Football's No. 1 teams to start the season are De La Salle (NorCal & Div. I), Los Alamitos (SoCal), Westlake of Westlake Village (Div. II), La Habra (Div. III), Marian Catholic of San Diego (Div. IV) and Ontario Christian (Div. V).

Note No. 1: All teams listed with last year's record and should be in line with the preseason overall top 50, which was released last Friday. We view preseason rankings as a starting point and not necessarily as a prediction of which teams will win titles at the end of the season. Also, only some of the various preseason area and section rankings from other media sources have been released yet. We will adjust the state rankings to reflect some of those differences when the first regular season installment is released on September 15. *Indicates record doesn't include losses by forfeit.

Note No. 2: We hope you enjoy this feature being brought to you free-of-charge and not as part of our total access premium subscription. Once the regular weekly rankings start coming out in mid-September, however, the divisional state rankings and regional rankings, will become part of the total access web site subscription. Please follow the prompts above to join the network as a premium subscriber and do it through the site so we get credit for the subscription and not one of the many college-oriented sites.

We are beginning our 25th year covering California high school sports. We suspect that some people running internet sites that self-proclaim themselves to be No. 1, or the best place anywhere to find prep information from our state, weren't even born yet when we were already looking up state records, choosing state teams of the year or releasing state rankings.


1. De La Salle (Concord) 13-0
2. Los Alamitos 13-0-1
3. Mission Viejo 14-0
4. Hart (Newhall) 13-1
5. Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 10-4
6. Poly (Long Beach) 10-1-1
7. J.W. North (Riverside) 10-4
8. Centennial (Corona) 13-1
9. Jesuit (Carmichael) 13-0
10. Loyola (Los Angeles) 9-4
11. Grant (Sacramento) 9-2
12. Clovis West (Fresno) 6-6-1
13. Foothill (Pleasanton) 9-2-1
14. Valley Christian (San Jose) 12-1
15. Palma (Salinas) 9-2
16. Carlsbad 10-2-1
17. Lincoln (Stockton) 12-2
18. San Clemente 9-4
19. St. Francis (Mtn. View) 7-5-1
20. St. John Bosco (Bellflower) 9-3
21. Nevada Union (Grass Valley) 12-1
22. Claremont 9-4
23. Clovis 11-2
24. Esperanza (Anaheim) 10-2
25. Canyon (Canyon Country) 10-2

Notes & Highlights

•The order at the top (after De La Salle) figures to be jumbled quite a bit in the first few weeks of the season as top-ranked teams play each other. Los Alamitos vs. Hart on Sept. 12 kicks it all off with a bang. The next week, it's Mission Viejo vs. Mater Dei, the following week it's Mater Dei vs. J.W. North and then the week after that it's Mission Viejo vs. Long Beach Poly.

•We could see a scenario where Grant of Sacramento and Palma of Salinas are able to move up quickly. While we've gone with Jesuit to start out at No. 1 from the Sac-Joaquin Section, we could see a strong consensus from other media sources that go with Grant and an impressive start by the Pacers could move them into the top 10, especially if the quarterback situation looks good. Palma plays De La Salle in week two and could move up with what might be described as "a good loss."

•It's been confirmed that the De La Salle-Evangel Christian game on Oct. 24 will indeed be nationally-televised. Before pumping up that game too much, though, keep in mind that Evangel plays three strong out-of-state opponents before heading westward and it wouldn't be a big upset if Evangel loses one or more of those games. If the Eagles come out undefeated with the schedule they've played to that point, then it will be time to get out the hype machine.

•For more info on the teams above, all are listed in preseason overall top 50.


1. Westlake (Westlake Village) 11-3
2. Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks) 14-0
3. St. Bonaventure (Ventura) 13-1
4. Oceanside 11-2
5. St. Paul (Santa Fe Springs) 7-4-1
6. Los Altos (Hacienda Heights) 12-2*
7. Skyline (Oakland) 11-0-1
8. Lutheran (Orange) 9-3
9. Sanger 10-2
10. Granite Bay 11-2
11. Edison (Fresno) 11-2*
12. South Hills (Covina) 11-3
13. Los Gatos 12-0-1 14. Monte Vista (Spring Valley) 8-4
15. Helix (La Mesa) 11-2
16. Monte Vista (Danville) 13-0
17. Palmdale 11-2
18. Tustin 7-6
19. Kaiser (Fontana) 13-0-1
20. Rancho Cotate (Rohnert Park) 13-0
21. Oak Ridge (El Dorado Hills) 12-1
22. Arroyo Grande 6-4
23. San Luis Obispo 6-4
24. Charter Oak (Covina) 8-3
25. Redwood (Visalia) 6-5

Notes & Highlights

•The top 14 teams from the above list made it on to the overall top 50 list. Check that story for more information on those squads.

•Monte Vista of Danville was No. 1 in this division a year ago, but is foreseen by many to be at least a second-place team this year in the East Bay Athletic League behind Foothill of Pleasanton, which is Division I for the state rankings and is in a different playoff division than Monte Vista. One key returnee for the Mustangs is running back Tommy Haug, who rushed for more than 1,200 yards as a junior.

