We’re halfway there. That means there’s plenty of football to be played and the Catholic Athletes for Christ Top 25 High School Football rankings continue to showcase the best.
The final rankings won’t be released until after the December holidays but we are now about two months from that to be determined date.
For the most part, the CAC Top 25 stayed intact. Teams were shuffled depending on the results and there are two additions to the CAC Top 25, presented by Siena Heights University and Global Football, from Florida and Iowa.
First, we reintroduce No. 23 Chaminade-Madonna College Prep (Hollywood, Fla.), who appeared in the Preseason CAC Top 25. The Lions opened with two losses but rebounded and are Florida’s top-ranked Class 3A team.
In Iowa, Xavier (Cedar Rapids) is on a roll, entering the playoffs at 9-0. The Saints are annually a quality program and have a doozy of a game in the Class 3A first round against Pella—a team they beat in last year’s 3A state final.
Two CAC Top 25 teams stick around despite losing.
No. 14 JSerra Catholic (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.) dipped four spots after a lopsided loss to No. 2 Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.), but we’ll keep the Lions ranked for their strength of schedule. The same goes for No. 24 DePaul Catholic (Wayne, N.J.), which was upset by Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.). The Spartans are shorthanded the rest of the way as All-American and Ohio State recruit Ronnie Hickman Jr. is out with a knee injury. DePaul is still the favorite in New Jersey Non-Public Group 3 when the brackets are released next week but that’s a potential game-changer.
Moving ahead there’s plenty more in the CAC Top 25.
Having summed up the changes and the weekly narratives, we’ll introduce a player, coach and top games of interest. This week there’s a young man from Oak Lawn, Illinois, who had a special night last Friday in the Chicago suburbs. Next we shift one state to the west of Illinois, where an Iowa coach personifies faith and family on the sidelines. The nationally featureed games stretch from the shores of the Great Lakes to the banks of the Mississippi River to Miami’s South Beach.
Player of the Week: Quarterback John Bean of No. 20 Brother Rice (Chicago, Ill.). The real story here isn’t just one game but the whole collection for the Brother Rice Crusaders. A year ago, the Crusaders were 2-7 and now they just completed a perfect regular season at 9-0 and are Chicago Catholic League Blue Division title-holders. It marked the program’s first undefeated regular season going back to 1956. And at the center of it was the field general Bean, who put on a show during a 31-0 pasting at previously undefeated Montini Catholic (Lombard, Ill.) last Friday.
The 6 feet, 190-pound dual-threat signal caller helped the Crusaders take a 14-0 lead at intermission, hitting Dylan Summers with a 13-yard scoring strike. Bean rushed 15 times for 143 yards and scored on runs of 39, 20, and 9 yards. Two of the scoring runs occurred on fourth down. He also clicked on 10 passes for 98 yards and a touchdown.
Bean’s summertime preparation included a local 7-on-7 league that developed team chemistry, while strengthening a bond when the regular season kicked off in August. It worked to perfection! The Crusaders are the No. 1 seed in the Illinois Class 8A playoffs, needing five wins to secure a title on Nov. 24 in Champaign. They open the second season this weekend, entertaining Zion-Benton in the first round.
Coach of the Week: Duane Schulte of No. 25 Xavier (Cedar Rapids, Iowa). Great programs have great leaders and Schulte has earned that title. The Saints completed a 9-0 regular season last weekend, stopping Marion, 51-0. Heading into the Class 3A playoffs, the Saints are the District 4 champions, having captured 22 straight contests and 36 in a row during the regular season.
Schulte, who is an economics and law teacher, preaches family and faith. He’s coached all three sons, his eldest Reggie, was a QB at Northern Iowa and another son Bryce is currently a redshirt freshman TE at Iowa. This season Quinn is the Xavier’s starting QB. Quinn, a senior, could wind up a DB, LB or WR in college as South Dakota State has offered, while Iowa and Iowa State are interested, according to a recruiting website. Last year, Quinn quarterbacked Xavier to the Class 3A state title, beating Pella, 31-13, in the final. Funny thing, the Saints meet 8-1 Pella on Friday in an intriguing 3A first-round matchup.
Duane Schulte is the only Iowa coach to have guided the same school to Iowa state football titles in 4A and 3A, and is Xavier’s only coach since the school opened in 1998. Xavier came about when two area Catholic schools, La Salle and Regis, merged.
Games of the Week (All times Eastern): Here are a handful of games that should demonstrate the panache of Catholic high school football.
No. 3 St. John’s College (Washington, D.C.) at No. 10 DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.), Friday, 7 p.m.: So much is on line when these two Washington Catholic Athletic Conference powers, separated by 7 miles, meet at the Prince George’s Sports and Learning Complex in Landover, Md. SJC (7-0) is rested after their bye week and features a sophisticated passing offense that produces 40 points per game against a nationally charged schedule. DeMatha (6-1) lost opening day at No. 6 St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), but have won six straight. There’s a strong possibility they will meet again in the WCAC playoffs in November.
