High school football is back!
Ahead of the Southern Section high school football season kicking off on Thursday, March 11, here are SBLive’s Top 25 Preseason Southern Section high school football rankings. The rankings were compiled by SBLive California reporter Connor Morrissette.
SBLive California is previewing the top football teams and players in the state ahead of the 2021 spring high school football season. You can find all of our high school football coverage here. And you can download the new SBLive Sports iPhone app here, and you can download the new SBLive Sports Android app here.
SBLIVE’S PRESEASON SOUTHERN SECTION TOP 25
The Braves finished 2019 as upper division Southern Section and state champions, so they start on top of our rankings. 2019 QB DJ Uiagalelei is now at Clemson and sophomore Pierce Clarkson and junior Katin Houser are competing to replace him. St. John Bosco’s offense will be more run focused this spring. Look for tailbacks Rayshon Luke and Jabari Bates to have big seasons behind the Braves’ mammoth offensive line. Defensively, Bosco is loaded up front and inexperienced, but talented at linebacker and in the secondary.
2. Mater Dei
Mater Dei is in a similar position to St. John Bosco: they have to replace their legendary quarterback from 2019 as well now that Bryce Young is at Alabama. Junior Emmett Brown, sophomore Parker Awad and freshman Elijah Brown are all competing at the QB spot. The Monarchs will run the ball more this spring with Marceese Yetts and stud junior Raleek Brown. Head coach Bruce Rollinson is very excited about Brown, an Oklahoma commit.
Mater Dei has the best secondary and receiving corps in California led by 2021 wideout Kyron Ware-Hudson and 2022 cornerback Domani Jackson, both USC commits (Ware-Hudson is signed). If the Monarchs get solid quarterback play, they will find themselves in familiar territory once again, atop the Trinity League.
Can Servite get over the hump this spring? The Friars have the top quarterback in the state in 2022 gunslinger Noah Fifita. His top target is his best friend, Tetairoa McMillan, a 2022 five-star wideout. The Friars great underclassmen defensive linemen and linebackers are now juniors (Jacob Manu, Mason Graham and Maxx Silao). This is Servite’s best chance at winning the Trinity League in years.
Senior Jake Retzlaff will start at quarterback after splitting time under center a year ago and should have a huge season. Jaden Mickey and Calvin Pitcher will lead the Huskies’ secondary. Head coach Matt Logan will have another great team this spring following last season’s Division 1 semifinal appearance. Corona Centennial will only play league games, so expect some ugly scores.
The bad news for the Diablos is last year’s quarterback Peter Costelli and star offensive lineman JT Hand have enrolled early at Utah and Arizona respectively this spring and won’t play. Head coach Chad Johnson managed to hang on to defensive end Easton Mascarenas (Oregon State signee) and wide receiver Mavin Anderson (Cal signee) though. Sophomore quarterback Kadin Semonza will replace Costelli under center and should excel. He’s part of a special sophomore class at Mission Viejo.
Coming off back-to-back Southern Section titles and CIF State finals appearances, the Trailblazers would have pushed for a Division 1 playoff spot in a normal season. Even without last year’s starting QB Chayden Peery (Georgia Tech early enrollee), this year’s Sierra Canyon team is one of the most talented teams in school history. Defensive back/wide receiver DJ Harvey (Virginia Tech signee) is the team’s top senior.
Junior Daniel Duran, sophomore Ryan Staub and freshman Alonzo Contreras are competing for the QB spot for Sierra Canyon this spring.
Quarterback Miller Moss transferred to Mater Dei and then came back to Alemany – then enrolled early at USC. So junior Dylan Gebbia will lead the Warriors at QB this spring. He’ll have plenty of talent around him in 2022 receiver Kevin Green and 2022 running back Floyd Chalk. Alemany is the preseason favorite in the Mission League.
8. Bishop Amat
Last year’s starting quarterback Tobin O’Dell is back this spring for Bishop Amat. Returning the starting QB is a luxury only two of the previous seven teams listed have. Amat is 10-0 in the Mission League in the last two seasons. They’ll be at or near the top of the league once again in 2021.
In a surprising development, Grace announced that head coach Josh Henderson won’t return to the school following the spring season. Henderson and Grace Brethren agreed to mutually part ways.
On the field, the Lancers will be very talented this spring, led by senior starting quarterback Mikey Zele and a scary group of linebackers (Isaac Garcia, Carson Cook, Cooper Robertson and Dez Diles). Senior running back Julien Stokes (UC San Diego commit) is another name to know.
