A team that lost in a CIF state final in overtime last season starts out this group of ranked squads. There’s also two teams written up that have been in the news this week for different reasons — Edison of Huntington Beach and Oak Ridge of El Dorado Hills — plus teams that went 13-1, 14-1, 13-1 and 13-1 in 2022. This is the 45th year of Cal-Hi Sports doing state football rankings. Some of the others doing this work are in their first or second year.
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31. SAN RAMON VALLEY (DANVILLE)
2022 Record & Final TOP 50 Rank: 12-3, NR
First Game: Friday, Aug. 25 at St. Ignatius (San Francisco)
A lot of thought went into where to start the Wolves in this year’s rankings. The good news for them is that it was certain they were going to be among the top ranked teams in Northern California based on their returning players. Higher than Pitt among CIF North Coast Section teams? Nope, didn’t go there yet. They also had to go behind Granite Hills of El Cajon (the team they lost to in overtime in the 2022 CIF D2-A state final) and we knew the Eagles were going to be No. 4 in the San Diego Section. Leading off the third group of teams at No. 31 then became the place to be.
San Ramon Valley has one elite returnee on each side of the ball. Senior QB Luke Baker (a Santa Clara baseball commit) had a spectacular junior season as he passed for 3,733 yards and 46 TDs and rushed for 237 yards and five scores. Junior DE/LB Marco Jones (6-4, 205) led the defense in tackles with 149 and is regarded as one of the top Class of 2025 recruits in Northern California. Also among the returnees is RB John Pau Mendoza (leading rusher with 868 yards and 10 TDs), WR Zack Dodson (leading receiver with 56 catches) and DB Jack Horton (led team in interceptions with four and second in tackles). It also will help that the Wolves have one of the top kickers in the state, Austin Shelton, who led Northern California a year ago in kicking points.
32. EDISON (HUNTINGTON BEACH)
2022 Record & Final TOP 50 Rank: 9-2, No. 13
First Game: Friday, Aug. 25 at Leuzinger (Lawndale)
The Chargers were all set to take off this week for a nine-day trip to Hawaii to open their season. It was supposed to have been a great opportunity for bonding, a scrimmage later this week and then the first game on Friday, Aug. 18. Unfortunately, but even worse for the schools involved in Hawaii, the trip had to be cancelled because it was to Maui and much of the island’s most populated town was destroyed on Wednesday morning by a fast-moving wildfire.
Head coach Jeff Grady has a lot of players to replace from last season, but the Edison program has proved it can do that well. We slotted the team behind San Clemente but ahead of Corona del Mar in our preseason order of Orange County teams. With QB Parker Awad graduated, junior Savelio Niumata (6-4, 205) is coming up and should be a good one. Edison also returns one of its top pass-catchers, senior Mason York. He was first team all-Sunset League. So was OL Makai Sagiao (6-2, 300). An incoming transfer to watch is LB Hoi Amasio-Hansen, who is coming in from St. John Bosco.
2022 Record & Final TOP 50 Rank: 13-1, No. 15
First Game: Friday, Aug. 18 vs Carlsbad at home
Folks who follow high school football in the L.A. area wanting to get a look at Carlsbad QB Julian Sayin, committed to Alabama and MVP of the national Elite 11 QB Camp, may be headed to Inglewood’s first game at home (El Camino College) since Carlsbad will be coming up from the San Diego area. The visiting Lancers fell to Inglewood last season and will be itching to win in a rematch.
While Inglewood did lose a lot of players from last season and QB Husan Longstreet has transferred out to Corona Centennial, it’s not like head coach Mil’Von James and staff are just throwing in the towel. The Sentinels, in fact, have a transfer coming in to play QB and that will be Damon Wrighster (6-3, 200), who previously was at Sierra Canyon. Damon has D1 offers and one of the top receivers from last year, Terrell Bradshaw Jr., is one who is back and has offers from Arizona, Arizona State and more. Inglewood also has returning strength at the linebacker position with all-league picks Venilaite Wolfgramm and Chrishawn Singleton. Wolfgramm also received all-state sophomore recognition last season.
