More State Schools of the Year

QB Caleb Sanchez of State Boys Sports School of the Year St. John Bosco (left) was a happy camper after team won its regular season game vs Mater Dei. At right, girls from D2 State School of the Year Harvard-Westlake celebrate after winning CIF D2 state title. Photos: Mark Tennis & Willie Eashman / Cal-Hi Sports.

For boys sports only, St. John Bosco’s finishes in football, boys hoops, baseball and wrestling gain it a second top spot in five years. For the girls, Mater Dei edges Archbishop Mitty. Other schools earning overall state sports excellence honors for 2023-24 are Harvard-Westlake of Studio City (D2), Acalanes of Lafayette (D3), University of San Francisco (D4) and Crystal Springs Uplands of Hillsborough (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.


Congratulations to the following schools for collecting a statewide all-sports honor for the 2023-2024 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:
St. John Bosco (Bellflower)

The Braves netted their first listing in this category in 2020 and they have ended on top again, snapping a two-year reign held by De La Salle. It’s not just the one CIF state title in basketball to go with the CIF regional title in baseball combined with the obvious strength in football that did it. Bosco also had a top five finish at the CIF state wrestling finals.

In football, the team ended with a loss to Mater Dei in the CIF Southern Section D1 championship and there was a loss to Kahuku of Hawaii. But there also was a win over MD in the regular season and it also was easy to slot the Braves No. 2 in the final state rankings. Linebacker Kyngstonn Viliamu-Asa was named State Defensive Player of the Year.

Grigor Cholakyan was an individual CIF state wrestling champion for Bosco squad that was fourth in final team standings. Photo: Inside the W /

State Sophomore of the Year Brandon McCoy led the Braves to the CIF D1 state crown with a 78-62 win over San Ramon Valley of Danville. The team had a final record of 28-7 and was No. 3 in the final state rankings behind only Harvard-Westlake and Roosevelt of Eastvale.

The baseball program under head coach Andy Rojo then continued to show signs of becoming another elite squad in the rugged Trinity League. The Braves weren’t quite up to the level of state powerhouses Orange Lutheran and Santa Margarita, but they won six games and in the postseason they revved it up and wound up winning the CIF SoCal D3 regional championship. Young players like sophomore pitcher Julian Garcia and junior catcher Micah Taguiam will be back from the 23-11 squad and an impressive new home stadium on campus is just about done for next season.

While baseball didn’t give the Bosco boys a third team in the top five of the state, the wrestling team sure did. The Braves scored 186 points at the CIF state championships in Bakersfield, which was good for fourth-place and not too far behind third-place Gilroy. Grigor Cholakyan was the individual leader as he captured the 157-pound state title with a 3-2 TB2 vs Andrew Barbosa of Palm Desert.

Additional depth for the Bosco boys came from cross country. That team placed 10th in final team scoring in D4 at the CIF state championships.

Girls Sports Only:
Mater Dei (Santa Ana)

As has been the custom in recent years, the school that has won the overall state school of the year honor also is finishing on top for girls sports only. That was Santa Margarita for last year and St. Francis of Mountain View for the previous year. The Monarchs won two Open Division state titles on the same weekend last fall in girls tennis and girls volleyball, which was followed by a top five overall finish in girls basketball in the spring. MD also won a national title in cheerleading, gained a runner-up finish in the CIF regionals in girls water polo and made a run to the CIFSS D2 semifinals in softball.

Division II State School of Year:
Harvard-Westlake (Studio City)

Our State School of the Year for 2020-21 now captures its fourth school of the year selection. Its first was for 1995-96 for what we called medium schools at the time. It switched to divisions the following year and Harvard-Westlake won it for D3 for 1998-99.

The big weekend of the school year for the Wolverines came at the CIF state basketball championships where head coach David Rebibo’s boys won their second straight Open Division state championship and head coach Melissa Hearlihy’s girls won the crown in D2. The H-W boys also ended obviously as State Team of the Year and were led by eventual Mr. Basketball State Player of the Year Trent Perry. They will be led by another top player of the year candidate next season with Nik Khamenia. The girls were mostly a young group and will have leading scorers Deana Thompson, Valentina Guerrero and Angelina Habis all returning.

