For boys sports only, De La Salle of Concord is considered tops for the state for 2022-23 with big finishes over the final days of the school year in golf, swimming and track & field. For the girls, Santa Margarita has to be listed alongside its overall State School of the Year selection. Other schools topping the list for overall state sports excellence honors for 2022-23 are Whitney of Rocklin (D2), Campolindo of Moraga (D3), University of San Francisco (D4) and Ripon 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.
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Congratulations to the following schools for collecting a statewide all-sports honor for the 2022-2023 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 have placed high in CIF championship events.)
Boys Sports Only:
De La Salle (Concord)
It’s getting to be a broken record, but this one has to go to the Spartans for the second straight year and the ninth time since 1985. At the end, athletic director Leo Lopoz was comparing it to the best years and perhaps the best year he’s seen and he’s been either the athletic director or assistant athletic director since 1999 and is a 1994 graduate of the school.
Prior to last year, the last time De La Salle was first in the category was in 2019. For four of the nine years it’s been tops for boys sports, De La Salle also was State School of the Year. The last time for that was for the 2011-12 school year. It’s more difficult for the Spartans to finish first in overall consideration as an all-boys school. Their competition for school of the year like Santa Margarita of Rancho SM and Buchanan of Clovis has girls and therefore many more opportunities to have more championship teams.
De La Salle’s CIF state title for 2022-23 was achieved for the second straight year in golf. It was a dominant showing this time for the Spartans as they shot a 9-under par combined score of 346 at Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach to finish 10 shots in front of second-place Torrey Pines of San Diego. Sophomore Joshua Kim shot a 5-under 66 to also finish in a tie for second individually. Jack Jerge was right behind at 67 while Jaden Dumdumaya also was under par with a 70.
The spring season also helped the Spartans push further in front of other contenders for boys sports and closer to the top overall. In boys track, they were sixth at the CIF state meet, thanks to individual long jump champ Chukwunonzo Udeh, and they were sixth at the CIF state meet for Division I in swimming. Udeh also finished fifth in the high jump, 110-meter hurdles and ran a leg on a fifth-place 4×100 relay unit. In baseball, unlike last year when DLS finished No. 1 in the final state rankings, this time the Spartans were No. 3. They won their second straight CIF NorCal D1 regional title with an unbelievable 11-8 win over Valley Christian of San Jose. Junior Hank Tripaldi capped a six-run rally in the top of the seventh inning in that game with a two-out, grand-slam homer. If he had been retired on an out, it would have been an 8-7 loss for the Spartans.
De La Salle also had a first in football (which is hard to do) as it won its first-ever CIF NorCal D1 title with an avenging win over Folsom. The programs previous CIF titles have been in the Open Division. The Spartans then lost in the CIF D1 state final to Lincoln of San Diego. In boys basketball, the team was among the best in Northern California but there were losses in the super-competitive East Bay Athletic League. The Spartans did get one win over CIF Southern Section Open Division finalist St. John Bosco and also staged a memorable MLK Day win over West Linn of Oregon when that team came into the week ranked No. 1 in the nation by USA Today. DLS ended its season with a one-point loss to eventual champ Modesto Christian in the CIF NorCal Open Division playoffs.
There were additional teams that contributed to the school of the year selection, including water polo (NorCal D1 semifinals) and volleyball (NorCal D3 semifinals).
Girls Sports Only:
Santa Margarita (Rancho SM)
Like St. Francis of Mountain View from last year and Harvard-Westlake from the previous year, a good chunk of the success for the Eagles this year came on the girls side of the ledger. That’s why they are also State School of the Year for girls sports to go with being State School of the Year (overall).
While this is the first time that Santa Margarita has been State School of the Year, it’s not the first for girls sports only. The Eagles gained that one for the first time for the 2018-19 school year. This one therefore would be their second.
Division II State School of Year:
A lot of the previous schools listed as winners for D2 are schools that are current members of super leagues in Southern California (Trinity) and Northern California (West Catholic), but for almost all of those years it’s because enrollment was still used as a factor to place teams into section playoff divisions. Now, and with more and more athletes transferring into leagues such as the Trinity, there’s no way anymore that any of those schools are going to be anything less than D1 for school of the year consideration.
Those reasons are mainly why no Sac-Joaquin Section school has ever been D2 School of the Year before Whitney for this year. Regardless, the Wildcats were simply sensational in 2022-23. They’d not only be our winner for D2 but would be best overall from the SJS.