34. MATER DEI CATHOLIC (CHULA VISTA)
2022 Record & Final TOP 50 Rank: 11-4, No. 23
First Game: Friday, Aug. 18 at Cathedral Catholic
In the last two seasons, head coach John Joyner’s club found itself in a great spot to go on a run that ended up with the CIF D2-AA state championship. It can be a bit strange for a team like the Crusaders, though, that is D1 for the San Diego Section. They want to be successful enough to get into the four-team Open Division, but then in not making it the chances of winning a CIF state title in a lower division become stronger. This year, we have MD Catholic perhaps doing that again as we’re starting the team fifth in the section behind Lincoln, Carlsbad, Madison and Granite Hills. The game against Carlsbad on Aug. 26 will be nationally televised by ESPN (mainly due to showing off Carlsbad QB Julian Sayin).
A special senior class has moved on, but Joyner still has two star players to rebuild around. On offense, RB Anthony McMillan Jr. returns with 1,270 yards rushing and 12 TDs with another two on receptions. McMillan, who has committed to Nevada, also can be a ball hawk on defense. That defense will be led by Arizona committed DB Isaiah Buxton. He had nearly a dozen D1 offers before committing. Buxton also will be used as a very capable kick returner. Another key returnee is OL Sam Brown (6-3, 300).
35. CHAMINADE (WEST HILLS)
2022 Record & Final TOP 50 Rank: 10-3, No. 21
First Game: Friday, Aug. 18 at Oaks Christian (Westlake Village)
Transfers and graduations have hurt the Eagles, but they made a ton of progress last season in the first year of new head coach David Machuca. And since the first game is against an Oaks Christian team that is loaded and at No. 20, putting Chaminade inside the top 50 provides some cover if it can get a win (which wouldn’t be that big of an upset).
QB Javance Tupuata-Johnson is now at San Diego State, but Chaminade will still have an exciting QB with junior Seth Shigg. He’s a dual-threat to be sure as he can flash the speed of CIF state track meet qualifier (48.17 in the 400) in addition to pinpoint passing. The Eagles also have a returning all-state first team junior in kicker Ryon Sayeri. He also is one of the top kickers in the nation. OL David Abajian (6-5, 280) is another all-state candidate. WR Logan Carpenter also could step up with Kwazi Gilmer transferring to Sierra Canyon.
36. ST. BONAVENTURE (VENTURA)
2022 Record & Final TOP 50 Rank: 7-4, No. 33
First Game: Friday, Aug. 18 at Oaks Christian (Westlake Village)
Running back Delon Thompson was one of the best in school history and while he’s graduated along with some others, there is still a lot back for the Seraphs. They fall in behind Marmonte League rival Oaks Christian despite winning the league title last season and behind Oak Hills of Hesperia (lost twice to that team) but we kept them in front of Pacifica of Oxnard (loaded with top returnees).
QB Anthony Wolter is among those back for head coach Joe Goyeneche. Anthony has D1 offers from Nevada and San Jose State. The offensive line also should be a strength with returnees such as Shaun Torgeson (6-5, 285) and Jack Sloniker (6-4, 315). The defense should include DB Drew Cofield, a junior who led the team in interceptions with four, and LB Koen Glover, a junior who had seven sacks. Koen also is a running back on offense and figures to be a multi-purpose standout for the team. Also back is third leading tackler Zane McCulley.
