1ST LOOK: Five-Division FB Rankings

Herman Smith (left) is a senior WR for D2 state No. 1 Lincoln of San Diego. At right is senior WR Tsion Nunnally for D3 No. 1 Cardinal Newman (Santa Rosa). Photos: Twitter & Harold Abend.


With no upcoming playoffs to consider and limited games, it’s super-hard to do rankings in this same five-division format that was begun more than 40 years ago by Cal-Hi Sports founder Nelson Tennis. But it was super-hard for all of the players and coaches to be able to play at all during this school year in a pandemic, so we are giving it a try. With just two weeks to go for many teams, No. 1 teams are St. John Bosco of Bellflower (D1), Lincoln of San Diego (D2), Cardinal Newman of Santa Rosa (D3), Sacred Heart Prep of Atherton (D4) and Tri-City Christian of Vista (D5). Almost all of the teams toward the top of each division were placed with a sink-or-swim approach, meaning they have upcoming games that will severely test them.

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NOTE: Schools were put into the same divisions they were in for the 2019 season with just a few exceptions. Those divisions for that season were based mostly on the divisions in which each school competed in during that season in their CIF section and CIF regional/state divisions. League strength also has always been a major component of division placement. Enrollments are used in much lower priority in recent years in section playoff division placement in favor of competitive equity. Enrollments are a factor in our five-division format in that a school with a large enrollment (especially those with 2,500 or more) cannot be in our D4 or D5 because those divisions over the years have been the ones we consider for “small” schools. Milpitas High may have been able to beat Caruthers in the 2019 CIF D5-A state final, but we’re not going to rank a large school like that in one of our traditional “small school” divisions.

NOTE: There will be a higher percentage of teams in these divisional rankings playing after the April 16-17 weekend (which is when most schools in the state will be done in this very unique spring season). Sections that for sure will have games continuing until the end of the month will be Central, Northern and L.A. City. Final rankings therefore won’t be done until all spring scheduled games have been played.

(Through games of Saturday, April 3)
(No results for Thursday April 8 or later included)

Buchanan of Clovis head coach Matt Giordano has team that has risen to the top of the CIF Central Section this spring. Photo: Mark Tennis.


DIVISION I
1. St. John Bosco (Bellflower) 4-0
2. Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 3-0
3. De La Salle (Concord) 4-0
4. Servite (Anaheim) 2-2
5. Mission Viejo 3-0
6. Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth) 3-1
7. Cathedral Catholic (San Diego) 3-0
8. Folsom 4-0
9. Serra (San Mateo) 3-0
10. Alemany (Mission Hills) 3-0
11. Pittsburg 3-0
12. Los Alamitos 4-0
13. Monterey Trail (Elk Grove) 3-0
14. San Clemente 3-0
15. Norco 3-0
16. Centennial (Corona) 2-1
17. Santa Margarita (Rancho SM) 2-1
18. St. Mary’s (Stockton) 3-1
19. Buchanan (Clovis) 3-0
20. Central (Fresno) 2-1
21. Long Beach Poly (Long Beach) 3-1
22. Valley Christian (San Jose) 1-1
23. Oaks Christian (Westlake Village) 3-1
24. Carlsbad 3-0
25. Murrieta Valley (Murrieta) 3-0
Notes & Highlights: All of the teams in our D1 placement are all appearing in this week’s Cal-Hi Sports State TOP 50 overall rankings. The order is therefore the same one already determined. Even more teams we consider D1 also are written up in those rankings below Murrieta Valley. St. John Bosco and Mater Dei will likely win their games this week and then meet the following week to decide the Trinity League title and final No. 1 overall state ranking for the 2021 spring season. We also will be adding the winner to our all-time list of State Teams of the Year that goes back more than 120 years. Another big game to look forward to among these 25 teams is Mission Viejo vs. San Clemente, which will be played on April 16.

Sophomore Justin Gil has emerged as a top player this spring at La Habra. Photo: Twitter.com.