The school’s highly regarded baseball team reached the CIF Southern Section D1 championship game where it lost to a Corona team that was No. 1 in at least one national poll. The Wolverines ended No. 3 in the final state rankings at 27-5 and should be celebrating later this summer when standout Bryce Rainer is chosen in high in the first round of the MLB Draft.

Another Wolverines’ team that we can safely say can be considered top five in the state would be from boys water polo. That’s based on two one-goal losses to Newport Harbor of Newport Beach — first in the CIFSS Open Division semifinals and then in the CIF SoCal D1 semifinals.

The boys tennis team helped out big time for that 2020-21 school year by winning the major team title for Southern California. Head coach Bo Hardt’s squad this season reached the CIFSS D1 semifinals (lost to Corona del Mar) and the CIF SoCal D1 semifinals (lost to Torrey Pines).

Harvard-Westlake’s cross country program also contributed to the school’s final top five overall state ranking for school of the year with a seventh-place finish in the CIF D4 state final plus an 11th-place finish for the girls (also in D4).

Acalanes’ 4×100 relay team stands with head coach Joe Escobar at CIF state track meet. Ethan Torres, Paul Kuhner, Trevor Rogers and Kyle Bielawski finished in second-place. Kuhner and Rogers also were standouts on football team that won CIF D3-AA state title. Photo:

Division III State School of Year:
Acalanes (Lafayette)

If Campolindo of Moraga doesn’t get this honor (the Cougars got it last year for the second straight year and have gotten it eight times in their history), there’s a good chance one of their rival schools in the East Bay will be the one instead.

This time, it’s the Dons. They’ve now joined not just Campolindo but also Miramonte of Orinda as a state school of the year for the first time. Miramonte, like Campo, also has been selected several times for medium schools and D3.

This was probably the closest call for any of the divisions and two of the teams at Acalanes were moved up into higher divisions for the CIF North Coast Section playoffs.

The highlight of the school year was the team’s run to the CIF D3-AA state championship in football. The Dons faced CIF L.A. City Section champ Birmingham of Lake Balboa in the state final and beat the Patriots, 35-23, behind QB Sully Bailey’s four touchdown passes. Head coach Floyd Burnsed not only became mostly likely the oldest coach in state history to win a state title at age 76, but later was named State Coach of the Year.

Several athletes on the football team would later make waves during the spring track-and-field season. Trevor Rogers, an all-state football player at receiver/defensive back who will play next at Cal, earned a CIF state title in the long jump with a wind legal 24-3.75 leap on his final attempt. He and football teammate Paul Kuhner also ran legs on the the 4×100 relay team that was second in the state with a 40.96 clocking. The team point total also was good enough for 12th place.

Acalanes later went 26-6 in girls basketball and 23-4 in baseball. The girls team was in the NCS Open Division where it lost to Bishop O’Dowd and then won against Piedmont. The Dons then fell to Archbishop Riordan in the CIF NorCal D1 playoffs. The baseball team had to play in the NCS D1 playoffs where it won by shutouts over Freedom of Oakley and Casa Grande of Petaluma before losing to eventual NorCal D1 champion Granada of Livermore in the semifinals.

Two other teams that scored points for Acalanes on our spreadsheet were in girls cross country (7th in the CIF D4 state final) and girls water polo (lost to Miramonte in the CIF NorCal D1 semifinals).

Division IV:
University (San Francisco)

This is the second straight year for the Red Devils to get the D4 honor. They are D5 for boys and girls cross country, but have been as high as D1 for the CIF regional playoffs (boys hoops) based on competitive equity.

Isabella Ong was the leading scorer for University’s CIF NorCal D3 championship team. Photo: University HS athletics /

Prior to last year, University had been D5 State School of the Year five times, including three years in a row from 2002 to 2004. There also were consecutive D5 honors for 1998 and 1999 and one for D4 in 2021. It’s now nine overall for the school and three out of the last four.

