The hardware or state, conference and sectional championship trophies are on display and ready to find a new resting place at schools that are in the Catholic Athletes for Christ Top 25 High School Football rankings. November is a month that touches off the championship hoopla and for the next month, champions will be crowned each weekend.
That occurred last weekend in Wisconsin, Iowa and Washington (D.C.) and the CAC Top 25, presented by Siena Heights University and Global Football, is on it. This week two teams from Washington, D.C. and Iowa re-enter the CAC Top 25 rankings after winning championships, including one on the game’s final play.
No. 17 Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) is back in the CAC Top 25 after a thrilling, last-second 46-43 win over rivals DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.) in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference final. This was the Eagles’ fourth WCAC title.
In Iowa, No. 24 Dowling Catholic (West Des Moines) is a state champion for a sixth straight year after defeating Cedar Falls, 22-16, in the Class 4A final. The Maroons were dropped from the CAC Top 25 following a 2-2 start but rallied to capture their final nine games.
OK, we shift to the Triple Option section, which is where best of the best on the field and sidelines, and places to be are highlighted.
We start by honoring a sophomore quarterback from our nation’s capital. In the Midwest, a sage coach never panicked in a state championship game despite trailing by 24 points in the third quarter. There are several Thanksgiving Day traditional games and state and California sectional championships that will be contested nationwide in Missouri, Indiana, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Michigan, and Minnesota.
Player of the Week: Quarterback Caleb Williams of No. 17 Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.). A week ago, Williams was at the controls of defeating then-No. 9 St. John’s College (Washington) in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference semifinals. Williams then authored the perfect ending and fantastic finish to a season all rolled into one as Gonzaga pulled off a last-second 46-43 stunner over then-No. 16 DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) in the WCAC final on Sunday night.
Williams heaved a 53-yard “Hail Mary” pass on the game’s final play to wide receiver John Marshall that capped the game and was the third lead change in last 29 seconds. The dual-threat QB had a busy night, accounting for six touchdowns, with two on the ground from 25 and 21 yards, one reception off a trick play and three in the air.
Gonzaga trailed 20-0 in the first half but Williams engineered the comeback and helped the Eagles take their first lead, 40-36, with 29 ticks left on an 11-yard TD pass to Sam Sweeney. DeMatha’s 77-yard kickoff return for a TD restored the deficit to 43-40 with 15 seconds to go. As time expired, Williams fired the final shot and the Eagles celebrated the program’s fourth WCAC title and first since 2002.
At 6 feet, 190 pounds, Williams is attracting attention from Alabama, Florida, Arkansas, Boston College, South Carolina and Florida State.
Coach of the Week: Bill Young of Catholic Memorial (Waukesha, Wis.): Imagine trailing 24-0 in the third quarter of WIAA Division 3 final. Well, that was the fate facing the veteran head coach last week when Catholic Memorial sparked a rally for the ages and wound up winning the state title, scoring the game’s last 37 points in a 37-24 victory over West De Pere at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.
Young, who completed his 41st year in charge, stuck to the game plan and pushed all the right buttons down the stretch as CM’s powerful passing game, featuring no-huddle, and its defense finally took over. The Crusaders got rolling and the when the offense clicked, it produced their first 31 points in eight minutes of possession time. The running game also kicked in, setting up play-action and it led to Young’s seventh state championship.
Games of the Week (All times Eastern): Here’s a good mix of state championship games and ones played on or around Thanksgiving Day.
Xaverian Brothers (Westwood, Mass.) vs. St. John’s Prep (Danvers, Mass.), Wednesday, 5 p.m.: This is one of Boston’s top rivalries and it’s going to be played at Fenway Park. Prep’s game at Fenway isn’t their last as the Eagles meet Catholic Memorial (West Roxbury) in the MIAA Division 1 state final at Gillette Stadium—home of the New England Patriots—the following week.
Xavier (Manhattan, N.Y.) at Fordham Prep (Bronx, N.Y.), Thursday, 10 a.m.: New York’s Jesuit Bowl will be played Thanksgiving Day morning at Fordham University’s Coffey Field. Just a few miles away, Mount St. Michael (Bronx) hosts Cardinal Hayes (Bronx) at 10:30 a.m. Hayes lost in the NYCHSFL AAA final.
