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(After games of Saturday, Nov. 17)
(Previous ranking in parentheses)
(Writeups by Mark Tennis, Ronnie Flores, Harold Abend, Paul Muyskens)
1. (1) DE LA SALLE (CONCORD) 11-0
Why This Ranking: While there is a new top five this week due to previous No. 4 Mission Viejo going down in that upset to Long Beach Poly, there will be no change at the top unless the Spartans lose sometime down in the line in either the CIF North Coast Section playoffs, the CIF Northern California Open Division bowl game or the CIF Open Division championship.
Weekend Result: Teams continue to move the ball against the vaunted DLS defense, but scoring has remained difficult. That was the case again last Friday in a 35-13 victory over Pittsburg in the NCS D1 semifinals. Pitt, which was coming in after an avenging 55-29 win against Danville Monte Vista, gained more than 200 yards but by the middle of the fourth quarter the Spartans were still comfortably ahead 35-7. De La Salle’s offense also got rolling, mostly after halftime, behind running back Tiapepe Vitale, who had 141 yards on 18 carries and scored four touchdowns. QB Chris Williams added a 39-yard scoring run and threw for 109 yards.
Up Next: The Spartans advanced to the NCS semifinals for the 29th straight season, one of the most remarkable achievements by any team in any sport in the USA. They will face Amador Valley of Pleasanton, a 28-25 winner on Saturday against San Ramon Valley of Danville. If DLS wins, it would then go for its 21st straight section title.
2. (2) NARBONNE (HARBOR CITY) 12-0
Why This Ranking: The results of some key playoff quarterfinal games in Southern California cements Narbonne’s status as the region’s top-rated club. The Gauchos’ resume looks stronger than ever now that No. 6 Mater Dei and new No. 19 Long Beach Poly are still alive in the CIFSS Pac-Five playoffs. Narbonne, of course, beat both of those teams in addition to No. 18 Serra of Gardena, a CIFSS Western Division semifinalist.
Weekend Result: QB Troy Williams accounted for 252 yards and four touchdowns against Garfield of Los Angeles in the L.A. City Div. I quarterfinals, but the game breaker in the Gauchos’ 45-0 win was back-up RB Johnell Jackson. Garfield kept Narbonne’s offense off the field early, but Jackson exploded for a 42-yard touchdown to open the floodgates as the Gauchos scored 28 third-quarter points.
Up Next: The Gauchos move on to the L.A. City Section Div. I semifinals against 6-6 Marine League rival Carson. It might seem Narbonne would be a huge favorite, but of all the tough non-league foes Narbonne played it was actually Carson that gave the Gauchos their toughest game. Narbonne had to rally to win 26-20.
3. (3) VISTA MURRIETA (MURRIETA) 12-0
Why This Ranking: With a 31-16 win over Norco in the second-round of the CIFSS Inland Division playoffs and a loss by previous No. 4 Mission Viejo, there was no reason to move any team in front of the Broncos as they continue to hold onto the important No. 2 ranking in Southern California.
Weekend Result: Su’a Cravens and the defense shined in the win over the Cougars as they allowed just 29 yards of offense through the game’s first three quarters. Cravens also rushed for a 70-yard touchdown while Kishawn Holmes rushed for 105 yards and a touchdown on just four carries. Bezhawn Hill led the way rushing with 112 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries.
Up Next: With a trip to the CIFSS Inland Division championship game on the line, Vista Murrieta will face 10-2 Rancho Cucamonga in the semifinals on Friday. The Cougars defeated Charter Oak of Covina 23-7 in their quarterfinal win. The last time these two squads faced each other was in 2010 as the Broncos earned their way to the section championship with a 35-28 win over the Cougars before losing to Centennial of Corona in the finals.
4. (5) ST. JOHN BOSCO (BELLFLOWER) 12-0*
Why This Ranking: With previous No. 4 Mission Viejo upset in the quarterfinals of the CIFSS Pac-Five playoffs, it only makes sense the Braves would move up to the Diablos’ old spot this week. With the four forfeit losses on Bosco’s grid log, previous precedent probably gives Narbonne and Vista Murrieta the edge for the SoCal open division bowl game over the Braves should all three go on to win section titles. There also is precedent, though, for the Pac-Five champ to be chosen over the Inland Division no matter what the win-loss records are. *Indicates four losses by forfeit not included.
Weekend Result: Bosco rallied from a 17-10 deficit in the last 3:11 of the fourth quarter to defeat Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks 24-17. Sophomore QB Josh Rosen (17-30, 180 yards) hit A.J. Holman on a 9-yard toss to tie the game. With 1:19 remaining, RB Darren Walker hit paydirt on the game-winning score from 14 yards out three plays after Bosco’s defense forced a three-and-out.
Up Next: Coach Jason Negro’s team takes on surging 9-3 Long Beach Poly in the Pac-Five semifinals. Bosco is going to have to slow the Jackrabbits’ ground game in order to win a contest where players on both teams are quite familiar with each other.
