Football State Team of the Year 2021

Mater Dei of Santa Ana players go through their final hut drill of 2021 season with CIF Open Division state title trophy sitting nearby. Photo: Scott Kurtz / Cal-Hi Sports.


Here is the official updated list of the California high school football state teams of the year that goes back for more than 120 years. Mater Dei of Santa Ana puts its name on the list for the fifth time, but fourth in the last five years. This also is just its second State Team of the Year that also is unbeaten. We compare 2021 to 2017.

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There isn’t going to be criticism of how the Mater Dei of Santa Ana football program and athletic department handled its interactions with the media in the aftermath of the CIF Open Division state championship in this post. This one is going be strictly about the season that the Monarchs just had. The criticism was instead placed in coverage of the team’s 44-7 victory last Saturday over Serra of San Mateo.

When the season began, some national and local rankings thought that Mater Dei’s Trinity League rivals from St. John Bosco of Bellflower was going to have a superior squad. But instead it was a wire-to-wire No. 1 run for the Monarchs in the Cal-Hi Sports state rankings (the final State TOP 50 will be out later this week). And now it’s time to put Mater Dei 2021 on the all-time state list and start comparing the Monarchs to other top recent No. 1 teams in the state.

C.J. Williams of Mater Dei has the ball after a catch and looks for running room in the San Mateo Serra secondary. Photo: Scott Kurtz.


Head coach Bruce Rollinson’s program has now collected four No. 1 final state rankings in the last five years. This includes one from the 2021 spring season when the team defeated Bosco to end a five-game schedule. The Monarchs lost to the Braves in the 2019 CIF Southern Section championship, but won both the section and state titles in 2017 and 2018. Their only other State Team of the Year honor is for 1991, which was Rollinson’s third season. Mater Dei was not considered State Team of the Year for its 1994 and 1996 seasons (ranked No. 2 behind De La Salle of Concord), but was the USA Today national No. 1 for those years.

One aspect of the Mater Dei program in recent years that has been overriding many others has been its rivalry with St. John Bosco.

Since 2016, which are the years of CIF state football that can be called the MD-Bosco era since those two schools have won the Open Division state title each time (other than the COVID year of 2020 when there were no playoffs), it’s been quite a two-team arms race.

It may now be time, however, to declare Mater Dei as the clear frontrunner. The Monarchs have now finished higher than Bosco in the state rankings for four of the last five seasons and has beaten Bosco the last two seasons. They didn’t have to beat the Braves twice this season because of their loss to Servite of Anaheim in the CIF Southern Section Division I semifinals. They had to beat Servite twice this season instead and they did.

“At this very moment, yes you can say we’re ahead of Bosco,” said senior wide receiver and captain C.J. Williams, who was one of only two players allowed to speak with reporters after Saturday’s game (the only other player dashed off after doing one interview). “There is always a lot of pride on the line when we play them.”

In those years of the MD-Bosco dominance since 2016, there’s only been two teams that have gone undefeated in addition to winning the CIF Open Division state title. That would be the Monarchs of 2017 and the Monarchs of 2021.

The 2017 team has an advantage in that it got to play more games (15 to 12). Both teams also had huge wins against out-of-state opponents. For MD 2017, it was a victory over Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas, which had a 55-game winning streak and was among the nation’s top 10 teams. For MD 2021, it was a victory against Duncanville of Texas, which improved to 13-1 last Saturday with a 35-9 win over Southlake Carroll in the Class 6A D1 semifinals and is playing North Shore of Houston next week at AT&T Stadium for the state title.

Looking at close games, MD 2017, led by QB J.T. Daniels (now at Georgia) and WR Amon-Ra St. Brown (just scored first NFL TD to give Detroit Lions a last-play win over the Minnesota Vikings), didn’t really have one. The closest on the scoreboard was 31-21 over Bosco (in the first game of the two). For MD 2021, there was a 46-37 win over Servite (it was 27-7 in the rematch) and a 21-16 triumph against Corona Centennial.

“Between 2017 or us I’d like to say it’s us,” Williams said. “But those guys (in 2017) were amazing dudes on offense and defense.”

Only time will tell on some of those comparisons as players from both teams work their way toward future careers (or not) in the NFL.

The time right now, of course, is just to point out this this latest version of the Monarchs is at the minimum deserving of being in a discussion with 2017, and that’s a very good place to be.

CAL-HI SPORTS STATE
TEAMS OF THE YEAR
ALL-TIME HONOR ROLL

(Last 120 years listed, but it goes back further than that to 1891 in our files, as compiled from 1891 to 2003 by the late Nelson Tennis)
(*Forfeits not included; **Spring season 2021 due to worldwide pandemic in fall 2020)

Domani Jackson was named 2020-21 State Athlete of the Year and then suffered a season-ending knee injury after just one game in 2021. Photo: materdeifootball.net.


