October is a month that usually separates the pretenders from the contenders. It is a month of reckoning that high school football teams are knee-deep in district, conference or league play while jockeying position for the postseason usually starts in November or in some states, later this month.
Welcome to the Catholic Athletes for Christ Top 25 High School Football rankings, where the very best in the nation are presented weekly during the season. We still have nearly three months left before all the state championships are conducted but unlike the temperatures nationwide, the competition is heating up. There are several pivotal games slated for this week and the remainder of October.
Speaking of big games and big-game performers, the CAC Top 25 presented by Siena Heights University and Global Football, adds two teams to the CAC Top 25 – one rejoining and another a Midwestern school, straight out of America’s Heartland, with a stellar pedigree and a Hall of Fame coach at the helm.
First, No. 19 DePaul Catholic (Wayne, N.J.) returns to the CAC Top 25 after a two-week hiatus. The Spartans, playing minus the injured Penn State-bound quarterback Ta’Quan Roberson, stopped then-No. 12 St. Peter’s (Jersey City), 16-13, in the uber-competitive Super Football Conference. DePaul already won the SPC United White Division title with a 3-0 mark in September but will play out its schedule in conference crossover games against the likes of No. 12 Bergen Catholic (Oradell), Paramus Catholic, Hudson Catholic (Jersey City) and Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey).
No. 21 Rockhurst (Kansas City, Mo.) climbs on board after beating then-No. 21 Bishop Miege (Shawnee Mission, Kan.), 14-13, in a border war. Rockhurst, coached by seven-time Missouri state champion Tony Severino, opened the season with a loss but have won five straight heading into Friday’s game with Battle (Columbia, Mo.) before facing No. 20 Christian Brothers College (St. Louis) in the first of two possible meetings this season. Those two could meet again in the Class 6 playoffs in November.
Additionally there’s a special shout-out to Tony Karcich, the former head coach and athletic director at St. Joseph Regional High School in Montvale, N.J. This Saturday SJR will hold “Tony Karcich Day” and name the field at Dinallo Stadium in his honor.
For those who do not know Karcich, he’s a football legend in North Jersey, raising the bar in his profession. Karcich played at Syracuse University in the 1960s and earned a solid reputation first at Bergen Catholic (Oradell) before briefly working in the private sector, and eventually returning to the sidelines in 1985 at St. Joe’s. In 2013, he stepped down from coaching with 17 state championships and 338 wins. In June, he retired as the school’s athletic director.
There will be pregame ceremonies will take place Saturday at 2 o’clock followed by No. 18 St. Joseph facing No. 12 Bergen Catholic at 2:30 p.m. Congratulations to Coach Karcich (a.k.a. TK) for this much-deserved honor.
Okay, so here’s a look at what happened in Catholic schoolboy football last week and a look ahead to notable games that are worth attending.
Player of the Week: Quarterback Sol-Jay Maiava of No. 3 St. John’s College (Washington, D.C.). In one of the wildest displays of offensive fireworks last weekend, Maiava was brilliant in SJC’s 59-49 victory at No. 20 Christian Brothers College (St. Louis, Mo.). In the game that produced 108 points, Maiava completed 22 of 33 passes (.667 completion percentage) for 376 yards and five touchdowns of 65, 26, 43, 39 and 14 yards. Maiava threw four of TDs in the opening half as St. John’s built a 35-28 lead. With the scored tied at 49 in the fourth quarter, he engineered two drives that produced the game’s final 10 points. Four of his scores went to wide receiver Cam Ross, a UConn recruit.
Maiava, a 6-feet-1, 185-pound junior, transferred to St. John’s from Kahuku (Hawaii), a powerhouse program from the north shore of Oahu. His family also moved, making the nearly 5,000-mile journey from the south Pacific to the Washington area in August. Sol-Jay joined his teammates in June for preseason workouts and the extra time has paid dividends for the unbeaten Cadets, who are the defending Washington Catholic Athletic Conference champions and open league play this weekend. The dual-threat QB came to the mainland seeking the higher level of competition that St. John’s offers.