10. Gardena Serra
Two straight very promising seasons have been marred by injuries for the Cavaliers. Will this year be different? Star quarterback Maalik Murphy (Texas commit) and head coach Scott Altenberg will hope so.
11. San Clemente
San Clemente has high expectations for junior quarterback Lachlan Rosmalen, a St. John Bosco transfer. Head coach Jaime Ortiz called senior linebacker Ryland Swarthout “the rock of his team.” The Tritons have serious talent on both sides of the ball.
12. Oaks Christian
Oaks Christian will be a surprise team in 2021. “I don’t want to jinx anything, but we’re going to be dangerous,” Oaks Christian coach Charles Collins told SBLive. “We’re definitely going to be explosive on offense in my opinion.”
The quarterback competition has boiled down to juniors Amari Powell and Cole Tannenbaum. Seniors Semaj Freeman and Jashawn Todd as well as junior Derek Boyd are all explosive running backs.
13. St. Bernard
It’s a new era at St. Bernard. The Vikings are ready to make some noise under first year head coach Manny Douglas, who was previously at Narbonne. The team is bringing in lots of new talent led by receiver/safety Larry Turner-Gooden, who transferred from Calabasas and is committed to Arizona State.
The Knights were another promising team in 2019 that was derailed by injuries. A few seniors and transfers will be missed along with legendary head coach Kevin Rooney who retired, but the Knights return their starting QB Cooper Meek who missed almost all of last season with an injury. New head coach Joe McNab was Rooney’s defensive coordinator for 39 years. He’s the most experienced first year head coach we’ve ever encountered.
15. Long Beach Poly
Poly made the Division 2 quarterfinals after a thrilling, gutsy comeback against Orange Lutheran last year. Replacing quarterback Mehki Jordan will be the team’s biggest challenge. Linebacker Bryun Parham and defensive end Jacob Tuioti will anchor a stout defense.
After a shaky start to 2019 following some roster turnover, Chaminade rounded into form as a Division 2 finalist by the end of the season. Despite losing some important seniors and quarterback Jaylen Henderson (Fresno State signee who opted out of the spring season), the Eagles should be good again in 2021 under head coach Ed Croson. Last year’s freshman sensation Ian Duarte, a receiver, is back.
17. La Habra
Senior receiver Brandon Vasquez and a talented offensive line will make La Habra dangerous week in and week out.
18. Santa Margarita
The Eagles went 3-8 last year in a tough Trinity League with a fairly young team. Starting quarterback Colt Fulton and star defensive lineman Derek Wilkins (Cal signee) return for the Eagles under first year coach Anthony Rouzier.
The Cubs turned what looked like a rebuilding season into a Division 4 finals run in 2019. Loyola returns numerous playmakers in 2021 including an elite corner tandem in Ceyair Wright (USC signee) and Zakhari Spears (Washington signee).
JSerra lost a handful of transfers and will be very inexperienced, but still talented. Offensive lineman Mason Murphy (USC signee) and linebacker Jaden Genova (Army commit) are the team’s top players. Sophomore quarterback Jaxon Potter should have a big year.
21. Orange Lutheran
While the Lancers are losing some key pieces such as running back Cooper Vander Hill and linebacker Jonah Laban, they should still be solid. Junior Logan Gonzalez will start at QB this spring.
22. Vista Murrieta
Third year head coach Eric Peterson is high on starting QB Brady Jones, a junior. “He’s gonna be exceptional for us,” Peterson told SBLive. “We’re excited about him. He started games for us last year, so he’s proven he can win, and he can sling it.”
23. Culver City
Culver City has one of the most underrated quarterbacks in California in senior Zevi Eckhaus, a Bryant signee.
Inglewood went 12-1 a year ago and the Sentinels have gotten better in the offseason, adding 2022 Cal QB commit Justyn Martin and 2022 Washington State linebacker commit Taariq Al-Uqdah.
Junior quarterback Tyler Voss has had an impressive offseason. 2022 wideout Zamondre Merriweather will be one of his top targets.
25 other teams considered: Rancho Verde, Cajon, Norco, Upland, Westlake, Damien, St. Paul, Glendora, Etiwanda, Pacifica (Oxnard), Oxnard, Los Altos, Paraclete, Muir, Rancho Cucamonga, Corona del Mar, Capistrano Valley, Edison, Lawndale, Los Alamitos, Camarillo, San Juan Hills, Crespi, La Serna and Murrieta Valley