While the overall program didn’t have any one team that was near the top of the state rankings in any sport, the depth and number of teams that went deep into the postseason was near the top of the state.
The Wildcats won CIF SJS titles in eight different sports, starting with boys and girls cross country and girls volleyball in the fall. In the winter, both of Whitney’s basketball teams (boys and girls) won section titles on the same magical day at the Golden 1 Center (in D2). The boys soccer team also made it to a section final. In the spring, Whitney softball plus boys and girls track both won section titles while baseball fell short of repeating as D1 section champs with a loss to Franklin of Elk Grove. That girls track team was paced by CIF state champion Ashanti Elie in the high jump.
“I am just so proud of everyone involved with our high school and our athletic program,” said Nick French, athletic director and head boys’ basketball coach, in an interview with Aaron Jackson of Gold Country Media. “Our athletes have committed themselves to their sports, teams and sports programs. They deserve everything that has happened this year.”
Division III State School of Year:
This is the eighth state school of the year honor for the Cougars and their second in a row for D3. And if we know how hard their boys and girls teams compete, eight is definitely not going to be enough.
Prior to last year, Campo’s previous school of the year selection was for D2 in 2020. It was D3 in 2019 and D3 in 2015. There were two straight for D3 in 2011 and 2012. The first one came in 2005.
Cross country in the fall got everything going once again for the Cougars. The girls won their third straight CIF state title in D3 and had the second-fastest time of the day on the Woodward Park course in Fresno. Ellie Buckley (senior) and Shea Volkmer (junior) led the way with third and fourth place finishes, respectively. The boys didn’t win a CIF state title, but were second in their D3 state meet race behind Oakdale.
The Campo combo of football and boys hoops also stood out again. The basketball team lost some great players from the previous season and was not among the top overall squads in Northern California, but it finished 23-8 with a win in the CIF North Coast Section D2 final before a loss to Riordan of San Francisco in the CIF NorCal D1 playoffs. Head coach Kevin Macy’s gridders shined with a 12-1 season behind QB Dashiell Weaver (3,239 yds passing with 32 TDs plus 543 yds rushing and 11 scores). After winning a wild-and-wacky NCS D2 semifinal, 42-41, over Rancho Cotate of Rohnert Park, the Cougars lost 35-21 to San Ramon Valley of Danville in the final.
Girls swimming was another major team that pushed Campo to the top for D3 schools. Helped with a first-place finish in the 200-yard medley relay and a second-place finish in the 100 back by Adriana Smith, the Cougars scored 159 points to place second behind Santa Margarita in the non-divisional final team standings. We also charted girls water polo with a CIF NorCal D1 semifinal finish and boys water polo with a CIF NorCal D2 semifinal finish.
University (San Francisco)
Retiring athletic director Jim Ketcham knows a lot about the Cal-Hi Sports school of the year honors and has often sent in a letter highlighting the school’s accomplishments at the end of each year. The question wasn’t that the Red Devils were deserving to get one this year or not, but in which division. It turned out that D4 was the best fit.
“This athletic year was the best in the history of University High School,” Ketcham said. “We said the same thing in our 2018 nomination when we had eight teams finish 1st or 2nd in (North Coast) section championships and were selected as the Cal-Hi State D5 School of the Year.”
In addition to the 2018 selection, which was in D5, University also was D5 State School of the Year five times before that, including three years in a row from 2002 to 2004. The other two also were consecutive for 1998 and 1999. Counting a D4 selection for 2021, that’s eight now for the Red Devils.
Instead of eight teams ending either first or second in various NCS playoffs (which was for 2018), this year the Red Devils did that 12 times. Six of those teams for girls cross country, girls tennis, boys basketball, girls basketball plus boys and girls track captured NCS titles. The second-place finishes came in girls volleyball, boys cross country, boys soccer, girls soccer, baseball and boys tennis.
From a CIF state perspective, University’s girls cross country had the top finish with a second-place showing in its D5 state final race. The boys team was seventh.
The biggest moment was perhaps when the boys basketball team, which was moved up to D1 for the NorCal playoffs, went to Jesuit of Carmichael and ended the career of McDonald’s All-American Andrej Stojakovic with a big win. Head coach Randy Bessolo’s squad then lost to Salesian of Richmond.
The girls volleyball team also was moved up for the NorCal playoffs from D3 to D2, but still advanced to the title game where it fell to D1 school Clovis North of Fresno.
