Video: California preseason Top 25 football rankings
Over the past five years, Mater Dei (Santa Ana) and St. John Bosco (Bellflower), have battled and captured not just California Interscholastic Federation Open Division titles, but national crowns as well.
De La Salle (Concord) and Centennial (Corona) have been battling for national crowns for well over a decade now.
Add in Long Beach Poly — which has sent more players to the NFL than any in history according to many reports — Serra (Gardena), another garden for future NFL players, and recent juggernauts Folsom and Narbonne, and the state clearly can hold its own with Texas and Florida for high school football supremacy.
The 2019 class of California football upholds that tradition, with five squads ranked among the Top 25 national in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25. Further, 16 teams earned MaxPreps National Top 100 spots.
Other teams beyond the 16 also are among the Top 100 in the MaxPreps national computer rankings.
Taking all those rankings into consideration, here is our California 2019 preseason Top 25 high school football rankings. Keep in mind with such a deep and populated state, there are numerous if not dozens of teams on the bubble waiting to climb into The Top 25.
Once the season begins on Aug. 23, come back each week to see how it all shakes out.
1. Mater Dei (Santa Ana)
2018 record: 13-2
Preseason national rank: 1
First game: Aug. 23 vs. No. 3 Centennial (Corona) at Santa Ana Bowl.
Outlook: The back-to-back CIF Open Division state champs, and 2017 national champions, are once again loaded led by 5-star quarterback Bryce Young, 5-star linebacker Raesjon Davis and 2020 Washington commit Myles Murao, a 6-foot-3, 280-pound offensive lineman.
2. St. John Bosco (Bellflower)
2018 record: 13-1
Preseason national rank: 3
First game: Aug. 24 vs. DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.)
Outlook: 5-star quarterback DJ Uiagalelei leads the way for one of the most explosive offenses in high school football that features running back Nate Jones and 4-star receivers Kris Hutson, Logan Loya and Beaux Collins. The defense, led by four-star linebacker Kourt Williams II, is stout.
3. Centennial (Corona)
2018 record: 12-1
Preseason national rank: 12
First game: Aug. 23 at No. 1 Mater Dei
Outlook: The Huskies, under Matt Logan, have gone 121-21 over the last 10 seasons and perennially are a national Top 25 team. The 2019 version is led by 5-star receiver Gary Bryant Jr., senior outside linebackers Korey Foreman (6-foot-4, 245 pounds) and Jacob Mitchell (6-4, 225) and senior cornerback Isaiah Young (5-9, 155).
4. De La Salle (Concord)
2018 record: 12-1
Preseason national rank: 18
First game: Aug. 23 vs. St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
Outlook: The Spartans have won at least 10 games every year since 2004. Don’t expect that to change this season thanks largely to one of the best and most versatile offenses in the program’s storied history. Junior quarterback Dorian Hale has an army of receivers to throw to led by Grant Daley. DLS’s bread and butter is the running game off the veer attack. Leading 2018 rusher Shamar Garrett is also one of Northern California’s top safeties.
2018 record: 14-1
Preseason national rank: 25
First game: Aug. 30 vs. Jesuit (Carmichael)
Outlook: For the first time since 2005 the Bulldogs are without Kris Richardson or Troy Taylor at head coach. Still, expect them to compete at a high level with Paul Doherty taking over. Folsom is loaded offensively with running back Daniyel Ngata and wide receivers Elijhah Badger and C.J. Hutton all returning. Don’t look for Doherty to change much up on offense. In its last 76 games (72 wins), Folsom has scored 3,710 points (48.8 per game).
6. Narbonne (Harbor City)
2018 record: 10-4
Preseason national Top 100 rank: 27
First game: Aug. 24 at No. 24 Buchanan (Clovis).
