catholic of San Diego. Other schools topping the list for overall state sports excellence honors for 2019-20 are Campolindo of Moraga (D2), San Joaquin Memorial of Fresno (D3), Sacred Heart Prep of Atherton (D4) and Ontario Christian (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.
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Congratulations to the following schools for collecting a statewide all-sports honor for the 2019-20 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:
St. John Bosco (Bellflower)
Even without having girls teams at their school, the Braves were the strongest competition for Buchanan of Clovis for the top spot overall and were a solid choice for this year’s boys sports only honor.
This is the first time in school history that Bosco has finished first in California for boys sports and is its second state school of the year selection. The first was for Division II for the 2013-14 school year.
Like in 2013-14, football set the tone for the Braves. That was the year when head coach Jason Negro’s program won the first of its three CIF Open Division state championships. For 2019-20, football shined as brightly as ever, first with an avenging win over Mater Dei of Santa Ana in the CIF Southern Section Division I final and then with Mr. Football State Player of the Year D.J. Uiagalelei throwing for 410 yards and four TDs (with another TD rushing) there was a 49-28 win vs. Concord De La Salle for the state crown. Negro’s squad also finished as the consensus No. 1 team according to a collection of final national rankings.
It can be an unbeatable combination when a school is No. 1 in the state for more than one sport and Bosco’s wrestling team nearly equaled football. If the Braves had won the CIF state team title instead of Buchanan of Clovis, an argument to be higher overall could have been made. Still, it was quite a campaign for the Braves’ wrestlers. They edged Poway for the second-place showing in team standings at the state meet with 183.5 points and were led by 182-pounder Nathan Haas, who also captured his second straight individual state title. Head coach Jeff Anderson also guided two others to second-place individual placings — Cael Valencia, a junior at 160 pounds, and Issac Salas, a junior at 138.
Bosco had plenty of depth to go with its top two sports, too.
In soccer, the Braves notched CIF SoCal D2 regional wins against Rancho Bernardo of San Diego and Channel Islands of Oxnard to get to the championship, but came up short in a 4-2 loss to La Habra. Led by team captains Diego Camacho, Diego Galvan, Christian Brueggeman and David Veloz, the team’s final record was 22-8-3.
In cross country, Bosco competed in the D3 state final and was sixth in team scoring.
Finally, in boys basketball, the Braves were co-champion with perennial power Mater Dei in the Trinity League, went 1-2 in the CIFSS Open Division and were No. 11 in final state rankings. They were top seed for the CIF SoCal D1 playoffs, but lost in their regional opener to a Ribet Academy squad that wound up winning that title. Seniors Josh Camper and Wynton Brown both completed outstanding careers and will be hard to replace next season.
Girls Sports Only:
Cathedral Catholic (San Diego)
There were a lot of the usual suspects in contention for the girls sports top statewide athletic excellence award. In addition to the Dons, there was Archbishop Mitty of San Jose, Torrey Pines of San Diego and Mater Dei of Santa Ana. Maybe it’s because all three of those schools have had even stronger girls sports only school years before, but Cathedral Catholic showed exceptional depth with top seasons in girls cross country, girls volleyball, girls water polo, girls basketball and girls soccer.
Previous state school of the year honors for Cathedral Catholic have come in Division II (2017), Division III (2016), Division III (2013), Division III (2009) and Division III (2008). The Dons also were the overall State School of the Year for 2016-17. For the record, we considered them for D2 this year and have given that boys/girls combined honor to Campolindo of Moraga (see below).
In the fall, Cathedral Catholic was expected to have one of the best girls volleyball teams in the nation and for part of the season was No. 1 in some national polls after winning the prestigious Durango Fall Classic title in Las Vegas. A different San Diego Section team (Torrey Pines) ended up No. 1 in the nation and won the CIF Open Division state championship, but the Dons were No. 5 in the final state rankings at 30-5 (with three of their losses to the Falcons). Seniors Madison Endsley (Washington) and Lindsey Miller (Notre Dame) both received multiple postseason accolades.
It wasn’t in D1, but the girls cross country team came closer to a CIF state title than any of the other teams with a second-place finish in the CIF D3 state final. Junior Trang Woolridge was that squad’s top individual finisher at 23rd.
It also was a close runner-up finish for Cathedral Catholic in girls water polo in the CIF SoCal D2 regional playoffs. In a sport with no state finals yet and just regional titles, the Dons posted wins against California of Whittier and M.L. King of Riverside before suffering an 8-7 loss in the final to San Clemente.
