The top five teams in the Catholic Athletes for Christ Top 25 High School Football rankings remain the same while there was some movement elsewhere.
Play was far from stagnant for the CAC Top 25 presented by Siena Heights University and Global Football, but teams are taking care of early season business and showing their dominance. The top five teams are St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.), Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.), St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), St. John’s College (Washington, D.C.) and St. Frances Academy (Baltimore, Md.). That’s representation from three pockets of talent: southern California (namely the Trinity League), the Baltimore-Washington corridor and southern Florida.
No. 4 St. John’s College is playing a demanding schedule and recorded an exciting five-overtime win over a Florida power and has another extraordinary Florida team heading north for a feature game on Saturday afternoon. No. 2 Mater Dei has a week off before playing the same opponent, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.), on Sept. 21.
Debuting in the CAC Top 25 is No. 15 Good Counsel (Olney, Md.). The Falcons (2-0) are the third team from the mighty Washington Catholic Athletic Conference in the ranking, joining Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) and St. John’s College. Good Counsel plays at No. 10 St. Joseph’s Prep (Philadelphia, Pa.) on Friday at Widener University in Chester, Pa.
Speaking of St. Joseph’s Prep, the Hawks zoomed up nine spots in the CAC Top 25 after sealing a key victory and emphasizing that strength of schedule will only help. On the other side, No. 20 Columbus (Miami, Fla.) was dumped 14 slots after a tough 35-0 loss to nationally ranked Carol City (Miami Gardens). No. 22 St. Peter’s Prep (Jersey City, N.J.) slipped after dropping a 35-27 decision to St. Joseph’s Prep.
So, here’s where we hand out game balls and mention this week’s top games involving the CAC Top 25 squads or other great rivalries.
Player of the Week: Grant Gunnell of No. 23 St. Pius X (Houston, Texas). Gunnell may be the fastest gun in the west as one of the nation’s top pro-style quarterbacks. The Arizona recruit was on fire last Friday when the Panthers dismantled La Marque, 65-21. Gunnell guided Pius X to a school-record 52 points in the opening half thanks to five touchdown passes.
The 6 feet 6 inch, 217-pounder clicked on 19 of 33 passes for 388 yards and six TDs and rushed for 47 yards for 435 yards of offense. In two games, Gunnell has hit on 52 of 73 throws for 802 yards and 11 TDs and has rushed for a pair of scores. As a junior, he threw for an eye-catching 4,936 yards and 61 TDs as the Panthers reached the TAPPS Division I final.
Originally committed to Texas A&M, Gunnell de-committed last spring when Arizona head coach Kevin Sumlin left A&M. Gunnell and his teammates are back at it Friday against local rivals Episcopal (Bellaire).
Games of the Week (All times Eastern): Each week there are great rivalry games or games that carry a national significance for the CAC Top 25 rankings. This week we have a little of both.
No. 14 Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.) at No. 8 De La Salle (Concord, Calif.), Friday, 10 p.m.: This game would have more luster if Gorman (1-2) had enjoyed a better start but the Gaels are still formidable and still Nevada’s top-ranked team. Last weekend, Gorman topped Orem (Utah), 31-21, behind a three-TD passing performance from QB Cooper Legas. De La Salle (4-0) has beaten four Northern California opponents. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU.
IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) at No. 4 St. John’s College (Washington, D.C.), 1 p.m., Saturday: This is clearly the top game of the week and Smith Field at Fernandez Stadium in Washington will be jumping. St. John’s (3-0), the defending Washington Catholic Athletic Conference champion, plays a national schedule before heading into conference action next month.
Last weekend, the Cadets overcame nationally ranked Central (Miami, Fla.), 37-34, in five overtimes. IMG is prep boarding school and sport training destination that brings in gobs of top-notch talent from all over. Essentially it’s an all-star team that does not compete for a Florida state championship.
Iona Prep (New Rochelle, N.Y.) at Archbishop Stepinac (White Plains, N.Y.), Saturday, 1:30 p.m.: This a great rivalry game between two all-male schools from Westchester County (located just north of New York City) that are separated by six miles. Both teams are 1-0 and open the Catholic High School Football League Class AAA schedule with a slobberknocker. Last season, Prep won, 38-34.