DIVISION II
1. Lincoln (San Diego) 3-0
2. Rocklin 3-0
3. La Habra 4-0
4. Loyola (Los Angeles) 2-0
5. Clayton Valley (Concord) 3-1
6. Otay Ranch (Chula Vista) 2-0
7. Damien (La Verne) 3-1
8. Cajon (San Bernardino) 3-0
9. San Juan Hills (SJ Capistrano) 2-1
10. St. Bernard (Playa del Rey) 1-2
11. San Joaquin Memorial (Fresno) 2-0
12. Los Gatos 3-0
13. Cosumnes Oaks (Elk Grove) 0-1
14. Campolindo (Moraga) 4-0
15. Edison (Stockton) 2-0
Others: Eastlake (Chula Vista) 3-0, Elk Grove 0-0, Glendora 3-0, Menlo-Atherton (Atherton) 3-0, Poway 3-0, St. Francis (La Canada) 2-2, Wilcox (Santa Clara) 3-0, Yorba Linda 4-0.
Notes & Highlights: The first and one of the best sink-or-swim approaches to these rankings is for San Diego Lincoln. The Hornets definitely qualify for being D2 as they’ve yet to appear in the CIF San Diego Section Open Division playoffs. This week, they are playing D1 No. 7 Cathedral Catholic and then the following week they are playing St. Augustine of San Diego (also in our State TOP 50). Lincoln is showing this week at No. 16 in those overall rankings.
Rocklin also qualifies as D2 since it was in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section D2 playoffs in 2019. The Thunder really looked good when they beat 2019 SJS D1 champ Oak Ridge two weeks ago. This week, they get Folsom (ranked right behind Cathedral Catholic in D1).
The next teams in order for our D2 after Lincoln and Rocklin also were already determined by our previously posted State TOP 50. This includes La Habra, Loyola, Clayton Valley, Otay Ranch and Damien. We had other teams on the bubble that we’ve been following as well that were next plus there were teams that had been in the State TOP 50 before.
If we were basing its division placement on where it was in 2019, St. Bernard of Playa del Rey would be down in D4 or D5. But the football program obviously is going to be building toward much higher goals due to the hiring of new head coach Manny Douglas plus there’s been the addition of several high profile transfers. Based on the teams that the Vikings are playing this spring, moving them up to D2 is what made the most sense.
MaxPreps computer rankings are checked as a guide for teams that haven’t been on our bubble yet, but when there’s fewer games those rankings can be less significant and we’ve never followed along with them completely anyway.

Pacifica head coach Mike Moon and graduated son Isaiah are shown after team won CIF D2-A state title in December of 2019. Photo: Mark Tennis.


DIVISION III
1. Cardinal Newman (Santa Rosa) 3-0
2. Marin Catholic (Kentfield) 3-0
3. Crespi (Encino) 3-0
4. Mater Dei Catholic (Chula Vista) 2-1
5. Culver City 3-0
6. Pacifica (Oxnard) 3-0
7. La Serna (Whittier) 3-0
8. Bishop Diego (Santa Barbara) 3-0
9. McClymonds (Oakland) 2-0
10. Manteca 3-0
11. Apple Valley 3-0
12. Oakdale 3-0
13. La Jolla 3-0
14. Lincoln 3-0
15. Cypress 3-0
Others: Ayala (Chino Hills) 3-0, Bakersfield Christian 1-0, Fullerton 3-1, Granite Hills (El Cajon) 4-0, Highland (Palmdale) 3-0, Inglewood 2-0, Kingsburg 3-0, Orange 4-0, Placer (Auburn) 1-1, San Dimas 4-0, South (Torrance) 3-0, Sunny Hills (Fullerton) 4-0, Templeton 3-0, Vintage (Napa) 4-0, Vista del Lago (Folsom) 3-0.
Notes & Highlights: Cardinal Newman, Marin Catholic, Crespi and Mater Dei Catholic are all in this week’s State TOP 50 and are placed in that order in those rankings. When the season began, we knew about the top players coming back at Cardinal Newman and Marin Catholic and were hoping that the two CIF North Coast Section schools would be able to play. It doesn’t look like that is going to happen. Cardinal Newman also was No. 1 in D3 in this five-division format for the 2019 fall season after winning the CIF D3-AA state title over El Camino of Oceanside.
Culver City and McClymonds were the next two teams on our State TOP 50 bubble list. The Centaurs have impressed behind record-breaking QB Zevi Eckhaus. We weren’t listing Pacifica of Oxnard, which was the team that rolled over McClymonds in the CIF D2-A state final in December of 2019, but have added the Tritons since then as they’ve done a nice job this spring with a lot of new players.
Games to watch among teams in this division include Valley Oak League regular contenders Manteca and Oakdale meeting this weekend. There’s also Apple Valley vs. Inglewood on April 16 plus Sunny Hills vs. Fullerton. If Fullerton can beat Sunny Hills, combined with it earlier going to overtime in a loss to La Habra (State TOP 50), that’s a squad that could really make a huge jump in these rankings.

