Top 10 high school football games of the last decade

Zack Poff | Monday, May 18, 2020 2:45pm

St. John Bosco-Mater Dei 2019 Southern Section championship battle tops the list.

Video: St. John Bosco vs. Mater Dei in the CIF SS Division 1 championship
Highlights of the Braves' 39-34 comeback win over the Monarchs.

Epic. Legendary. Instant Classic.

Fans know when a game takes on that mythical quality where it will live on well past the final gun.

Over the past decade there have been a number of those games — from state championship tilts to battles between national powerhouses.

We've assembled 10 classic games from the 2010s. Six feature Top 25 teams, with four pitting teams in the Top 5 against each other.

Six of the 10 were in-state matchups, seven if you include the 2018 WCAC championship game between Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) and DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.).
Graphic by Ryan Escobar
10. Rigby (Idaho) 57, Coeur d'Alene (Idaho) 56 (2 OT)
When: Nov. 23, 2019
Significance: 5A state championship
Summary: Rigby erased a 15-point, fourth-quarter deficit in the final five minutes of regulation and tied the game at 42 with no time on the clock after a successful two-point conversion from Keegan Thompson to Brycen Uffens. After both teams traded touchdowns in the first overtime, the Trojans scored and went for two in the second overtime to win the game. They handed it off to Brigham Youngstrom, who punched it in from two yards out to give the Trojans their first football state title.

When: Nov. 22, 2019
Significance: Second round of UIL 6A Division 1 playoffs
Summary: Rockwall ended the Eagles seven-year run of making it to the state semifinals. The teams combined for nearly 1,200 total yards and 119 points. Allen scored 21 unanswered second-half points to take a 59-52 fourth-quarter lead but the Yellowjackets answered with a touchdown in the final two minutes and went for the go-ahead two-point conversion. They ran a trick play and Caden Marshall found J.J. Williams in the end zone to take a 60-59 lead and the defense got a stop to pull out the one-point victory at AT&T Stadium. 2020 Ohio State signee Jaxon Smith-Njigba had a monster night hauling in 15 receptions for 252 yards and accounting for six total touchdowns. Allen's Raylen Sharpe racked up 571 total yards (459 passing, 112 rushing) and six scores.

When: Nov. 24, 2017
Significance: Quarterfinals of 5A playoffs
Summary: Patrick Surtain's squad erased a 21-point first-half deficit and scored 35 unanswered points to take a 41-27 fourth-quarter lead. The Chiefs responded with back-to-back touchdowns to tie the game and the Patriots botched a field goal attempt in the final seconds sending the contest to overtime. In the third overtime, Vincent Davis ran it in for Cardinal Gibbons but Heritage blocked the point after attempt. Cameron Smith found Anthony Schwartz from 10 yards out and Jimmy Lowery connected on the game-winning PAT to advance to the semifinals. American Heritage went on to win its second consecutive 5A state title and finish the year ranked at No. 4.

When: Sept. 3, 2016
Significance: Huge out-of-state showdown
Summary: IMG Academy entered as huge favorites with a loaded roster led by Dylan Moses, Grant Delpit, Kellen Mond and Cesar Ruiz. The Huskies jumped out to an early 14-0 lead but the Ascenders knotted the score at 14 at the half. The teams traded score-for-score in the second half and the Inland Empire power took a 49-42 lead with 1:06 left after Kevin Wright allowed Miles Reed to run it in from six yards out. IMG drove down the field and Mond connected with Brian Hightower for a 38-yard touchdown with 12 seconds remaining and with no hesitation Wright elected to go for two. Mond found Asa Martin on a swing pass and the Ascenders pulled out the one-point victory.

When: Sept. 30, 2016
Significance: Matchup of two national powers
Summary: This one featured the preseason No. 1 vs. the new No. 1 when they met in Las Vegas on ESPN. Gorman took a 10-7 fourth-quarter lead when Tate Martell found Brevin Jordan with 7:35 remaining. Aquinas drove the field late and Marco Salani connected on a 24-yard field goal to send the game to overtime. Jake Allen hit Jordan Merrell on the first play of overtime for a 10-yard score. Martell answered with a fourth-down touchdown pass to Jalen Nailor. The Gaels were stuffed on fourth down and Bubba Bolden blocked Salani's field goal attempt to force a third overtime. After the Raiders scored a touchdown to begin the third OT, Martell connected with Nailor and Kenny Sanchez elected to go for two. Biaggio Ali Walsh punched it in from two yards out to give the Vegas power its 45th consecutive victory. The Gaels finished the year as the No. 1 team in the country. 

