Mater Dei and St. John Bosco, Trinity League rivals who have battled the past several years for local, state and national superiority, are ranked No. 1 and No. 3 in Maxpreps’ annual “Top 100” preseason survey of the nation’s best high school teams.

In each of the past three seasons, the Monarchs of Santa Ana and the Braves of Bellflower have met in the CIF-SS Division 1 title game. St. John Bosco won in 2016, Mater Dei triumphed in 2017 and 2018, and the D-1 champ in each case won the state Open Division crown and was named Maxpreps’ national champion.

Besides being ranked to defend its national title, Mater Dei plays has the country’s second toughest schedule in 2019, according to Maxpreps, starting with its opener Aug. 23 hosting No. 12 Centennial of Corona and followed by a Sept. 14 home contest against second-ranked St. Frances Academy of Baltimore, unbeaten since 2016. The Mater Dei-St. Frances contest is No. 1 on Maxpreps’ Top 10 “Games of the Year” list.

Also on  the Monarchs’ schedule are games Sept. 27 at No. 5 St. John's of Washington, D.C. (ranked the third-best game of the season), and Oct. 25 at St. John Bosco (the No. 4 game among the ten best), which could decide the Trinity League title. 

The Braves’ schedule is judged the nation’s fifth toughest, with home games Aug. 24 against DeMatha of Hyattsville, Md. (ranked 21st), and Sept. 13 against Our Lady of Good Counsel of Olney, Md. (ranked 46th), in addition to the Mater Dei contest.

Both Mater Dei and St. John Bosco must also face J.Serra of San Juan Capistrano, the country’s No. 48 team, in Trinity League play. The Lions play the country’s sixth-toughest schedule, starting Aug. 31 at home against No. 22 St. Joseph Regional of Montvale, N.J.; hosting St. John Bosco Oct. 11; and at Mater Dei Nov. 1 in the regular season finale.

Serra of Gardena is the only other local Catholic school ranked in the top 100, coming in at No. 62. Ten of the top 15 teams in Maxpreps’ poll are Catholic schools, and nearly half of the top 100 teams are from California, Texas and Florida. 

The top 10: 1, Mater Dei; 2, St. Frances Academy; 3, St. John Bosco; 4, North Shore (Houston); 5, St. John’s (Washington, D.C.); 6, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.); 7, Duncanville (Texas); 8, St. Joseph’s Prep (Philadelphia); 9, Central (Miami); 10, St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale).

Mike Nelson is the former editor of The Tidings (predecessor of Angelus News).

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