Maiava’s legend grew as an eighth-grader when Michigan offered. He also has high-level programs such as BYU, Utah, Hawaii, Virginia Fresno State and Oregon seeking his signature on a national letter-of-intent.
Coach of the Week: Tony Severino of No. 21 Rockhurst (Kansas City, Mo.). The living legend at 70 years old from the Jesuit high school in Kansas City is at his best in the biggest games. Take last weekend when Rockhurst traveled over state lines to face CAC 25-ranked Bishop Miege (Shawnee Mission, Kan.). The two highly successful Catholic programs, separated by seven miles, had not played since 1986 but Rockhurst pulled out a 14-13 victory.
In nearly half-decade of coaching (the last 36 at Rockhurst), Severino improved his mark to 331-86-1 at Rockhurst along with overall nine state titles (eight football, one baseball) and five runner-up finishes. Severino, originally from Cleveland, Ohio, played football at Kansas State, where he met his wife. The Severinos lived in Cleveland for a year but moved back to the Kansas City area. Eventually Severino was hired at Rockhurst in 1983 and coached his three sons. He’s turned down numerous opportunities to coach in college.
Known for consistency and as a master communicator, Severino is a member of the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame and has the 5-1 Hawklets in the mix for this year’s Missouri Class 6 state championship – which would be his eighth football title at Rockhurst.
Games of the Week (All times are Eastern): Each week there are games of national and local interest. Some of these matchups feature CAC Top 25 teams and others are just darn good games that folks in a particular town will flock to because it matters. Check out these five games.
No. 14 Covington Catholic (Park Hills, Ky.) at Bishop Chatard (Indianapolis, Ind.), Friday, 7 p.m.: It’s Homecoming Night on the Broad Ripple neighborhood campus in Indiana’s state capital and the Trojans (6-1) are fresh off a 49-35 loss at Winton Woods (Cincinnati, Ohio), while Covington Catholic (6-0) comes off its bye week. Chatard has a great history with 13 state titles (the last in 2015), while the Colonels have won seven Kentucky state crowns, including last year’s in Class 5A.
Marist (Chicago, Ill.) at Nazareth Academy (LaGrange Park), Friday, 8 p.m.: With three weeks left in the regular season Valenta Stadium on the Naz campus will be alive. Both teams enter with 4-0 records in the East Suburban Catholic Conference with the winner gaining the inside track to the title. The Nazareth Roadrunners (6-0), No. 2 in Illinois Class 7A rankings, are built on defense, having yielded only 53 points in six games. Marist (5-1) is No. 4 in Class 8A.
Eastside Catholic (Sammamish, Wash.) at O’Dea (Seattle), Friday, 10 p.m.: West Seattle Stadium will be full for the annual meeting between these 3A Metro Conference-Mountain powers, who are currently ranked 1-2 in the Class 3A state poll.
Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep (San Francisco, Calif.) at St. Ignatius (San Francisco), Friday, 10 p.m.: This one of the oldest rivalries west of the Mississippi and dates back to 1893 when the schools played rugby. This year’s game is played at Kezar Stadium, once the former home of the San Francisco 49ers, with SHCP (2-3) and St. Ignatius (0-5) both amid subpar seasons. The winner takes home the Bruce-Mahoney Trophy.
McQuaid Jesuit (Rochester, N.Y.) at Aquinas Institute (Rochester), Saturday, 3 p.m.: One of the Western New York’s top rivalries is renewed this year. Back in the day both schools were all male until Aquinas went co-ed in 1982. Aquinas owns a decisive edge in the series and is a favorite to win New York’s Class AA title. Last week, McQuaid went to 5-0 with a wild 38-34 win over Wilson (Rochester) as RB Mark Passero rushed for 161 yards and two TDs. Last Saturday, the Little Irish (4-1) lost in overtime, but they are stronger and they play at home. These two could meet again the Section 5 playoffs.