5. (6) ST. BONAVENTURE (VENTURA) 11-1
Why This Ranking: With Bosco having the four forfeit losses and St. Bonaventure having just avenged its only loss, there was consideration for hopping the Seraphs up to No. 4. Those two teams, though, could actually play in two weeks so moving both up one spot ended up being the only move made.
Weekend Result: Senior running back Zach Green may have stamped his position on the all-state first team by going for 195 yards on 33 carries and scoring the winning touchdown in a 27-21 win in overtime against previous No. 12 Santa Margarita. It was Green’s fourth score of the game. The victory wasn’t achieved, though, until the Eagles were stopped on their position. A sack by Zack Hambrick forced a third-and-long situation, which was then an incomplete pass. The only negative of the night was Santa Margarita rallying from a 21-7 deficit in the last 3:42 of regulation to force the tie-breaker.
Up Next: While the Seraphs have been State Team of the Year before and have won CIF state titles (in D3 in 2007, 2008), going into the vortex of the CIFSS Pac-Five semifinals and coming out with a title in two weeks is something quite unlike they’ve ever done before. They’ll take the next step this weekend against No. 6 Mater Dei, which also has a win over Santa Margarita and just beat Alemany of Mission Hills to advance.
6. (7) MATER DEI (SANTA ANA) 10-2
Why This Ranking: The Monarchs move up one spot following their win over previous No. 20 Alemany to advance to the CIFSS Pac-Five semifinals one year after failing to make the playoffs. Mater Dei has played in tons of big games over the last 10 years, but a win this week and it would advance to the Pac-Five finals for the first time since 2002.
Weekend Result: Junior QB Chase Forrest led the Monarchs to a thrilling 53-42 victory over Alemany in the CIFSS Pac-Five quarterfinals. Mater Dei went up early 14-0, then the Warriors stormed back to take a 42-31 lead, only to see the Monarchs score three touchdowns in the last 5:47 to pull out the win. Forrest finished with 312 yards and four touchdowns while No. 1 target Thomas Duarte finished with five catches for 138 yards and two clutch touchdowns.
Up Next: Mater Dei will take on 11-1 and state No. 5 St. Bonaventure in what should be a hard-hitting affair likely to turn on a big turnover or special teams play. Mater Dei last won a Southern Section title in 1999 when St. Bonnie was just beginning its decade-long ascent to being a factor in the state’s toughest playoff division.
7. (8) CENTENNIAL (CORONA) 11-1
Why This Ranking: With the loss by Mission Viejo, the Huskies made sure they would move up a spot as they went on the road and doubled up Murrieta Valley of Murrieta for a CIFSS Inland Division quarterfinal win. Centennial may need some help to get into the CIF Southern California Open Division bowl game, but there’s incentive enough to perhaps play No. 3 Vista Murrieta in two weeks and get some payback for losing in last year’s Inland Division final.
Weekend Result: In a state stat star worthy performance, and in only three quarters of play, Robert Webber completed 20 of his 33 pass attempts for 393 yards and six touchdowns while running for 76 yards and two scores in a 70-35 road win over the Nighthawks. Chase Krivashei, D’Vonte McKneely and Joe Wheat each caught two touchdown passes from Webber. Junior Tre’ Watson carried the ball 21 times for 213 yards while finding the end zone with a 96-yard kickoff return. According to the Riverside Press-Enterprise, the two teams combined for 1,208 yards.
Up Next: As expected, Centennial will face No. 10 Upland in the CIFSS Inland Division semifinals on Friday and No. 3 Vista Murrieta likely will await the winner. The Highlanders remained undefeated and earned their way to the semifinals with a 28-14 road win over Redlands.
8. (9) FRANKLIN (ELK GROVE) 12-0
Why This Ranking: The Wildcats get to move up one spot due to the Mission Viejo loss and certainly looked strong in their own outing, so much so that thoughts of moving Folsom higher may be premature. At the end of the section playoffs, Folsom may indeed have a stronger case to be in the Open Division based on computer rankings and other factors. But we’ve now seen both teams play in person (Franklin actually twice) and would pick Franklin just based on that.
Weekend Result: Coming into the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division I quarterfinals, Lincoln of Stockton had just beaten Merced 52-7 and it appeared that the big-time duo of running back Justin Davis (USC) and Zack Greenlee (Fresno State) was getting into a groove. Against Franklin’s attacking front seven and its outstanding secondary, though, it wasn’t close. Davis was held to 80 yards rushing and no touchdowns while Greenlee was under contstant pressure and could only manage a meaningless late touchdown pass. The 42-6 win advanced the Wildcats to a semifinal matchup against Granite Bay.
Up Next: With the Wildcats and defending champion Granite Bay playing in one side of the SJS D1 bracket, there are those who think this week’s semifinal is the real championship. Granite Bay won in its quarterfinal 52-20 against Downey of Modesto.
