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High school softball rankings: Three new Texas teams join this week's OFFICIAL Top 25 - OFFICIAL
High school softball rankings: Three new Texas teams join this week's MaxPreps Top 25
The Lone Star state brought three new additions to this week's MaxPreps Top 25 high school softball rankings. Leander (Texas) made the biggest leap, jumping all the way to the five spot in this week's poll. The Lions are 17-0 and have outscored opponents 122-9.

San Antonio Warren (Texas) lands at number 18. The 9-0 Warriors have shutouts in five of its first nine games.

It didn't take long for Barbers Hill (Mt. Belvieu, Texas) to make its way back in the rankings. After a 3-2 loss Feb. 26 to Dobie, the Eagles have scored 60 runs, allowed zero and won nine straight.
Annika Litterio, Warren
Photo by Kenneth Toso
Annika Litterio, Warren
MaxPreps Top 25 Softball Rankings

Record: 0-0 | Last week: 1
Season opens March 25

2. Lakewood Ranch (Bradenton, Fla.)
Record: 7-0 | Last week: 2
The Mustangs have 35 extra base hits in seven games to start the season.

3. Marist (Chicago)
Record: 0-0 | Last week: 3
Season opens April 5

4. Norco (Calif.)
Record: 0-0 | Last week: 4
Season opens March 19

5. Leander (Texas)
Record: 17-0 | Last week: NR
The Lions explode into the rankings after a hot start. Junior SJ Geurin is 9-0 in the circle with 132 strikeouts in 62 innings.

6. Park Vista (Lake Worth, Fla.)
Record: 8-0 | Last week: 14
Purdue signee Tyrina Jones is 5-0 in the circle and .619 at the plate.

7. Hewitt-Trussville (Trussville, Ala.)
Record: 12-1 | Last week: 5
The Huskies went 4-1 in the Hewitt Round Robin Tournament last week. The team has 14 home runs in 13 games.

8. Los Alamitos (Calif.)
Record: 0-0 | Last week: 6
Season opens March 19

9. Trenton (Fla.)
Record: 5-0 | Last week: 19
The Tigers have won 42 straight games dating back to 2018.

10. Eastern Alamance (Mebane, N.C.)
Record: 0-0 | Last week: 7
Season opens March 16

11. O'Connor (Phoenix)
Record: 0-0 | Last week: 9
Season opens March 29

12. Crown Point (Ind.)
Record: 0-0 | Last week: 10
Season opens April 3

13. Westlake (Westlake Village, Calif.)
Record: 0-0 | Last week: 11
Season opens March 20

14. Spring-Ford (Royersford, Pa.)
Record: 0-0 | Last week: 14
Season opens April 5

15. Gahr (Cerritos, Calif.)
Record: 0-0 | Last week: 13
Season opens March 27

16. Saugus (Calif.)
Record: 0-0 | Last week: 15
Season opens April 21

17. Cooper City (Fla.)
Record:
5-0 | Last week: 19
The Cowboys have outscored opponents 37-4 to begin the season.

18. Warren (San Antonio)
Record:
9-0 | Last week: NR
UTEP commit Annika Litterio is batting .647 to start the season. She is also 6-0 in the circle.

19. Barbers Hill (Mt. Belvieu, Texas)
Record:
14-2 | Last week: NR
The Eagles have stepped on the gas, winning nine straight games without allowing a run.

20. Glen Allen (Va.)
Record:
0-0 | Last week: 18
Season opens April 13

21. Crescenta Valley (La Crescenta, Calif.)
Record:
0-0 | Last week: 20
Season opens April 13

22. Williamsburg (Ohio)
Record:
0-0 | Last week: 21
Season opens March 27

23. Bob Jones (Madison, Ala.)
Record:
5-1 | Last week: 23
The Patriots started area play with a thrilling, nine-inning 6-5 win over Austin.

24. Notre Dame (Crowley, La.)
Record:
12-1 | Last week: 24
The Pioneers have hit 33 home runs in 13 games. Maci Bergeron has 15.

