OVERALL STATE TOP 20 FB RANKINGS

Woodland Hills Taft up to No. 7 after big win over Birmingham....Nevada Union joins top 10 after triumph against Grant....Find out who's newly ranked in the top 20 in place of Mater Dei and Arcadia.

(After games of Nov. 16; last week's rank listed in parentheses)

1. (1) De La Salle (Concord) 10-0

Phase II of the Spartans' season, which is the boring part when they're playing those five games against Bay Valley Athletic League opponents, is now over. Phase III, which is the CIF North Coast Section Class 4A playoffs, will begin Friday. It's just that the first game will be against one of those Phase II-type opponents, Antioch, a BVAL team with a 6-4 record the Spartans didn't play this season. De La Salle defeated Ygnacio Valley of Concord, 35-0, to close its 13th straight unbeaten regular season and up its national record win streak to 135.

2. (2) Poly (Long Beach) 9-1

Make it 11 straight Moore League titles for the Jackrabbits, who blew past Jordan of Long Beach, 50-12, in their last regular season game. Alex Watson hauled in scoring passes of 20 and 80 yards from Leon Jackson and Lorenzo Bursey rushed for 100 yards on 12 carries to lead the offense. Poly now moves on into the CIF Southern Section Div. I playoffs and it's first game will be against Edison of Huntington Beach, the same team the Jackrabbits defeated in the 2001 championship.

3. (3) Los Alamitos 9-0-1

They say Randy Estes is one of the best juniors in the state and he certainly looked that good in Los Al's 45-26 victory over Edison of Huntington Beach. Estes took the second half kickoff and sped to a 90 yard touchdown. He later scored in the second half on a 40-yard run. The Griffins will start the Southern Section Div. I playoffs at home on Thursday against Millikan of Long Beach.

4. (4) Hart (Newhall) 9-0-1

Valencia running back Charles Burnley came through with some nifty runs, but the Hart passing attack was still way too much for the Vikings. Hart won, 39-15, and put the wraps on a 12th straight Foothill League title. The Indians also now have a 31-0-1 unbeaten streak. Quarterback Sean Norton completed 19 of 26 passes for 374 yards and two TDs to lead Hart. Next up is a first-round CIFSS Div. II playoff game at home vs. El Toro.

5. (5) Mission Viejo 10-0

The Diablos earned the No. 1 seed in the CIFSS Div. II playoffs ahead of Hart and it would be hard to argue against it. They are the defending champs, after all, and with Hart at No. 2 the two wouldn't meet until the final anyway. In Mission's last regular season game, a 21-0 halftime lead almost evaporated but the team held on for a 21-14 win over Trabuco Hills of Mission Viejo. The Diablos open the postseason at home on Friday against Diamond Bar.

6. (6) San Leandro 10-0

This time, San Leandro's 10-0 regular season is a bit more impressive. One week after beating perennial power James Logan of Union City, 21-6, in a nonleague game, the Pirates took on league rival Hayward in a 9-0 vs. 9-0 showdown. It wasn't close. San Leandro led by 37-7 before coach Dan Calcagno called off the dogs and finished up with a 43-21 victory. Dennis Dixon threw for four TDs and Michael Ignont came through with a 55-yard interception return TD to lead the Pirates. This week, San Leandro opens the NCS Class 4A playoffs against 7-3 Pittsburg.

7. (8) Taft (Woodland Hills) 10-0

Since the Toreadors, who are the top seed in the CIF L.A. City Section playoffs, already have a 39-0 win over No. 2 seed Carson, is the title in the bag? No one at Taft better think so, unless they want to watch replay after replay of the horror that was Dorsey's miracle punt block TD that snatched the title out of their hands just one year ago. Still, Taft has everything firing on all cylinders heading into the postseason. The team's supposed showdown with Birmingham of Lake Balboa last week turned out to be another impressive win. Taft's 30-6 triumph was keyed by Cary Dove, who completed 17 of 25 passes for 246 yards and one TD.

8. (9) Esperanza (Anaheim) 9-1

Some are saying the best first-round game of the CIFSS Div. I playoffs is the Aztecs playing at Santa Margarita. One thing's for sure. We'll find out if all those close games in the Serra League this year got all those teams -- like Santa Margarita -- prepared for the playoffs or maybe all those teams aren't very good. Esperanza closed its regular season with a 45-7 romp past Marina of Huntington Beach.

9. (11) Nevada Union (Grass Valley) 10-0

Yes, it's true that the loser of the NU-Grant game often goes on to more playoff success than the winner. But the Miners are sure glad they don't have to play at 10-0 Jesuit and instead will host Laguna Creek of Elk Grove in their Sac-Joaquin Section Div. I playoff opener. Against Grant in their 43-40 win, Nevada Union looked to be on the same level as its section title teams in 1993 and 1994, especially with sophomore fullback Ryan Herrera giving coach Dave Humphers yet another option in his Wing-T offense.