What a year it was for the Knights, who can now feel free to raise a banner as the D5 State School of the Year for the first time in their history. This also is just the third-ever winner in D5 from the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section following Modesto Christian for 2007 and Capital Christian of Sacramento for 2015.
While the Knights enjoyed big success in the three-sport combo of football, boys hoops and baseball, the most success came in girls volleyball. Behind 20 kills from Jordan Vanderveen, Ripon Christian swept three games from Central Valley Christian of Visalia to win the CIF D4 state title. The girls also ended with a 35-6 final record.
In football, RC won the SJS D7 title with a win over Woodland Christian and then fell in the CIF NorCal D5-A regional championship by just 31-28 to favored Hughson. That Hughson team went on to beat Muir of Pasadena for a state title by a bigger margin. Trey Fasani threw for 33 touchdowns to lead the offense while Eli Terpsma led the defense with 9.4 tackles per game. Terpsma then stepped up in basketball with a team-leading 19.1 ppg to help the Knights win the D5 section title. The team ended 26-8 after a loss to Sierra of Tollhouse in the CIF NorCal D5 final. The baseball team won an SJS title as well and ended 23-8 (ranked No. 1 in the final Cal-Hi Sports D5 state rankings). Its loss to end the season was to Lowell of San Francisco in the NorCal D5 semifinals.
The other team showing high on RC’s chart was for boys volleyball. The Knights went 25-6, won the SJS D4 title and then were moved up to D2 for the NorCal playoffs where they fell in the first round to Moreau Catholic of Hayward.
Note: If we were doing a top 10 ranking for schools of year, Santa Margarita would be first, Buchanan of Clovis second, De La Salle third, JSerra of San Juan Capistrano fourth, St. Francis of Mountain View fifth, Mater Dei of Santa Ana sixth, St. John Bosco of Bellflower seventh, Whitney of Rocklin eighth, Oaks Christian of Westlake Village ninth, Torrey Pines of San Diego 10th & Campolindo 11th. Here below would be writeups on those top schools not shown above.
2. Buchanan (Clovis)
It takes a lot for a school to top Buchanan in our evaluation system especially when the Bears seem to be winning CIF state titles every year at the highest divisions in two sports — girls cross country and boys wrestling. For the second straight year, after St. Francis of Mountain View last year, Santa Margarita did it this year. It’s therefore a second straight No. 2 finish for what we would say is the state’s No. 1 overall athletic program for so far in the 2020s.
It was a weird final night for the Bears in wrestling since they had four finalists who all lost in CIF state championship matches. Still, they had more than enough points to win their seventh straight CIF state title. Two of the four runner-ups — Rocklin Zinkin at 106 pounds and Joseph Toscano at 126 — were freshmen so the streak may not be over yet. The others to gain 2nd-place medals were Sloan Swan at 170 and Kannon Campbell at 220.
It was a more dominant day for Buchanan’s girls runners back in November as they won the program’s fourth state title and second in a row with just 40 points (the best team score in their history). The group of Grace Hutchinson, Sydney Sundgren, Elle Lomeli, Sierra Cornett, Avery Hutchison, Kynzlee Buckley and Tayler Torosian later went to Portland and finished third in the Nike Nationals championships.
In addition to the two CIF state titles, Buchanan also had two teams earn fourth-place finishes in CIF team scoring events. The first was in girls wrestling where unlike the boys the Bears did have an individual champion with Brenda Nunez first at 101 pounds. The other fourth-place medal came in boys track at the CIF state meet held on the Buchanan campus. The Bears had 30 points with 10 of them coming on a first-place finish in the pole vault at 16-6 by Hilton Green.
Green also was a receiver on Buchanan’s football team in the fall that went 9-3 and went to the CIF Central Section D1 semifinals. That team was led by one of the state’s top quarterbacks, Jayden Mandel (now at Fresno State).
Another future Bulldog who led a more than solid Bears’ team was baseball’s J.P. Acosta, the Fresno Bee Player of the Year. Buchanan reached the title game of the CIF Central Section playoffs before losing to Centennial of Bakersfield. Buchanan also had a 21-10 girls basketball team and a boys water polo team that qualified for the CIF D2 regional playoffs.
4. JSerra (San Juan Capistrano)
The Lions were more difficult to evaluate than most schools because some of their championship teams at the CIF state level were not in Division I. Still, looking at everything, it would have to be the school’s best overall showing in all sports ever (and that’s obviously hard to do when all of the teams are competing in the Trinity League).