The winter also saw very strong Cathedral Catholic teams in girls basketball and girls soccer. In girls hoops, with State Sophomore Player of the Year Isuneh “Ice” Brady leading the way, the Dons won in the CIF SoCal D1 semifinals over Harvard-Westlake of Studio City (and State Junior POY Kiki Iriafen) before losing 58-55 in the final to Rosary of Fullerton. CCSD had a win over Rosary earlier in the season and also pushed State Team of the Year La Jolla Country Day to overtime early in the season. In soccer, head coach Dawn Lee’s side won its first CIF San Diego Section Open Division title, finished 22-3-3 overall and was a semifinalist in the CIF SoCal D1 playoffs. That team saw its season end in a loss to Upland.
Division II State School of Year:
With competitive equity based playoff divisions in girls volleyball and boys basketball pushing the Cougars up to D1 in both sports, we had to push them up from D3 to D2 for school of the year consideration. In the end, though, it didn’t matter. It’s another state school of the year honor for the athletic program.
Campo was the D3 state school of the year six times from 2005 to 2019 and this is the second straight year the Cougars have gotten one of our top awards.
The highlight of the year had to be what head coach Chuck Woolridge’s boys and girls cross country teams did at the CIF state championships at Woodward Park in Fresno. The Cougars were expected to contend for the D2 girls title, but they not only won that crown but the boys came through and made it a sweep. The girls were led by senior Paloma Hancock’s fifth-place showing and won their second state title in three years. They also have won four state titles in nine years. The boys had to overcome a 1-2 finish by top runners at Maria Carrillo of Santa Rosa and they did with a pack of runners that took five of the top 18 placings.
Campo had three other teams win CIF NorCal regional titles. The only one of the three, in girls volleyball, that played for a CIF state title lost in the D1 final to Vista Murrieta of Murrieta. The Cougars finished 27-7, featured UCLA-bound setter Audrey Pak and beat Menlo-Atherton for the NorCal D1 crown. The boys basketball team was supposed to play Ribet Academy of Los Angeles for the CIF D1 state title, but that game was canceled when the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic took place. Campo’s cagers still ended 27-7 with a win over De La Salle for the NorCal title and should be outstanding next season with all-state junior Aidan Mahaney returning for his senior season. The boys water polo team also won a NorCal regional title and did it in D1 with a 9-7 win in the final over San Ramon Valley of Danville. The Cougars ended with a 20-11 record.
Division III State School of Year:
San Joaquin Memorial (Fresno)
The senior class of 2020 is going to go down as legendary at San Joaquin Memorial for decades. And even though we can’t count Prolific Prep of Napa basketball star Jalen Green as part of that class, we’re pretty sure a lot of others from the class will count him since he was at the Fresno school for his freshman, sophomore and junior seasons.
Even with Green gone, San Joaquin Memorial had championship seasons in football, boys basketball, and girls basketball. There also were solid playoff runs in additional sports. Plus, we couldn’t ignore a baseball team that was sitting inside the State Top 20 when its season was shut down. Once it was decided the Panthers — based on enrollment, divisional placement in all sports and other factors — could be D3 for these honors, they became the front-runner.
This is the first state school of the year selection for SJM since 1972-73. That is for medium schools and was actually selected retroactively through research in the early 1980s for one of our first published state record books. The Panthers also are listed as medium schools state school of the year for 1970-71 and 1969-70.
A different Jalen — Jalen McMillan — was our State Sophomore Athlete of the Year two years ago for what he did in football, baseball and track. McMillan had come back to play baseball this season after earning all-state first team honors in football as a receiver. With fellow multi-sport standout Mac Dalena and him plus others, the Panthers won another CIF Central Section D2 title in football. They were then given the tough task of having to go on the road to play Serra of San Mateo in the NorCal D1-A regional final and played well in a 28-18 loss. Their final record was 12-2.
That set it up for the boys basketball team, which despite Green no longer on campus, went to the first-ever CIF Central Section Open Division playoffs and won the title with a 50-48 victory over favored Clovis West. The team then lost to De La Salle of Concord on the road in the NorCal D1 playoffs. Junior guard Joseph Hunter made the all-state underclass team and the squad’s final record was 24-7.
Other teams that we did not miss for SJM included girls basketball (24-9 with standout junior Macie James and a NorCal D2 semifinalist); boys water polo (19-4 and second-seed for the D3 section playoffs); girls volleyball (30-10, lost in NorCal playoffs to Christopher of Gilroy); boys soccer (section playoffs); and girls soccer (section playoffs).
Sacred Heart Prep (Atherton)
After last summer when not one but two former Gators were on the roster for the U.S. women’s soccer team that won the World Cup in France, athletes from just about every other sport at the school must have been inspired.
Sacred Heart Prep traditionally has been D4 for school of the year consideration and while that’s getting harder to maintain with its teams in many sports playing up in CIF Central Coast Section open divisions, we kept the Gators there for one last season. They will have to move up for the 2020-21 season.
