St. Bonnie's Climb Begins

One of the most interesting debates as the 2001 California prep football season concludes is just how good is this team at St. Bonaventure of Ventura. The Seraphs are a powerhouse at the small school level and won their 39th straight game last week by 80-13 over Calabasas in the opening round of the CIF Southern Section Div. XII playoffs.

After Lorenzo Booker had already broken the state career rushing record (see website for details on this accomplishment), coach Jon Mack took out his All-American and the rest of his first-stringers with a 60-7 lead with four minutes left before halftime. Similar routs aren't expected in later rounds of the section playoffs, but it's doubtful Mack's starters will play into the fourth quarter except against possibly Orange Lutheran, the second-seeded team in the division.

If St. Bonaventure had been able to play state No. 4 Hart of Newhall in September, as scheduled, there's no telling how high the Seraphs would be in the rankings. That game wasn't played in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in New York on Sept. 11. It was supposed to be the one benchmark game for St. Bonaventure. A way to really tell how high to place the team in the rankings. 

But with that game taken away and no other that was able to serve as a replacement, St. Bonaventure was relegated to the waiting game almost all small schools have to play. Once large schools who do play tougher schedules start falling in the playoffs, the smaller schools can come up to fill the void.

St. Bonaventure came up this week to fill a void partially caused by Los Angeles Loyola's 28-14 victory over Eisenhower of Rialto in the CIFSS Div. I playoffs. The Eagles were No. 15 in last week's top 20. The Seraphs were thus inserted at No. 20 in this week's top 20. And next week, when more large school playoffs teams falter, St. Bonnie could jump up toward the top 15.

One coach who has an excellent perspective on St. Bonaventure is Lance Fauria from St. Joseph of Santa Maria. Fauria's team had the dubious distinction of being thrashed by St. Bonaventure, Westlake of Westlake Village (a Div. IV team) and Arroyo Grande (currently 10-0). Lompoc Record sports editor Al Hunt asked Fauria to compare the three. "Arroyo Grande clearly better than Westlake (or any other team in Division 4) and St. Bonaventure is clearly better than AG," Fauria said. "AG is a good high school football team. St. Bonaventure is a great high school football team. I doubt there are 10 teams in the country who could beat them." It should be noted also that the Ventura County Star currently ranks St. Bonaventure No. 1 in its coverage area, ahead of others like Thousand Oaks (9-2) and Westlake.

Also chosen as newcomers to this week's state top 20 were Los Alamitos and Loyola. Los Al, co-champs of the Sunset League with No. 10 Edison, won its playoff opener, 28-7, over a St. Paul of Santa Fe Springs squad that tied Loyola in its regular season final. Loyola's win over Eisenhower not only put the Cubs back into the top 20, but they also made it to the CIFSS largest class quarterfinals for the 14th straight year. 

Also dropping out in addition to Eisenhower were previous No. 6 Clovis and previous No. 20 Jordan of Long Beach. Clovis, which had not lost since its first game, a 41-24 defeat at the hands of nationally ranked Tulsa Union of Oklahoma, fell to archrival Clovis West by 34-20. Jordan lost its CIFSS Div. I playoff opener, 12-7, to Mater Dei of Santa Ana.

All three running backs from national and state No. 1 De La Salle of Concord -- Nate Kenion, Maurice Drew and Alijah Bradley -- scored on long plays in a 54-15 victory over Washington of Fremont in the first round of the CIF North Coast Section Class 4A playoffs. Kenion hit paydirt on a 80-yard run, Drew scored on a 85-yard run and Bradley had a 61-yard scoring reception from Matt Gutierrez. Gutierrez finished 7 of 12 for 182 yards and three TDs. The win was De La Salle's 123rd straight overall and 24th straight for the playoffs. On Saturday, the Spartans play James Logan of Union City (10-1) in the semifinals.

National No. 4 and state No. 2 Poly of Long Beach crushed Fountain Valley, 61-23, in its CIFSS Div. I playoff opener. Only four days after the death of his father, junior defensive end Josh Tauanuu scored a touchdown for the Jackrabbits by picking up a fumble that was caused by All-American defensive tackle Manuel Wright and running into the end zone from 24 yards out. Quarterback Brandon Brooks led Poly's offensive assault as he completed 12 of 15 passes for 241 yards and two touchdowns. Herschel Dennis added 107 rushing yards on 20 carries and caught three passes for 58 yards. Dennis scored four touchdowns, too. Next up for Poly is a quarterfinal matchup Friday vs. Loyola.

Compiled by Mark & Nelson Tennis for
Last week's rank in parentheses; after games of Nov. 17

 1.      (1)    De La Salle (Concord) 10-0
 2.      (2)    Poly (Long Beach) 9-1
 3.      (3)    Mission Viejo 11-0
 4.      (4)    Hart (Newhall) 10-0
 5.      (5)    Bakersfield 10-0
 6.      (7)    Centennial (Corona) 10-0
 7.      (8)    Elk Grove 11-0
 8.      (9)    Redlands 11-0
 9.    (10)    Chino 10-0
10.    (11)    Edison (Huntington Beach) 9-0-1
11.    (12)    Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks) 9-0
12.    (13)    Santa Margarita (Rancho SM) 7-1-2
13.    (15)    San Leandro 10-0
14.    (16)    Mitty (San Jose) 11-0
15.    (17)    Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 7-4
16.    (18)    Bishop Amat (La Puente) 9-1
17.     (nr)    Los Alamitos 8-2-1    
18.     (nr)    Loyola (Los Angeles) 7-2-1
19.    (19)    Arroyo Grande 10-0
20.     (nr)    St. Bonaventure (Ventura) 11-0

Notes & Highlights
There was some thought about not moving up Elk Grove or Redlands in this week's top 20 in the aftermath of the Clovis loss. Both the Herd and the Terriers seemingly struggled in their playoff openers. Elk Grove won, 22-15, over Bethel of Vallejo, while Redlands won 17-14 over Marina of Huntington. But both will have stern tests from here on out -- Elk Grove faces Nevada Union this week while Redlands gets Mater Dei -- so we'll let the results take care of any rankings moves involving those teams.......San Leandro's 41-0 win over a Pittsburg team that De La Salle defeated by 42-14 could be a sign that the Pirates might give the Spartans some trouble if their expected North Coast 4A title battle materializes in two weeks. Then again, DLS played Pittsburg a week after beating Long Beach Poly so anyone putting too much stock in those two scores might need their head examined.....They could be the top juniors at their positions in SoCal and Edison's Tommy Grady and Santa Margarita's Ashton White certainly looked the part in leading their teams to playoff wins. Grady, a 6-6, 195-pound quarterback, was about as efficent as you can get completing 10 of 12 passes for 349 yards and five touchdowns as Edison rolled over St. John Bosco 56-34. White, a 6-0, 180-pound running back, rushed for 254 yards and scored four touchdowns in Santa Margarita's 43-30 win over Rialto. When White was named to the all-state sophomore squad last year, a slew of nasty message board posts were made in reaction against him. Geez, wonder who was right about that one?

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