When retiring AD Jim Ketcham nominated the school last year, he called it the best school year for athletics in school history. New AD Anthony Thomas didn’t need to send in a nomination as we found enough high-level teams on our own research. It might not have been quite like 2022-23, but was still enough to out-pace others we had classified as D4.

The major championship team at University was in girls soccer. The Red Devils needed a shootout to win the CIF NorCal D3 championship, but got it done vs Rio Americano of Sacramento. Head coach Cameron Hill’s girls also had an outstanding 21-1-4 record with just one loss by one goal to Branson of Ross in early February.

The girls basketball team was top seed for the CIF NorCal D3 playoffs and reached the regional final, but lost to eventual state champ Caruthers. The Red Devils (27-8) were led by D3 State Player of the Year Gabriella Kelley. The boys basketball team had another strong season as well. It once again had to be up in the CIF NorCal D1 playoffs but it did finish 27-6 and when compared to others that would usually be in lower divisions the comparisons were quite favorable.

A lot of University’s school of the year success relates to cross country over the years and that was again a strength for 2023-24. The Red Devils were third in the CIF D5 boys race and came in third as well in the CIF D5 girls race.

We also charted points for the school in boys soccer (D4 regional semifinals) and girls volleyball (22-9 record).

Division V:
Crystal Springs Uplands (Hillsborough)

We were unable to get our annual state schools of the year honors out before athletic director Bobby Long left the school for a new job in Oregon, but he clearly left the program in great shape. The Gryphons are the D5 choice for 2023-24 and it is their first-ever state school of the year honor.

The school joins overall winner Mater Dei of Santa Ana and Santa Margarita (Rancho SM) as the only ones we counted with three CIF state titles during the school year. For Crystal Springs, it was the D5 sweep of titles in boys and girls cross country, which came the weekend after the girls volleyball squad won its first ever state title (also in D5). The cross country teams also both repeated as D5 state champs. So how dominant were the Gryphons in those two CIF state final races: how about 1-3-5-7 for the boys and 2-3-4-7-8 for the girls.

The Crystal Springs Uplands boys and girls cross country teams took a combo photo with their CIF D5 state title trophies. Photo: Courtesy school.

In the winter season, Crystal Springs added to its haul with CIF Central Coast Section titles in girls soccer and girls basketball. The girls basketball team also reached the CIF NorCal D5 regional final where it lost to an Oakland High team that has a D2 enrollment and later won the CIF D5 state title.

There wasn’t another CCS title in the spring, but the Gryphons had one of the top boys golf teams in the state regardless of school size. They were second in the NorCal tournament and were fifth overall in the state.

Note: If we were doing a top 10 ranking for schools of year, Mater Dei would be first, Torrey Pines of San Diego second, Archbishop Mitty of San Jose third, Santa Margarita of Rancho SM fourth, Clovis North of Fresno fifth, Harvard-Westlake sixth, St. John Bosco seventh, De La Salle of Concord eighth, JSerra of SJ Capistrano ninth, and Orange Lutheran 10th. Note that Bosco and De La Salle are boys only. Also note that the only Trinity League school not in the top 10 would be Servite of Anaheim.

2. Torrey Pines (San Diego)

It was a very good year for the Falcons, who almost piled up enough points in our system to top Mater Dei. As in the past, the school does its best right at the end of the spring.

The only CIF state title that was won came in boys golf. Torrey Pines is the all-time leader in that sport for winning state team titles and won No. 7 in its history by six shots over defending champion De La Salle (Concord). Senior Jay Leng (headed to Stanford), carded a two-under-par 68 to lead the way. Freshman Evan Liu wasn’t far behind as he shot a 69.

There almost were two other CIF state titles in girls golf and boys tennis. The girls were second in their state final and that was despite shooting the same score (366) as Santa Margarita of Rancho SM. The Eagles took first on tie-breakers. In boys tennis, the Falcons went 25-1 and won the National High School Tennis All-American tourney in March with a 4-3 victory over University of Irvine. University, however, got revenge in the CIF SoCal D1 championship by handing Torrey Pines its only loss by a 5-2 margin.