The girls soccer team, which is the same one that Team USA players Abby Dahlkemper and Tierna Davidson both played for, was only 10-7-6 overall, but made it to the CIF NorCal D4 final where it lost to Branson of Ross.
The Gators beat a 30-win Branson team in the CIF NorCal D2 playoffs in boys basketball. They ended 23-6 and lost in the next round to St. Patrick/St. Vincent of Vallejo.
Sacred Heart Prep also had high playoff finishes and outstanding records in boys soccer (20-2-2), boys water polo (16-5) and girls water polo (18-1). They reached the NorCal D1 semifinals, NorCal D1 first-round and NorCal D1 finals, respectively. The boys and girls water polo teams also won the school’s first-ever CCS Open Division titles.
Two other teams that were more than solid were in football and girls basketball. The gridders went 8-4 with the highlight being a win vs. state-ranked St. Ignatius of San Francisco. The girls cagers went 16-10 (with wins vs. Menlo School and Woodside Priory) and lost in the second-round of the NorCal D2 playoffs in two overtimes to Clovis.
This is the second State School of the Year honor for SHP in five years. The last time it won was in D4 for 2014-15.
This is a school that was in D2 for the CIF state finals in girls volleyball and was D4 for girls hoops, but for most sports and historically has been D5. For the 2019-20 school year, that’s where we’re going with the Knights and for the first time they are getting a state school of the year honor.
That girls volleyball team won a CIF D2 state title and went 38-3 overall. It was the second straight state title for the program under head coach Paige Liebhart, who gave birth not long after the season was over and was State Coach of the Year. The Knights defeated Los Gatos to win their crown.
Ontario Christian also reached te CIF SoCal D4 final in girls basketball and was in the CIF SoCal D5 regional semifinals in girls soccer. The basketball team (32-4), featuring all-state freshman Chloe Briggs and her more than 32 ppg, won earlier regional playoff contests vs. Eagle Rock, Paramount and La Salle of Pasadena. The girls soccer team (19-9) topped Foothills Christian of El Cajon and Linfield Christian of Temecula in regional playoffs.
In addition to those three teams, the Knights were considered one of the top legit small school teams in Southern California in football (9-3), went 16-2-3 in boys soccer (CIFSS D6 quarterfinals) and were 17-11 in boys basketball.
(Note: If we were doing a top 10 ranking for schools of year, Buchanan would be first, St. John Bosco would be second, Mater Dei of Santa Ana third, Campolindo fourth, Cathedral Catholic of San Diego fifth, Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth sixth, Archbishop Mitty of San Jose seventh, Harvard-Westlake of Studio City eighth, Torrey Pines of San Diego ninth and De La Salle of Concord in 10th. Here below would be writeups on those top 10 schools not shown before.)
3. Mater Dei (Santa Ana)
One of these years the Monarchs are going to blitz the state with No. 1 finishes in football, girls volleyball, boys basketball and girls basketball. They’ve come oh so tantalizingly close in the last few years. Despite not having some of the depth of championship teams as in some recent years as well, the near top of the state final rankings in all four of those other sports still makes Mater Dei one of the best multi-sport schools in the state and nation. Plus, the softball team earned a win over Norco and seems to be building back up to a prominent position in the state.
Football and girls volleyball arguably got within one win of being State Team of the Year in both sports. The Monarchs had beaten their arch-rivals in football, St. John Bosco, earlier in the season and were No. 1 in the state and nation. They just couldn’t win the rematch and lost 39-34 in the CIFSS D1 final. In girls volleyball, Mater Dei won in a rematch with Redondo Union of Redondo Beach to get to the CIF SoCal Open Division championship, but then lost on the road to eventual state champion Torrey Pines of San Diego.
The girls basketball team won the CIFSS Open Division title, but lost in the CIF SoCal Open Division playoffs to Long Beach Poly. The boys basketball team lost in the CIFSS Open Division championship to Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth) and then lost in the CIF SoCal Open semis to Etiwanda. Final state rankings for those teams were No. 2, No. 3, No. 5 and No. 3.
Leading seniors who will be missed include Bryce Young, Myles Murao and Kody Epps (football), Mia Tuaniga and Meg Brown (girls volleyball) and Devin Askew (boys hoops). All five of the girls basketball starting five will be back next season.
6. Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth)
After a year in which the Trailblazers swept CIF Open Division state titles in boys and girls basketball, they were more than solid once again. Head coach Andre Chevalier’s hoopers were as hyped as ever with the sons of NBA legends LeBron James and Dwyane Wade joining the fold, but other than one hiccup in a loss to Rancho Christian did a good job of staying focused and was State Team of the Year. The team won the CIF SoCal Open Division title on a buzzer-beater by Ziaire Williams and featured leading scorer and Mr. Basketball State POY Brandon Boston Jr. The girls were only No. 7 in final state rankings, but it was only a matter of a few baskets here and there in close losses that prevented them from matching the boys. Sierra Canyon also went to the CIF Division 1-AA state final in football (its highest division yet) after beating CIF San Diego Section Open Division winner Helix of La Mesa. It wasn’t meant to be, however, as Central of Fresno (15-0) took the state contest. Girls volleyball also was in the top 10 of the state all season and was top seed for the CIF SoCal D1 playoffs, but lost in the regional semifinals to eventual champion Vista Murrieta.
7. Archbishop Mitty (San Jose)
From a CCS title standpoint, it was a strong year for the Monarchs. They swept Open Division titles in boys and girls basketball and also picked up CCS crowns in girls soccer and girls field hockey.
Head coach Sue Phillips became the winningest girls hoops coach in NorCal history and guided a young team to the CIF NorCal Open title with a 69-53 win vs. St. Joseph Notre Dame. Mitty went 26-3 and ended No. 2 in the state, trailing only the La Jolla Country Day squad that was the team’s scheduled state title game opponent.
Mitty’s boys ended 23-5 and lost in the NorCal Open Division playoffs to Bishop O’Dowd after downing Bellarmine for the CCS title.
Other highlights included a 5-0 start in baseball (with No. 9 state ranking), a NorCal Open Division semifinal appearance in girls volleyball (28-12 final record) plus a NorCal D1 girls soccer title game appearance (21-2-3 final record). The Monarchs also finished 17-2-2 in girls field hockey and were 15-3-4 in boys soccer (lost in CCS D1 final but wasn’t in CCS Open Division in that sport).
8. Harvard-Westlake (Studio City)
Boys water polo led the way for the Wolverines, who have always been a threat for multi-sport success.
Nico Tierney capped the water polo team’s 31-2 season by scoring a sudden-death overtime goal in a 11-10 win over Newport Harbor of Newport Beach in te CIF SoCal Open Division championship. The Wolverines, also featuring Stanford-bound goalie Nolan Krutonog, had earlier won their second straight CIFSS D1 title.
With our eventual State Coach of the Year, David Rebibo, calling the shots, Harvard-Westlake went 25-7 in boys basketball and was a CIFSS Open Division team. The boys ended up No. 5 in the state overall based on getting three wins vs. Centennial of Corona.
The baseball team began as one of the highest ranked in the nation but had slipped down in the state rankings at 8-1-1 with a head-to-head loss to Huntington Beach. Look for outfielder Pete Crow-Armstrong to go in the first round of the MLB Draft on June 10.
We also jotted down accomplishments for girls basketball (21-9 with State Junior of the Year Kiki Iriafen), girls soccer (12-3-2 and in CIFSS D1 quarterfinals) and girls water polo (won CIFSS D2 title, then lost in SoCal D1 playoffs).
9. Torrey Pines (San Diego)
The Falcons have been State School of the Year before so the bar is higher for them regarding these honors than perhaps other schools.
The highlight of the year clearly was in girls volleyball where head coach Brennan Dean’s squad won its first CIF Open Division state title, wound up 39-2 and was No. 1 in the nation (FloSports). Torrey Pines also had Ms. Volleyball State POY Carly Diehl.
The Falcons were strong on the pitch with a 22-4-2 boys soccer team that won the San Diego Section Open Division title and lost to Loyola (Los Angeles) in the SoCal D1 semis plus they were in the Open Division section semis for girls.
Other top teams were in girls golf (6th in SoCal team scoring), boys basketball (27-6 and made it to SD Section Open final) and baseball (started out 7-0 before season was halted).
10. Jesuit (Carmichael)
This last spot in the top 10 came down to the Marauders and De La Salle of Concord. Since Jesuit snapped De La Salle’s 31-game win streak in baseball on literally the last day of the 2020 season in the state and since the Marauders also got by the Spartans in the NorCal D1 soccer playoffs, we’re giving it to them. Jesuit’s top 10 placing in the final baseball rankings followed up a second-place showing at the CIF D1 state cross country race plus NorCal regional championship game appearances in D2 water polo and D1 soccer. Head coach Paul Rose’s soccer team also ended with a 25-2-1 record and was No. 3 in final state computer rankings. Matt Strangio led the distance runners and was looking to break the four-minute mile this spring. The boys basketball team didn’t get that far in the NorCal D2 playoffs, but the Marauders did beat Sheldon of Sacramento once and had one of the top juniors in the state in Stanford-committed point guard Isa Silva.