Expect the unexpected is an apt description for the month of November when the red-hot national high school playoff scene unfolds annually.
When the Catholic Athletes for Christ Top 25 High School Football rankings were released in August, it was assumed that when November commenced and postseason was in full swing there would be a few surprises or upsets.
Take last Saturday in Northwest, a Washington, D.C. neighborhood that is an amalgam of suburbia and urbanity, where then-No. 3 St. John’s College (Washington) lost to Washington Catholic Athletic Conference rivals Gonzaga. SJC was on track for a second WCAC title when the Eagles swooped in for decisive victory thus ending the repeat bid. That’s an example of what is in store for the CAC Top 25, presented by Siena Heights University and Global Football.
Drama? You bet.
Tears and heartache? Absolutely.
The latter is expected when the realization that a dream is squashed in 48 playing minutes or a high school career is over. Most high school players won’t play in college or in an organized 11-man game again. That’s why the raw emotion is so real.
This weekend there are three CAC Top 25 teams that are going for the bass ring and that includes teams from Iowa, Maryland and California. In the following weeks, the list expands but that also means that we’re in the twilight of another season. Eight teams from New Jersey (three), California (two), Missouri, Illinois and Hawaii are in the semifinals this weekend—all needing two wins for a state or sectional championship.
Enjoy it! The CAC Top 25 could not be shaped any other way.
Those fleeting moments will be etched in the memory banks of many and the seeds planted for the 2019 season. We’ll bring you all the highpoints all the way.
Last week, No. 19 Catholic (Baton Rouge, La.) was added to the CAC Top 25 fold and this time it’s a team from San Diego, Calif.
No. 25 Cathedral Catholic (San Diego) enters the CAC Top 25 after advancing to the CIF-San Diego Section Open Division final following a 35-0 triumph over Carlsbad in the semifinals. The Dons (10-1) are coached by Sean Doyle and have won 10 straight after losing on opening day to La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad), 19-7. The Dons average 37 points per game and will bring a strong running game into their sectional final this weekend.
Last weekend, 18 teams from the CAC Top 25 won, while two lost, one took a forfeit, and four had playoff byes. Changes are on the horizon.
So let’s move into our Triple Option section, where players, coaches and games are highlighted.
Starting off, we honor young men from St. Louis, Missouri and another from Maryland as co-players of the week. This week, two is better than one. In our nation’s capital, a coach waited less than a week to reverse the result from the previous weekend and there are playoff games from southern Indiana to Long Island and Atlanta that will impact the CAC Top 25.
Co-Players of the Week: Running back Bryan Bradford of No. 14 Christian Brothers College (St. Louis, Mo.) and DB/WR DeMarcco Hellams of No. 16 DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.). Instead of flipping a coin, two players share the honor this week.
We’ll start in St. Louis, Missouri, where Bradford blasted off, putting on a show as Christian Brothers College (10-1) toppled their crosstown rival De Smet Jesuit, 63-28, in the Missouri Class 6 District 1 final. Bradford rushed for 200 yards and scored six touchdowns as the Cadets opened a 42-21 lead in the first half. It was Bradford’s fourth game with at least 200 yards on the ground with a high this season of 312. Bradford scored on runs of 71, 43, 2, 2 and 1 yards and caught a 16-yard scoring pass from quarterback Brett Gabbert, a Miami (Ohio) recruit. According to recruiting websites, he’s getting attention from MAC programs.
For the season, the 6 feet, 1 inch, 230-pounder has rushed for 1,646 yards on 152 carries (10.8 yards a pop!) and totaled 35 TDs, including 30 rushing and five on receptions. CBC plays Joplin in the state semifinals this weekend.
In suburban Washington, D.C., Hellams had a memorable performance and heavily impacted DeMatha’s 30-14 victory over Good Counsel (Olney, Md.) in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference semifinals. He affected the game in all three facets: offense, defense and special teams.
Hellams scored two TDs, picked off two passes and blocked a punt in the end zone for a safety, as the Stags are back in the WCAC final after missing out on it last year. Hellams opened the evening with a 60-yard TD catch and added another in the second half. At 6-1, 200 pounds, Hellams chose the Alabama Crimson Tide earlier this year over Clemson, Kentucky, Maryland, Notre Dame, Nebraska, Michigan and Penn State.