Outlook: One of the most talented teams in the country already, the Gauchos added, among others, 4-star cornerbacks Darion Green-Warren and Macen Williams,4-star safety Jared Greenfield, 4-star receiver Traeshon Holden and 4-star athlete and Anthony Beavers Jr. in the offseason. Add in one of the top junior quarterbacks in the country, Jake Garcia, and several other FBS prospects, and Narbonne should probably be ranked higher. But with uncertainty at the top — head coach Manny Douglas was reassigned by the Los Angeles Unified School District in June — it might take the Gauchos time to mesh. Former defensive coordinator Joe Aguirre was named interim head coach.
7. Mission Viejo
2018 record: 6-6
Preseason national Top 100 rank: 33
First game: Aug. 23 at Konawaena (HI)
Outlook: Chad Johnson had one of the toughest jobs in the country last year replacing legendary head coach Bob Johnson at the helm. Expect the Diablos to be even better this season, especially with 2021 quarterback Peter Costelli under center for the next two seasons. Mission Viejo is stacked on the line with FBS prospects Keanu Tanuvasa, Lance Keneley and Tommy Mirabella.
8. Oaks Christian (Westlake Village)
2018 record: 12-1
Preseason national Top 100 rank: 40
First game: Aug. 23 at Chaminade (West Hills)
Outlook: The lone loss last year came against St. John Bosco in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 semifinals. With junior 4-star athlete Ethan Calvert, two college prospects at quarterback, Patrick Roberg and Jameson Wang, throwing to college-bound receivers Bryce Farrell (Stanford) and Alonzo Fontenette (Arizona State) they have a good chance to win at least 11 games for the fourth time in the last five years.
9. JSerra Catholic (San Juan Capistrano)
2018 record: 9-3
Preseason national Top 100 rank: 48
First game: Aug. 23 at East (Salt Lake City)
Outlook: This could be the best of a long line of talented Lions teams, led by 2020 California commit Chris Street, 2020 Michigan commit Jeffrey Persi, 2021 linebacker Jaden Genova and 2021 quarterback General Booty. Middle linebacker and fullback Malaki Te’o (6-0, 220) is one of the top sophomores in the state.
10. Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth)
2018 record: 12-4
Preseason national Top 100 rank: 51
First game: Aug. 23 at Westlake (Westlake Village)
Outlook: While the basketball team is making all the headlines expect the football squad to be equally as successful. After falling just short in the CIF State 1-A championship last season, the Trailblazers will be in the mix again with 4-star junior cornerback DJ Harvey, junior quarterback Chayden Peery (4,571 career passing yards, 32 touchdowns), sophomore safety Kamari Ramsey (offers from Ohio State, Nebraska, Oregon, Penn State) and junior wide receiver-safety JD Sumlin (BYU offer) leading the way.
11. Cathedral Catholic (San Diego)
2018 record: 12-2
Preseason national Top 100 rank: 54
First game: Aug. 23 vs. La Costa Canyon
Outlook: The Dons beat Narbonne in the CIF Division 1-AA Southern California regional final and lost in overtime to Folsom in the championship game. They return 13 starters including 3-star senior quarterback DJ Ralph (6-2, 190), inside linebacker Jordan Allen (6-2, 215, Arizona State offer), offensive tackle Holden Brosnan (6-4, 284) and defensive tackle Logan Berzins (6-4, 281).
2018 record: 12-3
Preseason national Top 100 rank: 55
First game: Aug. 22 vs. No. 19 La Habra.
Outlook: Darryl Thomas has been on the Highlanders’ coaching staff the past seven years and takes over as head coach after the legendary Tim Salter retired. You can expect Thomas to lean on one of the most talented defenses in the state led by 5-star Justin Flowe, ranked the No. 1 player in the country by MaxPreps football editor Zack Poff. His brother, 4-star linebacker Jonathan Flowe, is one of the top juniors in the state. The Highlanders return just three offensive starters, but one of them is quarterback Evan Rowe (1,736 yards passing, 17 touchdowns, 2 interceptions).