No. 2 Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) vs. No. 1 St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.), Friday, 10:30 p.m.: The CIF-Southern Section Division 1 final Version 3.0. For the third time in as many year, these Trinity League rivals meet in the sectional final at Cerritos College in Norwalk. The teams have split the last two sectional titles but Bosco captured the regular season contest, 41-18, on Oct 13.
Rockhurst (Kansas City, Mo.) vs. No. 13 Christian Brothers College (St. Louis, Mo.), Saturday, 7 p.m.: The Missouri Class 6 state championship is on the line at University of Missouri’s Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium in Columbia. CBC is 13-0 and the Rockhurst Hawklets (11-2) advanced to the final, beating rival Blue Springs, 14-13, in the semifinals. Earlier this season, CBC won the regular season matchup, 45-7, on Oct. 13.
Mililani (Honolulu, Hawaii) vs. No. 7 Saint Louis School (Honolulu): Saturday, 7:30 p.m. HT: Hawaii’s Open Division title will be played at Aloha Stadium. The highly anticipated matchup was supposed to be played in the regular season on Aug. 25 but Hurricane Lane cancelled it.
There’s plenty of hardware at stake this weekend and stories to be told.
The CAC Top 25 rankings will return on November 28 and we’ll continue to monitor the results from state championship games.
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 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.
Happy Thanksgiving to all and keep those affected by the wildfires in California, especially those in the northern part of the Golden State, in your thoughts and prayers.
Enjoy the games this weekend and God Bless. – Christopher Lawlor
2018 Catholic Athletes for Christ Top 25, November 21, 2018
1. St. John Bosco, Bellflower, Calif. (13-0)
Previous rank: 1.
In the Huddle: The Braves walloped Oaks Christian School (Westlake Village), 56-10, in the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 semifinals. Junior QB DJ Uiagalelei completed 13 of 17 throws for six touchdowns and 361 yards as the Braves rolled into the sectional final. WR Kristopher Hutson caught five balls for 155 yards and two scores.
Next is No. 2 Mater Dei (Santa Ana) Friday in the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 final.
2. Mater Dei, Santa Ana, Calif. (11-2) #
Previous rank: 2.
In the Huddle: The Monarchs held up their end overwhelming previously unbeaten Corona (Calif.) Centennial, 48-14, in the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 semifinals. The Monarchs returned four interceptions for TDs, including three by junior DB Elias Ricks in the first half. The sectional final is Friday against top-ranked St. John Bosco (Bellflower).
3. Archbishop Hoban, Akron, Ohio (13-0)
Previous rank: 4.
In the Huddle: Defeated Maple Heights, 52-6, in the Division II, Region 5 final. The Knights unleashed a punishing ground game that produced 273 yards as Eastern Kentucky-recruit Tyris Dickerson ran for 167 yards and two TDs and DeaMontae Trayanum also rushed for two scores. Sophomore QB Shane Hamm hit on 8 of 11 passes for 145 yards and a TD. The Knights face Avon on Friday in the Division II semifinals.
4. De La Salle, Concord, Calif. (11-0)
Previous rank: 4.
In the Huddle: Idle. The Spartans don’t know their next opponent or sectional final date because of the wildfires in Northern California. They will play the winner of Saturday’s other semifinal between Liberty (Brentwood) and Clayton Valley Charter (Concord).
5. St. Thomas Aquinas, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (11-1)
Previous rank: 5.
In the Huddle: Daniel Carter carried nine times for 106 yards and two TDs as the Raiders shut out Fort Lauderdale, 52-0, in the Class 7A, Region 4 semifinals. The Raiders’ defense allowed only 40 yards and the offense scored three times on the first three possessions for a 21-0 lead in the first quarter. The Raiders host Dwyer (Palm Beach Gardens) in the Region 4 final on Friday night.
6. St. Joseph’s Prep, Philadelphia, Pa. (10-0)
Previous rank: 6.
In the Huddle: Sophomore Kyle McCord tossed four TD passes in a 49-14 victory over Northeast (Philadelphia) in the Class AAAAAA, District 12 final. The Hawks are back at it on Saturday versus Freedom (Bethlehem) in the Class AAAAAA quarterfinals at Charlie Martin Memorial Stadium in Philadelphia.
7. Saint Louis School, Honolulu, Hawaii (10-0)
Previous rank: 7.
