That’s when a season is over and it’s time to plan for 2020. Well, in a nutshell that is high school playoff football and teams from the Catholic Athletes for Christ Top 25 High School rankings, presented by Siena Heights University and Global Football, are either knee-deep in the playoffs or still digesting the brackets handed to them earlier this weekend. Hours of scouting and watching tape are distilled into a game plan that hopefully will carry teams deep into their state or conference playoffs.
Here are a couple a numbers from the CAC Top 25 to chew on as the month of November hits the midway point. Only one team, No. 6 St. Frances Academy (Baltimore, Md.), won’t compete in the postseason and its season concludes this week. Last weekend six teams had byes. Three schools, including two from Louisiana, concluded the regular season and nine will officially open the playoffs this weekend.
The rest of the way will take on a frenetic pace and living by the mantra of “survive and advance” is playoff football.
While most state championships feature a road map of three, four or five games, there’s the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference, widely considered one of the best in the nation. It takes only two playoff wins to capture the coveted title and it kicks off this weekend with two semifinals. Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.), which dropped from the CAC Top 25 this week, must travel to Good Counsel (Olney, Md.) Friday. The survivor of that pairing takes on the winner of DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.) versus No. 25 St. John’s College (Washington, D.C.) semifinal matchup on Saturday afternoon. All fout teams are CAC Top 25 regulars.
Two familiar faces are back in the CAC Top 25 this week. No. 23 Dowling Catholic (West Des Moines, Iowa) returns having posted a 10-1 record and has a berth in the Class 4A state semifinals. The Maroons have won six straight Iowa state titles but a seventh won’t come easy.
As for No. 25 St. John’s College it’s been a long strange season. The Cadets scheduled one of the most ambitious nonconference slates in the nation. SJC, which enters the WCAC semifinals at 6-4 and is riding a four-game win streak, opened with two wins over Florida schools, before dropping four straight. At 2-4 the Cadets departed the CAC Top 25 with the WCAC portion of their schedule ahead. Funny thing about getting tested early is that it pays dividends late when it counts the most. SJC went 4-0 in conference play and is the top seed in the WCAC playoffs. Closing out with two more wins will be a challenge for all four teams in the semifinals, but the WCAC is big-time schoolboy football and a title is earned on the gridiron.
This week’s biggest riser is No. 16 Archbishop Rummel (Metairie, La.), which vaults four spots. The Raiders won the New Orleans Catholic League (District 9-5A) and are the top seed in the Division I state playoffs. The Raiders are one of four teams to earn a bye and won’t play until the weekend of Nov. 21-23. They also avoid No. 20 Catholic (Baton Rouge) and John Curtis Christian (River Ridge) until the state final.
We’ve added a section to the CAC Top 25 known as the Honor Roll. We’ll add the names of state and conference champions as they are known. Please email us anyone who is crowned a state champion or wins a postseason conference title, like the WCAC, that is derived in a playoff format. Or a league that ends with no playoff and decides a champion through the regular season schedule. We’ve already added two teams and more will follow. Consider it our tribute to the CAC Top 25 teams that graduated summa cum laude.
The Triple Option is about greatness and places to be next weekend. This week we feature a wide receiver from the City of Brotherly Love with a familiar name and there is a coach in Michigan who led his team to its first district championship in nearly a generation. Plus, the games that deliver sizzle and impact for the CAC Top 25.
Player of the Week: Wide receiver Marvin Harrison, Jr. of No. 13 St. Joseph’s Prep (Philadelphia, Pa.). To appreciate Harrison is to watch him run precise routes and gain separation from defenders. It’s all in the details for the 6 feet 4, 175 pound pass catcher. Last weekend Harrison teamed up with fellow Ohio State commit and junior classmate QB Kyle McCord for four touchdown receptions in a 52-7 blowout of rival La Salle College (Wyndmoor, Pa.) in the Class AAAAAA Philadelphia Catholic League championship.