St. Edward (Lakewood, Ohio) at St. Ignatius (Cleveland, Ohio), Friday, 7 p.m.: Each large metropolitan area with a strong Catholic school presence has one signature rivalry that transcends all. Welcome to Cleveland’s version of the Vatican Bowl. This one is so special it was moved to FirstEnergy Stadium—home of the Cleveland Browns—by Lake Erie. St. Ignatius (7-2) leads the series 30-24-1 and last beat St. Edward (6-3) at the big house in 2016. Both teams are in Ohio’s Division I, Region 1 and frequently meet in the playoffs.
Coral Gables (Miami, Fla.) at No. 15 Columbus (Miami, Fla.), Friday, 7:30 p.m.: It is Senior Night on the Columbus (8-1) campus with the District 14-8A title at stake. Columbus has won six straight since a loss to nationally ranked Carol City (Miami Gardens), including three shutouts in its last four outings. Coral Gables is 5-3 overall and 3-0 in district, but have yielded 78 points this season.
Marist (Atlanta, Ga.) at No. 12 Blessed Trinity (Roswell, Ga.), Friday, 7:30 p.m.: Suburban Atlanta will be jumping on Friday when two rivalries butt heads. The Region 7-AAAA title is too close to call but this one will decide it. Blessed Trinity, the defending Georgia Class AAAA state champions, is 8-0 and the Marist War Eagles are 8-1. Something has to give. Expect a rematch deep in the postseason—the same as last year when the Titans beat Marist 16-7 in the state final.
John Curtis Christian (River Ridge, La.) at Archbishop Rummel (Metairie, La.), Saturday, 3 p.m.: The District 9-5A championship (or New Orleans Catholic League) is likely to be decided here as both teams are 4-0 in district play on the penultimate regular-season weekend. The Rummel Raiders are 7-1 and ride a six-game win streak, while national powerhouse Curtis (8-0) is undefeated. Most recently the Raiders won district titles in 2012, ’14 and ’15 and were state champions in 2012 and ’13. This should attract a large crowd to 7,500-seat Joe Yenni Stadium in Metairie, considered one of the South’s top high school venues.
As you can see, the CAC Top 25 regular season is down to the final few weeks. The storylines will unravel and the plots will thicken. Best part of it is the CAC Top 25 eligible teams will have a vital role wherever they play 11-man football.
Here’s a friendly reminder.
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.
The CAC Top 25 rankings will return on October 31 or All Hallow’s Eve. In the meantime, keep those affected by hurricanes in the Carolinas and the Gulf Coast in your thoughts and prayers.
Thank you for your dedicated readership. God Bless and enjoy the games this weekend. – Christopher Lawlor
2018 Catholic Athletes for Christ Top 25, October 24, 2018
1. St. John Bosco, Bellflower, Calif. (9-0)
Previous rank: 1.
In the Huddle: The Braves defeated Santa Margarita (Rancho Santa Margarita), 49-14. Junior QB DJ Uiagalelei threw for 255 yards and two touchdowns. Coach Jason Negro’s club closes out the regular season with Servite (Anaheim), aiming for a perfect record in the Trinity League.
2. Mater Dei, Santa Ana, Calif. (7-2) #
Previous rank: 2.
In the Huddle: Defeated No. 25 JSerra (San Juan Capistrano), 42-7. Junior QB Bryce Young completed 19 of 29 passes for 311 yards and three TDs, carving up JSerra’s defense. For the season, Young was thrown for 2,355 yards and 26 scores and only five interceptions. Next is Friday at Orange Lutheran.
3. St. John’s College, Washington, D.C. (7-0)
Previous rank: 3.
In the Huddle: Idle. The Cadets face CAC Top 25 teams DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.) and Gonzaga (Washington) to close out the regular season. Friday’s game with DeMatha could be a preview of a postseason tilt.
4. Archbishop Hoban, Akron, Ohio (9-0)
Previous rank: 4.
In the Huddle: The offense was firing on all cylinders in a 51-6 win over Walsh Jesuit (Cuyahoga Falls). It was 21-6 after one quarter and 28-6 by halftime. RB Tyris Dickerson scored three TDs to pace the attack. The Knights close out the regular season Friday against Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin (Chardon) and have already secured a home game in Ohio’s Division II, Region 5 playoffs that start on Nov. 2.
5. De La Salle, Concord, Calif. (9-0)
Previous rank: 5.
In the Huddle: Defeated San Ramon Valley (Danville), 48-14. The Spartans scored running TDs on their first five possessions. James Colby’s 65-yard scoring run in the second quarter made it 41-7 at the break. The Spartans face California High (San Ramon) Friday.
