De La Salle on track to be overall state No. 1 for eighth straight year while St. Bonaventure looks equally strong for Div. IV. Picture not as clear in Div. II with Fresno Edison, in Div. III with Los Gatos or in Div. V with Santa Fe Christian.

Division I -- This one is, of course, Concord De La Salle's to lose. The dominant Spartans show no signs of letting up heading into their CIF NCS 4A final against San Leandro. De La Salle has been No. 1 in the state since the midway point of the 1995 season. The Spartans finished 1994 as the No. 1 team, but Los Alamitos was the preseason No. 1 for 1995 and stayed No. 1 until a loss to Esperanza of Anaheim. The last team to be No. 1 in the state at the end of the season before De La Salle's current streak was Eisenhower of Rialto in 1993. De La Salle began its current national record 124-game win streak in 1992.

Division II -- Edison of Fresno took over the No. 1 ranking last week after Arroyo Grande's hard-to-believe upset loss to Dos Pueblos of Goleta. The Tigers feature plenty of speed and may have one of the best secondaries anywhere in America featuring senior Aaron Miller and junior Clifton Smith. Arroyo Grande dominated with 432 yards of offense against Dos Pueblos and only allowed 169. The problem was that the Eagles also had four turnovers to zero for the Chargers. Two of the turnovers also went for TDs as Kyle Shotwell scored on a 43-yard interception return and Matt York on an 18-yard fumble return. Edison should be fine this week in the CIF Central Section Yosemite Div. Small semis, but in the finals either Golden West of Visalia (which has lost only to Bakersfield) or Centennial of Bakersfield will be a very tough opponent. The Fresno Bee has had Golden West ranked ahead of Edison most of the season, but our correspondent, Central Section historian Bob Barnett, has had it the other way around. If Edison were to lose, the next best bet probably comes from the CIF San Diego Section. Its Div. II playoffs feature No. 2 Monte Vista, No. 3 Helix and No. 5 Oceanside. Helix was No. 1 in the Div. II rankings until a loss to Monte Vista. The two play again this weekend.

Division III -- Los Gatos can just about wrap up this mythical state crown with a win over unbeaten San Lorenzo Valley on Saturday in the CCS Div. III finals. If SLV wins, it would then become a contender to be No. 1 for the second straight season. Miramonte of Orinda has been No. 2 almost the entire season, but the Mats may not be in a strong enough playoff division to merit a jump to the top. A big win in this week's NCS Class 2A East Bay final would surely help. Three unbeaten teams, Brea-Olinda, La Quinta and Marian Catholic of San Diego, could jump all the way to top, too, if Los Gatos loses and one of them goes on a roll over the next two weeks.

Division IV - This is shaping up as the best group of small school teams for one season in state history. St. Bonaventure of Ventura, on its way to establishing itself as the best small school team in California history and averaging 50 points per game, tops the list. But the Seraphs could get a challenge in the CIFSS Div. XI final from Orange Lutheran, which has played a tougher schedule. Orange Lutheran also would be in a position to be No. 1 for the final ratings since it would theoretically have a win over St. Bonnie while No. 2 Dos Palos has a loss to the same team. Last week, Central Catholic of Modesto swamped previous No. 5 Vanden, 39-15, in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Div. III semis, which prompted Modesto Bee writer Will DeBoard to ponder whether Central Catholic might be as good or even better than Hughson's unbeaten 1997 squad that was Div. IV State Team of the Year. Will could be right, but Central Catholic was only able to move up one spot in this week's state rankings. Dos Palos has lost only to St. Bonaventure and has crushed each of its other opponents. Paraclete's last loss was to St. Bonaventure last season and it has crushed all of its opponents this season. And then there's Sutter. The Huskies breezed to the CIF Northern Section Div. II title last week with a 34-6 win over Corning and probably are that section's top team, regardless of class. All top six teams would be worthy No. 1s in any season. Those at No. 2, No. 3, No. 4, No. 5 and No. 6 just picked the wrong time to be so good. St. Bonaventure just happens to be even better.

Division V -- Top-ranked Santa Fe Christian of Solana Beach was forced to sit out another week in the CIF San Diego Div. IV playoffs due to lack of an opponent. The rust shouldn't be bothersome this week against Vincent Memorial, but if the Saints meet up with Christian of El Cajon in the section finals that could pose problems. Christian, which has a Div. IV state enrollment and plays in a Div. IV strength league, won its game last week, 69-13, over Holtville and improved to 10-1. If Santa Fe Christian loses, Middletown has now played itself into a position to become State Team of the Year. A 20-7 victory last week in the NCS Class A semis put Middletown into the finals against Cloverdale. If Christian were to beat Santa Fe Christian and Middletown were to beat Cloverdale, then Middletown would be No. 1. Another possibility is that both could lose. If that happens, whoever wins in the CIF Southern Section Div. XIII playoffs would become the likely State Team of the Year.

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