No. 9 Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) at Georgetown Prep (North Bethesda, Md.), 2 p.m., Saturday: According to reports, the Jesuit schools first played in 1891. The series went dormant for 16 years before being revived and now the game is a charitable fundraising opportunity. Gonzaga is 3-0 and tested while the Little Hoyas (1-0) took their opening assignment, beating Gilman School (Baltimore, Md.), 37-12, last weekend. A year ago, Gonzaga beat Prep, 40-0.
Coach of the Week: Gabe Infante of No. 10 St. Joseph’s Prep (Philadelphia, Pa.). So far it’s been a strange season along the eastern seaboard with games canceled for inclement weather, lightning and even St. Joseph’s saw its opening night game at No. 5 St. Frances Academy (Baltimore, Md.) halted two weeks ago and eventually canceled.
That’s why the Hawks’ 35-27 victory over then-No. 15 St. Peter’s Prep (Jersey City), a fellow Jesuit institution, was so vital and the sage Infante, a Hudson County native was at the center of it. Trailing by 13 points at the start of the fourth quarter, the Hawks stuck to the game plan and rode the talents of their big-chip recruits.
Yet it was Infante’s pivotal call with his team down 27-26 to go for the two-point conversion that completed the comeback. Sophomore Kyle McCord hit junior Kolbe Burrell with just over three minutes left for a 28-27 lead. The Hawks could have opted for the conservative approach and the extra-point, but the go-for-broke attitude won out.
Infante, who is the son of immigrant parents who fled Communist Cuba, grew up in West New York, N.J., played football at Memorial (WNY) High school, coached at North Jersey Catholic schools Queen of Peace, Bergen Catholic and Paramus Catholic before landing in Philadelphia, where he’s built a championship caliber program.
Infante has guided the Hawks to four PIAA state titles since 2014 – two each in Classes AAAA and AAAAAA – and lost in the AAAAAA final last season while going 13-1. They’ve also dominated the Philadelphia Catholic League and are currently Pennsylvania’s top-ranked team in 6A.
As you can see, there have been great individual, team and coaching performances and we’ve only played a month’s worth of games. There’s more to come! We’ll keep you abreast of the CAC Top 25 teams and the schools that are eligible for the rankings.
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 Sept. 19. If you want to nominate a player or coach for CAC recognition get us the information by Monday morning by 11 a.m. ET: CACTop25@GlobalFootball.com.
God Bless and enjoy the games in your area. – Christopher Lawlor
2018 Catholic Athletes for Christ Top 25, September 12, 2018
1. St. John Bosco, Bellflower, Calif. (4-0)
Previous rank: 1.
In the Huddle: There’s no stopping the Braves, who rolled Paramount, 56-12. Junior QB DJ Uiagalelei completed 6 of 8 passes for 76 yards and four TDs, including a pair to WR Jude Wolfe. Next up is Chaminade (West Hills) on Friday.
2. Mater Dei, Santa Ana, Calif. (3-1) #
Previous rank: 2.
In the Huddle: The Monarchs ruled St. Mary’s (Stockton), 56-0, for the defense’s third straight shutout. Coach Bruce Rollinson’s juggernaut enjoys a bye week as it prepares for a national showdown with ranked IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) on Sept. 21. That’s must-see football!
3. St. Thomas Aquinas, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (3-0)
Previous rank: 3.
In the Huddle: The Raiders were firing on all cylinders during a 62-0 drubbing of Flanagan (Pembroke Pines). Once the opening kickoff flew, Aquinas built a 42-point lead after one period, including a 35-yard punt return for a score, a pick-six and fumble return. That’s total domination! This weekend the Raiders meet Stranahan (Fort Lauderdale) in a game to be played at South Plantation High School.
4. St. John’s College, Washington, D.C. (3-0)
Previous rank: 4.
In the Huddle: There’s something special brewing in our nation’s capital. The Cadets needed five overtimes but finally recorded a 37-34 victory over nationally ranked Central (Miami, Fla.). Down three points, 34-31, Rakim Jarrett hauled in a one-handed TD reception to seal their win. The Florida laced schedule continues Saturday when mighty IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) comes to Northwest for a stellar matchup.
5. St. Frances Academy, Baltimore (1-0)
Previous rank: 5.
In the Huddle: A week after inclement weather deep-sixed their game with ranked St. Joseph’s Prep (Philadelphia, Pa.), the Panthers finally played an entire 48 minutes and made quick work of Christ the King (Middle Village, N.Y.), 41-6. Coach Biff Poggi’s club is off this weekend and shifts focus to Lee (Jacksonville, Fla.) on Sept. 20.