6. St. Thomas Aquinas, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (7-1)
Previous rank: 6.
In the Huddle: The Raiders defeated Boyd Anderson (Lauderdale Lakes), 54-6. The running clock, mercy-rule was thankfully in affect during the second half. Junior WR Xavier Restrepo scored three TDs, including two on receptions. Next is Blanche Ely (Pompano Beach) on Friday.
7. St. Frances Academy, Baltimore, Md. (5-0)
Previous rank: 7.
In the Huddle: The Panthers shut out St. Thomas More (Oakdale, Conn.), 55-0.
Next is St. Joseph’s (Ottawa, Ontario) on Friday in Baltimore.
8. St. Joseph’s Prep, Philadelphia, Pa. (6-0)
Previous rank: 8.
In the Huddle: The Hawks scored the game’s first 41 points and cruised past Father Judge (Philadelphia), 69-14. Jeremiah Trotter Jr. returned a punt 70 yards for a score and QB Kyle McCord ran for a TD and passed for another as the Hawks racked went up 27-0 lead after the first quarter. The regular season finale is Friday against Archbishop Ryan (Philadelphia) to be played at Widener University in Chester, Pa.
9. Saint Louis, Honolulu, Hawaii (8-0)
Previous rank: 9.
In the Huddle: Idle. The Crusaders play rivals Punahou School (Honolulu) Saturday at Aloha Stadium for the Interscholastic League of Honolulu Open Division title. Coach Cal Lee’s team won the previous meeting this season, 35-28, on Sept. 15. The winner is placed in Hawaii’s Open Division state playoffs.
10. DeMatha Catholic, Hyattsville, Md. (6-1)
Previous rank: 11.
In the Huddle: The Stags left no doubt they are a player in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference by thrashing then-No. 20 Good Counsel (Olney), 32-2. The defense forced five turnovers and took a 14-0 lead after one period. One of the nation’s most anticipated games is Friday against No. 3 St. John’s College (Washington, D.C.).
11. Bergen Catholic, Oradell, N.J. (7-1)
Previous rank: 12.
In the Huddle: QB Andrew Boel fired four TD passes, including two to TE Tyler Devera, and the Crusaders bounced Paramus Catholic, 42-0. It was 14-0 after one quarter and the Crusaders added their final 28 in the second, closing out the half. RBs Rahmir Johnson and Anthony Corbin had one rushing TD apiece. The regular season ends with at No. 24 DePaul Catholic (Wayne) on Friday night.
12. Blessed Trinity, Roswell, Ga. (8-0)
Previous rank: 13.
In the Huddle: Junior James Bryant’s 95-yard, pick-six in the third quarter put an exclamation point on a 42-0 blanking of Chestatee (Gainesville). Carson Harof (two TDs), Jake Smith and Englan Williams ran for scores in the first quarter and a 28-0 lead. The Titans host rivals Marist (Atlanta) Friday.
13. Covington Catholic, Park Hills, Ky. (9-0)
Previous rank: 14.
In the Huddle: Crushed Dixie Heights (Edgewood), 50-8. Unlike the previous game, the Colonels set the tone early and went on to record the overwhelming victory. The Colonels have Campbell County (Alexandria) in the regular season finale on Friday.
14. JSerra Catholic, San Juan Capistrano, Calif. (7-2)
Previous rank: 10.
In the Huddle: Lost to No. 2 Mater Dei (Santa Ana), 42-7. The regular season concludes Friday with Orange Lutheran.
15. Columbus, Miami, Fla. (8-1)
Previous rank: 15.
In the Huddle: The Explorers’ stingy defense was at it again during a 48-0 blanking of Coral Park (Miami). It was the unit’s fifth shutout of the campaign as they have conceded only 84 points. The regular season concludes Friday with Coral Gables for the District 14-8A title.
16. Christian Brothers College, St. Louis, Mo. (7-1)
Previous rank: 17.
In the Huddle: Idle. Heading into the playoffs, QB Brett Gabbert has thrown for 1,802 yards and 23 TDs and RB Bryan Bradford has rushed for 1,273 yards and 21 scores on 127 carries or 10 yards a pop! The opening Class 6, District 1 assignment is rivals St. Louis University High on Friday.
17. Charlotte (N.C.), Catholic (8-1)
Previous rank: 18.
In the Huddle: The Cougars keep cruising after a 49-14 victory over Parkwood (Monroe). Next is Cuthbertson (Waxhaw) on Friday. The regular season ends on Nov. 2 with Marvin Ridge (Waxhaw).
18. Bishop Gorman, Las Vegas, Nev. (5-3)
Previous rank: 19.
