The two best high school quarterbacks in the United States can be seen on a weekly basis this fall in Southern California, leading powerful offenses for their respective Catholic school teams.

That would be seniors DJ Uiagalelei of St. John Bosco and Bryce Young of Mater Dei, rated as the Nos. 1 and 2 QBs in the U.S. by Maxpreps, the country’s leading tracker of high school sports. Between them, the duo passed for more than 7,500 yards and 87 touchdowns in 2018 as the Braves and Monarchs battled for supremacy in the Trinity League, the CIF-Southern Section’s Division 1 and the state of California.

Uiagalelei (bound for Clemson in 2020) and Young (committed to USC) will meet head-to-head at least once this season (on Oct. 25 in Bellflower) and perhaps twice, just they did in 2018. In last year’s contests, DJ’s team won the October regular season battle, 41-18, to clinch the league title, but Bryce’s squad got revenge a month later in the D-1 title game, 17-13, and went on to win its second straight state championship.

On Maxpreps’ pre-season list of the top 10 players in the country regardless of position, Uiagalelei — the Gatorade California Player of the Year in 2018 — was third,  and Young — who starred at Cathedral High in LA before transferring to Mater Dei last year — was fifth. 

Coming in at No. 6 was another gridiron star familiar to Southland football fans, former Mater Dei cornerback Elias Ricks, who transferred to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. As the country’s third-rated defensive player, Ricks will try to do for the Ascenders in 2019 what he did for the Monarchs in 2018 (nine interceptions, six returned for TDs).

Uiagalelei, Young and Ricks also are part of Maxpreps’ 64-player pre-season All-America team, as are senior offensive linemen Myles Murao of Mater Dei and Drake Metcalf of St. John Bosco. Also making Maxpreps’ top 10 quarterbacks list was sophomore Maalik Murphy of Serra/Gardena, one of the top sophomores nationally at any position.

Local talent, again from the Monarchs and the Braves primarily, is featured among the players on Maxpreps’ All-American juniors team. They include St. John Bosco wide receiver Beaux Collins and linebacker Ma’a Gaoteote; Mater Dei offensive lineman  George Miki-Han, linebacker Raesjon Davis and defensive back Jaylin Davies; and J.Serra linebacker Jaden Genova.


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

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