DeMatha closes out the season on Sunday versus their archrival Gonzaga (Washington) in the WCAC final. He’ll also play in the Under Armour All-American Game in January.
Coach of the Week: Randy Trivers of Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.). It is often said the greatest qualities in coaching include short-term memory and an ability to make adjustments. Trivers and his staff did a masterful job of both last weekend when the Eagles upended then-No. 3 St. John’s College (Washington), 24-14, in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference semifinals. What’s so special about the win, besides heading to Sunday’s championship game against No. 16 DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.), is Trivers played SJC the previous weekend (Nov. 3), falling 34-17 to an offensive juggernaut.
In the semifinals, the Eagles cranked up the defense. SJC came in averaging 37 points in the first nine games and was held to 23 points and limited the Cadets to two field goals in the first goals and seized control in the third with two TDs for a 17-6 lead. A defensive score in the fourth clinched it.
Trivers is a seasoned coach with the respect of fellow coaches and players for his 24 years in charge. He played locally at Sherwood (Sandy Spring, Md.) and then College of the Holy Cross and went on to guide Northwest (Germantown) to the Maryland Class 3A state title in 2004. He also teaches English at the all-male Jesuit school, which was established in 1821 and is known as Washington Seminary.
Games of the Week (All times Eastern): This weekend, here are five venues that will be caught up in playoff fever.
Marist (Atlanta, Ga.) at St. Pius X Catholic (Atlanta, Ga.), Friday, 7:35 p.m.: The rivalry continues in the Georgia Class AAAA second round. The Pius X Golden Lions (10-1) have won 10 straight this season, including a 17-0 win over Marist (9-2) in September. Last season, Marist won both meetings and a 25-14 decision in the state semifinals.
Bishop Chatard (Indianapolis, Ind.) at Reitz Memorial (Evansville, Ind.), Friday, 7:30 p.m.: The Memorial Tigers (13-0) are Indiana’s top-ranked Class 3A team and ride a 21-game win streak and average 48 points per game. Chatard (11-2), which lost to a pair of out-of-state powers including No. 12 Covington (Ky.) Catholic, makes the three hour trip down I-69 for the Class 3A Semistate game with the winner advancing to the final next week at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
No. 18 Brother Rice (Chicago) at Marist (Chicago), Saturday, 2 p.m.: The Chicagoland brethren tangle for a second time this season in the Illinois Class 8A semifinals. Brother Rice (12-0) handed its rival their only loss, 20-16, on Aug. 24. Next year they will be in the Blue Division of a newly formed but unnamed Catholic league. The winner gets the Lincoln-Way East (Frankfort) or Loyola Academy (Wilmette) in the state final on Nov. 24 in Champaign.
Catholic High School Football League of Metropolitan New York finals, Saturday, 10 a.m.: There three championship games at Mitchel Athletic Complex in Hempstead, New York (on Long Island adjacent to the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum). The action starts with the Class A, Cardinal Spellman (Bronx) vs. Kennedy Catholic (Somers); Class AA, Kellenberg Memorial (Uniondale) vs. Xavier (Manhattan), 1:30 p.p.; and Class AAA, Cardinal Hayes (Bronx) vs. Archbishop Stepinac (White Plains), 5 p.m.
Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) vs. No. 16 DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.), Sunday, 6 p.m.: The Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship game is a throwback and a wonderful traditional and will be staged at Catholic University’s Cardinal Stadium. The Stags (9-2) have reached the WCAC final in 20 of the last 22 years but hope to annex their fifth crown in six seasons. Last weekend, the Stags defeated Good Counsel (Olney, Md.), 30-14, in the semifinals, while Gonzaga tossed a wrench into the proceedings with a 24-14 victory at then-No. 3 St. John’s College (Washington). The Stags won the regular season meeting in three overtimes, 27-21.
Let the games begin.
The CAC Top 25 rankings will return on November 21 and we’ll have a look at the results from state and conference championship games and preview traditional games that will be played on Thanksgiving in Triple Option.
Fans, coaches, players and parents are encouraged to follow the CAC Top 25 through social media at www.Facebook.com/CACTop25 and on Twitter @CACTop25. If you want to nominate a player or coach for CAC recognition get us the information no later than each Monday morning during the season by 11 a.m. ET.