9. (10) FOLSOM 12-0
Why This Ranking: Unlike their opening playoff win against Atwater that saw them struggle early, the Bulldogs dominated from the start to get a bit of revenge against Vacaville after losing to the Bulldogs in the CIFSJS Division II championship game last season. Oak Ridge of El Dorado Hills also continues to help the Bulldogs’ strength of schedule as it advanced to the semifinals of the CIFSJS Division I playoffs.
Weekend Result: Jumping out to a 14-0 lead before Vacaville recorded a first down on offense, the Bulldogs led 21-0 after one quarter of play on the way to the 49-13 win. Jake Browning continues to put his passing arm to work as he completed 27 of his 43 attempts for 376 yards and five touchdowns without an interception. Troy Knox was the leading target as he caught 11 passes for 130 yards and two touchdowns while Trace Noble caught three passes for 61 yards and two scores. Harry Lipnosky ran for 79 yards and a score on 10 carries while sophomore Bailey Laolagi ran for 71 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries.
Up Next: In the semifinals on Friday, co-coaches Kris Richardson and Troy Taylor will lead the boys against 10-2 Buhach Colony of Atwater after the Thunder defeated Antelope 35-28. The last time the two teams faced off was back in 2010 as the Bulldogs defeated the Thunder 55-20 in the SJS Division II semifinals.
10. (11) UPLAND 12-0
Why This Ranking: Week after week it seems like the Highlanders move up one spot when other teams lose and that was the case once again this week. Upland also continues to be more than solid in the No. 3 position among teams from the CIFSS Inland Division. Not only are the Highlanders in this week’s semis but so is league rival Rancho Cucamonga.
Weekend Result: Quarterback Nate Romine completed 10 of his 12 pass attempts for 180 yards and one score while rushing for 72 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries in a 28-14 win over Redlands. Adonis Harrison ran for 102 yards on 11 carries while Tyler Bratton carried 14 times for 58 yards and two scores. The defense shined as well, holding the Terriers to just 14 points one week after they scored a season-high 55 points in their playoff opening win.
Up Next: With a victory this week, Upland will move up by more than one spot in next week’s rankings because that means the boys will have upset higher-ranked Corona Centennial. Last year’s team was in exactly the same position, sitting at 12-0 heading into a semifinal game against a higher-ranked foe. That one ended up as a 39-18 loss to Vista Murrieta. Two years ago, Upland lost to Corona Centennial 52-23 in the Inland Division quarterfinals.
11. (13) BELLARMINE (SAN JOSE) 10-1
Why This Ranking: The Bells continue to move up the ladder with their 10th straight win since a season-opening loss to De La Salle. There’s no question this team has improved, particularly junior Vanderbilt-committed quarterback K.J. Carta-Samuels, who took his first varsity snaps against the Spartans. Now, after a first-round win over Pacifica Terra Nova, the top-seeded Bells lead four West Catholic Athletic League teams into the CIF Central Coast Section Open Division semifinals.
Weekend Result: Bellarmine led Terra Nova 21-7 at the half and 27-7 in the third quarter before finishing off a 34-14 quarterfinal victory. Kenneth Olugbode rushed for 151 yards and two TDs, including a 62-yard romp, and Carta-Samuels threw for one touchdown and ran for another. Joey Sanfilippo also returned a punt 88 yards for a score.
Up Next: It’s a rematch with fifth-seeded Serra of San Mateo after the Padres were a 52-35 winner in the quarterfinals on the road in Palo Alto. In league, the Bells were a 35-34 winner in overtime after stopping a Padres’ two-point conversion attempt. This should be another close game with both teams possessing a powerful running game. Serra rushed for 500 yards against Palo Alto and for 317 yards in the previous loss to Bellarmine. With Carta-Samuels’ continued improvement ,the advantage would seem to be with the Bells who haven’t lost to a WCAL opponent in 16 straight games.
12. (15) CRENSHAW (LOS ANGELES) 10-1**
Why This Ranking: The Cougars move up three spots this week, hopping San Diego Section power Oceanside, after totally dismantling archrival L.A. Dorsey in the L.A. City Division I quarterfinals. After a slow start on defense this season, Crenshaw is playing at a level where it looks like it would have a chance to compete with Narbonne in a potential section title showdown. **Indicates one win by default not included.
Weekend Result: Crenshaw scored on offense, defense and special teams in the first quarter to take a 35-0 lead en route to a 56-6 win over a Dorsey club that was completely overwhelmed and had many of its proud alumni not happy with what transpired. Crenshaw’s Dominique Hatfield and Kass Albert picked up passes ruled laterals and returned them for touchdowns. Nolan Grigsby blocked a punt and picked it up and returned it for a touchdown and the rout was on.
Up Next: Coach Robert Garrett’s club will face 10-2 Venice in the L.A. City Section semifinals and it’s another opponent where there is simply no love lost between the players and coaching staffs. Crenshaw’s defense has played lights out since its only loss to Westlake, but Venice has not lost to an L.A. City Section opponent and has scored under 20 points just once this season.
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