Individually, history was made by Torrey Pines senior Laurel Gonzalez as she became the first boy or girl in CIF San Diego Section history to be voted player of the year in three sports. Gonzalez was the QB for the Falcons’ first-ever flag football team that finished 16-1 with a loss to Bonita Vista in the section’s first-ever title game. She led the girls soccer team to the Open Division title, but then it lost in the first round of the SoCal playoffs to Los Alamitos. Gonzalez’s best sport is lacrosse. The team completed a 17-4 record in its season. She will play lacrosse in college at Johns Hopkins in Maryland.

Torrey Pines had a hard time in baseball in its league games, but heated up for the SD Section Open Division playoffs and won the title. The team finished 23-11 and was No. 12 in the final state rankings.

Here’s some other Torrey Pines teams that scored points toward school of the year: boys soccer (reached CIF SoCal D2 semifinals), boys swimming (4th at the CIF state meet), girls tennis (regional semifinals) and boys volleyball (regional semifinals).

3. Archbishop Mitty (San Jose)

This was one of the best years for the Monarchs since they were State School of the Year in 2007 and 2009. There just wasn’t a CIF state title to sweeten the resume.

The seniors of the Archbishop Mitty softball team helped the Monarchs go 23-4 on the season with a top 15 state ranking. Photo: @MittySoftball /

The top team of the school year was in girls basketball. Head coach Sue Phillips was recently inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame and had a team that was No. 1 in the nation almost the entire season, but lost and had its perfect record snapped at 30-0 with a defeat to Etiwanda in the CIF Open Division championship. Mitty’s McKenna Woliczko was named State Sophomore of the Year and was joined on first team all-state by senior Morgan Cheli.

If the CIF state soccer championships had begun this year instead of next, who knows but perhaps the Monarchs would have swept the D1 state titles. They did sweep in the NorCal D1 championships. The girls topped Del Oro of Loomis in their regional final, 0-0 (5-3 in PKs), and ended 21-2-1 overall. Angie Cao connected for the game-winning penalty kick for head coach J.T. Hanley. The boys also needed PKs after the score was tied vs St. Francis of Mountain View in their regional final. Goalie Alan Quintero stopped two penalties as Mitty won 4-1 in the PKs. Guiseppe Sigala forced the OT as he scored a game-tying goal in the 80th minute. Mitty’s final record was 20-2-1. St. Francis ended at 22-2-1 with both of its losses coming to the Monarchs.

Like girls basketball, girls volleyball for Mitty also reached the CIF Open Division state final. And like in hoops, Mitty lost in the state game, which was 3-1 to Mater Dei of Santa Ana. The Monarchs won the NorCal title over St. Francis (MV) and were 33-5 overall.

The boys volleyball team avenged a CCS loss to Santa Cruz in the CIF NorCal D1 playoffs with a win over the Cardinals in the semifinals. The Monarchs, however, then lost in the final to Valley Christian of San Jose. They finished 30-10 overall.

Mitty’s baseball team added to the haul in the spring with wins over Valley Christian of San Jose and then St. Ignatius of S.F. to take the CCS Open Division championship. The Monarchs (20-13-1) then got a win over Granite Bay in the CIF NorCal D1 playoffs before falling, 7-6, to St. Mary’s of Stockton in the regional semifinals.

Other teams at the school that excelled were in softball (23-4 & CCS Open finalist), boys swimming (8th in CIF state finals), girls swimming (11th in CIF state finals) and boys water polo (CIF NorCal D3 semifinals).

4. Santa Margarita (Rancho SM)

Last year’s overall winner was up there again, and had to be with three CIF state titles. The only others with three were Mater Dei and small school Crystal Springs Uplands.

Santa Margarita has dominant boys-girls swimming program going right now and it is giving the school practically an automatic pair of CIF state titles to put on its ledger. That happened again at this year’s CIF state finals in Clovis as the girls won their fifth straight title by 52 points over second-place Carondelet of Concord while the boys made it two in a row by 51.5 points over second-place Northwood of Irvine.