2021 — Santa Ana Mater Dei (12-0)
2020 — Santa Ana Mater Dei (5-0)**
2019 — Bellflower St. John Bosco (13-1)
2018 — Santa Ana Mater Dei (14-1)*
2017 — Santa Ana Mater Dei (15-0)
2016 — Bellflower St. John Bosco (13-2)
2015 — Concord De La Salle (13-1)
2014 — Concord De La Salle (15-0)
2013 — Bellflower St. John Bosco (16-0)
2012 — Concord De La Salle (15-0)
2011 — Concord De La Salle (13-1)
2010 — Concord De La Salle (14-0)
2009 — Concord De La Salle (13-2)
2008 — Corona Centennial (15-0)
2007 — Concord De La Salle (13-0)
2006 — Westlake Village Oaks Christian (15-0)
2005 — Ventura St. Bonaventure (14-0)
2004 — Mission Viejo (14-0)
2003 — Concord De La Salle (13-0)
2002 — Concord De La Salle (13-0)
2001 — Concord De La Salle (12-0)
2000 — Concord De La Salle (13-0)
1999 — Concord De La Salle (12-0)
1998 — Concord De La Salle (12-0)
1997 — Concord De La Salle (12-0)
1996 — Concord De La Salle (12-0)
1995 — Concord De La Salle (13-0)
1994 — Concord De La Salle (13-0)
1993 — Rialto Eisenhower (14-0)
1992 — Concord De La Salle (13-0)
1991 — Santa Ana Mater Dei (13-1)
1990 — Merced (14-0)
1989 — Fontana (14-0)
1988 — Carson (12-1)
1987 — Fontana (14-0)
1986 — El Toro (14-0)
1985 — Vista (13-0)
1984 — Riverside Poly (13-1)
1983 — Mountain View St. Francis (13-0)
1982 — Anaheim Servite (11-1)
1981 — San Jose Bellarmine (12-0)
1980 — Wilmington Banning (12-0)
1979 — Huntington Beach Edison (12-2)
1978 — Visalia Mt. Whitney (13-0)
1977 — Rancho Cordova (12-0)
1976 — Wilmington Banning (12-1)
1975 — Rancho Cordova (11-0)
1974 — Vista (13-0)
1973 — Hacienda Heights Los Altos (12-1)
1972 — Santa Fe Springs St. Paul (13-0)
1971 — Carson (12-0)
1970 — La Puente Bishop Amat (12-1)
1969 — Pasadena Blair (13-0)
1968 — Alameda (9-0)
1967 — Anaheim (12-1)
1966 — Pico Rivera El Rancho (13-0)
1965 — San Jose Bellarmine (9-0)
1964 — Stockton Stagg (10-0)
1963 — Los Angeles Loyola (12-0)
1962 — Los Angeles Loyola (12-0)
1961 — Monterey (8-0)
1960 — Redwood City Sequoia (9-0)
1959 — Long Beach Poly (11-0)
1958 — Long Beach Poly (11-0-1)
1957 — Berkeley (8-0)
1956 — Downey (12-0-1)
1955 — San Diego (11-0-1)
1954 — Vallejo (9-0)
1953 — Santa Monica (10-0-1)
1952 — Santa Monica (11-0-1)
1951 — Pomona (12-0)
1950 — Compton (11-1)
1949 — Compton (10-1)
1948 — Long Beach St. Anthony (11-1-1)
1947 — L.A. Washington (8-0)
1946 — Alhambra Keppel (8-0)
1945 — Santa Ana (11-1)
1944 — Alhambra Keppel (8-0)
1943 — Redondo Beach Redondo (6-0)
1942 — La Verne Bonita (11-0)
1941 — Piedmont (9-0)
1940 — Piedmont (8-0)
1939 — Alhambra (10-0)
1938 — Stockton (8-0)
1937 — L.A. Manual Arts (8-0)
1936 — L.A. Manual Arts (8-0-1)
1935 — Long Beach Poly (9-0)
1934 — Piedmont (8-0)
1933 — S.F. Galileo (8-2-1)
1932 — Inglewood (10-2)
1931 — Santa Ana (13-0)
1930 — Berkeley (11-0-1)
1929 — Berkeley (11-0-1)
1928 — Lodi (9-0)
1927 — Bakersfield (12-0)
1926 — San Mateo (9-1-1)
1925 — Los Angeles (10-0)
1924 — Berkeley (11-0)
1923 — Bakersfield (10-0-1)
1922 — Bakersfield (10-0-1)
1921 — Bakersfield (9-0-1)
1920 — Bakersfield (9-1)
1919 — Long Beach Poly (12-0)
1918 — L.A. Manual Arts (9-0)
1917 — L.A. Manual Arts (11-1)
1916 — San Diego (12-0)
1915 — Pasadena (7-1)
1914 — Pomona Rugby (12-0)
1913 — Pomona Rugby (11-0)
1912 — Berkeley Rugby (7-2-1)
1911 — Los Angeles Rugby (9-0)
1910 — Alameda (5-0)
1909 — Los Angeles Poly Rugby (8-0-2)
1908 — Belmont Academy (8-0-1)
1907 — Los Angeles (5-1)
1906 — Belmont Academy (5-0)
1905 — Berkeley (5-1-3)
1904 — Belmont Academy (1-0-1)
1903 — Belmont Academy (5-1)
1902 — Belmont Academy (4-0-2)
1901 — Belmont Academy (3-2)
1900 — San Francisco Lowell (5-1-2)

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:


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