10. (10) Monte Vista (Danville) 10-0

About the only thing that will keep the Mustangs behind teams like Nevada Union and Esperanza in the rankings is that the NCS East Bay 3A playoffs are a far cry from the 4A. If the seedings hold true, they are likely to meet San Ramon Valley and QB Sam Keller once again in the East Bay 3A final on Dec. 7 at the Oakland Coliseum. Monte Vista needs Foothill, a team it beat, to make a run in the 4A playoffs so its own strength of schedule will look better.

11. (7) Grant (Sacramento) 9-1

The Pacers have a tall order in trying to bounce back from their 43-40 loss to Nevada Union with a Saturday game on the road against 10-0 Jesuit of Carmichael. Assuming QB Tommie Hall returns to the lineup and that RB C.J. Wallace is at 100 percent, Grant certainly has the firepower to go all the way to the section title once again after an NU loss. Watch out for WR/DB Syd Thompson, who is one of the state's top sophomores.

12. (12) Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach) 10-0

Michael Okwo rampaged for 181 yards rushing and six TDs -- all in the first half -- as the Mustangs cruised past Beverly Hills, 49-9, in their regular season final. They are the top seed in the CIFSS Div. III playoffs and their chances for winning a section title look good, especially because they no longer have Hart fo worry about.

13. (13) Helix (La Mesa) 8-1

Reggie Bush has regained his form after being slowed by a broken wrist suffered earlier in the year. This week Bush played an entire game against arch-rival Monte Vista of Spring Valley and scored four times on runs of 9, 85, 6 and 40 yards, finishing with 15 carries for 243 yards. Teammate Derral Hutsona added 102 yards on 9 carries with one TD as the Highlanders racked up 464 yards on the ground and claimed the No. 1 seed in the CIF San Diego Section Div. II playoffs, dropping Monte Vista (7-3) to No. 4 with an impressive 52-21 victory at home in the season finale. If this weeks performance is indicative of what's to come a rematch with Oceanside seems likely in the section championship.

14. (15) Skyline (Oakland) 9-0-1

Coach John Beam made it 150 career wins after the Titans rolled past Oakland, 76-6, in their regular season final. Next up for the Titans is the CIF Oakland Section championships, which will likely boil down to another game against McClymonds on Dec. 6 at the Oakland Coliseum.

15. (15) St. John Bosco (Bellflower) 8-2

Give the Braves a ton of credit. They were written off by most after an opening-season loss to Pace of Miami, Fla., but they came back to not only win the Serra League title but they won it all by themselves with no sharing required. Bosco's 28-27 overtime win last week over Mater Dei was achieved when the Mater Dei kicker missed a PAT after the Monarchs scored a touchdown. Bosco had taken a 28-21 lead in overtime on five-yard TD run by Albert Butler and on a PAT. Joe Cowan was the Braves' standout in regulation with five catches for 99 yards and three TDs. It's also impressive to note that the Braves went most of the second half without RB-DB Derrick Williams, probably their best player. He went to the sidelines with what was reported as a bruised abdomen.

16. (16) Oak Ridge (El Dorado Hills) 9-1

It was another shutout for the Trojans, this one 42-0 over Galt. They may not be able to move up much more in the rankings, though, as their 13-12 loss to Grant loses some polish with Grant losing to Nevada Union.

17. (18) Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks) 10-0

Looking back on the regular season schedule, it looks like the toughest games Notre Dame had were the first two, which were against Birmingham of Lake Balboa and Westlake of Westlake Village. The Golden Knights won last week, 38-10, over Harvard-Westlake and host Downey (5-4) this week in the first round of the CIFSS Div. III playoffs. Coach Kevin Rooney's club won in yet another shutout by a top 20 team, this one by 42-0, over Chaminade of West Hills. Notre Dame closes its regular season on Friday at Harvard-Westlake.

18. (19) Oceanside 8-2

The Pirates secured the No. 2 seed in the SDS Div. II playoffs with an offensive firestorm against Ramona. They scored three times in the first quarter en route to an easy 63-7 victory. Quarterback Rick Coppack only threw 12 passes, but eight of them were complete for 223 yards with three going for TDs...all to San Diego State bound Jose Perez, who had five total catches on the night for 129 yards.

19. (nr) Foothill (Pleasanton) 8-1-1

Coach Matt Sweeney's team has a tie against No. 14 Skyline, a close loss to No. 10 Monte Vista and a close win over San Ramon Valley, the team that nearly beat Monte Vista last weekend. Foothill won last week, 35-22, over Granada of Livermore behind junior QB Kyle Barker, who completed 19 of 26 for 296 yards and four TDs.

20. (nr) Jesuit (Carmichael) 10-0

After their game against Elk Grove was postponed due to fog-related visibility problems, the Marauders came out the next day and defeated the Herd, 27-20. Jesuit QB C.J. Bacher completed 17 of 28 passes for 176 yards and two TDs. And what was the playoff reward to the Marauders' for their 10-0 regular season? How about a game against Grant, the 11th-ranked team in the state.


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