13. Serra (Gardena)
2018 record: 5-6
Preseason national Top 100 rank: 62
First game: Aug. 30 vs. Garfield (Los Angeles)
Outlook: Over the last decade-plus, the Cavaliers have developed future NFL standouts like wide receiver Robert Woods, Adoree Jackson and Marqise Lee, to name a few. The talent pool continues this season with the likes of four4-star receiver LV Bunkley-Shelton (23 offers), 3-star linebacker Justin Houston (12 offers), sophomore quarterback Maalik Murphy (12 offers), UNLV-bound quarterback Doug Brumfield, UNLV-bound senior wide receiver Ronald Gilliam and Maryland-bound cornerback Devyn King.
2018 record: 10-3
Preseason national Top 100 rank: 65
First game: Aug. 23 vs. Bakersfield at Rancho Cucamonga
Outlook: Despite the transfer of 5-star receiver Jermaine Burton to IMG Academy, the Coyotes should have one of the most explosive offenses in the country. They’ll be led by another 5-star receiver in Johnny Wilson, along with other top college prospects in senior quarterback Jaden Casey, sophomore receiver Larry Turner (12 offers, including Florida and LSU) and senior running back Jyden King (Washington State commit).
15. Liberty (Brentwood)
2018 record: 13-1
Preseason national Top 100 rank: 74
First game: Aug. 23 at Vacaville
Outlook: The Lions won the school’s first state title last season beating Sierra Canyon in the CIF Division 1-A championship. Will be good on both sides of the ball, but especially on offense with 2020 Oregon commit Jay Butterfield back at quarterback and outstanding linemen Payton Zdroik and Akili Calhoun. Liberty returns 12 starters, six on each side of the ball.
16. Corona del Mar (Newport Beach)
2018 record: 11-2-1
Preseason national Top 100 rank: 95
First game: Aug. 23 vs. Downey
Outlook: With a whopping 15 starters back, including 10 on offense, the Sea Kings figure to improve on last year’s banner season. Among the offensive standouts are senior quarterback and Washington commit Ethan Garbers, Stanford-bound senior receiver John Humphreys, 6-4, 245-pound tight end Mark Redman (another Washington commit), senior receiver Bradley Schlom and junior running back Jason Vicencio. They scored 491 points in 2018 and could surpass the 500-mark this season.
17. Central (Fresno)
2018 record: 13-1
Preseason national computer rank: 73
First game: Aug. 23 vs. Edison (Fresno)
Outlook: With 16 starters back and additions from a 9-1 JV team, the Grizzlies should be a large-division threat throughout the state. They have college experience, speed and college prospects throughout the 58-man roster, including senior wide receiver Jeremiah Hunter (Cal commit), 6-4, 359-pound defensive tackle Ricky Correia (Arizona, Colorado offers), senior running back Quali Conley and 6-2, 367-pound guard Dwight Tatum. The big challenge will be replacing quarterback Trent Tompkins, now at UC Davis.
18. Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks)
2018 record: 9-4
Preseason national computer rank: 170
First game: Aug. 31 vs. Desert Vista (Phoenix, Ariz.) at neutral site
Outlook: It all starts with defense for legendary coach Kevin Rooney, whose team returns nine starters, including 6-1, 215-pound inside junior linebacker Jake Moore and senior cornerback Sean Guyton. The offense is in fine shape with 6-3, 200-pound junior dual-threat quarterback Cooper Meek.
19. Grace Brethren (Simi Valley)
2018 record: 14-2
Preseason national computer rank: 46
First game: Aug. 23 at Aquinas (San Bernandino)
Outlook: Josh Henderson continues to build this small-school juggernaut into a state power. The Lancers return 13 starters to last year’s state 2-AA title squad, a year after losing in the state 2-A championship game. Among the top returners are senior linebacker/running back Josh Henderson (six college offers), senior defensive end/fullback Soane Toia (6-0, 270) and senior wide receiver Nate Bennett (5 offers). The Lancers will be tested with games against ranked squads Oaks Christian and Sierra Canyon.