Here’s a final reminder: Global Football will celebrate a quarter of a century as the world’s leading exporter of the sport outside of the United States, by again organizing the showcase spectacular as a partner event of the 2020 Aer Lingus College Football Classic on August, 29, 2020. Twelve high schools can experience the Irish culture and to compete in a series of games, with multiple venues in Greater Dublin, Ireland hosting American football games.
Global Football has established a web page dedicated to the 2020 event, which includes tour options for travelers, pricing, and how high school coaches can request an invitation. Visit www.GlobalFootball.com/Ireland-2020 for more information.
Keep those who perished and were affected by the wildfires that rage in California in your thoughts and prayers. Trying times are ahead for many.
Enjoy the games this weekend and God Bless. – Christopher Lawlor
2018 Catholic Athletes for Christ Top 25, November 14, 2018
1. St. John Bosco, Bellflower, Calif. (12-0)
Previous rank: 1.
In the Huddle: Junior QB DJ Uiagalelei tossed two TD passes and sophomore Jode McDuffie returned a punt 76 yards for a score, and the Braves stopped San Clemente, 56-6, in the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 quarterfinals. The Braves and No. 3 Mater Dei both need to win this weekend for a second matchup this season in the sectional final. First, coach Jason Negro must prepare his team for Oaks Christian School (Westlake Village) in the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 semifinals on Friday.
2. Mater Dei, Santa Ana, Calif. (10-2) #
Previous rank: 2.
In the Huddle: Mission Viejo put up a brief battle but eventually the Monarchs rolled to an easy 56-17 victory in the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 quarterfinals. It was 21-10 in the first quarter and 35-17 at the break, but a stout defensive effort in the second half sealed it for the defending sectional champions. The Monarchs have a massive sectional semifinal game with nationally-ranked and undefeated Corona (Calif.) Centennial on Friday.
3. Archbishop Hoban, Akron, Ohio (12-0)
Previous rank: 4.
In the Huddle: The powerful running that produced nearly 450 yards and six rushing TDs steered the Knights to a 41-7 blowout of Garfield Heights in the Division II, Region 5 semifinals. Leading the charge out of the backfield was RB DeaMonte Trayanum with 179 yards and four TDs on seven carries. The Knights meet Maple Heights Friday for the Region 5 championship.
4. De La Salle, Concord, Calif. (11-0)
Previous rank: 5.
In the Huddle: The Spartans blanked Pittsburg, 38-0, in the CIF-North Coast Section Open Division semifinals. RB-DB Shamar Garrett ran and passed for TDs and intercepted a pass in the third quarter to set up another. Next is Liberty (Brentwood) or Clayton Valley Charter (Concord) in the Open Division final on Nov. 23 or 24.
5. St. Thomas Aquinas, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (10-1)
Previous rank: 6.
In the Huddle: An explosive offense generated a season-high points total as the Raiders walloped South Miami, 77-20, in the Class 7A, Region 4 quarterfinals. RB Nigel White ran for scores from 3, 5 and 7 yards in the first quarter when Aquinas tallied 35 points. Next is Fort Lauderdale High in the Region 4 semifinals at home on Friday.
6. St. Joseph’s Prep, Philadelphia, Pa. (9-0)
Previous rank: 8.
In the Huddle: The Hawks are Philadelphia Catholic League Class AAAAAA champions for a third straight time after dispatching La Salle College (Wyndmoor, Pa.), 23-13. Sophomore QB Kyle McCord continued his excellence, throwing for 252 yards and three scores—one each to Marvin Harrison, Jr., Johnny Freeman and Anthony Rightley. Next is Northeast (Philadelphia) in the Class AAAAAA, District 12 final on Saturday.
7. Saint Louis, Honolulu, Hawaii (9-0)
Previous rank: 9.
In the Huddle: Idle. Next up is rivals Kahuku on Friday in Hawaii Open Division semifinals at Aloha Stadium.
8. St. Frances Academy, Baltimore, Md. (8-0)
Previous rank: 7.
In the Huddle: Received a forfeit win last weekend from COP Academy (Columbus, Ohio). The regular season finale is Friday against West Toronto Prep (Ontario, Canada).
9. St. John’s College, Washington, D.C. (9-1)
Previous rank: 3.