In the Huddle: The Saints extended their win streak to 25 games after topping Kahuku, 49-22, in the Hawaii Open Division semifinals. Jordan Botelho and Harvey Welch each had pick-sixes in the fourth quarter to seal the berth in this weekend’s state title game against Mililani (Honolulu) at Aloha Stadium.
8. St. Frances Academy, Baltimore, Md. (9-0)
Previous rank: 8.
In the Huddle: The Panthers blanked West Toronto Prep (Ontario, Canada), 64-0. Season complete.
9. Bergen Catholic, Oradell, N.J. (10-1)
Previous rank: 10.
In the Huddle: Nebraska-bound Rahmir Johnson ran for TDs from 44 and 62 yards in the third quarter and the Crusaders hammered rivals Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey), 35-17, in the Non-Public Group 4 semifinals. BC trailed 10-7 at halftime before scoring 21 points in the third to move a step closer to defending their state title. AJ Longo closed out the scoring the final period, recovering a fumble in the end zone. The Crusaders face rivals No. 20 St. Joseph Regional (Montvale) in the state final on Saturday, 7 p.m., at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford.
10. Blessed Trinity, Roswell, Ga. (12-0)
Previous rank: 11.
In the Huddle: Stopped North Oconee (Bogart), 35-10, in the Class AAAA second round. QB Jake Smith tossed two TD passes and Georgia-bound LB JD Bertrand scored on a pick-six and a 25-yard reception. Next is Eastside (Covington) in the Class AAAA quarterfinals on Friday.
11. Covington Catholic, Park Hills, Ky. (13-0)
Previous rank: 12.
In the Huddle: The Colonels shut out rival Highlands (Fort Thomas), 36-0, in the Class 5A quarterfinals. RB Casey McGinness played a starring role rushing for 202 yards and four TDs on runs of 50, 15, 55 and 7 yards. This weekend it’s the Class 5A semifinals against Pulaski County (Somerset).
12. Columbus, Miami, Fla. (12-0) @
Previous rank: 13.
In the Huddle: The Explorers recorded their fifth shutout of the campaign, beating Palmetto (Miami), 42-0, in the Class 8A, Region 4 semifinals. Next is South Dade (Homestead) Friday in the Region 4 semifinals.
13. Christian Brothers College, St. Louis, Mo. (11-1)
Previous rank: 14.
In the Huddle: QB Brett Gabbert threw for four TDs and dashed 2 yards for another score during a 56-21 victory over Joplin in the Class 6 semifinals. RB Bryan Bradford scored from 2 and 23 yards in second quarter when the Cadets grabbed a 49-14 lead. The Cadets face cross-state rivals Rockhurst (Kansas City) Saturday in the Class 6 final at University of Missouri’s Faurot Field in Columbia.
14. Charlotte (N.C.), Catholic (11-1)
Previous rank: 15.
In the Huddle: Defeated Morehead (Eden), 42-7, in the Class 3A first round. The Cougars are back at it Friday against Monroe in the second round.
15. Bishop Gorman, Las Vegas, Nev. (9-3)
Previous rank: 17.
In the Huddle: QB Micah Bowens accounted for five TDs, three in the air and two on the ground, as the Gaels pounded Foothills (Las Vegas), 49-3, in the Class 4A Desert Region semifinals. Bowens passed for 278 yards and scores of 31, 12 and 20 yards. The Gaels meet Liberty (Henderson) in the regional final on Friday.
16. Brother Rice, Chicago, Ill. (13-0)
Previous rank: 18.
In the Huddle: In a defensive struggle, the Crusaders edged their rivals Marist (Chicago), 14-3, in the Class 8A semifinals. QB Johnny Bean threw for 230 yards and two TDs. The Crusaders play Loyola Academy (Wilmette) Saturday in the 8A final at Memorial Stadium in Champaign.
17. Gonzaga, Washington, D.C. (9-3)*
Previous rank: Not ranked.
In the Huddle: The Eagles knocked off then-No. 16 DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.), 46-43, to win the program’s fourth Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship and first since 2002 on the game’s final play. Dual-threat sophomore QB Caleb Williams accounted for six TDs (three passing, two rushing and one reception), including the game-winner on a 53-yard heave to WR John Marshall as time expired. Season complete.
18. St. John’s College, Washington, D.C. (9-1)
Previous rank: 9.
In the Huddle: The Cadets captured the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference regular season title. Season complete.