20. La Habra
2018 record: 7-4
Preseason national computer rank: 236
First game: Aug. 22 at 12 Upland
Outlook: One of the Southern Section’s most consistent programs, the Highlanders should enter elite territory with the likes of some elite talent, led by 5-star cornerback and receiver Clark Phillips III. The 5-11, 178-pound senior has 36 college offers, but he’s already committed to Ohio State. Coach Frank Mazzotta has much more to work with on the team’s 61-man roster, including Pennsylvania-bound quarterback Ryan Zanelli (3,180 yards passing, 42 touchdowns in 2018) and 6-4, 248-pound tight end Mason West, a Washington commit.
2018 record: 9-3
Preseason national computer rank: 50
First game: Aug. 23 at William Field (Gilbert, Ariz.)
Outlook: With a whopping 16 starters back, including the top players at quarterback, running back, wide receiver, line and defense, coach Chuck Chastain has to feel good about where the Cougars are. It always helps to have your quarterback return and in 6-6, 235-pound Shane Illingworth, an Oklahoma State commit, Norco has one of the state’s best. He threw for 2,739 yards and 27 touchdowns last season. He has a tremendous target in Jaden Navarrette, a 6-3, 235-pound sheer athlete, who has already committed to Oregon. The Cougars lost one of the state’s top sophomore running backs Jadyn Ott (1,096 yards rushing, 13 touchdowns as a freshman), who transferred to Bishop Gorman. That will give senior wideout Marquis Ashley even more touches.
2018 record: 14-2
Preseason national computer rank: 106
First game: Aug. 30 vs. No. 13 Sierra Canyon at a neutral site
Outlook: The Cardinals are loaded with college prospects, led by senior safety Makell Esteen (Pac-12 offers), senior defensive end Tuli Tuipulotu (14 offers, including Stanford), senior cornerback Elijah Jackson (16 offers) and senior quarterback Jalon Daniels (eight offers).
23. Orange Lutheran (Orange)
2018 record: 5-6
Preseason national computer rank: 126
First game: Aug. 23 vs. San Juan Hills
Outlook: Playing out of the Trinity League, you can just throw out the records. Orange Lutheran has 11 starters returning from last season, including a pair of stud inside linebackers/fullbacks in Ethan Howard (6-0, 225) and Jonah Laban (6-0, 230). Junior cornerback Robert Regan is gaining plenty of college attention. Replacing graduated quarterback Ryan Hilinski and his favorite target Kyle Ford won’t be easy.
24. Buchanan (Clovis)
2018 record: 10-3
Preseason national computer rank: 119
First game: Aug. 24 vs. No. 6 Narbonne
Outlook: Kendall Milton, a 6-2, 225-pound senior tailback, earns a lot of attention. He’s ranked the No. 4 running back in the country, the No. 22 recruit overall and he recently committed to Georgia. He’s also rushed for more than 3,200 career yards and 56 touchdowns. But there’s much more to the Bears, who not only open with No. 6 Narbonne, but also travel to No. 4 De La Salle on Sept. 20. Other top players include senior cornerback CJ Jones (offers from Fresno State, San Jose State and UNLV) and 6-2, 255-pound senior linebacker Matt Merritt (Arizona offer).
25. Servite (Anaheim)
2018 record: 4-5
Preseason national computer rank: 79
First game: Aug. 30 at JW North (Riverside)
Outlook: With 18 starters returning, coach Troy Thomas has his Friars back into the conversation. Other than quarterback, Servite returns key players at every position and then some, including 6-5, 230-pound senior tight end Jake Overman (14 offers), two-way linemen Nick Martinez (6-6, 300, Kansas commit) and Jeminai Leuta-Ulu (6-4, 295, UNLV commit), and senior receivers Zedakiah Centers and Ender Aguilar (6-5, 245, Cal commit).
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