25. Mahopac (N.Y.)
Record: 0-0 | Last week: 25
Opening date TBD

D.J. Wagner named 2020-21 OFFICIAL New Jersey High School Basketball Player of the Year - OFFICIAL
D.J. Wagner named 2020-21 MaxPreps New Jersey High School Basketball Player of the Year
Each year since 2006, MaxPreps has recognized outstanding performers in high school basketball. America's source for high school sports continues the tradition to close out the 2020-21 season by naming the top player in each state. Selections are based on team success and individual performance, in addition to local and state accolades.

D.J. Wagner of Camden is the 2020-21 New Jersey High School Basketball Player of the Year. The 6-foot-3, 175-pound sophomore lived up to the hype for the Panthers, who finished 13-0 in an abbreviated campaign without a postseason.

Wagner averaged 22.0 points, 3.8 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game. He scored 20 or more points in 11 of 13 games and poured in a season-high 30 points in an 84-59 victory over Camden Catholic on Feb. 16.

Through 43 career games in his high school career, Wagner has amassed 843 points. That production has translated to team success for Camden, which went 29-1 and finished No. 16 in the final MaxPreps Top 25 a year ago. The Panthers are No. 8 in this week's national rankings.

247Sports has Wagner pegged as the No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2023. He was the MaxPreps National Freshman of the Year last season and both his father DaJuan Wagner Sr. and grandfather Milt Wagner spent time in the NBA.

Each state's MaxPreps Player of the Year will be considered for inclusion in the MaxPreps All-America Team, which is scheduled to be released April 13.
D.J. Wagner has led Camden to a 42-1 record in his two seasons with the program.
Photo by Robert Barnes
D.J. Wagner has led Camden to a 42-1 record in his two seasons with the program.

Mater Dei vs. St. John Bosco: How to watch high school football's biggest game of the spring - OFFICIAL
Mater Dei vs. St. John Bosco: How to watch high school football's biggest game of the spring
The biggest high school football game of the spring is 7 p.m. Saturday when Southern California heavyweights Mater Dei (Santa Ana) and St. John Bosco (Bellflower) collide. It simply doesn't get any better.

The top two ranked teams in the Golden State have been pegged also among the top five squads in the country the last five years and would have been once more in 2020 had the season not been postponed to the spring due to the pandemic.

With no league, section or state playoffs offered, and Saturday being the last date football teams are allowed to play in the Southern Section, Bosco versus Mater Dei is billed as the unofficial state championship. Mater Dei is No. 1 in the state in the MaxPreps Top 25 California rankings and St. John Bosco is No. 2. 

But the Monarchs and Braves might as well be 1A and 1B.

A staggering 59 players in the game have either 3-star recruiting rankings — see all of them — and the recent history of the series is rich and compelling.

Normally, more than 5,000 fans would jam into Santa Ana Stadium, but only a little more than 1,000 will be allowed in due to social distancing precautions.
How to watch

What: High school football
Teams: Mater Dei (4-0) vs. St. John Bosco (5-0)
Date: Saturday, April 17 | Time: 7 p.m. PT
Location: Santa Ana Stadium (Santa Ana, Calif.)
Television/Streaming: FoxSportsGo
Marceese Yetts (5), Mater Dei running back
File photo by Louis Lopez
Marceese Yetts (5), Mater Dei running back
Matayo Uiagalelei (11), St. John Bosco tight end, defensive end
File photo by Heston Quan
Matayo Uiagalelei (11), St. John Bosco tight end, defensive end



May Manning adds own title to one of America's most famous sports families - OFFICIAL
May Manning adds own title to one of America's most famous sports families
It's been almost three weeks, but May Manning still has trouble piecing together the final, frantic yet joyous sequence of her last competitive high school volleyball match.

But she vividly recalls the feeling. And it hasn't left her.

"It happened so fast," she said. "I still get chills every time I watch that last point."

The fifth-year varsity player and third-year captain dove so hard to the Pontchartrain Center floor for a dig that she didn't hear the referee's final whistle. An opposing hitter had brushed the net. It was point, set and match, and triggered a wild, raucous celebration near midcourt.