19. Catholic, Baton Rouge, La. (10-1)
Previous rank: 19.
In the Huddle: Josh Parker ran for 148 yards and two scores, including a 72-yarder on the first offensive play and the Bears rolled over Jesuit (New Orleans) in the Division 1 state quarterfinals. RB Jake Outlaw also scored two TDs. Coach Gabe Fertita’s team faces Archbishop Rummel (Metairie) on Friday in the semifinals. The winner gets nationally ranked John Curtis Christian (River Ridge) or Evangel Christian (Shreveport) in the final at the Superdome in New Orleans.
20. St. Joseph Regional, Montvale, N.J. (9-2)
Previous rank: 20.
In the Huddle: Audric Estime ran for 143 yards and two TDs on 30 carries and the Green Knights converted three times on fourth down in a 24-14 victory over then-No. 24 St. Peter’s Prep (Jersey City) in the Non-Public Group 4 semifinals. Estime’s scoring runs were from 6 and 11 yards. Next is the state final against No. 9 Bergen Catholic (Oradell) Saturday night at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford.
21. Chaminade-Madonna College Prep, Hollywood, Fla. (9-2)
Previous rank: 21.
In the Huddle: Playing with fresh legs, the Lions made quick work of Palmer Trinity (Miami), 62-0, in the Class 3A, Region 4 semifinals. The score bounced to 49-0 in the second quarter and the starters were pulled. The Lions host American Heritage (Delray Beach) in the regional final on Friday.
22. Xavier, Cedar Rapids, Iowa (13-0) *
Previous rank: 22.
In the Huddle: QB Quinn Schulte ran for a score and passed 33 yards to Patrick Chambers in the fourth quarter, leading the Saints to a 34-20 victory over Western Dubuque (Epworth) in the Class 3A state final. It was the Saints’ second straight title and 26th overall win. Schulte closed out his prep career with 221 yards rushing and 199 yards in the air for 420 total. Season complete.
23. Clearwater (Fla.) Central Catholic (11-0)
Previous rank: 23.
In the Huddle: After nearly three weeks off, the Marauders returned to action, stopping Tampa Catholic, 30-3, in the Class 3A, Region 3 semifinals. They play Berkeley Prep (Tampa) in Friday’s regional final.
24. Dowling Catholic, West Des Moines, Iowa (11-2)*
Previous rank: Not ranked.
In the Huddle: The Maroons are back in the CAC Top 25 and for good reason—they won their sixth straight Class 4A state championship, toppling Cedar Falls, 22-16. Coach Tom Wilson’s team started 2-2 but rallied for nine straight wins. Teagan Johnson’s two rushing TDs in the fourth quarter, including the game-winner from two yards with 3:58 left, won it. Season complete.
25. Cathedral Catholic, San Diego, Calif. (11-1)
Previous rank: 25.
In the Huddle: Defeated previously unbeaten Torrey Pines, 28-17, in the CIF-San Diego Section Open Division final. RB Shawn Poma ran for two TDs and caught another from junior QB DJ Ralph as the Dons rallied from a 17-7 deficit with two late scores. The Dons have won 12 sectional titles, the last in 2016, and still have a Southern California Region playoff game against an opponent to be determined that will be announced later this week.
Dropped out: No. 16 DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.); and No. 24 St. Peter’s Prep (Jersey City, N.J.).
Special Consideration: Catholic Memorial (Waukesha, Wis.)*; St. Thomas Aquinas (Overland Park, Kan.); Marist (Chicago, Ill.); De La Salle Collegiate (Warren, Mich.); Loyola Academy (Wilmette, Ill.); JSerra Catholic (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.); McGill-Toolen (Mobile, Ala.); Bishop McDevitt (Harrisburg, Pa.); Catholic Memorial (West Roxbury, Mass.); DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.); 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.); Malvern (Pa.) Prep; 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. Edward (Lakewood, Ohio); St. Peter’s Prep (Jersey City, N.J.); Conwell-Egan (Fairless Hills, Pa.); Bishop Amat (La Puente, Calif.); Mount Carmel (Chicago, Ill.); Bishop Chatard (Indianapolis, Ind.); St. Anthony’s (South Huntington, N.Y.); and St. Pius X Catholic (Atlanta, Ga.).
* Won a state or conference championship
# Includes a forfeit loss
@ Includes a forfeit win