We’ll start in the spring where head coach Brett Kay and the JSerra baseball team won its second straight CIF Southern Section D1 title and were named State Team of the Year. The next day after that team’s title game the boys track team at JSerra placed second in team points at the CIF state track meet. That was mainly possible due to senior Brendon See winning both the shot put and discus throw events.
In addition to baseball, it could be said that JSerra also had the the No. 1 teams in the state in boys water polo and boys soccer. The water polo team, which won the Trinity League title, avenged one of its losses in a 26-4 season to Newport Harbor of Newport Beach with a win over Sailors in the CIF SoCal D1 championship. The soccer team, which ended with a 20-1-1 record, blanked Birmingham of Lake Balboa, 3-0, to win the CIF SoCal D1 crown. Senior Regan Haslin, considered one of the best high school players in the nation, scored a pair of goals for the Lions.
JSerra’s only CIF state title of the year came in girls cross country. It was a repeat as well as head coach Chase Frazier’s squad earned the title in D4 once again, this time by 11 points over Oaks Christian of Westlake Village. It will be interesting to see how the Lions do next season with a lot of returning runners and likely in a much higher division.
The school also had a high CIF state finish in girls water polo. The Lions (27-4) were only 1-3 in the Trinity League, but later won the CIFSS D2 title and topped Murrieta Valley of Murrieta to win the CIF SoCal D2 regional crown.
5. St. Francis (Mountain View)
One year removed from being State School of the Year, the Lancers enjoyed another very strong showing in all-around athletic excellence. They just weren’t as strong in football or baseball.
Two different Lancers’ girls teams were as stellar in their sports as they’ve ever been. One was in the fall in girls volleyball. St. Francis had climbed to No. 5 in the nation and was sitting a 34-0 heading into the CIF D1 state final in Orange County. It’s just that the Lancers had to play national No. 1 Cathedral Catholic of San Diego in that match and lost. Juniors Taylor Williams and Whitney Wallace will be back this fall to see if the team can take that last final step. The other was in the winter in girls soccer. A goal by Kaya Rosa gave the Lancers a 1-0 win over Carondelet of Concord in the CIF NorCal D1 championship. The Lancers also capped a 25-1 season.
The fall season at St. Francis also featured the girls cross country team coming up with a third-place finish in the CIF D2 state cross country race. The boys water polo team in the fall also made it to the NorCal D1 playoffs.
In the spring, St. Francis was poised to perhaps finish No. 1 in the state in softball for a second straight season. The Lancers, however, were upset in the CCS Open Division final by Hollister and then lost to the Haybalers again, 1-0 in eight innings, in the NorCal D1 championship. Despite those losses, St. Francis still finished 28-4 and was No. 4 in the final state rankings. In the spring, the boys volleyball team also completed a 27-10 season. It lost in the CCS Open final to Valley Christian (San Jose) and then in the NorCal D1 semifinals to Clovis East.
6. Mater Dei (Santa Ana)
The standards for the Monarchs are quite high and despite being in the top 10 of the state once again we’re pretty sure for a lot of the school’s fans it wasn’t that great of a 2022-23 school year.
Football was No. 2 in the nation for most final national rankings, but anytime Trinity League rival St. John Bosco is No. 1 then it’s a a disappointment to some degree. The Monarchs beat the Braves in the regular season, but lost in a rematch for the CIFSS D1 title in the final season of the legendary career of retiring head coach Bruce Rollinson. The team is starting out the 2023 season No. 1 in every preseason national ranking we’ve seen so far.
The MD team in the fall that won a CIF SoCal D1 title was in girls tennis and it was the first time ever for the Monarchs, who also had a a first-year head coach in Debbie Shaffer. The girls got past Palos Verdes of PV Estates, 6-1, in their final match.
Having hugely successful girls and boys basketball teams also is usually helpful for MD in school of the year compilations. This time, it was a 29-4 season for head coach Kevin Kiernan’s team for the girls (No. 5 in final state rankings) and 29-7 for head coach Gary McKnight’s team for the boys (No. 12 in final state rankings). The Monarchs won another CIFSS title on the boys side in D1 after not qualifying for the Open Division.
On our chart, we also had points for MD for large school cheerleading, girls volleyball (lost to Torrey Pines in CIF SoCal D1 playoffs and 29-9 overall) and boys water polo (20-6 record, lost to Newport Harbor in CIF SoCal D1 semifinals).