6. Archbishop Hoban, Akron, Ohio (3-0)
Previous rank: 7.
In the Huddle: Junior RB DeaMonte Trayanum sped 13 and 55 yards for TDs in the second half, rallying the Knights to a 47-28 victory over Wayne (Huber Heights). Hoban trailed 28-27 at intermission but turned up the intensity in the second half with the defense pitching a shutout. The action continues Saturday with Ursuline (Youngstown).
7. Bergen Catholic, Oradell, N.J. (2-0)
Previous rank: 8.
In the Huddle: The Crusaders defeated Archbishop Wood (Warminster, Pa.), 21-7, QB Andrew Boel accounted for all three TDs, including a pair of short scoring runs. The schedule picks up Friday evening with a trip to Caven Point against No. 22 St. Peter’s Prep (Jersey City) in Super Football Conference United Red Division action.
9. Gonzaga, Washington, D.C. (3-0)
Previous rank: 10.
In the Huddle: The Eagles crushed Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.), 37-7. The rout started in the opening 24 minutes when the Eagles were up 21-0. There’s a big rivalry game this Saturday afternoon at Georgetown Prep (North Bethesda, Md.).
10. St. Joseph’s Prep, Philadelphia, Pa. (1-0)
Previous rank: 19.
In the Huddle: The Hawks posted a statement win in defeating then-No. 15 St. Peter’s Prep (Jersey City), 35-27. Trailing 27-14 in the fourth quarter, coach Gabe Infante’s club chipped away and eventually went up for good, 28-27, as RB Kolbe Burrell sped 27 yards for a score and QB Kyle McCord hit Marques Mason for the ensuing two-point conversion with 3:14 left. The grueling schedule continues Friday against new CAC Top 25 entry at No. 15 Good Counsel (Olney, Md.).
11. DePaul Catholic, Wayne, N.J. (2-0)
Previous rank: 12.
In the Huddle: Before the Spartans blinked they had a 21-point, first-quarter lead en route to a 49-3 defeat of league rival Seton Hall Prep (West Orange). Penn State-bound QB Ta’Quan Roberson dissected the Prep defense, hitting on 10 of 14 passes for 234 yards and four TDs of 23, 12, 49 and 19 yards, including two to Ohio State-recruit Ronnie Hickman, Jr., and a 20-yard scoring run. Hickman also tacked on a 58-yard punt return to close out the scoring late in the second quarter. This Saturday is a rematch of last year’s New Jersey Non-Public Group 3 final against St. Joseph Regional (Montvale).
12. Saint Louis, Honolulu, Hawaii (3-0)
Previous rank: 12.
In the Huddle: Junior WR Roman Wilson caught TD passes of 80 and 13 yards from QB Jayden de Laura in a 30-14 victory over rivals Kahuku. The Crusaders are back at it Saturday against Punahou School (Honolulu) at Aloha Stadium.
13. DeMatha Catholic, Hyattsville, Md. (2-1)
Previous rank: 13.
In the Huddle: Defeated Franklin (Reisterstown), 27-14. The Stags host Canada Prep Football Academy (St. Catharines, Ontario) on Friday.
14. Bishop Gorman, Las Vegas (1-2)
Previous rank: 14.
In the Huddle: Finally a victory. The Gaels stopped Orem (Utah), 31-21, as QB Micah Bower completed 19 of 29 throws for 223 yards and a 20-yard TD to Donovan Smith. There’s another daunting task on Friday with a road trip to No. 8 De La Salle (Concord, Calif.).
15. Good Counsel, Olney, Md. (2-0)
Previous rank: Not ranked.
In the Huddle: The Falcons enter the CAC Top 25 after two strong performances. Last weekend, they drilled Mount St. Joseph (Baltimore, Md.), 50-0. Previously they stopped Georgia powerhouse Marietta, 40-28 and had another game canceled by inclement weather. This weekend’s road trip is a doozy at No. 10 St. Joseph’s Prep (Philadelphia, Pa.).
16. Blessed Trinity, Roswell, Ga. (4-0)
Previous rank: 17.
In the Huddle: Steele Chambers, an Ohio State recruit, rushed 20 times for 151 yards and four TDs as Georgia’s top-ranked Class AAAA team toppled Benedictine (Savannah). The Titans are off this week.