The Eagle girls didn’t even need U.S. Olympic trials performer Teagan O’Dell to win their title as she concentrated on training. The leading swimmer for them was junior Gracyn Aquino, who was second in the 50 free, fourth in the 100 free and anchored the 400 free relay to a first-place spot. The Santa Margarita boys had Orange County Register Swimmer of the Year Daniel Verdolaga.

The girls golf team won Santa Margarita’s first CIF state title of the school year last fall with a tie-breaking win over five-time champion Torrey Pines of San Diego. The Eagles, who won their second straight title, and the Falcons both shot 366 on the day. The difference was the score of the sixth-place golfer and that one made SM the winner. The team’s two leaders were Leigh Chen and Taryn Cagle, who both shot 72 and were in a tie with several others in ninth place.

Two more championship teams were in girls soccer and boys volleyball. The Santa Margarita girls soccer team won the CIF SoCal D1 regional title with a 5-3 win in PKs to break a 2-2 tie score for regulation with Santiago of Corona. The Eagles (15-3-5) also avenged an earlier loss to Santiago in the CIFSS Open Division final. In boys volleyball, the Eagles won the CIFSS D2 crown with a victory over Redondo of Redondo Beach, but lost in the first round of the D2 regional playoffs.

Additional teams that scored points in our system were from baseball and boys water polo. The baseball team finished 22-10-1 with a loss to Huntington Beach in the CIFSS D1 quarterfinals and a loss to Orange Lutheran in the CIF SoCal D1 semifinals. The water polo team went 21-12 with a loss to Newport Harbor in the CIFSS Open Division quarterfinals.

5. Clovis North (Fresno)

Usually in recent years it’s been Buchanan of Clovis as the frontrunner among schools from the CIF Central Section as the Bears have been winning CIF state titles in wrestling and girls cross country seemingly every year. They had two second-place finishes, but didn’t win one this time.

McKay Madsen is a unique football player with his size and strength. The Clovis North junior also was a shot put and discus double state champion at the CIF state track meet. Photo: Mark Tennis / Cal-Hi Sports.

That left the door open for Clovis North to move up and the Broncos have with six section titles and that doesn’t even include the boys track team, which was second in final team scoring at the CIF state meet.

Shot put-discus double state champion McKay Madsen was the standout of that track team. Earlier in the fall, he combined with backfield teammate Jackson Cinfel to lead the Broncos to the CIF Central Section D1 title. They also were 13-0 with a win over JSerra of the Trinity League entering the CIF NorCal D1 regional title game, but lost by a big score to De La Salle.

In the winter, the highlight for Clovis North was knocking off favored St. Joseph of Santa Maria to win the Central Section D1 crown. The Broncos then won in the Open Division regional playoffs over Branson of Ross before falling to Archbishop Riordan in the semifinals. They wound up 28-7 and were No. 11 in the final state rankings.

The other section titles were won in boys golf, boys soccer, softball and boys swimming. The soccer team also reached the NorCal regional semifinals. The softball team (21-7) also got a first-round NorCal D1 playoff win vs Casa Grande of Petaluma before losing to eventual champion Amador Valley in the semifinals.

Clovis North also showed up strong at the CIF girls cross country state championships and at the CIF girls swimming state finals. In team scoring in those events, the Broncos were fourth and ninth, respectively.

Additional depth for the program was provided by teams in girls volleyball (reached the D2 NorCal finals) and girls water polo (played in the NorCal D2 championship).

8. De La Salle (Concord)

Compared to the last two school years, the Spartans didn’t do as well in 2023-24 but were still one of the top all-around programs in California.

The furthest any team got was in football as DLS earned a place in the CIF D1-AA state championship with a massive 40-0 win in the NorCal regional final over previously unbeaten Clovis North. Mission Viejo was too much in that game, though, and won its second state title.

The Spartans were highly ranked in both basketball and baseball as well. In hoops, a team led by junior Alec Blair finished 25-6 with a win over Branson of Ross and a loss to Salesian of Richmond in the CIF NCS Open playoffs. They also had a two-point loss to Modesto Christian in the CIF NorCal Open Division playoffs. In baseball, DLS was looking for a third straight CIF NorCal D1 title, but ended 21-8 and in the shadow of 32-1 league rival Granada of Livermore. The Spartans battled Granada to a 0-0 scoreless tie over 14 innings and two days in the NCS final but finally losing 1-0. Granada also took out DLS in the NorCal regional playoffs by a 5-0 margin.

