With No. 1 Mater Dei (Santa Ana)
meeting No. 8 Servite (Anaheim)
this week in a huge rivalry matchup with national implications, it might be a good time to point out just how tough the competition is in Southern California's Trinity League.
At the beginning of the season in the national preview compiled by CalPreps, the Trinity League had six of the seven toughest schedules in the nation. Considering Bishop Sycamore (Columbus, Ohio), which did not quite have the bona fides it claimed to possess and thus had teams drop off its schedule after a nationally-televised loss to IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.)
, was the seventh on that list. That leaves the Trinity League with the top six most daunting schedules.
The teams, in order, were JSerra Catholic (San Juan Capistrano)
, Santa Margarita (Rancho Santa Margarita)
, St. John Bosco (Bellflower)
, Orange Lutheran (Orange)
, Mater Dei and Servite. Preseason strength of schedule is based on the final rating of the previous year while in-season strength of schedule is based on the current ratings. Now that teams are nearly eight weeks into the season, strength of schedule has changed a little bit, but the Trinity League still dominates.
Of the top nine teams in the nation, based on strength of schedule, six are from the Trinity League:
1. St. John Bosco — 62.9
4. Orange Lutheran — 59.5
5. Santa Margarita — 59.1
6. Mater Dei — 59
7. JSerra Catholic — 57.8
9. Servite — 54.9
Spring football in Southern California
Mater Dei and Servite have been a part of the Trinity League since it formed in the early part of the 21st century. However, they were also leaguemates in the Angelus League from 1961 to 1992. To say that the Angelus League took its football seriously might be an understatement.
According to an article in the Los Angeles Times by Chris Foster from 1992 regarding the disbanding of the Angelus League, athletic directors from the six league schools, which included Mater Dei and Servite, met in 1971 to decide whether or not to get rid of baseball as a spring sport.
The reasons the Angelus League ADs wanted to get rid of baseball is because it was interfering with spring football practice, according to Foster.
Former Mater Dei baseball coach Bob Ickes told the Times, "The motion lost, but not by much."
Imagine schools like Mater Dei, Orange Lutheran, Servite, Santa Margarita, St. John Bosco and JSerra Catholic not fielding baseball teams. Those six schools make up, arguably, the greatest baseball league in the nation.Toughest schedule of all-time
While Mater Dei and Servite certainly play among the toughest schedules in the nation this year, what would be considered the toughest schedule ever? Don Neuner from Georgia offers up his alma mater Gordon Military Institute as a possible answer to the question.
Known as the Gordon Institute in 1907, the Georgia school went 3-4 on the season, which isn't too bad considering the competition. In order, Gordon played Clemson, Georgia Tech, Auburn, Howard College, University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, Mercer College and North Georgia Agriculture College. Seven games against seven colleges.
"I know this goes a long way back in time, but I haven't heard of a high school ever having a schedule this difficult," Neuner wrote in an e-mail to MaxPreps. "Can you imagine high school freshmen playing against college seniors today?"
Neuner points out that six of the opponents (not including North Georgia Agriculture College) list Gordon Institute as a varsity opponent in their football media guides.Let's play two!
Speaking of Bishop Sycamore, the Columbus school was criticized earlier this year for playing two games within a three-day stretch. However, that's not even close to being the shortest period of time between two games.
In 1917, Everett (Wash.)
had one of the top teams and coaches in the nation. Under Enoch Bagshaw, Everett posted a record of 48-7-3 from 1911 to 1916. Heading into the 1917 season, Everett had one of the top teams in Washington.
Already scheduled to play the Navy team from Bremerton on Oct. 13 (with World War I raging, Bremerton was and still is a Navy station). Bagshaw also wanted to play Sedro-Woolley
, but apparently the only date available was Oct. 13.
No matter, Everett played both teams in the same afternoon. After dispensing with Bremerton 55-0 in the first team, Everett played its second team for much of the second game and beat Sedro-Woolley 19-0.
The previous week, it should be noted, Everett knocked off Auburn 122-0. Bagshaw's team went on to finish the season 10-0, outscoring its opponents 569-19. Two years later, Everett tied Toledo Scott 7-7 in a game claimed to be for the national championship. Thus Everett shared the mythical national crown with Scott.
Bagshaw, who concluded his 11-year coaching career with a record of 84-14-8, took the job at the University of Washington in 1921 and spent nine season with the Huskies. He retired after the 1929 season and died in 1930 at the age of 46.National rankings rundown
Mater Dei is No. 1 in the MaxPreps Top 25 while Servite is ranked No. 8. Should Mater Dei finish the season in the top 10, it will mark the 10th time that the Monarchs have accomplished the feat since final season top 10 rankings began in 1959.
Prior to 1959, there were no national rankings. Art Johlfs of Minnesota, a former teacher, coach, referee and high school sports enthusiast, began ranking teams at the conclusion of the season starting in 1959.
Johlfs didn't stop at a top 10 as he included more than 100 teams in his year-end rankings. However, those complete lists are lost to time. His top 10 lists are available (as are many of his Top 25) up until he retired in the late 1970s.
USA Today began doing rankings in 1982 and for the first time national rankings were done on a weekly basis. MaxPreps has continued the tradition, starting in 2008, and has ranked teams nationally for the past 14 seasons.
Mater Dei has finished in the top 10 nine times, including three national championships, three second-place finishes, an eighth, a ninth and a 10th. The nine placements ranks fourth all-time.De La Salle (Concord, Calif.)
has the most top 10s with 21 while Valdosta (Ga.)
has 13 and Archbishop Moeller (Cincinnati)