17. JSerra Catholic, San Juan Capistrano, Calif. (4-0)
Previous rank: 18.
In the Huddle: The Lions knocked off Arizona powerhouse Pinnacle (Phoenix), 42-35. Junior RB Chris Street rushed for a season-high 187 yards and three TDs and the Lions’ defense made a late stand to preserve the win. DT Shawn Nielsen, a San Diego State pledge, recorded four tackles and three sacks. This week Nevada power Faith Lutheran (Las Vegas) visits.
18. Covington Catholic, Park Hills, Ky. (4-0)
Previous rank: 20.
In the Huddle: Senior RB Casey McGinness racked up 235 all-purpose yards and scored four TDs in a 42-9 rout of Kings (Kings Mills, Ohio). The Colonels play Beechwood (Fort Mitchell) on Friday.
19. McGill-Toolen, Mobile, Ala. (2-1)
Previous rank: 16.
In the Huddle: Lost at West Monroe (La.), 31-24, in overtime at the Battle of the Border in Shreveport, La. The loss was the Yellow Jackets’ first in 27 regular season games. Memphis-bound QB Sheldon Layman threw for 199 yards and two TDs. This weekend the Yellow Jackets host Davidson (Mobile).
20. Columbus, Miami, Fla. (2-1)
Previous rank: 6.
In the Huddle: The Explorers were blanked by nationally ranked Carol City (Miami Gardens), 35-0. Back to the drawing board as local powerhouse Booker T. Washington (Miami) is on Friday’s docket.
21. Dowling Catholic, West Des Moines, Iowa (2-1)
Previous rank: 21.
In the Huddle: What a difference a week makes in Iowa’s Class 4A rankings. The Maroons, who were the preseason No. 1 in Iowa before a loss, turned the tables on the new top dog, topping Johnston, 27-0. Senior RB Jayson Murray ran for 196 yards and two TDs on 32 carries. This weekend the Maroons host Centennial (Ankeny).
22. St. Peter’s Prep, Jersey City, N.J. (1-1)
Previous rank: 15.
In the Huddle: The Marauders fell to No. 10 St. Joseph’s Prep (Philadelphia, Pa.), 35-27. RB Anthony Summey rushed 15 times for 147 yards and three scores, including a 96-yarder in the third period.
23. St. Pius X, Houston, Texas (2-0)
Previous rank: 22.
In the Huddle: Defeated La Marque, 65-21, as QB Grant Gunnell carved up the defense for 388 yards in the air and six TDs. For the season, the Arizona recruit has passed for 802 yards and 11 scores.
24. Chaminade-Madonna College Prep, Hollywood, Fla. (2-1)
Previous rank: 23.
In the Huddle: The Lions are back on track following an opening night loss, beating Blanche Ely (Pompano Beach), 38-0. The next three games are at home, including Thursday’s tilt with Northeast (Oakland Park).
25. Charlotte (N.C.), Catholic (3-1)
Previous rank: 24.
In the Huddle: The Cougars posted a second shutout after defeating Ardrey Kell (Charlotte), 51-0. Thankfully the Cougars have a scheduled bye week because the Carolinas is supposed to get slammed by Hurricane Florence late Thursday. The next scheduled game is Sept. 21 at Monroe.
Dropped out: No. 25 Serra (San Mateo, Calif.).
# Includes a forfeit loss
Special Consideration: St. Joseph Regional (Montvale, N.J.); Chatard (Indianapolis, Ind.); Christian Brothers College (St. Louis, Mo.); Xavier (Cedar Rapids, Iowa); St. Anthony’s (Melville, N.Y.); Central Catholic (Pittsburgh, Pa.); St. Xavier (Cincinnati, Ohio); Bishop Dwenger (Fort Wayne, Ind.); St. Ignatius (Cleveland, Ohio); Catholic (Baton Rouge, La.); Mount Carmel (Chicago, Ill.); Strake Jesuit (Houston, Texas); O’Dea (Seattle, Wash.); Elder (Cincinnati, Ohio); Serra (Gardena, Calif.); Nazareth (Orland Park, Ill.); Marist (Atlanta, Ga.); Eastside Catholic (Sammamish, Wash.); Brother Rice (Chicago, Ill.); Cretin-Derham Hall (St. Paul, Minn.); St. Edward (Lakewood, Ohio); St. John’s Prep (Danvers, Mass.) and Catholic Memorial (West Roxbury, Mass.).