1. (1) De La Salle (Concord) 12-0
Make it 28 straight playoff wins and 137 straight overall for the Spartans, who overwhelmed Hayward, 47-7, last Friday in the CIF North Coast Section Class 4A semifinals. Maurice Drew scored the team's first touchdown on a 76-yard opening kickoff return. Junior speedster Jackie Bates then came through with a 49-yard TD run later in the first quarter and the rout was on. The team's leading rusher turned out to be fullback Gino Ottoboni with 107 yards and one TD. Ottoboni had not played since injuring his knee in the game against Long Beach Poly. De La Salle will now face San Leandro (12-0) in Saturday's title game at the Oakland Coliseum. The Spartans are going for their 11th straight NCS title, their 11th straight unbeaten season, their ninth straight No. 1 state ranking and their fourth No. 1 national ranking in the last five years.
2. (2) Poly (Long Beach) 11-1
The Jackrabbits may feel they have a score to settle with Mater Dei of Santa Ana in this week's CIF Southern Section Div. I semifinals. The last time the two longtime powers played it was in the 1999 final and the result was a 21-21 tie. The year before that it was the Monarchs spoiling a perfect season with a 33-28 win in the final over a Poly team that was 13-0. In last week's 43-3 romp past Rialto Eisenhower, Derrick Jones went deep for three more long TD passes from Leon Jackson and finished with four catches for 229 yards. Lorenzo Bursey added 104 yards rushing on 15 carries with one TD and the defense shut down Ike to the tune of just 90 total yards.
3. (3) Los Alamitos 11-0-1
It was wet and slippery in the Griffins' CIFSS Div. I quarterfinal game vs. Bishop Amat of La Puente, so coach John Barnes went more to his running game. The result was Ryan Bagley gaining 125 yards and scoring three TDs and QB Jeff Kline picking up 73 rushing yards in a 30-24 win that put Los Al in this week's semis vs. Loyola of Los Angeles. Kline also passed for 110 yards and one TD vs. the Lancers. This week's matchup brings to mind a phenomenal CIFSS playoff game from 1999 when Los Al edged Loyola, 30-23, in two overtimes. The Griffins tied it up with time expiring in regulation on a 60-yard field goal by Chris Kluwe.
4. (4) Hart (Newhall) 11-0-1
Everything still appears on track for a Hart-Mission Viejo final on Dec. 14 for the CIF Southern Section Div. II title. The Indians play 9-3 San Clemente, a league rival of Mission Viejo's, in this week's semifinals. Hart took care of business last week with a 48-16 win over Ayala of Chino Hills. The Indian offense clicked for nearly 550 yards behind junior QB Sean Norton. But Norton wasn't the only Hart underclassman to shine. Sophomore Ryan Wolfe was nasty as well with 92 yards rushing, two receptions and two pass interceptions on defense.
5. (5) Mission Viejo 12-0
It looks like the Diablos have gotten over any ills that were bothering them in their previous two games. Both offense and defense were superb in last week's 48-14 victory over Canyon of Canyon Country. Justin Williams led the defense with four quarterback sacks. Ryan Holmes led the offense with 16 carries for 150 yards and three TDs. QB Marty Tadman also looked good as a replacement for injured Josh Rodarmel. Tadman passed for 148 yards and three TDs and rushed for 44 yards. The result advanced Mission Viejo into this week's semis vs. Claremont (9-2) and guaranteed that if the Hart-MV game does occur that Canyon coach Harry Welch will be called quite a bit for his comparisons of the two teams.
6. (6) San Leandro 12-0
After last week's 28-9 win over Foothill of Pleasanton in the CIF NCS Class 4A semis, the Pirates earned another shot at De La Salle in the finals. It will be their fourth straight title game appearance vs. the Spartans. The three previous teams were 12-0 as well, but offered only a glimpse of an upset for a few brief moments in the third quarter of last year's game. The title games in 1999 and 2000 were over at halftime. This year's edition of San Leandro seems better on offense than any of the others with multiple weapons and a big-time Div. I QB (Dennis Dixon) running the show. The jury's still out whether this year's defense is as good. Jerome Tarver sealed last week's win vs. the Falcons with a 64-yard scoring run with 2:48 remaining. Junior Faaeteete scored twice earlier in the game on short runs. Dixon was only 8 of 12 for 135 yards.