37. BISHOP AMAT (LA PUENTE)
2022 Record & Final TOP 50 Rank: 9-4, No. 22
First Game: Friday, Aug. 18 at Valencia
It’s almost a yearly exercise for the Lancers. Graduation losses and in this year’s case some key players leaving via transfer causes a lower than usual preseason ranking. But then head coach Steve Hagerty and his staff get going and Amat ends up back in top 25 of the state or even higher. We asked our friend James Escarcega of the SGV Whittier Prep Zone what he thought about the Lancers and he said they’d be his No. 1 team. The San Gabriel Valley Tribune’s Fred Robledo hadn’t yet posted his No. 1 team when we finalized these rankings, but since he’d gotten to No. 2 La Serna of Whittier and hadn’t yet written about Amat it’s pretty obvious which team he was going to rank No. 1. We could have put Amat in front of Chaminade (same league as Sierra Canyon and Serra of Gardena), but decided to go lower.
Richie Munoz (5-10, 200) is the Lancers’ leading returnee and is the definition of athlete. He’ll play quarterback, running back and has the potential to get recruited on defense. When Munoz is not playing QB, Amat has another QB it can go to easily, junior Frankie Villabazo. An all-league returnee on defense to watch is junior DB Noah Fa’apito (6-0, 175). A two-way player at CB and WR who could make an impact is Brandyn Wetherspoon. John Rodriguez (6-4, 305) and Melecio Campos (6-4, 295) are two senior offensive linemen who bring size and strength.
38. OAK RIDGE (EL DORADO HILLS)
2022 Record & Final TOP 50 Rank: 10-3, No. 27
First Game: Friday, Aug. 18 vs. Spanish Springs (Sparks, Nev.) at home
As we were putting together these rankings, news broke in the Sacramento area that players from the Trojans would be suspended or expelled and were being investigated by police due to a reported hazing incident that took place at a camp. We don’t know which players are involved or any other details, and while we dropped the team several places from where we were going to rank it this is still a CIF Sac-Joaquin Section D1 finalist from last season that has some key returnees. We’ll adjust later when more is known.
On the field, Oak Ridge needs some players to step up on offense, but should have an elite offensive line led by Fresno State commit Ethan Dasmann (6-5, 280). The offense also has one of the top junior tight ends in the state in Kaleb Edwards (6-7, 235). He caught 27 passes for 628 yards and seven TDs last season and he was named to our all-state Grid-Hoop team. The defense for the Trojans returns the top two leading tacklers. Markus Hoffman (6-2, 245) also had 10 sacks last season. Gavin Molloy (6-3, 225) plays middle linebacker and was All-Sierra Foothill League as a junior.
39. YORBA LINDA
2022 Record & Final TOP 50 Rank: 14-1, No. 35
First Game: Friday, Aug. 18 vs Damien (La Verne) at home
A big group of 16 starters are gone from last year’s team that won the CIFSS D3 title and had a possible 16-0 season ended with a loss to Liberty of Bakersfield in the CIF D1-A SoCal final. Head coach Jeff Bailey, though, has won more than 150 games in his career (all at Yorba Linda) and is on the all-time state list for winning percentages among coaches with at least that many wins. The sense in Orange County is that the Mustangs will be fine.
The team’s leading returnee is DB Dylan Gardner, an All-Orange County pick who also caught 43 passes on offense. Gardner also was the Crestview League Player of the Year. Senior Rory Mosier (6-2, 260) is another key veteran as he will be the program’s first four-year starter. RB Jason Escovar, upcoming QB Holden Nagin (a junior) and returning DLs Jon Silvestri and Josh Grethen are among others to watch.
2022 Record & Final TOP 50 Rank: 9-5, NR
First Game: Friday, Aug. 18 at La Habra
Going right behind Yorba Linda in our rankings is an Upland squad that only lost to the Mustangs 9-6 in last year’s CIFSS D3 playoffs. It also made a difference that the Highlanders had a 35-7 win last season over Etiwanda.