Teddy Purcell has been an effective leader and has shown versatility as the QB at Sacred Heart Prep. Photo: Hudl.com.


DIVISION IV
1. Sacred Heart Prep (Atherton) 3-1
2. Santa Fe Christian (Solana Beach) 4-0
3. Escalon 0-1
4. Hilmar 2-1
5. Harvard-Westlake (Studio City) 4-0
6. The King’s Academy (Sunnyvale) 1-1
7. Sutter 2-0
8. Ontario Christian 3-0
9. Nordhoff (Ojai) 2-0
10. Fortuna 3-0
Others: Amador (Sutter Creek) 1-1, Central Valley (Shasta Lake), Half Moon Bay 2-2, Hughson 3-0, Paradise 2-0, Rio Hondo Prep (Arcadia) 3-0, Salesian (Richmond) 1-1, St. Genevieve (Panorama City) 3-1, West Valley (Cottonwood) 3-0.
Notes & Highlights: It definitely helps in these rankings if top teams in a particular area are playing each other. Sacred Heart Prep is a prime example of that. The Gators still have to play Half Moon Bay (which was near the top of our D4 rankings all last season) and they have a big win over The King’s Academy (which has a win over Half Moon Bay). SHP’s only loss is 15-7 to Menlo-Atherton (considered D2 and one of the top 20 teams overall in the Bay Area).
Santa Fe Christian qualifies for D4 and just posted an impressive 51-14 win over Rancho Christian of Temecula. This also is the same team that won in its opening game, 81-54, over Orange Glen of Escondido. The Eagles play bigger school Mt. Miguel of Spring Valley this week.
Escalon, the CIF D4A state winner in 2019, has only played once so far this spring, but has a high computer ranking since that game was a 38-35 loss to Oakdale. If the Mustangs beat Manteca this week and Escalon can get in a few games (this week, the Cougars are playing 2019 CIF D4AA state champ Ripon), then that would certainly enhance a high D4 state ranking. Ripon, by the way, has played twice and lost both (but both were to bigger schools).

DIVISION V
1. Tri-City Christian (Vista) 2-1
2. Pierce (Arbuckle) 2-0
3. Caruthers 3-0
4. Dos Palos 2-0
5. Waterford 2-1
6. Ferndale 2-1
7. Orosi 2-1
8. Trinity Classical (Valencia) 2-1
9. Liberty (Madera Ranchos) 2-1
10. Holtville 2-2
Others: Biggs 4-0, Campbell Hall (North Hollywood) 3-1, Cantwell-Sacred Heart (Montebello) 3-1, East Nicolaus (Nicolaus) 0-1, Maranatha (Pasadena) 3-0, Portola 4-0, Winters 1-1.
Notes & Highlights: This division definitely went by the sink-or-swim approach for the first two spots. Tri-City Christian makes it as a D5 team based on its previous section playoff designations. This team also has a win over Bishop’s of La Jolla with a respectable loss to Santa Fe Christian (see above). Plus, the next game is against La Jolla Country Day (2-1), which usually beats the Eagles. Bishop’s would have been in the SoCal D3AA regional final in 2019 if it had won against El Camino of Oceanside in its section final (and would be D3 for these rankings).
Pierce is more of a newcomer to these rankings and gets a high spot for knocking off traditional CIF Northern Section small school powerhouse East Nicolaus. The sink or swim part of it? The Bears are playing 2-0 Paradise this week (almost in the top 10 of D4). If they can somehow win that game, then being at or near the top among this group clearly would be justified.
Caruthers was No. 1 in the final D5 state rankings in 2019 after losing in the CIF D5-A state final to a large school, Milpitas, that frankly shouldn’t have been placed in that low of a division. The Blue Raiders fought to the very end, too. They had a lot of seniors that graduated but have won in their spring games. One of the wins was by just 15-14 to Orosi, which is a team we also have ranked in D5 with two other easy wins to go with that close loss.

Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at markjtennis@gmail.com. Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports


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