With Harrison, whose father is a Hall of Fame receiver and Philadelphia Catholic school product (dad went to Roman Catholic High School and Syracuse), the bloodlines are in place and so is the production. The Hawks led La Salle 17-0 in the first quarter when McCord started calling his favorite target’s number and the results were astounding. Harrison nabbed scoring passes from 48 and 64 yards in the first quarter and added aerials from 10 and 81 in the second and lickety-split, it was 45-0 at halftime. There was no need for Harrison to play in the second half.
Harrison caught six passes for 222 yards and four scores, while McCord clicked on 13-of-21 passes for 321 yards and five TDs. The Hawks (8-2) play Northeast (Philadelphia) this weekend in the City Class AAAAAA championship game. The Prep has a 36-game win streak over its Philadelphia-area foes since the 2016 campaign.
Last spring McCord, whose father quarterbacked Rutgers in the 1990s, committed to the Ohio State Buckeyes and it was only a matter of time before his teammate from the Class of 2021 would also commit to the Big Ten powerhouse.
Coach of the Week: Pat Fox of Notre Dame Prep (Pontiac, Mich.). It took 15 years and 48 minutes, but Fox delivered the Fighting Irish’s first district title by defeating Brandon (Ortonville, Mich.), 54-40, in the Michigan Division 4, District 4 final last Friday. The victory pushed NDP’s record to 10-1 and that is quite an improvement from last year’s 4-5.
Fox, who took over the program in 2014 when then-coach Kyle Zimmerman left for another job, planted the seeds in 2018 when he went with six sophomore starters and this year the Fighting Irish are reaping the rewards.
Last Friday, the Irish jumped to a 19-0 lead in the first quarter and never looked back. When Brandon cut the deficit to 19-14 late in the second quarter, the Irish responded with two TDs in the final 66 seconds of the half. Prep QB Jacob Bendtsen tossed five TD passes and the district crown was headed to the Pontiac campus. Yet, with each passing round comes another challenge as the Irish will entertain Powers Catholic (Flint) Friday for the Division 4 regional title. After that it would take two more wins to annex a state championship that would be played over the Thanksgiving Day weekend at Ford Field in Detroit.
When Fox was hired in 2014, more than 50 candidates applied for the opening. Fox’s successful stints totaling 30 years at Milford (Highland), Berkeley and Pioneer (Ann Arbor) just varnished his dossier and now the Irish are three wins from a dream finish.
Games of the Week (All times local): Once again we’re focusing the attention on the Middle Atlantic area because the stakes have been raised with titles on the line. There games in Texas, Michigan and Iowa that have strong playoff implications.
Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) at Good Counsel (Olney, Md.), Friday, 7 p.m.: Gonzaga’s costly loss (after blowing an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter) at No. 25 St. John’s College (Washington) last weekend saw it slip to 8-2 and a semifinal road game. Earlier this season, Good Counsel recorded 42-35 overtime win over the Eagles. The winner of this one plays No. 25 St. John’s or DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.) for the WCAC championship next weekend. Word to the wise: Stop trying to figure out the WCAC.
Powers Catholic (Flint, Mich.) at Notre Dame Prep (Pontiac, Mich.), Friday, 7 p.m.: The Notre Dame Prep Fighting Irish (10-1), who are district champions for the first time since 2004, host the Division 4 Region 2 final at William Kozvra Alumni Field. The visiting Chargers are 9-2. The Division 4 semifinals are the following weekend and the state final is Nov. 29 at Ford Field in Detroit.
No. 23 Dowling Catholic (West Des Moines, Iowa) vs. Kennedy (Cedar Falls, Iowa), Friday, 7 p.m.: Dowling are the six-time Class 4A champions and are in the semifinals again in a game to be played at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls against a hometown team. The first game of the doubleheader is Bettendorf vs. top-ranked Valley (West Des Moines) at 4 p.m. The 4A championship is Nov. 22.