7. (7) Taft (Woodland Hills) 12-0
The Toreadors smashed defending CIF L.A. City Section champ Dorsey, 30-6, and look to be the best L.A. City team in many years. Standout individuals against the Dons included Litrele Jones with 123 yards rushing and one TD on 19 carries, Steve Smith with seven receptions for 141 yards, Cary Dove with 10 of 18 passing for 183 yards and one TD and Paul Pratt with a 39-yard interception return TD. This week, Taft gets QB Eddie Miller and his fleet corps of wideouts from Venice in the semifinals.
8. (9) Nevada Union (Grass Valley) 12-0
In August, the Miners weren't expected to be 12-0 at this point of the season, but after a 65-21 demolition of Sacramento Florin in last week's CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Div. I quarterfinals they might be the best team outside of De La Salle north of the Tehachapis. Nevada Union will play 11-0 Jesuit in this week's semifinal, a matchup that also will be for the unofficial city championship of the Sacramento metro area.
9. (10) Monte Vista (Danville) 12-0
Section administrators aren't supposed to root for certain teams, but NCS officials had to be inwardly happy that Monte Vista and San Ramon Valley will indeed play again and they'll do so this Saturday as part of a terrific doubleheader that also involves De La Salle and San Leandro. The Mustangs won by 46-44 three weeks ago over San Ramon Valley in a game that wasn't decided until there were four seconds left. Monte Vista won easily last week by 41-8 over Bishop O'Dowd of Oakland. Tom Haug rushed for 213 yards on 23 carries and scored four TDs for Monte Vista. Kyle Wright completed 13 of 26 passes for 194 yards and one TD.
10. (11) Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach) 12-0
Michael Okwo displayed his two-way prowess in leading the Mustangs to a 21-17 win over St. Paul of Santa Fe Springs in the CIFSS Div. III playoffs. On offense, Okwo banged his way for 181 yards on 31 carries and scored two TDs. On defense, he came up with a touchdown-saving tackle and a key pass deflection to help deny a potentially game-winning touchdown by the Swordsmen. Mira Costa is still on track for a possible 13-0 vs. 13-0 showdown vs. Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks in the final, but first must deal with 10-2 Antelope Valley of Lancaster this week on its home field.
11. (12) Helix (La Mesa) 10-1
San Diego County's No. 1 overall team had three different 100-yard rushers in an explosive 62-31 triumph over Patrick Henry in the second round of the CIF San Diego Section Div. II playoffs. Reggie Bush rampaged for 263 yards and four TDs on 16 carries and threw a 40-yard TD pass to Charles Smith. Rashiv Otey contributed 130 yards and two TDs on 16 carries and Derrel Hutsona had nine carries for 122 yards and two TDs. More of the same is expected in this week's semifinal against Monte Vista of Spring Valley, a team Helix beat 52-21 earlier this season.
12. (13) Skyline (Oakland) 10-0-1
It would have been better for the Titans' hopes to be higher in the final state rankings if Foothill of Pleasanton, the team they tied, had done better against San Leandro. Skyline took last week off in preparation for the Oakland Section Silver Bowl championship game vs. defending titlist McClymonds on Friday at the Oakland Coliseum.
13. (15) Jesuit (Carmichael) 11-0
Before the season began, the Sacramento metro championship game was expected to be between Grant and Elk Grove. Now, after Jesuit destroyed Woodland, 55-30, in last week's second round of the CIF Sac Joaquin Section playoffs, it'll be the Marauders against Nevada Union. Chris Buck scored three TDs and rushed for 130 yards to lead the Jesuit offense. Friday night's showdown vs. NU will be played at Hughes Stadium in Sacramento.