The games will become more important, the stakes will be raised and individual superlatives will lead to championships or berths in the postseason. Bringing you the best in Catholic high school is the objective. There’s a good story from Desert Southwest to the craggy coastline of Maine.
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. The CAC Top 25 rankings will return on Oct. 10. 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.
Thanks again for your readership and maybe we’ll catch up at game sooner than later. God Bless and enjoy the games and camaraderie of the competition. – Christopher Lawlor
2018 Catholic Athletes for Christ Top 25, October 3, 2018
1. St. John Bosco, Bellflower, Calif. (6-0)
Previous rank: 1.
In the Huddle: It wasn’t pretty but a win is a win and the Braves will take it following a 35-28 victory over No. 16 JSerra (San Juan Capistrano). RB George Holani scored four TDs, including a 43-yard run with 7:14 left, giving the Braves a 14-point cushion. Red alert: This weekend’s game with state-ranked Orange Lutheran is a trap game in the Trinity League a week before a meeting with No. 2 Mater Dei (Santa Ana) in the game of the season.
2. Mater Dei, Santa Ana, Calif. (5-1) #
Previous rank: 2.
In the Huddle: The Monarchs defeated Servite (Anaheim), 35-0. It was the defense’s fourth shutout of the season. The Monarchs can’t look past Friday’s game with Santa Margarita (Rancho Santa Margarita) in anticipation of the meeting with top-ranked St. John Bosco (Bellflower).
3. St. John’s College, Washington, D.C. (5-0)
Previous rank: 3.
In the Huddle: QB Sol-Jay Maiava led the charge, tossing five TDs, including four to WR Cam Ross, as the Cadets stopped then-No. 19 Christian Brothers College (St. Louis, Mo.), 59-49, in an entertaining game. With the score tied at 49 in the fourth, SJC’s Ronald Cook scored from five yards and Daniel Reyes’ 33-yard field goal with 2:27 left iced it. With the national portion of their schedule completed, the Cadets host league rivals Bishop McNamara (Forestville, Md.) on Saturday.
4. Archbishop Hoban, Akron, Ohio (6-0)
Previous rank: 4.
In the Huddle: QB Shane Hamm passed for two TDs and ran for one while RB DeaMonte Trayanum sprinted for two scores and the Knights defeated Benedictine (Cleveland), 42-14. The Knights host Lake Catholic (Mentor) Friday.
5. De La Salle, Concord, Calif. (6-0)
Previous rank: 5.
In the Huddle: The Spartans host Monte Vista (Danville) on Friday night.
6. St Thomas Aquinas, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (4-1)
Previous rank: 6.
In the Huddle: Idle. Deerfield Beach is the next assignment on Oct. 5.
7. St. Frances Academy, Baltimore, Md. (2-0)
Previous rank: 7.
In the Huddle: The Cougars have seen two games washed out by inclement weather but finally played last weekend, hammering Life Christian Academy (Chester, Va.), 51-6. The next two games are against Canadian teams, starting with Clarkson Football North (Mississauga, Ontario) on Friday.
8. Gonzaga, Washington, D.C. (6-0)
Previous rank: 8.
In the Huddle: Don’t let the 48-12 victory over Archbishop Carroll (Washington) fool you, the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference is loaded and the Eagles know it. On Saturday they host No. 25 Good Counsel (Olney, Md.). That’s followed by games with No. 3 St. John’s, No. 11 DeMatha and Bishop McNamara (Forestville, Md.).
9. St. Joseph’s Prep, Philadelphia, Pa. (3-0)
Previous rank: 9.