The Academy of the Sacred Heart (New Orleans), a small all-girls Roman Catholic school founded in 1867, had won the Louisiana state Division IV girls volleyball championship in four sets Nov. 14 over favored Pope John Paul II.
May Manning played her fifth season as outside hitter and middle blocker in 2020 for the state-champion Cardinals.
Photo by Gregory Juan
May Manning played her fifth season as outside hitter and middle blocker in 2020 for the state-champion Cardinals.
May, the oldest grandchild of New Orleans Saints quarterback Archie Manning and niece of future NFL Hall of Famers Peyton and Eli, was awarded the game's Most Valuable Player plaque, thanks to 14 kills and some tenacious defense.

"I saw everyone on the dog pile," she said. "I was late to the celebration. I said (to her team), ‘It's over? It's over?' Of course everyone was crying and yelling and cheering. I was on Cloud Nine. I don't really remember all the details from there. I was so overcome with emotion and joy. There was so much happiness."

For so many reasons.

It was the Cardinals' first state crown since 2006, and 14th overall, and came against a squad that had won three titles in four years and downed Sacred Heart earlier in the season.

"We went into the playoffs thinking, 'Hey, we're the underdogs here. Let's take advantage of that and surprise some people,' " May said.

The Sacred Heart title came a season after a 2019 dud that ended below .500 and with an early playoff exit, followed by a year that was beaten and battered by COVID-19. Practice schedules and matches were altered or skipped; fans were required to largely stay home.

"We were just lucky to play this year," May said.

Especially fortunate for May who knew she wouldn't play after 2020. Her focus by next summer will be on college, academics and new surroundings. A game she's played year-round for Cajunland Volleyball since she was 9 would be in the rear view mirror.

"It feels funny that that was my last volleyball match ever," she said. "It's bittersweet that it's over. But that's the only way you want to end a career. With a state title."

Especially with all the family who had given her so much in attendance, all decked out in bright Cardinal reds and Sacred Heart swag.

Mom and May
Leading the charge was her mom Ellen, a 1987 Sacred Heart graduate and talented 5-9 middle hitter on the volleyball team. May's mother, then Ellen Heidingsfelder, and current assistant coach Betsy Laborde (then Becker) propelled the Cardinals to the school's first state title as seniors in 1986. 

Ellen, like May, was named the championship game's MVP of that title game, a fact she didn't reveal until after last month's match.
Ellen (left) and May Manning each led their Academy of the Sacred Heart teams to state titles.
Photo courtesy of the Manning family
Ellen (left) and May Manning each led their Academy of the Sacred Heart teams to state titles.
"I never told her because I didn't want to put that kind of pressure on her," Ellen said. "This was her deal, but when they announced (May) won the same award it was like ‘Oh yeah, our careers do kind of parallel.' … It's not like, ‘Whoa back in my day,' but we did go to the same school and our banner is up there on the wall. We have the first and May's team will go up soon as the most recent. That will be fun."

Being a Sacred Heart athlete is in May Manning's genes as her mother and late grandmother Dot both attended along with Ellen's two sisters. Ellen was recently inducted into the Sacred Heart Sports Hall of Fame, and the strong influence of women athletes on her mom's side makes May proud.

This Manning family isn't just an old boys' network. 

"I definitely think her accomplishments get forgotten because the Mannings are so much in the spotlight," May said. "The Mannings are great athletes but I get my volleyball talents and ability from my mom. She could really pop the ball from what I've heard."

Ellen downplays her own glory days. This was May's time and Sacred Heart's return to the top.

"It was so much fun because it was so unexpected," she said. "I think they surprised themselves. ... It was a fabulous way to end her volleyball career. She ended on a high note. It was icing on the cake. I'm still smiling about it."

Dad and May
May's dad Cooper is grinning also. He is the oldest of Archie and Olivia's three boys and by many accounts, the most athletic.

A quarterback-turned-receiver, Cooper likely would've been the first Manning son to reach the NFL if a serious back ailment (spinal stenosis) hadn't ended his football career as a freshman at the University of Mississippi. It was a cruel and tough setback for Cooper, the husband and father of three who landed squarely and softly on his feet in the real estate market and as a TV host on Fox's "The Manning Hour." He's done well as Principal and Senior Managing Director of Investor Relations for AJ Capital Partners. 

