SBLive’s Southern Section Top 25 Rankings: No. 2 Mater Dei gets ready for season opener vs. No. 20 JSerra

Top-ranked St. John Bosco was impressive in it season-opening win over Sierra Canyon – now we get to see what No. 2 Mater Dei looks like. The Monarchs open their 2021 season against No. 20 JSerra on Friday.

Here are SBLive’s Top 25 Southern Section high school football rankings for Week One (March 15). The rankings were compiled by SBLive California reporter Connor Morrissette.


SBLive California is shining a spotlight on the top football teams and players in the state throughout the 2021 spring high school football season. You can find all of our high school football coverage here. And you can download the new SBLive Sports iPhone app here, and you can download the new SBLive Sports Android app here.


March 15, 2021

1. St. John Bosco (1-0)

Last week: 1

Katin Houser

Juniors Katin Houser and Rayshon Luke impressed in St. John Bosco’s season opening 42-21 win over No. 6 Sierra Canyon on Saturday night.

2. Mater Dei (0-0)

Last week: 2

Domani Jackson

Mater Dei is in a similar position to St. John Bosco heading into their 2021 spring opener against No. 20 JSerra: they have to replace their legendary quarterback from 2019 as well now that Bryce Young is at Alabama. Junior Emmett Brown, sophomore Parker Awad and freshman Elijah Brown are all competing at the QB spot. The Monarchs will run the ball more this spring with Marceese Yetts and stud junior Raleek Brown. Head coach Bruce Rollinson is very excited about Brown, an Oklahoma commit.

Mater Dei has the best secondary and receiving corps in California led by 2021 wideout Kyron Ware-Hudson and 2022 cornerback Domani Jackson, both USC commits (Ware-Hudson is signed). If the Monarchs get solid quarterback play, they will find themselves in familiar territory once again, atop the Trinity League.

3. Servite (1-0)

Last week: 3

Noah Fifita

Servite dominated Damien in their season opener, winning 42-6. The Friars have the best passing attack in California led by 2022 QB Noah Fifita.

4. Mission Viejo (0-0)

Last week: 5

Easton Mascarenas

Mission Viejo was supposed to play La Habra last week but the game was canceled due to a positive COVID-19 test in the Diablo program. Below is last week’s ranking rationale for Mission Viejo who has been cleared to play this week against Trabuco Hills:

The bad news for the Diablos is last year’s quarterback Peter Costelli and star offensive lineman JT Hand have enrolled early at Utah and Arizona respectively this spring and won’t play. Head coach Chad Johnson managed to hang on to defensive end Easton Mascarenas (Oregon State signee) and wide receiver Mavin Anderson (Cal signee) though. Sophomore quarterback Kadin Semonza will replace Costelli under center and should excel. He’s part of a special sophomore class at Mission Viejo.

5. Sierra Canyon (0-1)

Last week: 6

Cole Bullock

Sierra Canyon fell to No. 1 St. John Bosco 42-21 in their opener, but showed enough promise to move to No. 5. DJ Harvey caught a TD in the game and made plays on defense as well as special teams.

6. Corona Centennial (0-0)

Last week: 4

Jake Retzlaff

Senior Jake Retzlaff will start at quarterback when he’s healthy after splitting time under center a year ago and should have a huge season for Cen10, who begins its season Thursday against King. Retzlaff picked up an injury in club football and won’t be cleared to play in the Huskies opener, so sophomore QB’s Isreal Carter and Carson Conklin will play.

Jaden Mickey and Calvin Pitcher will lead the Huskies’ secondary. Head coach Matt Logan will have another great team this spring following last season’s Division 1 semifinal appearance. Corona Centennial will only play league games, so expect some ugly scores.

7. Alemany (0-0)

Last week: 7

Kevin Green Jr. – Alemany
Kevin Green Jr.

Quarterback Miller Moss transferred to Mater Dei and then came back to Alemany – then enrolled early at USC. So junior Dylan Gebbia will lead the Warriors at QB this spring. He’ll have plenty of talent around him in 2022 receiver Kevin Green and 2022 running back Floyd Chalk. Alemany is the preseason favorite in the Mission League.

8. Bishop Amat (0-0)

Last week: 8

Tobin O’Dell

Last year’s starting quarterback Tobin O’Dell is back this spring for Bishop Amat. Returning the starting QB is a luxury only two of the previous seven teams listed have. Amat is 10-0 in the Mission League in the last two seasons. They’ll be at or near the top of the league once again in 2021.

9. Grace Brethren (0-0)

Last week: 9

Mikey Zele

In a surprising development, Grace announced that head coach Josh Henderson won’t return to the school following the spring season. Henderson and Grace Brethren agreed to mutually part ways.

On the field, the Lancers will be very talented this spring, led by senior starting quarterback Mikey Zele and a scary group of linebackers (Isaac Garcia, Carson Cook, Cooper Robertson and Dez Diles). Senior running back Julien Stokes (UC San Diego commit) is another name to know.

