Forget the start of college football this weekend. The biggest games are in high school football involving Southern California teams. The top six teams in The Times’ top 25 rankings all have outstanding Week 1 games. Let’s review Friday night’s clashes.
No. 1 Santa Ana Mater Dei at Las Vegas Bishop Gorman, 6 p.m. The Monarchs will take an 18-game winning streak against the top team in Nevada. Quarterback Elijah Brown, who has never lost a high school game, completed 20 of 26 passes for 291 yards and five touchdowns in his season opener for Mater Dei. Bishop Gorman routed Utah power Corner Canyon last week 42-7. The Gaels have perhaps the best receiver in the nation in USC commit Zachariah Branch. The pick: Mater Dei.
No. 2 St. John Bosco at Allen, Texas, 5 p.m. The Braves leave Wednesday for Texas. They’re playing in an 18,000-seat stadium that cost $60 million against a school with a band that has more than 800 members. Allen is ranked No. 5 in preseason Texas 6A rankings but has a new coaching staff. Mater Dei made the Texas trip last season and routed Duncanville. St. John Bosco‘s strength is its defense, from the line to the linebackers to a secondary that goes 12 deep. As long as players don’t eat too many beef ribs, they should enjoy the trip. The pick: St. John Bosco.
No. 3 Corona Centennial at San Diego Cathedral Catholic, 7 p.m. Centennial put up 85 points last week against Corona Santiago. The Huskies have many offensive weapons but Cathedral showed off an outstanding defense in knocking off San Diego Mater Dei Catholic. The only question is can Cathedral, with its double wing, score enough points to stay with the Huskies? The pick: Centennial.
Servite at No. 4 Mission Viejo, 7 p.m. Mission Viejo was off last week after winning its opener in Hawaii. The offense should be much better to take on a Servite team that lost to Rancho Cucamonga in its opener. This will offer a good gauge to determine if the Diablos truly have separated themselves and become a Division 1 semifinalist contender even though Servite is young and rebuilding from last year’s finalist team. The pick: Mission Viejo.
No. 5 Los Alamitos at American Heritage, Florida, Saturday, 4 p.m. This could be the biggest game of the weekend. Los Alamitos wants to challenge in Southern Section Division 1. This road game on national TV presents an opportunity to prove it’s in the discussion and has more to showcase than just quarterback Malachi Nelson. Los Alamitos defeated Bakersfield Garces 42-0 last week. Heritage is ranked as the No. 7 team in Florida. The pick: Los Alamitos.
No. 9 Norco at No. 6 Santa Margarita, 7 p.m. Santa Margarita’s defense looked in midseason form last week against San Juan Hills. The offense didn’t, but an opportunity to face Norco will be another strong test in preparation for the Trinity League. Norco scrimmaged St. John Bosco last week and didn’t move the ball much. The Eagles better watch out for receiver Grant Gray. The pick: Santa Margarita.
Another intriguing game has No. 8 Gardena Serra facing No. 17 Long Beach Poly. Serra tired in the second half and missed two conversion kicks in a 27-26 loss to Orange Lutheran last week. The two schools typically have close games. It will be Poly’s passing game against Serra’s running game in a matchup that is BallySports’ game of the week on TV.