•Helix of La Mesa was No. 1 two years ago and was preseason No. 1 last year. Although the Highlanders lost a lot of their offensive firepower from last season (including Reggie Bush and Derrel Hutsona) and are seen by some in the San Diego Section to be a second-place team in their league to Monte Vista of Spring Valley, they might be a force defensively. Among those back for coach Gordon Wood are DLs Tyrus Beckwith and Casey Tiumalu (jr), LB Magnum Mauga and DB Bryan Barmer.

•Kaiser of Fontana was No. 1 last season in Div. III, but this year the Cats and all other teams from the CIF Southern Section Div. VIII have been classified as Div. II for the state rankings. There's just too many big schools in that division for us to continue to lump them together with those we've traditionally thought of as Division III.

•We love all the passion exhibited on the message boards from fans of the Pac-5 League in the Southern Section and we get a lot of criticism that we don't show our respect for the league by ranking its teams very high. If one school ever got on a roll in that league, though, you can be sure a high ranking would follow. The problem is that no one school seems to be able to create much distance from the rest. For the record, we like Arroyo Grande's linemen and San Luis Obispo's returning balance to start the season, but the combination of RB Ryan Mole and QB Josh Thomas at Righetti could prove to be too much and Paso Robles and Atascadero are never far from the top, either.


1. La Habra 13-1
2. Colfax 13-0
3. Lompoc 10-3
4. Miramonte (Orinda) 11-1
5. Serra (Gardena) 13-1
6. Culver City 11-2
7. Pomona 11-2
8. Oakmont (Roseville) 9-3
9. Mission Bay (San Diego) 9-3
10. Oakdale 10-2
11. Los Amigos (Fountain Valley) 10-3
12. Pacifica (Garden Grove) 11-3
13. San Lorenzo Valley (Felton) 13-0
14. Yosemite (Oakhurst) 12-1
15. Burlingame 12-1

Notes & Highlights

•La Habra, which was No. 45 on the overall top 50 list, will play Los Alamitos once again and could stay No. 1 for Div. III even if it loses. The Highlanders also are playing Los Altos of Hacienda Heights on Sept. 19 in what will be a battle of CIFSS divisional champs from last year.

•It wasn't that long ago when Colfax was a small school wondering if it could ever compete with similar small schools in the Sac-Joaquin Section like Escalon and Hughson. Today, the Falcons have grown both in size and in quality to the point where they're getting close to local powerhouses like Granite Bay, Oak Ridge and Del Oro. This year's team at Colfax should be the school's best ever with many back off last year's 13-0 squad that won the Division III section title. QB Ben Galbraith is a 6-4, 210-pounder who threw for 2,400 yards as a junior and is one of the top QBs in Northern California. WR Mike McCoy returns with 72 catches for 1,204 yards and 16 TDs, while others to watch are WR-DB Drew Hamm, DB Chris Pulver and DL Kyle Arnold.

•One of the top challengers to Colfax is from the same league. Oakmont of Roseville returns WR James Harris, TE Drew Lubinsky and transfer QB K.C. Patterson. They should all be impact players.

•Dennis Pugh, one of the state's best baseball coaches, is taking another go-round as the Mission Bay of San Diego football coach. Pugh was the coach previously in 2000 when the Bucs were 13-0 and won the Division III section title. He was in his third different stint then and will be starting his fourth this season. Pugh is expected to benefit more than any other coach in the section this year with the closure of the Lincoln High of San Diego campus. Most of the top players from Lincoln are reported to have transferred to Mission Bay.

•San Lorenzo Valley of Felton takes a 44-0-2 league unbeaten streak into the season and also has gone 37-2 for the 2000s so far. The Cougars may have a tough time keeping the league streak going, however, as Watsonville is expected to field a strong team, led by all-state RB candidate Shawn Benjamin. Watsonville would be Division I for the state rankings since it would be Division I for the CCS playoffs.


1. Marian Catholic (San Diego) 13-0
2. Escalon 12-0-1
3. Oaks Christian (Westlake Village) 11-2
4. San Joaquin Memorial (Fresno) 11-2
5. Carpinteria 14-0
6. Paraclete (Lancaster) 9-4
7. Taft 8-4
8. Novato 13-0
9. Valley Christian (Cerritos) 12-2
10. Hughson 7-5
11. Dos Palos 6-5
12. Sutter 9-2
13. Oak Park (Agoura Hills) 6-6
14. Garces (Bakersfield) 12-0
15. Calaveras (San Andreas) 11-2

Notes & Highlights

•Marian Catholic appeared in the Div. III rankings last year, but has been reclassified Div. IV this season, along with a handful of other schools from the San Diego Section who normally are in the Division III section playoffs. We just felt it was fair to place those schools in this rankings division. In fact, Marian's enrollment is even smaller than some schools we've classified as Div. V. RB Patrick Gates begins his third season as a standout for Marian and is one of the top recruits in the state.