10. Oaks Christian (1-0)

Last week: 12

Oaks Christian backed up head coach Charles Collins’ preseason thinking in their season opening 37-14 win over Paraclete: “I don’t want to jinx anything, but we’re going to be dangerous,” he told SBLive in December. “We’re definitely going to be explosive on offense in my opinion.”

Running back Semaj Freeman scored three TDs for the Lions on Saturday night.

11. San Clemente (0-0)

Last week: 11

San Clemente has high expectations for junior quarterback Lachlan Rosmalen, a St. John Bosco transfer. Head coach Jaime Ortiz called senior linebacker Ryland Swarthout “the rock of his team.” The Tritons have serious talent on both sides of the ball.

12. St. Bernard (0-0)

Last week: 13

It’s a new era at St. Bernard. The Vikings are ready to make some noise under first year head coach Manny Douglas, who was previously at Narbonne. The team is bringing in lots of new talent led by receiver/safety Larry Turner-Gooden, who transferred from Calabasas and is committed to Arizona State.

13. Loyola (0-0)

Last week: 19

The Cubs turned what looked like a rebuilding season into a Division 4 finals run in 2019. Loyola returns numerous playmakers in 2021 including an elite corner tandem in Ceyair Wright (USC signee) and Zakhari Spears (Washington signee). The Cubs impressed in their Saturday scrimmage against No. 19 Notre Dame, so they move up.

14. Santa Margarita (1-0)

Last week: 18

Starting quarterback Colt Fulton and star defensive lineman Derek Wilkins (Cal signee) are back for the Eagles who routed Mayfair 54-16 in their season opener. Santa Margarita will be in the running for most improved team this spring.

15. Long Beach Poly (1-0)

Last week: 15

Poly won a hard fought overtime showdown against No. 23 Gardena Serra on Friday thanks to a balanced rushing attack and good defense.

16. La Habra (1-0)

Last week: 17

La Habra blew out Chaminade in their season opener after their game against Mission Viejo was canceled. Sophomore quarterback Justin Gil turned heads.

17. Los Alamitos (1-0)

Last week: NR

Sophomore QB Malachi Nelson looked like the real deal in Los Alamitos’ 60-0 season opening win over Long Beach Millikan.

18. Edison (1-0)

Last week: NR

Edison rolled to a 55-7 win over Trabuco Hills to enter this week’s rankings.

19. Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks) (0-0)

Last week: 14

A few seniors and transfers will be missed this spring for Notre Dame along with legendary head coach Kevin Rooney who retired, but the Knights return their starting QB Cooper Meek who missed almost all of last season with an injury. New head coach Joe McNab was Rooney’s defensive coordinator for 39 years. He said his team looked a little rusty in their scrimmage against Loyola on Saturday. Notre Dame faces a stiff test in their opener against No. 7 Alemany on Thursday.

20. JSerra (0-0)

Last week: 20

JSerra lost a handful of transfers and will be very inexperienced, but still talented. Offensive lineman Mason Murphy (USC signee) and linebacker Jaden Genova (Army commit) are the team’s top players. Sophomore quarterback Jaxon Potter should have a big year. The Lions open the season Friday against No. 2 Mater Dei.

21. Orange Lutheran (0-0)

Last week: 21

While the Lancers are losing some key pieces such as running back Cooper Vander Hill and linebacker Jonah Laban, they should still be solid. Junior Logan Gonzalez will start at QB this spring. Orange Lutheran will play No. 3 Servite in their opener at St. John Bosco’s Panish Stadium.

22. Vista Murrieta (0-0)

Last week: 22

Third year head coach Eric Peterson is high on starting QB Brady Jones, a junior. “He’s gonna be exceptional for us,” Peterson told SBLive. “We’re excited about him. He started games for us last year, so he’s proven he can win, and he can sling it.”

23. Serra Gardena (0-1)

Last week: 10

Serra Gardena struggled on offense in their opener against Long Beach Poly so they drop 13 spots this week.

24. Inglewood (0-0)

Last week: 24

Inglewood went 12-1 a year ago and the Sentinels have gotten better in the offseason, adding 2022 Cal QB commit Justyn Martin and 2022 Washington State linebacker commit Taariq Al-Uqdah.

25. Valencia (0-0)

Last week: 25

Junior quarterback Tyler Voss has had an impressive offseason. 2022 wideout Zamondre Merriweather will be one of his top targets.

25 other teams considered: Culver City, Rancho Verde, Cajon, Norco, Upland, Westlake, Damien, St. Paul, Glendora, Etiwanda, Pacifica (Oxnard), Oxnard, Los Altos, Paraclete, Muir, Rancho Cucamonga, Corona del Mar, Capistrano Valley, Lawndale, St. Francis, Camarillo, San Juan Hills, Crespi, La Serna and Murrieta Valley

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