Four of the top five high school football teams in the CIF-Southern Section are Catholic schools, according to the combined Divisions 1 and 2 poll released Sept. 9.

Mater Dei (gearing up for a nationally significant contest this week), St. John Bosco, J.Serra and Serra of Gardena (tenth last week) rank 1-2-4-5, with Centennial of Corona at No. 3.

In Division 3, Alemany is still fourth and Paraclete is now ninth. Loyola remains seventh in D-4 and St. Paul seventh in D-5; Crespi rose to ninth in D-6; St. Bernard dipped to ninth from eighth in D-13; and St. Monica jumped into sixth while Mary Star of the Sea remained seventh in D-14.

Among those receiving votes in their respective divisions, but just outside the top ten, were Cathedral and St. Francis (D-3), Damien (D-4), St. Bonaventure and Bishop Diego (D-5), and La Salle and St. Anthony (D-9).

Nationally, Mater Dei remains No. 1 in Maxpreps’ Xcellent Top 25 poll as it prepares to play No. 2 St. Frances Academy of Baltimore on Sept. 14, 7 p.m. at Parish Family Stadium in Bellflower. It’s the third straight year that Mater Dei has played a “No. 1 vs. No. 2” contest, having beaten Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas in the 2017 season opener, then losing to St. John Bosco in a 2018 Trinity League battle.

Maxpreps reports that this is the seventh “No. 1 vs. No. 2” game in the 2000s, and the one that encompasses the furthest distance between the two combatants — 2,703 miles. St. Frances Academy carries a 26-game winning streak into the game.

Mater Dei, meanwhile, is led by quarterback Bryce Young who threw for 528 yards and seven touchdowns in last week’s 71-21 win over Centennial of Peoria, Arizona. 

Interestingly, St. Frances is No. 1 in Maxpreps’ computer rankings with Mater Dei third. St. John Bosco is third in the Xcellent poll and second in the computer survey, as the Braves prepare to host Our Lady of Good Counsel of Olney, Maryland, on Sept. 13 (and try not to look ahead to their game with Mater Dei Oct. 25 in Bellflower).

Other noteworthy matchups this week that pit Catholic schools against one another (ahead of league play, starting in a few weeks) include Crespi at Chaminade, Paraclete at Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks), Loyola at Cathedral, St. Bernard at Bishop Montgomery, Verbum Dei at Salesian, and La Salle at Cantwell-Sacred Heart. 

This week’s games mark the second of the annual month-long “Touchdowns Against Cancer” contests, inviting fans of participating schools to make monetary contributions based on how many touchdowns their teams score in those designated games. Proceeds benefit St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

The schedule for this weekend:

September 12: Santa Margarita at Mayfair.

September 13: Our Lady of Good Counsel (Olney, Md.) at St. John Bosco; Servite at Cajon; Crespi at Chaminade; Paraclete at Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks); Chino Hills at Bishop Amat; Oaks Christian at Alemany; Long Beach Poly at Serra (Gardena); Loyola at Cathedral; St. Bernard at Bishop Montgomery; Westlake at St. Francis; Verbum Dei at Salesian; La Salle at Cantwell Sacred Heart; St. Paul at Birmingham; Long Beach Wilson at St. Anthony; St. Bonaventure at Santa Barbara; Bishop Diego at Nipomo; Littlerock at St. Monica (Santa Monica); St. Genevieve at Carpinteria; Damien at Charter Oak; Mary Star.of the Sea at Century (Santa Ana); St. Pius X-St. Matthias at South Torrance. 

September 14: St. Frances Academy (Baltimore) vs. Mater Dei at Bellflower (7 p.m.); J.Serra vs. Milton (Georgia) at Bellflower (4 p.m.).

Eight-Man Football (Sept. 13): Trinity Christian at St. Michael’s Prep; Villanova at Laguna Blanca.