The defense for head coach Darryl Thomas’ squad last season was outstanding and one of the reasons was sophomore Trestin Castro, who came up with seven interceptions and was on the all-state sophomore team. Castro also is one of the top junior DB college prospects in the state. Another top DB, Theo Thompson, also returns. He had 53 tackles and two interceptions last season. Yet another defender who is coming back is DE A.J. Matelau, who had 6.5 sacks and was among the team’s leading tacklers. On offense, Upland looks good at the quarterback position as Noah Sandoval returns. He passed for 1,581 yards and 15 TDs last season.
41. CENTRAL CATHOLIC (MODESTO)
2022 Record & Final TOP 50 Rank: 8-5, No. 39
First Game: Friday, Aug. 18 vs Merced at home
Head coach Roger Canepa of the Raiders needs nine wins to tie the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section record for coaching wins that is currently held at 282 by his good friend Mark Loureiro of Escalon (who helps as an assistant coach for Canepa). Roger has been head coach at Central Catholic since 2008 with previous stops at Sonora and Calaveras of San Andreas. His team wasn’t favored to win another Valley Oak League title last year when Manteca had Blake Nichelson (now at Florida State) but won in a shootout over the Buffaloes, 56-49, and now that Nichelson is gone it will be back to a favorite’s role for the Raiders.
Central Catholic’s top two returning players are Tyler Wentworth at quarterback and Brooklyn Cheek at WR/DB. Wentworth, a three-year starter who is getting huge interest as an MLB prospect for the 2024 draft, passed for 1,986 yards and 20 TDs as a junior, which was his second year starting in football. Cheek, who has committed to Cal, had three interceptions and 37 tackles on defense, but also can catch the ball on offense. He’s not a returnee, but Central Catholic also boasts of having one of the top-ranked linemen in the state in Manasse Itete. The 6-foot-5, 290-pounder previously played at Modesto Christian where he started out as a power forward in basketball. Itete recently committed to Florida State.
42. SAN JOAQUIN MEMORIAL (FRESNO)
2022 Record & Final TOP 50 Rank: 10-3, No. 24
First Game: Friday, Aug. 18 at Clovis North (Fresno)
Head coach Anthony Goston and the Panthers have some work to do to overcome some graduation losses after last year’s team went to the CIF Central Section D1 championship (where it lost to Liberty of Bakersfield). Two key transfers will likely be helpful so we decided not to drop SJM that far for the preseason.
One of those transfers is junior WR C.J. Jones from nearby Sunnyside. He has D1 offers, but with Jones it’s been about the numbers. He caught 123 passes for a new section record last season (according to section historian Bob Barnett) and he had 17 TD catches. The other is QB Jaylen Patterson from Vista del Lago (Moreno Valley). Patterson, who also started as a freshman, passed for 1,822 yards and 15 TDs for the Ravens last season. He also ran for 951 yards and 20 scores. SJM also has one of the state’s top punters, Alex Asparuhov, who also can kick long field goals if asked to do it.
43. CORONA DEL MAR (NEWPORT BEACH)
2022 Record & Final TOP 50 Rank: 8-4, No. 39
First Game: Friday, Aug. 18 at Downey
You might not think the Sea Kings would be in the mix this year with QB David Razor graduated and off to UC Davis after an outstanding high school career. There’s also a new head coach as Kevin Hettig takes over for Dan O’Shea, who was there when CDM won the 2019 CIF D1-A title with a 16-0 record. There’s still a lot to like about this group, however.
Kaleb Annett was not only ready to become the starting QB this season, but the 6-foot-4, 205-pounder proceeded to have a breakout spring and gained D1 college attention. Annett recently committed to Boise State. Three others with all-league credentials also are back, including Zach Giuliano, one of the top tight ends in SoCal, along with RB Colin Pene and WR Russell Weir. One of the team’s leading tacklers, LB Christian Brooks, also is among the returnees.
44. PACIFICA (OXNARD)
2022 RECORD & FINAL TOP 50 RANK: 9-3, NR
First Game: Friday, Aug. 18 at Simi Valley
Ten starters are back for the Tritons, who will be looking to move up in the CIFSS and Ventura County area pecking order in their second game against St. Bonaventure. If they get past that game, then a 10-0 regular season seems very possible and then it will just be a matter of where they go in the playoffs. If it’s not D2, then in D3 or D4 may be a great place to be.