In the Huddle: The sophomore pitch-and-catch combination of QB Kyle McCord and WR Marvin Harrison hooked up for scoring passes of 15 and 32 yards during a 49-12 victory over La Salle College (Wyndmoor). That gives coach Gabe Infante’s program a 52-36-5 edge in the all-time series. The Hawks continue with their league schedule playing archrivals Roman Catholic (Philadelphia) Saturday night at Northeast High in Philadelphia.
10. Saint Louis, Honolulu, Hawaii (6-0)
Previous rank: 10.
In the Huddle: The Crusaders jumped to a 35-0 lead in the first quarter and never looked back in a 55-7 thumping of Campbell (Ewa Beach). QB Jayden de Laura threw a 20-yard TD pass to Makana Close and sped four yards for another. The defense produced three scores, including two pick-sixes by Kila Kamakawiwo’ole and Junior Wily a fumble recovery in the end zone by Jordan Botelho. This weekend it’s another road game at Farrington (Honolulu).
11. DeMatha Catholic, Hyattsville, Md. (4-1)
Previous rank: 11.
In the Huddle: Defeated Avalon (Gaithersburg), 53-6. The Stags enter their bye week before opening the WCAC against archrivals No. 8 Gonzaga (Washington) on Oct. 12.
12. Bergen Catholic, Oradell, N.J. (4-1)
Previous rank: 13.
In the Huddle: QB Andrew Boel threw TD passes to four different players from 12, 9, 47 and 48 yards in the second quarter of a 47-7 rout of Irvington. RB Rahmir Johnson scored three times, including on runs of 5 and 3 yards. Next is a rivalry game at No. 18 St. Joseph Regional (Montvale) Saturday.
13. Blessed Trinity, Roswell, Ga. (5-0)
Previous rank: 14.
In the Huddle: Idle. The Titans meet Denmark (Alpharetta) on Friday.
14. Covington Catholic, Park Hills, Ky. (6-0)
Previous rank: 16.
In the Huddle: Idle. The Colonels cross state lines this weekend for a matchup with Hoosier State powerhouse Bishop Chatard (Indianapolis).
15. McGill-Toolen, Mobile, Ala. (4-1)
Previous rank: 17.
In the Huddle: Idle. The Yellow Jackets had a week off in preparation for Foley on Friday night.
16. JSerra Catholic, San Juan Capistrano, Calif. (5-1)
Previous rank: 15.
In the Huddle: There is no shame losing to top-ranked St. John Bosco (Bellflower), 35-28. The Lions took a 14-7 lead late in the second quarter as Caden Bell threw an 8-yard TD to Tarik Luckett and Chris Street sped six yards for another score, but Bosco tied it at 14 by halftime and won it late. The Lions need to regroup with Servite (Anaheim) visiting on Friday.
17. Columbus, Miami, Fla. (5-1)
Previous rank: 20.
In the Huddle: The Explorers trounced Miami High, 43-0. Now it’s road trip to north to Lake Gibson (Lakeland) on Friday.
18. St. Joseph Regional, Montvale, N.J. (4-1)
Previous rank: 22.
In the Huddle: The Green Knights made quick work of Paramus Catholic, building a comfortable 42-point lead at the break in a 56-14 triumph. RB Audric Estime ran for three scores and caught another TD in the first half and RB Andre Epps returned the opening kickoff 93 yards to the house. QB Mike Alaimo tossed four TDs in the first half. Next up is No. 12 Bergen Catholic (Oradell) on Saturday.
19. DePaul Catholic, Wayne, N.J. (4-1)
Previous ranked: Not ranked
In the Huddle: After two weeks away, the Spartans return to the CAC Top 25 after knocking off then-No. 12 St. Peter’s Prep (Jersey City), 16-13. Ohio State-bound WR-RB-S Ronnie Hickman, Jr. scored both TDs and backup QB John Amodeo threw a TD pass in relief of Penn State-recruit Ta’Quan Roberson, who missed the game with an injury. The Spartans are away for the second of three straight weekends, this time at Paramus Catholic on Friday and still have conference crossover games with No. 12 Bergen Catholic and Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey).