Archbishop Stepinac (White Plains, N.Y.) vs. Cardinal Hayes (Bronx, N.Y.), Saturday, 2 p.m.: The Catholic High School Football League of Metropolitan New York Class AAA final will be contested at Mitchel Field in Uniondale on Long Island. It’s considered the feature game of a tripleheader on Championship Weekend. The day starts with Staten Island schools Moore Catholic and St. Joseph by-the-Sea in AA-2 kicking at 10:30 a.m., and the late game is Chaminade (Mineola) and Kellenberg Memorial (Uniondale) for the AA-1 title at 5:30.
St. Francis (Hamburg, N.Y.) vs. Canisius (Buffalo, N.Y.), Saturday, 6 p.m.: The Monsignor Martin High School Athletic Association or Western New York’s Catholic League will conduct its championship game at University of Buffalo in suburban Amherst. St. Francis is 8-1 and already beat the Crusaders (5-5), 38-27, in the regular season. The winner hosts the State Catholic championship next weekend.
Nolan Catholic (Fort Worth, Texas) vs. Bishop Dunne (Dallas, Texas), Saturday, 7 p.m.: The Vikings (10-0) completed a perfect regular season last weekend and open the TAPPS Division I Area playoffs against a rival from Big D. The Vikings were the District 1 champions. The Division I state final is Dec. 6.
Mount St. Joseph (Baltimore, Md.) vs. McDonogh School (Owings Mills, Md.), Saturday, 7:30 p.m.: Can the MSJ Gaels (9-2) disrupt McDonogh’s perfect season and capture the MIAA A Conference championship? McDonogh (11-0) won the regular season game 14-7 on Oct. 19. This time it’s on a neutral field at Archbishop Spalding High School in Baltimore. The first game is the MIAA B Conference final between St. Mary’s (Annapolis) and St. Vincent Pallotti (Laurel) at 3 p.m.
Pine-Richland (Gibsonia, Pa.) vs. No. 22 Central Catholic (Pittsburgh, Pa.), Saturday, 8 p.m.: That a way to decide the WPIAL Class AAAAAA championship with a Saturday Night Special at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. Central Catholic (10-1) won the regular season meeting, 29-7, on Sept. 27, but that’s eons ago in a football life.
2019 CAC Top 25 Honor Roll
As the state champions are crowned, the CAC Top 25 will recognize as many of the schools that qualify for our rankings in this section. To qualify a Roman Catholic operated school with an 11-man football must have won a state sanctioned championship or a postseason tournament that would equate to winning a championship. Teams are listed alphabetically by state with the title won. Last weekend two entries were recorded.
Maryland: Georgetown Prep (North Bethesda), IAC.
New York: Kennedy Catholic (Somers), CHSFL Class A.
Siena Heights checks in at 7-2 after bye week
The Siena Heights football team rested last weekend and the Saints return to the gridiron Saturday in the season finale against Marian (Ind.) at McLaughlin Stadium. Kickoff is 12 p.m. EST.
For anyone interested in setting up a Siena Heights football recruit game day visit RSVP, potential student-athletes should fill out this electronic form.
We encourage fans, players, parents and coaches to follow the CAC Top 25 through social media at www.Facebook.com/CACTop25 and on Twitter @CACTop25. If there is a team, coach, player or story idea that we may have overlooked, reach out with the details.
The Catholic Athletes for Christ Top 25 High School football rankings presented by Siena Heights University and Global Football will return on November 20.
Until next week be sure to support your local school. God Bless. – Christopher Lawlor
Catholic Athletes for Christ High School Football Top 25, November 13, 2019
1. Mater Dei, Santa Ana, Calif. (10-0)
Previous rank: 1.
In the Huddle: Idle. The Monarchs host Bishop Amat (La Puente) Friday in CIF-Southern Section Division I first round.
2. St. John Bosco, Bellflower, Calif. (9-1)
In the Huddle: Idle. The Braves face Calabasas Friday in CIF-Southern Section Division I first round.
3. St. Thomas Aquinas, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (10-0)
Previous rank: 3.