The year could have ended with a third straight CIF state title in golf. This time, however, the Spartans ended six shots behind Torrey Pines of San Diego. Still, second in the entire state is not too shabby.

The DLS water polo team had a strong season as well with a semifinal appearance in the CIF NorCal D1 playoffs.

Rugby is not a sanctioned sport by the CIF, but it’s taken seriously by the DLS athletic department and administration and it’s hard not to notice the school’s success. In March, the Spartans topped Los Alamitos, 27-5, to win their third state title in rugby since 2019.

9. JSerra (San Juan Capistrano)

The deeper one goes in a ranking like this, the harder it gets. Still, there are a couple of highlights and plenty of depth for JSerra once again.

Aidan Fowler of the JSerra basketball team was the Orange County Player of the Year. Photo: The Basketball Tribune /

Water polo doesn’t yet have CIF state championships, but there’s little doubt that the Lions had the best boys team in the state. The CIF SoCal D1 champions featured USA Olympian Ryder Dodd, who will play in college at UCLA and is a candidate to be named State Boys Athlete of the Year in a few weeks.

JSerra also had a CIF state title team. That one was for girls cross country in D4. The Lions also had one of the top combined times among all teams in all divisions. The boys cross country team didn’t win to make it a sweep, but did finish second in the D4 race.

At the end of the spring, JSerra’s softball team then went on a run in the CIFSS D1 playoffs with a couple of upsets and made it to the semifinals before losing to league rival Orange Lutheran. Other teams at JSerra that were top 20 in final state rankings were in football, boys basketball and baseball.

10. Lutheran (Orange)

What a season it was for the Lancers in girls water polo. They not only won both the CIFSS Open Division and CIF SoCal D1 titles, but completed a 31-0 record. It has been quite a start in the coaching career for second-year head coach Brenda Villa, a decorated former U.S. Olympian. Goalie Kyla Pranajaya had 17 saves in the 8-4 win over Mater Dei that ended the season.

The year began for OLu with a big road win in football at De La Salle (Concord). The Lancers finished with a final No. 9 state ranking. They were even higher in baseball and softball. The baseball team ended at No. 4 after that team won the CIF SoCal D1 championship. It was a great send off for head coach Eric Borba, who was at the helm for 15 years. The softball team was No. 2 with an early win over No. 1 Pacifica of Garden Grove, but later lost to the Mariners in the CIFSS D1 final.

Orange Lutheran’s boys soccer team added to the points with a championship game showing in the CIF SoCal D2 playoffs.


Buchanan (Clovis) – Girls Cross Country, Boys Cross Country, Boys Wrestling.
Cardinal Newman (Santa Rosa) – Football, Girls Basketball, Softball, Baseball, Boys Soccer, Girls Soccer.
Carlsbad – Football, Boys Basketball, Girls Track, Boys Volleyball, Girls Water Polo.
Clovis West (Fresno) – Boys Basketball, Girls Basketball, Girls Swimming, Boys Swimming.
Etiwanda – Girls Basketball, Boys Basketball, Softball, Boys Soccer, Girls Soccer.
Granada (Livermore) – Baseball, Boys Basketball, Boys Cross Country, Girls Cross Country.
Long Beach Poly – Football, Boys Track, Boys Basketball.
Menlo School (Atherton) – Flag Football, Football, Baseball, Girls Tennis, Boys Cross Country.
Oak Ridge (El Dorado Hills) – Football, Softball, Girls Golf, Competitive Cheer, Girls Cross Country.
San Clemente – Girls Water Polo, Boys Cross Country, Girls Cross Country, Boys Volleyball, Football.
Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth) – Girls Basketball, Boys Basketball, Football, Girls Volleyball.
St. Francis (Mountain View) – Softball, Girls Cross Country, Boys Soccer, Girls Volleyball, Girls Water Polo.
Ventura – Girls Cross Country, Girls Track, Boys Cross Country.

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

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