14. (nr) Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 9-3
Based on strength of schedule, you almost always have to put the four CIFSS Div. I semifinalists somewhere in the top 20. The Monarchs go in here for their surprisingly one-sided 30-12 knockout of former No. 9 Esperanza of Anaheim. Even with leading rusher Raphael Rice sidelined, Mater Dei took advantage of five Aztec turnovers and advanced to a matchup this week vs. No. 2 Long Beach Poly. Cortez Rice, a sophomore who looked good last spring at the USC Nike Camp, scored twice for the Monarchs and John Martinez had 99 yards rushing and one TD. Perhaps the young Monarchs, led by soph QB Jason Forcier, are beginning to gel.
15. (nr) Loyola (Los Angeles) 9-3
No matter how unimpressively the Cubs might play during the regular season, watch out for ‘em when the playoffs come around. Just last year, it was Loyola that gave Long Beach Poly its toughest test in the playoffs. The year before that the Cubs were in the CIFSS Div. I final. Last week's 38-8 smashing of previous No. 14 St. John Bosco is another example. The Cub defense only allowed six first downs the entire game to the Braves, a team they lost to earlier in the season. Quentin Daniels was huge with two interceptions and a 53-yard scoring reception from Scott Deke. And then there's Bo Renaud. He had to be sore after carrying 45 times for 159 yards and three TDs.
16. (16) Oak Ridge (El Dorado Hills) 11-1
The Trojans blasted Del Oro of Loomis, 47-7, in last week's CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Div. II semifinals. This week's title game against 11-1 league rival Granite Bay, however, won't be so easy.
17. (17) Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks) 12-0
We owe the Golden Knights and their fans an apology. Due to their previous league affiliation, they were always considered Division I for the state ratings. We were thinking about them as a Div. I team for this year, too. Upon further review, though, it looks like Notre Dame should be considered Div. II. We didn't fix it this week because no one lost from last week's Div. II top 10. Once there's some leeway, we promise to put Notre Dame where it belongs. And who knows, if the Golden Knights win the CIFSS Div. III title, if San Ramon Valley beats Monte Vista and if Helix loses (probably to Oceanside), there could be a No. 1 ranking in their future. Last week, Notre Dame downed Peninsula of Rolling Hills Estates, 38-7. This week, they host 11-1 Palmdale.
18. (18) Oceanside 9-2
The Pirates began the CIF San Diego Section Div. II playoffs with a 27-7 win over Escondido, perhaps, as with many fans, looking ahead to an expected showdown in the final with Helix. Escondido's only score vs. Oceanside came on an interception return. Tyler Lavea had the Pirates first two touchdowns. This week's opponent in the semis is 9-2 Castle Park of Chula Vista.
19. (20) Los Gatos 12-0
A 48-0 blanking of San Jose Leigh moves the Wildcats one step closer to completing a third consecutive 13-0 season. This may be the best team of the three due to more overall depth, balance and experience. The Wildcats' CIF Central Coast Section Div. III title game vs. St. Francis of Mountain View (7-5) will tell the tale, although they already have a 21-0 win over the Lancers from early in the season. Dennis Freeman rushed for 184 yards and four TDs against Leigh and now has a school-record 37 TDs for the season. And of the 12 wins so far, six have been by shutout.
20. (nr) St. Bonaventure (Ventura) 11-1
St. Bonnie is back in the top 20 after having dropped out way back in September following its 31-6 loss to Hart. The Seraphs also are the eighth Division II team now in the top 20, an all-time high. That's because this is the deepest Div. II football season the state has ever had. St. Bonnie won last week 68-14 over Agoura of Agoura Hills, which contributed to the margin of victory with six turnovers. Whitney Lewis led the offense with 12 carries for 162 yards and two TDs plus two catches for 35 yards and one TD. This week, the Seraphs travel to play 11-1 Moorpark in the CIFSS Div. IV semifinals.