The 2014 high school football season is upon us, and many local Catholic schools have reason to be excited. Last year, St. John Bosco captured both California state and national titles, and the Braves look to repeat — but that will not come easily.
Here are five contenders to watch for this season:
—Can St. John Bosco repeat? The Braves finished last year’s season 16-0, and were ranked as the No. 1 school in the nation by MaxPreps, which has ranked the team as 11th best in the U.S. in their Xcellent 25.
Senior (and UCLA-bound) Josh Rosen will be at the helm of a new receiving corps after the loss of two key receivers, with junior Jared Harrell figuring to be Rosen’s go-to receiver. Junior Sean McGrew will return in the backfield after a monster season, in which he averaged 10.2 yards per carry with 21 touchdowns.
Their defense more of a concern, with only one returning starter. The team has a tough road, competing in the Trinity League with Mater Dei and Servite. Because they lost so many stars to graduation, it seems unlikely that that the team will go undefeated for a second straight season. But it would be surprising if they are not in the race for the Pac-5 title come December.
St. John Bosco opened its season Aug. 22 against St. Louis of Honolulu, and came away with a convincing 63-14 victory. Rosen threw for 252 yards and a touchdown, while McGrew rushed for 179 yards and three touchdowns.
—Mater Dei all the way? The Monarchs went 11-3 overall last year, with two of their losses coming against St. John Bosco. Their starting quarterback, junior Jack Lowary, looks to lead the Monarchs to another Pac-5 championship game.
Mater Dei’s defense could be the best in the Los Angeles area, led by Malik McMorris, last year’s Trinity League Defensive MVP.
The Monarchs get their shot against St. John Bosco, the team that spoiled their championship hopes last year, on Oct. 10 in Bellflower. If they can make it past the Braves undefeated, there is a good chance that Mater Dei could finish as the top football team in California.
—Can Servite’s offense prevail? The Friars, despite finishing 6-6 last year and a rugged 2014 schedule ahead, are looking for a state championship.
They will be led on offense by senior quarterback Travis Waller, who committed to Oregon last spring. Waller will be throwing to senior Equanimeous St. Brown, one of the top receivers in the state.
Despite flaunting one of the best offenses in the state, the Friars will have to go through both St. John Bosco and De La Salle, the No. 26 ranked team in the country according to USA Today. It will be an uphill battle for Servite, but they are hungry for a championship.
—An eighth straight league title for Bishop Alemany? The Warriors have their eyes set on a championship after falling just short in 2013, losing to St. John Bosco in the semifinals of the Pac-5 playoffs, 56-14.
Senior quarterback Blake Green will be under center for the Warriors, with his top target being USC-bound DeSean Holmes. If it can survive a tough league schedule, Alemany may have a shot at the state championship.
—Chaminade moves up. The Eagles, winners of the state Division II title in 2014, have moved into a new league for football. This requires them to win the Pac-5 Division title in order to be eligible for another CIF state bowl game.
This will be a difficult battle, not mentioning that the Eagles have to replace last year’s starting quarterback, Brady Kaaya, the newly-named starter for the University of Miami. But Eagles do have five heavily recruited players returning to the team.
Wide receivers Brandyn Lee (committed to Wisconsin) and Dymond Lee will be the main playmakers for the Eagles, while running back Okalani Langi could prove to be a key piece to their 2014 pursuit of another title.