In the Huddle: Shut down South Broward (Hollywood), 52-0, in Class 7A, Region 4 quarterfinals. The Raiders made quick work of their local rivals in the opening round of the postseason. In 10 games, the Raiders have yielded only 89 points. Junior QB Zion Turner had a field day, rushing 6 yards for a TD and firing scoring passes from 11, 23, 6 and 12 yards while accounting for 30 points. The competition stiffens in the next round with Plantation on Friday in Region 4 semifinals.
4. Saint Louis School, Honolulu, Hawaii (10-0)
Previous rank: 4.
In the Huddle: Idle. The Crusaders resume the playoffs on Nov. 22 versus Mililani in Hawaii Open Division semifinals at Aloha Stadium.
5. St. Frances Academy, Baltimore, Md. (10-1)
Previous rank: 5.
In the Huddle: Shut out Life Christian Academy (Chester, Va.), 35-0. The Panthers conclude the season Friday hosting Royalty Institute (Landover, Md.).
6. De La Salle, Concord, Calif. (9-1)
Previous rank: 6.
In the Huddle: Idle. The top-seed Spartans host Amador Valley (Pleasanton) Friday in the CIF-North Coast Section first round.
7. Bishop Gorman, Las Vegas, Nev. (10-1)
Previous rank: 7.
In the Huddle: Walloped Coronado (Henderson), 52-7, in the Class 4A Desert Region quarterfinals. If anyone thought the Gaels would be challenged, it was 38-0 in the first quarter. Penn State-bound QB Micah Bowens completed 8 of 13 passes for 175 yards and two TDs and rushed for two more. Sophomore RB Cam Barfield carried nine times for 95 yards and two scores. The Gaels host Green Valley (Henderson) Friday in Desert Region semifinals.
8. McGill-Toolen Catholic, Mobile, Ala. (11-0)
Previous rank: 8.
In the Huddle: QB Spencer Arceneaux completed seven passes for 146 yards and three TDs and the Yellow Jackets clipped Enterprise, 35-10, in the Class 7A first round. RB Trey Betts added 60 yards and two rushing TDs on 10 carries. The game turned from Arceneaux chucked a 60-yard scoring pass to WR Jordan Mosley in the fourth quarter to give the Jackets breathing room and made the score 21-10. Coach Earnest Hill’s team hosts Auburn Friday in the 7A second round.
9. Salpointe Catholic, Tucson, Ariz. (8-0)
Previous rank: 9.
In the Huddle: Idle. The Lancers host Pinnacle (Phoenix) Friday in the Arizona Open Division first round. The semifinals are Nov. 23 and the final will be on Dec. 7.
10. St. Edward, Lakewood, Ohio (10-1)
Previous rank: 10.
In the Huddle: Records fell from the sky as the Eagles swooped in a for convincing 73-38 victory over Medina in the Division I, Region 1 first round. The Eagles churned out program records for points (73) and first downs (30). RB Joey Formani rushed for 207 yards on 25 carries and four scores. QB Conor O’Malley hit on 17 of 25 passes for 198 yards with a TD and he rushed 91 yards and three more scores. Next is Euclid on Friday in the Region 1 semifinals to be played at Brunswick High School.
11. Archbishop Hoban, Akron, Ohio (10-1)
Previous rank: 11.
In the Huddle: The Knights pounded Alliance, 69-6, in Division II, Region 5 first round. The game was essentially over early in the first period when Devin Hightower had a pick-six on the first play from scrimmage. Arizona State-bound RB DeaMonte Trayanum dashed 24 yards for a score for a 14-0 lead and four minutes later he carried it in from 2 yards for a 21-point bulge. RB Victor Dawson rushed for two TDs and junior Shane Hamm threw two scoring passes to Brayden Fox in the second quarter. The race to Canton continues with Mayfair on Friday in the Region 5 semifinals to be played at Nordonia High School in Macedonia.
12. St. Peter’s Prep, Jersey City, N.J. (8-1)
Previous rank: 12.
In the Huddle: Idle. The Marauders host undefeated Notre Dame (Lawrenceville) in the Non-Public Group 4 quarterfinals Friday at Caven Point.
13. St. Joseph’s Prep, Philadelphia (8-2)
Previous rank: 13.