5. No. 2 Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) 28, No. 5 IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) 24
When: Sept. 21, 2018
Significance: Matchup of two national powers
Summary: The atmosphere was crazy for this game. It featured two national powers and a boatload of talent. IMG's Trey Sanders and Noah Cain combined for over 300 yards rushing and had the Ascenders in position to win. They were up 24-21 with just over three minutes to play, but that was too much time for Bryce Young. He led the Monarchs on a nine-play, 75-yard drive, completing all six of his passes, and ran it in from five yards out for the game-winning score. The 5-star quarterback threw for over 300 yards and accounted for three touchdowns while snapping IMG Academy's 40-game winning streak.

4. No. 2 Allen (Texas) 42, No. 4 DeSoto (Texas) 35
When: Dec. 14, 2013
Significance: 5A Division 1 state semifinal
Summary: Kyler Murray never lost a game as the starting quarterback during his legendary high school career. But this game was one of his closest calls. Trailing 35-20 in the fourth quarter, the Eagles scored 22 unanswered points to extend its winning streak to 26. With the game tied at 35, Murray ran it in from 24 yards out in the final seconds. The 2019 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year accounted for 387 total yards (228 passing, 159 rushing) and three touchdowns. The Eagles went on to win their second of three consecutive state titles and finished 2013 as the No. 2 team in the country.

When: Nov. 18, 2018
Significance: Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship
Summary: The final three minutes were as good as we've seen. Caleb Williams TD run cut DeMatha's lead to 36-33 with 3:03 left. After getting a stop, the Eagles drove down and Williams found Sam Sweeney to take a 40-36 lead with 29 seconds left. Dominic Logan-Nealy returned the ensuing kickoff for a score to give the Stags a 43-40 lead with 15 seconds left. Williams got Gonzaga near midfield with a chance for one last heave and the 5-star quarterback chucked it from his own 41-yard line and connected with John Marshall on the final play of the game to win the school's first WCAC title since 2002.

When: Dec. 22, 2018
Significance: 6A Division 1 state championship
Summary: This one featured nine lead changes and was simply one of the best state championship games ever. North Shore began the fourth quarter up 29-20 but the Panthers reeled off 10 straight points to take a 30-29 lead with 9:42 left. Dematrius Davis led the Mustangs on a nine-play, 77-yard drive and found Jordan Revels in the end zone to give North Shore a 35-30 lead with just over five minutes left. Ja'Quinden Jackson answered with a nine-play, 85-yard drive and ran it in from five yards out to give the Panthers a 36-35 lead with 1:02 left. North Shore drove it down to the Panthers 45-yard line with time for one last play and Davis stepped up into the pocket and hit AJ Carter in the corner of the end zone to pull off the wild 41-36 win. This victory led the Mustangs to finish the season as the No. 1 team in the country.

1. No. 2 St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.) 39, No. 1 Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) 34
When: Nov. 30, 2019
Significance: Matchup of No. 1 vs. No. 2 in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 championship
Summary: Mater Dei was the clear cut No. 1 team in high school football and had a 28-5 lead in the second quarter but that's when DJ Uiagalelei put the Braves on his back. St. John Bosco scored 34 unanswered and had a 39-28 lead with 8:52 left. Bryce Young then answered with his fifth touchdown pass of the night connecting with Kyron Ware-Hudson from 23 yards out to cut the deficit to 39-34 with five minutes left. The Monarchs stuffed Uiagalelei on a quarterback sneak on fourth down and took over at St. John Bosco's 29-yard line with 1:30 left. Then 2021 USC commit Ma'a Gaoteote made the play of the night with a sack fumble on Young. The Monarchs got the ball back one last time but could not connect on a Hail Mary attempt and the Braves pulled out the 39-34 victory. Uiagalelei finished the night with 405 yards passing and five touchdowns. St. John Bosco finished the year as the No. 1 team in the country after beating De La Salle (Concord, Calif.) in the CIF Open Division championship two weeks later.