20. Christian Brothers College, St. Louis, Mo. (5-1)
Previous rank: 19.
In the Huddle: Lost to No. 3 St. John’s College (Washington, D.C.), 59-49. RB Bryan Bradford was the workhorse, carrying 29 times for 212 yards and three TDs, but it wasn’t enough as the Cadets fell in an offensive shootout. Bradford’s third score of the game, a 3-yard run with 11:53 left, tied the game at 49. QB Brett Gabbert, a Miami (Ohio) recruit, threw for 170 yards and a TD. The Cadets don’t have time to sulk because they travel to rivals Vianney (St. Louis) Friday.
21. Rockhurst, Kansas City, Mo. (5-1)
Previous rank: Not ranked.
In the huddle: The Hawklets climb into the CAC Top 25 after taking down then-No. 21 Bishop Miege (Shawnee Mission, Kan.), 14-13, while halting a win streak at 29 games. Coach Tony Severino’s team withstood a late two-point conversion attempt and won the first meeting between the state line schools since 1986.
22. Charlotte (N.C.), Catholic (5-1)
Previous rank: 23.
In the Huddle: Blanked Weddington (Matthews) 20-0, as Kevin Coss recorded three sacks. The Cougars’ defense has allowed 23 points in six games with four shutouts. Next up is Sun Valley (Monroe) at home Friday.
23. Bishop Gorman, Las Vegas, Nev. (2-3)
Previous rank: 24.
In the Huddle: All is well in the desert as the Gaels blew out Silverado (Las Vegas), 48-7. QB Micah Bowens was an efficient 8 of 9 for 145 yards and two TDs while RBs Amod Cianelli (143 yards, two TDs) and Ikaika Ragsdale (131 yards, two TDs) combined to rush for 274 yards and four scores. The local schedule continues Friday with Desert Oasis (Las Vegas).
24. St. Peter’s Prep, Jersey City, N.J. (3-2)
Previous rank: 12.
In the Huddle: Lost to DePaul Catholic (Wayne), 16-13. Another test is Friday at plucky Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey).
25. Good Counsel, Olney, Md. (4-1)
Previous rank: 25.
In the Huddle: The Falcons closed out the nonconference slate, beating Northwest (Germantown). 56-7. The fun begins in the WCAC with a Saturday afternoon road trip to No. 8 Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.).
Dropped out: No. 20 St. Pius X, Houston, Texas and No. 21 Bishop Miege (Shawnee Mission, Kan.).
Special Consideration: Bishop Chatard (Indianapolis, Ind.); Xavier (Cedar Rapids, Iowa); St. Pius X, (Houston, Texas); Bishop McDevitt (Harrisburg, Pa.); Memorial (Evansville, Ind.); St. Anthony’s (Melville, N.Y.); Chaminade-Madonna College Prep (Hollywood, Fla.); Central Catholic (Pittsburgh, Pa.); Bishop Dwenger (Fort Wayne, Ind.); Chaminade-Julienne (Dayton, Ohio); Aquinas Institute (Rochester, N.Y.); St. Ignatius (Cleveland, Ohio); Central Catholic (Toledo, Ohio); Catholic (Baton Rouge, La.); Mount Carmel (Chicago, Ill.); Strake Jesuit (Houston, Texas); O’Dea (Seattle, Wash.); Nazareth Academy (LaGrange Park, Ill.); Eastside Catholic (Sammamish, Wash.); Brother Rice (Chicago, Ill.); St. Edward (Lakewood, Ohio); Cathedral (Indianapolis, Ind.); Iona Prep (New Rochelle, N.Y.); Cathedral Prep (Erie, Pa.); Bishop Miege (Shawnee Mission, Kan.); and Xaverian Brothers (Westwood, Mass.).
# Includes a forfeit loss