But he struck gold meeting Ellen, a licensed attorney, and the couple have been married 21 years. They also have raised two athletic boys, Arch Manning and Heid Manning, both members of the Newman (New Orleans) football squad. The Greenies (8-0), the top seed in the Division III playoffs, host Catholic (New Iberia) at 7 p.m. today in a quarterfinal game.

Arch is the nation's top-rated sophomore quarterback and Heid, a promising freshman offensive lineman.

"When Coop and I decided to have kids it was decided he'd be the breadwinner and I run the household," Ellen said. "It has worked out perfectly so we stuck with it."
May Manning with her father Cooper Manning.
Photo courtesy of the Manning family
May Manning with her father Cooper Manning.
Cooper didn't just spend time running the boys to ball fields. May played as many sports as the boys, maybe more, including swimming, gymnastics, soccer and tennis. Cooper, in fact, did most of the traveling with May to out-of-area volleyball tournaments. 

"We've had a lot of late Sunday night drives home and a lot of late airport layovers together," he said. "It's been a lot of fun; everything about it. It's been a terrific bonding experience with my daughter. She's always been a delight to be there for.

"Selfishly, it was neat to see it all come together for her last game of her career. A lot of girls playing and all their parents have been through the same journey. It was really sweet. May and all those girls put in a lot of work. It's been a rough year for a lot of seniors across the country in sports. I'm thrilled they got something to hang onto that was so positive."

He admitted getting pretty choked up when May got the MVP award.

"It was well deserved," Cooper said. "They had a lot of different girls all season that could have been MVP. But May never comes off the court. I would say she was their vocal leader."

The boys
There was plenty of hollering during May's championship match from her younger brothers, along with a group of other Newman football players behind the Pope John Paul II bench.

The Manning siblings are tight and all within four years in age. The boys would have made more volleyball matches this season, but COVID restrictions kept them away. Nothing restricted them on championship day. May noticed all the Greenies, dressed in Sacred Heart colors, and even volleyball practice jerseys.
The Manning family left-to-right: Arch, Heid, Ellen, May and Cooper.
Photo courtesy of the Manning family
The Manning family left-to-right: Arch, Heid, Ellen, May and Cooper.
"They must have raided my closet," she said. "They took all the Sacred Heart gear they could find. It was great."

Roughly 300 fans were allowed into the title match and the football kids were perhaps the loudest. Their enthusiasm and excitement has barely simmered. 

"The boys were super proud of their sister," Ellen said. "Arch told me the following week, ‘Mom, I've been smiling all weekend about it.' People, he said, were congratulating him. It's just been a neat experience for all of us."

Sibling competition can sometime get complicated, especially in a spotlighted home like the Mannings.

Arch, for instance, was the 2019 MaxPreps national Freshman of the Year and recently he played and was featured on ESPNU. He's considered one of the most coveted recruits from any class and recognizable prep athletes in the country.

Cooper, with a unique perspective, said sibling rivalries don't exist in the household and he's rarely had to address it, if at all.

"They all support and love each other," he said. "Everyone is equally excited for others' successes. If I ever have to talk about it, I would simply say: ‘Look at me. I'm a guy who has two brothers that won Super Bowls and been on the highest level and I've been nothing but thrilled for them. Jealousy is a nasty thing, so let's never go there.' "

May jokes about Arch's sudden arc to stardom in the last year.

"It's obviously weird when you see your little brother on national TV and 20 minutes later he's complaining about something or eating a bowl of Frosted Flakes at the kitchen table," she said. "It's like, ‘Wait, is this the same person?'

"As we've gotten older we've got closer. All our friends hang out together. But he'll always be my little brother. It will definitely be weird seeing him on TV in interviews or getting fan mail later. I don't think any of it right now affects him. He's oblivious to it sometimes. He doesn't realize that it's kind of a big deal. … Arch is probably one of the most humble people I've ever known."

Family matters
May's grandparents Archie and Olivia (Cooper's parents) and Charles Heidingsfelder (Ellen's father) also attended her championship match. They've been there every step of the way, May said. 