The offense and defense both have top-notch returnees. On offense, RB/WR Josh Joyner has committed to Washington State. QB Dominic Duran (a junior) also is back after throwing for 1,215 yards while splitting time with a QB now transferred to another school. WR Savion Taylor (junior) also returns as the leading receiver (52 catches for 810 yards, seven TDs). Head coach Mike Moon’s defense will be led by Cal commit Dayday Aiupiu (6-3, 170) in the secondary. A junior LB with D1 offers, Nick Lavizzo (6-0, 205), looks good, too. One of the team’s leading linemen will be Sonny Aina (6-2, 285), who has committed to Portland State.
45. MURRIETA VALLEY (MURRIETA)
2022 RECORD & FINAL TOP 50 RANK: 6-5, NR
First Game: Friday, Aug. 18 vs Rancho Cucamonga at home
Just based on the duo of Bear Bachmeier and Asa Chatman coming back alone, we knew the Nighthawks were going to be in the preseason State TOP 50. They sure have given up a ton of points in recent years, though, especially in that 77-76 loss in overtime last year to Norco, so that tempered how high to put them.
Bear, a 6-2, 225-pound junior with offers from Alabama, Notre Dame and more, threw for 2,853 yards and 26 TDs last season. He added another 644 yards rushing and 18 scores. Chatman, a senior who has an offer from Colorado State and more, had 1,341 yards rushing with 20 touchdowns. He also caught 23 passes for 320 yards and two TDs. Toetu Faoliu, who led the team in sacks, and Curtis Kemp, who was second in tackles, also are among those back.
46. GRANT (SACRAMENTO)
2022 Record & Final TOP 50 Rank: 12-2, NR
First Game: Friday, Aug. 18 at Downey
No, we did not put Grant inside the final top 50 for the state last season after winning the CIF D3-AA state championship. It wasn’t one of the state title games, after all, played at Saddleback College in any of the top five divisions. The Pacers, however, are on the way back to being one of the top teams overall in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section and this year they have transfers and returnees to make it happen.
Head coach Carl Reed’s top returnee is senior TE/LB Kingston Lopa. The 6-foot-5, 190-pound senior has committed to Oregon. His defense is what he’s been recruited for, but on offense he had 47 catches last season for 980 yards and 17 touchdowns. Two huge transfers coming in are Devin Green from Sheldon of Sacramento and Wayshawn Parker of Elk Grove. Green is a UNLV commit who was second at Sheldon last season in rushing and receiving. Parker, who has an offer from Washington, averaged 15 yards per carry at Elk Grove and scored 13 touchdowns. Another player to watch is junior Jeremiah Tuiileila, a 6-2, 240-pound DL/LB.
47. LOS GATOS
2022 RECORD & FINAL TOP 50 RANK: 8-3, NR
First Game: Thursday, Aug. 24 vs Soquel at home
A team led mostly by those from an outstanding junior class lost in overtime last year to Archbishop Mitty in the CIF Central Coast Section Division I playoffs. Mitty then edged St. Francis in the semifinals before losing to Serra of San Mateo in the final. We like the Wildcats in front of Mitty due to their returning players. Head coach Mark Krail also needs just a handful of wins to move to second place on the school’s all-time win list and that will be a big deal since the legendary late, great Charlie Wedemeyer is currently in that position.
The versatile Jaylen Thomas, who had 47 tackles on defense with two interceptions plus 36 catches for 547 yards and seven TDs on offense (he even threw a pair of TD passes), is the team’s top returning player. Ryan Vernale (6-3, 255), the Peninsula Athletic League Offensive Lineman of the Year, also is back. Others to look for include LBs Henry Masters (6-0, 190) and Spencer Burg (6-2, 210). Masters, a junior, had 79 tackles and two interceptions as a sophomore.