In the Huddle: Lost to Gonzaga, 24-14, in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference semifinals. QB Sol-Jay Maiava threw a 23-yard TD to Rakim Jarrett in the fourth quarter but it wasn’t enough. Season complete.
10. Bergen Catholic, Oradell, N.J. (9-1)
Previous rank: 10.
In the Huddle: The reigning state champions were all business in their opening postseason assignment as RB Rahmir Johnson rushed for 129 yards in a 42-6 victory over Seton Hall Prep (West Orange) in the Non-Public Group 4 quarterfinals. The Crusaders built a 21-0 lead at the break as Garrett Cody had two TD receptions. Jordan Morant set the tone returning the opening kickoff 88 yards for a score. Next is archrival Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey) in the state semifinals back at Crusader Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
11. Blessed Trinity, Roswell, Ga. (11-0)
Previous rank: 11.
In the Huddle: Defeated Northwest Whitfield (Tunnel Hills), 55-16, in the Class AAAA first round. QB Jake Smith completed 7 of 15 passes for 176 yards and three TDs and sophomore RB Jackson Hamilton ran for 69 yards and two scores.
The Titans play North Oconee (Bogart) Friday in the Class AAAA second round.
12. Covington Catholic, Park Hills, Ky. (12-0)
Previous rank: 12.
In the Huddle: The Colonels left no doubt by scoring 23 points in the first quarter and rolled over Montgomery County (Sterling), 43-15, in the Class 5A second round. QB Caleb Jacob threw for 213 yards and three TDs, including a pair (65 and 5 yards) to Notre Dame-bound Michael Mayer, who had three receptions for 101 yards and added six tackles on defense. The road gets bumpier when rival Highlands (Fort Thomas) pays a visit Friday in the Class 5A quarterfinals.
13. Columbus, Miami, Fla. (11-0) @
Previous rank: 15.
In the Huddle: Defeated Coral Gables, 38-21, in the Class 8A, Region 4 quarterfinals. The Explorers play Palmetto (Miami) Friday in the Region 4 semifinals.
14. Christian Brothers College, St. Louis, Mo. (10-1)
Previous rank: 15.
In the Huddle: RB Bryan Bradford scored six TDs and the Cadets bested their rivals De Smet Jesuit (St. Louis), 63-28, for the 10th consecutive time in the Class 6 District 1 final. QB Brett Gabbert passed for 288 yards and two scores. The Cadets face Joplin in the state semifinals this weekend.
15. Charlotte (N.C.), Catholic (10-1)
Previous rank: 16.
In the Huddle: Idle. The Cougars host Morehead (Eden) in the Class 3A first round on Friday. The winner gets Freedom (Morganton) or Monroe in the second round on Nov. 23.
16. DeMatha Catholic, Hyattsville, Md. (8-2)
Previous rank: 17.
In the Huddle: The Stags are one win from a Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship after defeating Good Counsel (Olney, Md.), 30-14, in the semifinals. Alabama-bound DB DeMarcco Hellams intercepted two passes and blocked a punt that resulted in a safety. Coach Elijah Brooks’ team meets Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) in the WCAC final on Sunday evening at Catholic University’s Cardinal Stadium.
17. Bishop Gorman, Las Vegas, Nev. (8-3)
Previous rank: 18.
In the Huddle: The Gaels scored on every possession in a 70-7 win over Basic (Henderson) in the Class 4A Desert Region first round. QB Micah Bowens threw for 340 yards and four TDs, including 238 yards and two scores to WR Rome Odunze. Next is Foothills (Las Vegas) in the region semifinals at home on Friday night.
18. Brother Rice, Chicago, Ill. (12-0)
Previous rank: 19.
In the Huddle: Marquis Jackson’s 42-yard TD dash off a fake punt spurred the Crusaders over Warren (Gurnee), 20-0, in the Class 8A quarterfinals. QB Johnny Bean threw a 21-yard scoring strike to Anthony Aquilla and RB Jessi Plunkett ran 21 yards for a TD to wrap it up. Next is neighboring rival Marist (Chicago) in the 8A semifinals on Saturday afternoon.
19. Catholic, Baton Rouge, La. (9-1)
Previous rank: 20.
