Scott Kennedy: Top 20 football teams in the CIF-SS, Week 0
AUG 25, 2014 12:00p ET
1. St. John Bosco (1-0)
St. John Bosco was the only member of the Top 10 in action this week. The Braves travelled to Honolulu to take on St. Louis High School and weren't expecting much trouble from a St. Louis team that gave up 63 points in their opener, and Bosco put the same number up on Friday. Scout's No. 1 quarterback Josh Rosen had an efficient evening, and big play man junior running back Sean McGrew ran at will. There was enough good for Bosco to win comfortably, and enough bad for the coaching staff to keep their team's attention during the off week, including a host of penalties. Bosco found itself in a pair of 2nd-down and 30s during the course of the game ... that's bad. But converted both for first downs ... that's good. This Bosco team is less experienced than the team that finished undefeated and brought the Open Bowl trophy back to Southern California, but they might have the Southern Section's two best players in Rosen and McGrew.
From 6-6 to Top 5? Is that a stretch? Maybe. But Servite's 6-6 was a little misleading in that they played arguably the top schedule in the country last year. We know about the league schedule, but the Friars also took on Long Beach Poly, Bishop Gorman and De La Salle as well. Last year, Servite was solidified at the quarterback position with the emergence of Travis Waller (an Oregon commitment). Now a senior, Waller a threat to score while running, has three Scout 4-star receivers to spread the ball around to in fellow senior Equanimeous St. Brown, as well as sophomores Terrell Bynum and Osiris St. Brown. We'll quickly find out how much Servite has improved as the Friars get another shot at Scout Top 50 member Bishop Gorman in the opening week.
3. Mater Dei
Mater Dei will be breaking in a new quarterback in senior Jack Lowary. Lowary has looked solid on the camp circuit, and this Monarchs team is looking to get over the hump and win the Pac-5 after dropping the Championship Game each of the last two years. Two-way standout Ben Humphreys returns. And after playing wide receiver and linebacker last year, he was roaming the defensive backfield at safety during the summer camp circuit. Mater Dei needs to improve on offense in 2014 if they're going to challenge for the PAC-5 title again.
4. Corona Centennial
Last year, I joked that head coach Matt Logan might not know what to do with a returning starter at quarterback and running back. Maybe it wasn't a joke as the Huskies dropped an uncharacteristic three games last season. Of course Centennial would rather be returning starters like Tre Watson (now at Cal), who broke the 3,000 yard rushing mark, as well as big lineman Viane Talamaivao (USC). The Huskies have reloaded every year, and they have some young, talented players ready to make a run in the PAC-5 this year -- including junior running back J.J. Taylor. Oregon commitment Jihree Stewart leads the defense that was the Achilles heal of Centennial during the 2013 campaign.
Sometimes it's hard to picture Alemany surviving in the trenches against the likes of Centennial, but the Warriors knocked them off last year. The reliance on young skill players might have been their undoing in upset losses to Loyola and Norco, but those players have grown up. Running back Dominic Davis (Washington State commitment) and receiver Desean Holmes (USC) form one of the most potent one two punches in the Southern Section. Quarterback Blake Green has looked great during the spring and summer. Alemany doesn't play quite as tough of a non-league schedule as it lined up in 2013, but it will still be challenged by the likes of Serra and Chaminade.
6. Long Beach Poly
It's a year of transition for the first time in a long time for the Jack Rabbits. After being guided by Raul Lara for years, 2014 marks the beginning of the Antonio Pierce era. Pierce inherits a team with a lot of talent including Scout 5-star cornerback prospect Iman Marshall, who will be more involved in all aspects of the game and filling the shoes of departed Juju Smith (USC) who lined up all over the field. Josh Love takes over at quarterback full time in 2014 after splitting duties in '13, and he represents a vertical threat in the aerial attack. As always, Poly's best regular season matchups are the early out-of-league slate, and 2014 is no different as the Jackrabbits take on Crenshaw, Narbonne, Westlake and Corona Centennial the first four weeks of the season.
The Highlanders are a team that grew up right before our eyes in 2013. The young, disheveled squad was embarrassed on Prepzone by Mater Dei the first week of the season, 44-13, in a game that wasn't that close. The young team returns virtually the entire defense in a good news/bad news scenario. The good news, the entire defense is returning. The bad news? That defense gave up 86 to Corona Centennial last year. The D will be improved and with quarterback Tyler Hilinski (Washington State) and super sophomore running back Nathan Tilford leading the way, the offense will put up points. Upland may have learned from last year to ease into the schedule a little bit before taking on the heavyweights. Upland faces Knight and Redondo before clashes with Tesoro, Mater Dei and St. Bonaventure in consecutive games.
8. St. Bonaventure
The Seraphs averaged a bit better than 35 points per game behind junior quarterback Ricky Town (USC) in 2013 -- that's a good starting point. St. Bonaventure returns a whopping 10 starters from last year's offense. Get ready for some basketball scores, because there's only two starters back from last year's defense. However, not is all as it might seem as junior linebacker Daelin Hayes (USC) will be one of those new starters, and he's one of the top linebacker prospects in the Class of 2016. Last year's 8-4 group beat the teams they were supposed to and lost to the good squads on the schedule including the likes of Poly and Centennial. This Seraphs team will look to get over the hump with a much easier out-of-league slate for 2014.
Speaking of putting up points, the Indians averaged 40 per game in 2013 and bring back most of their key weapons including Brady White (Arizona State) and his 4-star record setting receiver Trent Irwin. Irwin and White may have gotten the headlines last year, but glue man Connor Wiggenroth will be missed as he got the tough yards when they were needed. Hart played some thrillers with Chaminade and Corona Santiago last year, and both of those teams return to the regular season schedule.
While Serra isn't the only team who suffered heavy casualties to graduation, the Cavaliers lost more than most in starting quarterback Jalen Greene (USC), All-American do-it-all Adoree Jackson (USC), pass rush extraordinaire Olajuwon Tucker (USC), and big play receiver Jordan Lasley (UCLA). In all, Serra put nine players into BCS schools this fall. The hardest to replace may be Green at quarterback. Neither Caleb Wilson or Khalil Tate seemed to run away with the job during the offseason. A healthy Malik Roberson would be a welcome return after the dynamic running back missed all of last year with an injury. Serra is going to be a much different team at the end of the season than at the beginning. There is a ton of young talent in the junior class including defenders Brandon Burton, Blake Walls, and C.J. Pollard among others. And they better grow up fast though as Scout Top 50 member Bellevue (Wash.) visits California on Sept. 6, and if the Cavs don't bring their A-Game, the Wolverines are capable of blowing them off the field. With a revamped Mission League to include the likes of Bishop Amat and Alemany, Serra's regular season will be it's toughest, maybe ever.
Top 20 in the CIF-SS, Week 0
1. St. John Bosco
3. Mater Dei
8. St. Bonaventure
11. Vista Murrieta
12. Mission Viejo
16. Bishop Amat
17. Oaks Christian
20. Los Alamitos