In the Huddle: For the second time this term, the Hawks trounced La Salle College (Wyndmoor), 52-7, in the Class AAAAAA Philadelphia Catholic League final. It was 38-0 at halftime and the Hawks would eventually tally the first 52 points of the contest. The Ohio State junior connection of QB Kyle McCord and Marvin Harrison, Jr. combined for four TD passes in the first half alone. Harrison caught six balls for 222 yards and McCord passed for 321 yards and five scores. Next is Northeast (Philadelphia) Saturday in the District 12 City Class AAAAAA final.
14. Covington Catholic, Park Hills, Ky. (11-0)
Previous rank: 14.
In the huddle: Defeated Cooper (Union), 41-6, in the Class 5A first round. Next is Conner (Hebron) in the Class 5A second round. The last time CovCath played Conner, they won 45-7 on Oct. 25.
15. De Smet Jesuit, St. Louis, Mo. (11-0)
Previous rank: 15.
In the Huddle: Despite trailing by 14 points in the opening quarter, the Spartans held their nerve and rallied to knock off the defending state champions Christian Brothers College (St. Louis), 35-14, in the Class 6 District 1 semifinals. RB Taj Butts was a wrecking ball in the second quarter, sparking the comeback with scoring runs of 3, 25 and 29 yards for a 21-14 lead at the break. Butts carried 20 times for 171 yards. The Spartans salted away the game with Rico Barfield’s 15-yard TD run and a 35-yard pass from QB Michael Wheeler to Jakailin Johnson late in the fourth quarter. The District 1 final is Friday against Francis Howell (St. Charles).
16. Archbishop Rummel, Metairie, La. (10-0)
Previous rank: 20.
In the Huddle: The Raiders are outright District 9-5A champions and the vaunted defense contributed two scores during a 27-0 blanking of Jesuit (New Orleans) in the regular season finale. Junior LB Kolbe Fields had a pick-six in the second quarter and DB Malik Woodery did the same from 31 yards in the fourth. The Raiders allowed only three TDs in 10 games and will get a first-round bye in the Louisiana Division I playoffs. Coach Nick Monica’s team won’t play again until the weekend of Nov. 21-23 in the quarterfinals of the 12-team tournament.
17. Mount Carmel, Chicago, Ill. (11-0)
Previous rank: 16.
In the Huddle: The Caravan beat Glenbard North (Carol Stream), 34-14, in the Class 7A second round. Junior QB Justin Lynch scored on runs of 4, 6, 13 and 15 yards. Next is Phillips (Chicago) Saturday in the 7A quarterfinals.
18. Nazareth Academy, La Grange Park, Ill. (11-0)^
Previous rank: 17.
In the Huddle: The Roadrunners keep rolling during a 49-21 take down of Thornton (Harvey) in the 7A second round. The game was tied at 14 after one quarter before the Roadrunner led 21-14 at the break and added 14 points in the third for an insurmountable 35-14 edge. Next is Batavia Saturday in the 7A quarterfinals.
19. O’Dea, Seattle, Wash. (9-0)
Previous rank: 18.
In the Huddle: Defeated Ferndale, 42-7, in a Class 3A preliminary-round playoff game. The top-seed Fighting Irish play Kelso on Friday in the Class 3A first round.
20. Catholic, Baton Rouge, La. (10-0)
Previous rank: 19.
In the Huddle: Crushed Dutchtown (Geismar), 70-34, in the regular season finale and are district champions. QB Jackson Thomas was too much, completing 24 of 31 passes for 339 yards and four scores. The RB duo of Josh Parker and George Hart each rushed for two TDs. The second-seed Bears won’t play again until the Louisiana Division I quarterfinals on the weekend of Nov. 21-23.
21. Eastside Catholic, Sammamish, Wash. (8-1)
Previous rank: 21.
In the Huddle: Stopped Gig Harbor, 34-14, in a Class 3A preliminary-round playoff game. The second-seed Crusaders continue their title defense against Squalicum (Bellingham) on Friday in the Class 3A first round.