In the Huddle: Idle. The second-seeded Bears, having won seven straight, open the Louisiana Division 1 playoffs Friday hosting St. Augustine (New Orleans) in the quarterfinals at Memorial Stadium. The winner meets New Orleans Catholic League opponents Brother Martin (New Orleans) or Archbishop Rummel (Metairie) in the semifinals on the weekend of Nov. 23.
20. St. Joseph Regional, Montvale, N.J. (8-2)
Previous rank: 21.
In the Huddle: Angelo Guglielmello kicked field goals from 28, 32 and 34 yards in the opening three quarters and the defense did not allow a score as the Green Knights doubled up St. Augustine (Richland), 16-8, in the Non-Public Group 4 quarterfinals. Next is a semifinal date at home with No. 24 St. Peter’s Prep (Jersey City) on Saturday.
21. Chaminade-Madonna College Prep, Hollywood, Fla. (8-2)
Previous rank: 22.
In the Huddle: Idle. The Lions play in the Class 3A, Region 4 semifinals, where they face Palmer Trinity (Miami) on Friday.
22. Xavier, Cedar Rapids, Iowa (12-0)
Previous rank: 23.
In the Huddle: QB Quinn Schulte ran for 152 yards and three TDs in the second half, staking the Saints to a 37-13 victory over Lewis Central (Council Bluffs) in the Class 3A semifinals. Next is the Class 3A title game against Western Dubuque (Epworth) Thursday night in the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls.
23. Clearwater (Fla.) Central Catholic (10-0)
Previous rank: 24.
In the Huddle: Idle. The Marauders had a bye to the Class 3A, Region 3 semifinals, where they play Tampa Catholic on Friday.
24. St. Peter’s Prep, Jersey City, N.J. (7-3)
Previous rank: 25.
In the Huddle: Navy-bound QB Maasai Maynor threw for 146 yards and three TDs from 17, 24 and 44 yards to three different receivers and added a two-yard scoring run in a 35-14 victory over St. Joseph (Metuchen) in the Non-Public Group 4 quarterfinals. The Marauders travel to No. 20 St. Joseph Regional (Montvale) for the semifinals on Saturday. Last month, Prep lost at SJR, 16-7.
25. Cathedral Catholic, San Diego, Calif. (10-1)
Previous rank: Not ranked.
In the Huddle: The Dons unleashed a high-flying running attack that churned out nearly 400 yards and five rushing scores to defeat Carlsbad, 35-0, in the CIF-San Diego Section Open Division semifinals. RB Shawn Poma pumped out 182 yards and three scores to pace the offense. Next is the sectional final Saturday versus top-seeded Torrey Pines to be played at Southwestern College in Chula Vista.
Dropped out: No. 13 JSerra Catholic (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.).
Special Consideration: Dowling Catholic (West Des Moines, Iowa); Elder (Cincinnati, Ohio); Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.); Marist (Chicago, Ill.); St. Pius X Catholic (Atlanta, Ga.); De La Salle Collegiate (Warren, Mich.); Bishop Chatard (Indianapolis, Ind.); JSerra Catholic (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.); St. Anthony’s (South Huntington, N.Y.); McGill-Toolen (Mobile, Ala.); Bishop McDevitt (Harrisburg, Pa.); Catholic Memorial (West Roxbury, Mass.); Nolan Catholic (Fort Worth, Texas); Memorial (Evansville, Ind.); Salpointe Catholic (Tucson, Ariz.); Bishop Dwenger (Fort Wayne, Ind.); Marist (Atlanta, Ga.); Aquinas Institute (Rochester, N.Y.); Jesuit (Tampa, Fla.); Bishop Amat (La Puente, Calif.); Central Catholic (Toledo, Ohio); Malvern (Pa.) Prep; Mount Carmel (Chicago, Ill.); Strake Jesuit (Houston, Texas); Nazareth Academy (LaGrange Park, Ill.); Eastside Catholic (Sammamish, Wash.); Archbishop Stepinac (White Plains, N.Y.); Cathedral Prep (Erie, Pa.); Xaverian Brothers (Westwood, Mass.); St. Thomas Aquinas (Overland Park, Kan.); Catholic Memorial (Waukesha, Wis.); St. Edward (Lakewood, Ohio) and Conwell-Egan (Fairless Hills, Pa.).
# Includes a forfeit loss
@ Includes a forfeit win