7. St. John Bosco (Bellflower)
So yes, the Trinity League does end up with four of the top seven places in our State School of the Year rankings. There’s really no hesitation to do that, either. All four schools had at least one team No. 1 in the state or win CIF state titles with several others not far behind.
For the Braves, of course, their No. 1 team was in football, courtesy of an avenging win over Mater Dei in the CIFSS D1 championship and then a dominant win over Serra of San Mateo in the CIF Open Division state final.
Bosco also would be the easy winner of being the state’s No. 1 football-basketball school. The basketball team made history by ending Mater Dei’s state record of winning league titles at 34, and reached the CIF SoCal Open Division championship where lost to eventual state champion Harvard-Westlake.
In addition to those big two sports, the Braves placed fourth in the CIF D4 state cross country race and they were seventh in team scoring at the CIF state wrestling championships.
9. Oaks Christian (Westlake Village)
The Lions in 2022-23 not only had the fastest girl in the state, but they also had the winner of a national title in cross country. That fastest girl was junior sprinter Niya Clayton as the daughter of former MLB baseball player Royce Clayton won the 100-meter title at the CIF state track championships with a time of 11.45 seconds. In the fall, Oaks Christian’s Payton Godsey (also a junior) was the winner of the national title at the GarminRunningLane championships held in Alabama. She also was the L.A. Daily News Runner of the Year. With those two, Oaks Christian also was fifth in team scoring at the CIF state track meet and was second in the CIF D4 state cross country finals.
There were other teams at Oaks Christian that also contributed to a strong overall school year. The softball team went to the CIF SoCal D1 final (lost to Poway) and set a state record for most home runs in a season. The girls soccer team went 19-4-1 with a high CIFSS finish and then a loss to Westview of San Diego in the CIF SoCal D1 playoffs. Oaks Christian also had a top 10 team in boys cross country and a fourth-place finish in team standings at the CIF state championships in boys golf.
10. Torrey Pines (San Diego)
It gets much more difficult to rank teams for the final couple of spots to get to our top 10, but once again the Falcons just had too many top teams and once again land in the top 10.
A school that has been checked closely for school of the year points for every year in about the last 10 years, Torrey Pines didn’t win any CIF state titles for 2022-23, but was second in the boys golf championships behind De La Salle. The Falcons also won a CIF SoCal regional title in girls water polo with a win over Mt. Carmel of San Diego in D2 and capped a 24-9 season record.
Torrey Pines also was near the top of the state in girls volleyball. The Falcons (27-10) lost in the CIF San Diego Section Open Division final to Cathedral Catholic and lost to the Dons again in the CIF SoCal Open Division semifinals after they advanced with a win over Mater Dei. Cathedral Catholic had the best team in the nation, so losing twice to that group was more than respectable.
More from Torrey Pines included points for girls cross country (9th in state for D1), boys swimming (seventh in state overall) and boys volleyball (35-8 with a loss to El Segundo in the CIF SoCal D2 championships.
MORE HONORABLE MENTIONS
Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) – Girls Basketball, Boys Basketball, Football, Softball, Baseball, Boys Soccer, Girls Volleyball.
Branson (Ross) – Girls Volleyball, Boys Basketball, Girls Soccer, Boys Golf, Girls Tennis, Girls Track.
Cathedral Catholic (San Diego) – Girls Volleyball, Boys Volleyball, Boys Water Polo, Girls Cross Country.
Clovis West (Fresno) – Football, Boys Basketball, Girls Basketball, Girls Swimming, Girls Water Polo, Boys Water Polo.
Crystal Springs Uplands (Hillsborough) – Boys Cross Country, Girls Cross Country, Boys Golf, Girls Basketball.
Harvard-Westlake (Studio City) – Boys Basketball, Baseball, Girls Cross Country, Girls Soccer, Boys Water Polo.
Long Beach Poly – Football, Boys Track, Girls Track, Baseball, Boys Soccer
Lutheran (Orange) – Football, Girls Basketball, Boys Basketball, Baseball, Boys Soccer, Girls Water Polo, Boys Water Polo.
Menlo School (Atherton) – Boys Cross Country, Boys Track, Boys Tennis, Girls Cross Country, Girls Basketball.
Pleasant Valley (Chico) – Boys Soccer, Cheerleading, Girls Volleyball, Girls Basketball, Boys Basketball, Baseball, Softball.
Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth) – Girls Basketball, Boys Basketball, Football, Baseball, Girls Volleyball.