Year-in and year-out the Big North – United Division in New Jersey and Trinity League in Southern California usually battle for the right to be known as America’s best high school football league. Just like national rankings, there’s really no true way to decide the best of the best, especially if teams from the respective leagues aren’t playing each other.
But, that won’t stop me from taking a few moments here to dissect what’s happened so far during the non-league portion of the 2014 schedule. While #18 Paramus Catholic opened Big North – United play last Saturday with an impressive 44-7 win over Bergen Catholic, the coming weekend marks the true start of league play for both leagues.
Friday in Southern California with #7 St. John Bosco takes-on #13 Mater Dei as the marquee games on the three-game slate in the Trinity League while on Saturday, #2 Don Bosco Prep and Paramus Catholic squaring-off in the Big North – United showdown.
So how did both leagues fair during the non-league portions of their schedules?
The Big North – United, which features Bergen Catholic (3-2), DePaul (5-0), Don Bosco Prep (3-0), Paramus Catholic (5-0) and St. Joseph Regional (3-1) of Montvale, owns a combined record of 19-3 in 2014. Both DBP and Paramus Catholic are nationally-ranked and the league owns wins over out-of-state opponents – Bentonville (Arkansas), Fort Pierce Central (Florida), Gilman (Maryland), La Salle (Pennsylvania), McDonough (Maryland), St. Edward (Ohio), St. Francis (Maryland), St. Ignatius (Ohio) and St. Thomas Aquinas (Florida). La Salle, St. Edward and St. Thomas Aquinas are or have been ranked in the High School Football America Top 25 in 2014. Only DePaul won’t play an out-of-state team this season.
Trinity League teams bring a 25-5 record into league play with only St. John Bosco claiming victories over out-of-state opponents Central Catholic (Oregon) and St. Louis (Hawaii). St. John Bosco and fellow Trinity Leaguers Santa Margarita and Servite all lost to #6 Bishop Gorman of Nevada.
Mater Dei and JSerra both bring perfect 5-0 marks into this weekend, while Orange Lutheran, Santa Margarita and St. John Bosco are 4-1. Servite is 3-2 with their two loses coming at the hands of Gorman and #4 De La Salle (California).
So if you compare the what the two leagues did against out-of-state opponents, the Big North – United has a big edge in our algorithm with an outstanding 11-1 record, while the Trinity League only played five out-of-state opponents going 2-3, with all three loses to Bishop Gorman. St. Joe’s was the only team in the Big North – United to lose to an out-of-state opponent – St. Edward (Ohio) 42-0 on September 13.
That means for the purposed of this story, the Big North – United is the top league in the country using the same algorithm we use for our rankings.
Coming in third is another group of great catholic schools is in Cincinnati – the Greater Catholic League – South that features Archbishop Moeller, Elder, La Salle and St. Xavier. La Salle entered this week’s High School Football America after knocking off previous #7 Moeller. Elder spent two weeks in the Top 25 after beating St. Edward (Ohio), which climbed as high as #11 in our national poll in September and was ranked #1 by several national media outlets before losing to Elder.
The four teams will bring a combined 19-5 mark into this weekend with wins over out-of-state opponents Bishop Dwenger (Indiana), Covington Catholic (Kentucky), East Central (Indiana), East St. Louis (Illinois), Indianapolis Cathedral (Indiana), McDonough (Maryland), Rosa Fort (Mississippi) and St. Xavier (Kentucky).
Overall, the Greater Catholic League – South only lost one game against out-of-state opponents.
Checking in as the fourth best league and also the first public school league is Georgia’s AAAAAA Region 1 with Camden County, Colquitt County, Lee County, Lowndes, Tift County and Valdosta.
Coming into last week’s AAAAAA Region 1 play, all six teams were a perfect 5-0 or 25-0 as a group with Colquitt County ranked #15 in the last High School Football America Top 25. The region was 3-0 against out-of-state opponents with victories over Hoover (Alabama), Enterprise (Alabama) and Lincoln (Tallahasee, Florida).
Back in California, the fifth toughest league is the seven-team Mission League, which has all of its teams at .500 or above with an overall record of 30-9. During the non-league portion of its schedule, its teams (Alemany, Bishop Amat, Chaminade, Crespi, Loyola, Notre Dame-Sherman Oaks, Serra-Gardena), were 24-3 with out-of-state wins over Aledo (Texas) and Eastside Catholic (Washington).
Below are leagues six through 10
#6 Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (Maryland, Virginia, Washington DC)
Archbishop Carroll (Washington DC), Bishop McNamara (Maryland), Bishop O’Connell (Virginia), DeMatha (Maryland), Good Counsel (Maryland), Gonzaga (Washington DC), St. John’s (Washington DC)
#7 Chicago Catholic – Blue (Illinois)
Brother Rice, Mount Carmel, Loyola Academy, Providence Catholic, St. Rita
#8 6A Region 1 District 6 (Texas)
Allen, Boyd, Flower Mound, Lewisville, Hebron Marcus, Plano, Plano East, Plano West
#9 6A Region 1 District 8 (Texas)
Cedar Hill, DeSoto, Duncanville, Grand Prairie, Mansfield, Midlothian, South Grand Prairie
#10 Catholic Central League (Michigan)
Brother Rice, Catholic Central, De La Salle, St. Mary Prep, University of Detroit Jesuit