22. Central Catholic, Pittsburgh, Pa. (10-1)
Previous rank: 23.
In the Huddle: The Vikings eliminated Mount Lebanon (Pittsburgh), 31-13, in the WPIAL Class AAAAAA semifinals. RB Eddy Tillman pulverized the defense with 154 rushing yards and three TDs. Next is Pine-Richland (Gibsonia) Saturday in the Class AAAAAA final at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. This will be the seventh year either team will win the WPIAL large-school crown. Central Catholic holds a 7-4 series lead since 2010, but Pine-Richland has won two of the last three meetings.
23. Dowling Catholic (West Des Moines, Iowa (10-1)
Previous rank: Not ranked.
In the Huddle: The Maroons are back in the CAC Top 25 after an impressive run of games. The winning streak hit nine games after a 42-14 pasting of Ankeny in the Class 4A quarterfinals. RB Gavin Williams scored four TDs propelling the Maroons. Next is Kennedy (Cedar Palls) Friday in the Class 4A semifinals.
24. Kennedy Catholic (Burien, Wash. (10-0)
Previous rank: 25.
In the Huddle: Junior QB “Slinging” Sam Huard went off for another pass-happy night in defeating North Creek (Bothell), 56-22, in a Class 4A preliminary-round playoff game. The Washington-bound Huard, who has thrown for more than 10,000 career yards with a season to go, completed 18 of 38 passes for 431 yards and six TDs. Next up the Lancers meet Wenatchee in the Class 4A first round this weekend.
25. St. John’s College, Washington, D.C. (6-4)
Previous rank: Not ranked.
In the Huddle: The Cadets return to the CAC Top 25 after winning the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference regular season title and beating then-No. 21 Gonzaga (Washington), 32-28. It’s a remarkable turnaround for the Cadets who lost four straight early in the season but rebounded for four wins in the WCAC. The Cadets trailed 28-17 at the end of three quarters but capped the rally when BYU-bound QB Sol-Jay Maiava fired a 53-yard TD pass to Colby McDonald. Earlier in the period, RB Antwain Littleton’s 1-yard plunge and ensuing two-point conversion pulled SJC within 28-25. Next is DeMatha Catholic Saturday in the WCAC semifinals.
Dropped: No. 21 Gonzaga (Washington, D.C) and No. 24 Iona Prep (New Rochelle, N.Y.).
^ Includes a forfeit victory
Special Consideration: McQuaid Jesuit (Rochester, N.Y.); Chaminade-Madonna College Prep (Hollywood, Fla.); Regis Jesuit (Aurora, Colo.); St. Joseph Regional (Montvale, N.J); La Salle (Cincinnati, Ohio); St. Mary’s Prep (Orchard Lake, Mich.); Gonzaga (Washington, D.C); Blessed Trinity (Roswell, Ga.); Nolan Catholic (Fort Worth, Texas); St. Thomas Aquinas (Overland Park, Kan.); Cardinal Gibbons (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.); Catholic Memorial (West Roxbury, Mass.); St. Xavier (Cincinnati, Ohio); Bishop Amat (La Puente, Calif.); Central Catholic (Toledo, Ohio); Cathedral Prep (Erie, Pa.); Archbishop Stepinac (White Plains, N.Y.); DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.); Seton Hall Prep (West Orange, N.J.); Elder (Cincinnati, Ohio); Trinity (Louisville, Ky.); Cathedral (Indianapolis, Ind.); Benedictine (Cleveland, Ohio); Servite (Anaheim, Calif.); St. Joseph (Trumbull, Conn.); Jesuit (Portland, Ore.); Archbishop Wood (Warminster, Pa.); Loyola Academy (Wilmette, Ill.); Good Counsel (Olney, Md.); St. Francis (Hamburg, N.Y.); Marist (Atlanta, Ga.); Iona Prep (New Rochelle, N.Y.); St. Ignatius College Prep (San Francisco, Calif.); Serra (San Mateo, Calif.) and Cardinal Hayes (Bronx, N.Y.).