•If Marian drops an early-season game to one of the bigger schools on its schedule and Escalon gets by its early-season test vs. Manteca, it could be Escalon cruising along at No. 1 for the rest of the season. Coach Mark Louiero has a terrific cast of returning players, led by RB Jesse Miguel, who rushed for 1,321 yards and scored 20 TDs last year. Also back are all-state small schools honors candidates John Norton (LB) and Nolan Krasko (OL).

•No. 3 Oaks Christian will be very interesting to watch from a quarterback point of view. The Lions have an outstanding returnee in Joey Hazle, who was All-CIFSS Div. XII as a junior. But on the same team will be highly-touted freshman Jimmy Clausen, younger brother of Univ. of Tennessee All-America candidate Casey Clausen. Oaks Christian, of course, may not need to throw much, anyway, as junior Aaron Ware can score anytime he's handed the ball.

•San Joaquin Memorial and Garces are two Central Section teams who've been reclassified as Division IV for this year's rankings. Both were Division III last season. Garces fans are now probably saying, "Thanks for nothing." If the Rams were in this division with this alignment of teams in 2002, they would have been No. 1, ahead of Carpinteria. We also just heard through the grapevine that San Joaquin Memorial is going to start playing Central Catholic of Modesto next season. That could be a terrific San Joaquin Valley rivalry down the road.


1. Ontario Christian 13-1
2. Central Catholic (Modesto) 13-0
3. Horizon (San Diego) 7-6
4. Caruthers 9-4
5. Santa Fe Christian (Solana Beach) 10-2
6. Ferndale 11-1
7. Immanuel (Reedley) 11-2
8. Poly (Pasadena) 11-2
9. Christian (El Cajon) 9-4*
10. Biggs 10-3
11. Brentwood (Los Angeles) 9-3
12. Templeton 10-2
13. Big Valley (Bieber) 10-2
14. Fresno Christian 11-1
15. Desert (Edwards AFB) 13-1

Notes & Highlights

•Ontario Christian returns a strong nucleus from its 2002 Southern Section Div. XII championship team, including WR-DB Phil Belko, K Brent Vander Eyk and OL-LB Kevin Struiksma.

•Much of the offense from last year's No. 1 team at Central Catholic is gone, but coach Mike Glines returns most of the defense, so look for the Raiders to once again be a force in the small school ranks in Northern California. And if Ontario Christian falls early and Central Catholic wins in games against Calaveras and Hughson, forget about it. It looks like Central Catholic will have few tests, if any, in league and playoff competition.

•There may be more schools from the Central Section in this division than in previous years since all schools from the Sierra Division are now going to be eligible for Division V. Previously, some were considered Div. IV for the state rankings. One of those schools was Templeton.

•Brian Sipe, the former NFL QB, is beginning his third year as the head coach of Santa Fe Christian. But Sipe won't be the only coach this season from a San Diego Section small school with an NFL background. Christian of El Cajon is being coached this year by Jay Schroeder, the former Raiders and Redskins quarterback. Previously, Jay was an assistant for the Patriots when his son, Brian, was on the team. Brian Schroeder, the state small schools player of the year last spring in baseball, is now in college.


1. Los Alamitos 13-0-1
2. Mission Viejo 14-0
3. Hart (Newhall) 13-1
4. Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 10-4
5. Poly (Long Beach) 10-1-1
6. J.W. North (Riverside) 10-4
7. Westlake (Westlake Village) 11-3
8. Centennial (Corona) 13-1
9. Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks) 14-0
10. Loyola (Los Angeles) 9-4
11. St. Bonaventure (Ventura) 13-1
12. Oceanside 11-2
13. Carlsbad 10-2-1
14. San Clemente 9-4
15. St. John Bosco (Bellflower) 9-3
16. St. Paul (Santa Fe Springs) 7-4
17. Claremont 9-4
18. Los Altos (Hacienda Heights) 12-2*
19. Lutheran (Orange) 9-3
20. Esperanza (Anaheim) 10-2
21. Canyon (Canyon Country) 10-2
22. Vista 10-3
23. Venice 10-3
24. Murietta Valley (Murietta) 11-1-1
25. Carson 8-3


1. De La Salle (Concord) 13-0
2. Jesuit (Carmichael) 13-0
3. Grant (Sacramento) 9-2
4. Clovis West (Fresno) 6-6-1
5. Foothill (Pleasanton) 9-2-1
6. Valley Christian (San Jose) 12-1
7. Palma (Salinas) 9-2
8. Lincoln (Stockton) 12-2
9. St. Francis (Mountain View) 7-5-1
10. Nevada Union (Grass Valley) 12-1
11. Skyline (Oakland) 11-0-1
12. Sanger 10-2
13. Clovis 11-2
14. Granite Bay 11-2
15. Edison (Fresno) 11-2*
16. Hayward 10-2
17. Bakersfield 5-6
18. Los Gatos 12-0-1
19. Monte Vista (Danville) 13-0
20. Colfax 13-0

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