48. MARIN CATHOLIC (KENTFIELD)
2022 RECORD & FINAL TOP 50 RANK: 13-1, NR
First Game: Saturday, Aug. 26 vs Freedom (Oakley) at home
Thanks to De La Salle of Concord not getting to 10 wins last season for the first time in more than 40 years, the Wildcats can now lay claim to being the only school in the state with 10 wins or more in the decades of the 2010s and 2020s. Our main source close to the school, associate editor Harold Abend, reports that this should be another team similar to last year and with a chance to be better than recent ones there.
Charles Williams enters the season as one of the premier RBs in Northern California and is where you start in talking about head coach Mazi Moayed’s squad. The three-year standout has offers from Wyoming, San Diego State and more. The front seven on defense also looks strong with DE Charlie Seymore (6-4, 245), LB Mario Crocitto (6-2, 220), LB Sean Peck (6-1, 215), LB Zach Taylor (6-1, 220) and more all ready to get after opposing offenses.
49. CATHEDRAL CATHOLIC (SAN DIEGO)
2022 RECORD & FINAL TOP 50 RANK: 6-6, 50
First Game: Friday, Aug. 18 vs Mater Dei Catholic (Chula Vista) at home
It’s hard to agree with a headline earlier this week in the San Diego Union-Tribune that the Dons “should again” lead the Central Conference of the SD Section. That is the same conference, by the way, of 2022 CIF D1-AA state champion Lincoln. Still, a 6-6 record for the program under head coach Sean Doyle that has won even more CIF state titles than Lincoln (three) probably hasn’t been sitting well with many players and coaches.
Despite a big transfer loss of Madden Faraimo going up to JSerra of San Juan Capistrano, Cathedral Catholic shouldn’t be counted out in the San Diego hierarchy. On offense, QB Jack Stevens has the ability for a big senior season. Ethan Ford at RB and an improved offensive line led by Sam Bjerke (6-3, 270) are other positives. On defense, key returnees include preseason all-section DB Ty Cortes, who has several D1 offers, and hard-rushing DE Luke Westfall.
2022 RECORD & FINAL TOP 50 RANK: 13-1, NR
First Game: Friday, Aug. 18 at La Mirada
The Centurions are coming off one of their best seasons ever and while they lose some great players such as Orange County Register Athlete of the Year Matthew Morrell they remain as a favorite to win their fifth straight Empire League title and could go on another nice playoff run depending on which division they end up in for the CIFSS playoffs.
Head coach Rick Feldman’s offense starts off with returning dual-threat QB Aidan Houston. If you can’t catch him, he can beat you with his arm. Houston passed for 3,069 yards as a junior. The team has three others back who were were All-CIFSS for their division: LB Rocco Burdett (69 solo tackles), OL/DL Hayden Frazier and OL/DL Matthew Fonseca.
30 MORE TEAMS ON THE BUBBLE
(All listed with last year’s record)
Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 9-4
Archbishop Riordan (San Francisco) 3-7
Apple Valley 8-3
Bonita (La Verne) 7-4
Birmingham (Lake Balboa) 9-5
Buchanan (Clovis) 9-3
Citrus Valley (Redlands) 9-3
Clovis North (Fresno) 7-5
Crean Lutheran (Irvine) 10-3
Damien (La Verne) 3-7
Del Oro (Loomis) 9-3
La Serna (Whittier) 9-2
Loyola (Los Angeles) 7-6
McClymonds (Oakland) 11-2
Mission Hills (San Marcos) 7-4
Monterey Trail (Elk Grove) 7-3
Newbury Park 9-3
Palma (Salinas) 8-3
Palos Verdes (PV Estates) 8-4
San Juan Hills (SJ Capistrano) 4-8
San Marin (Novato) 13-2
Servite (Anaheim) 2-8
West Ranch (Valencia) 11-1