In the Huddle: Junior QB Micah Bowens hit on 15 of 18 passes for 359 yards and four TDs and ran for another score as the Gaels overpowered Durango (Las Vegas), 57-34. The Gaels have two games left in the regular season, beginning with Spring Valley (Las Vegas) Friday, before the quest for a 10th straight Nevada state championship ramps up.
19. Gonzaga, Washington, D.C. (7-2)
Previous rank: 21.
In the Huddle: The Purple Eagles defeated Bishop McNamara (Forestville, Md.), 38-7, halting a two-game losing skein. The regular season concludes with a huge rivalry game against No. 3 St. John’s College (Washington) on Nov. 3.
20. Brother Rice, Chicago, Ill. (9-0)
Previous rank: 22.
In the Huddle: The Chicago Catholic League Blue title heads to South Pulaski Road after the Crusaders blanked Montini Catholic (Lombard), 31-0. The Class 8A playoffs open this weekend hosting Zion-Benton.
21. St. Peter’s Prep, Jersey City, N.J. (6-2)
Previous rank: 23.
In the Huddle: Navy-bound QB Maasai Maynor triggered the offense with two TD throws to Ayir Asante and the Marauders were triumphant at Pope John XXIII (Sparta), 43-6. RB Anthony Sumney charged into the end zone for two scores and Colin Elliott had a 45-yard, pick-six in the first half. It’s another showdown in the Super Football Conference United Red at No. 22 St. Joseph’s Regional (Montvale) on Saturday.
22. St. Joseph Regional, Montvale, N.J. (6-2)
Previous rank: 24.
In the Huddle: A punishing running game that featured Andre Epps (72 yards) and Audric Estime (108 yards on nine carries), both who scored two TDs apiece, overwhelmed Seton Hall Prep (West Orange), 45-10. The Green Knights entertain No. 21 St. Peter’s Prep (Jersey City) on Saturday.
23. Chaminade-Madonna College Prep, Hollywood, Fla. (6-2)
Previous rank: Not ranked.
In the Huddle: Florida’s top-ranked Class 3A team is back in the CAC Top 25. After a suspect opening, the Lions have rebounded, including last weekend’s 47-17 drubbing of Doral Academy (Doral). The regular season winds down at Flanagan (Pembroke Pines) on Thursday and then a donnybrook with powerful University School (Fort Lauderdale) on Nov. 2.
24. DePaul Catholic, Wayne, N.J. (6-2)
Previous ranked: 16.
In the Huddle: Lost to Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey), 59-28. All-American S-WR Ronnie Hickman Jr. (an Ohio State pledge) is done for the season after suffering a torn ACL. The Spartans host No. 11 Bergen Catholic (Oradell) Friday in the regular season finale.
25. Xavier, Cedar Rapids, Iowa (9-0)
Previous rank: Not ranked.
In the Huddle: The Saints downed Marion, 51-0, to clinch the Class 3A, District 4 crown. It was their 36th straight regular-season win and 22nd consecutive win overall. The defending Iowa Class 3A champions used a punishing running game with Braden Stovie going for 116 yards and a six-yard TD jaunt. The Saints won’t have time to dwell on that perfect regular season with a first round playoff game Friday against Class 3A power Pella at home.
Dropped out: No. 20 Good Counsel (Olney, Md.) and No. 25 Iona Prep (New Rochelle, N.Y.).
# Includes a forfeit loss
Special Consideration: St. Ignatius (Cleveland, Ohio); St. Edward (Lakewood, Ohio); Marist (Chicago, Ill.); St. Pius X Catholic (Atlanta, Ga.); De La Salle Collegiate (Warren, Mich.); Bishop Chatard (Indianapolis, Ind.); Clearwater (Fla.) Central Catholic; St. Anthony’s (South Huntington, N.Y.); McGill-Toolen (Mobile, Ala.); St. Pius X (Houston, Texas); Bishop McDevitt (Harrisburg, Pa.); Memorial (Evansville, Ind.); Salpointe Catholic (Tucson, Ariz.); Central Catholic (Pittsburgh, Pa.); Bishop Dwenger (Fort Wayne, Ind.); Marist (Atlanta, Ga.); Aquinas Institute (Rochester, N.Y.); Jesuit (Tampa, Fla.); Central Catholic (Toledo, Ohio); Catholic (Baton Rouge, La.); Mount Carmel (Chicago, Ill.); Strake Jesuit (Houston, Texas); Nazareth Academy (LaGrange Park, Ill.); Eastside Catholic (Sammamish, Wash.); Cathedral Prep (Erie, Pa.); Xaverian Brothers (Westwood, Mass.); Good Counsel (Olney, Md.); St. Thomas Aquinas (Overland Park, Kan.); Catholic Memorial (Waukesha, Wis.); Iona Prep (New Rochelle, N.Y.); and Cathedral Catholic (San Diego, Calif.).