"They (Archie and Olivia) raised just boys playing football, basketball and baseball, so they'd never been to a swim meet, gymnastics events or girls basketball and soccer games, yet they were there for me," May said. "He (Heidingsfelder) told me after the match that between his daughters and other grandchildren he'd been going to matches for 40 years and that our match was his last. It was a great finish for him, too."
Front row (L-R): Heid Manning, Ellen Manning. Backrow (L-R): Charles Heidingsfelder, Jane Heidingsfelder, Archie Manning, May Manning, Olivia Manning, Arch Manning and Cooper Manning.
Photo courtesy of the Manning family
Front row (L-R): Heid Manning, Ellen Manning. Backrow (L-R): Charles Heidingsfelder, Jane Heidingsfelder, Archie Manning, May Manning, Olivia Manning, Arch Manning and Cooper Manning.

Dot joined Charles at many of May's games before a long bout with Parkinson's disease and dementia was finally cut short in March by COVID-19. Dot was 77. 

"She went to all the games even when she wasn't her best," Ellen said. "I wear a little bracelet that says 'Mom' on it. (Before last month's title match) I said 'OK mom, let's go root on May.' She would have been thrilled."

That kind of support from family and friends has helped May thrive, she said, and live easy in The Big Easy — even as a Manning.

"I think my friends and Arch's friends make it all so normal, so comfortable," May said. "It's not as big a deal as it might seem. Obviously my grandfather played for the Saints, my uncles played in the NFL. Everyone in New Orleans knows the Mannings and is so used to it."

Going to Sacred Heart has also helped with the spotlight or possible scrutiny, she said.

"To be honest, I've never felt pressure to succeed or play sports or anything," she said. "Not from my family, my friends or people in New Orleans. I really think going to an all-girls school helped with that.

"I'm sorta trying to start my own legacy. It is more May vs. May Manning which has been a blessing. If I do feel pressure, it's me putting pressure on myself, not anyone else. I'm lucky for that."

Ultimately, her healthy perspective comes back to a balanced, enthusiastic family who shows its true color, whether at championship matches or practice or school.

"I think it's everybody — my parents, my grandparents, my brothers," she said. "It's just having such a huge support system that's so separate from football.

"From the beginning my parents made it clear: ‘You like sports, play sports. If you don't like sports, you don't have to do it.' I do it for me because I love to compete and I love my teams."

For the first time, she's attempting four sports this school year, including basketball currently, and golf and tennis in the spring. She's been on the tennis team since the sixth grade.

She said the best way to cap her senior season would be if her brothers dive in and grab Newman's first football state title. 

"Arch told me how cool it was to watch us win the state title and I told him 'I hope y'all win one too,' " May said. "It's the best feeling ever."
May Manning helped lead Academy of the Sacred Heart to its 14th state title but first since 2006 last month.
Photo by Gregory Juan
May Manning helped lead Academy of the Sacred Heart to its 14th state title but first since 2006 last month.
Ellen Manning (Heidingsfelder) sits in the middle front row right behind the 1986 Academy of the Sacred Heart state title trophy. To her left is Betsy Laborde (Becker) who was an assistant coach for the Cardinals in 2020.
Photo courtesy of the Manning family
Ellen Manning (Heidingsfelder) sits in the middle front row right behind the 1986 Academy of the Sacred Heart state title trophy. To her left is Betsy Laborde (Becker) who was an assistant coach for the Cardinals in 2020.
Newman football players pose with state champion May Manning.
Photo courtesy of the Manning family
Newman football players pose with state champion May Manning.

Mater Dei vs. St. John Bosco: How to watch high school football's biggest game of the spring - OFFICIAL
Mater Dei vs. St. John Bosco: How to watch high school football's biggest game of the spring
The biggest high school football game of the spring is 7 p.m. Saturday when Southern California heavyweights Mater Dei (Santa Ana) and St. John Bosco (Bellflower) collide. It simply doesn't get any better.

The top two ranked teams in the Golden State have been pegged also among the top five squads in the country the last five years and would have been once more in 2020 had the season not been postponed to the spring due to the pandemic.

With no league, section or state playoffs offered, and Saturday being the last date football teams are allowed to play in the Southern Section, Bosco versus Mater Dei is billed as the unofficial state championship. Mater Dei is No. 1 in the state in the MaxPreps Top 25 California rankings and St. John Bosco is No. 2. 

But the Monarchs and Braves might as well be 1A and 1B.

A staggering 59 players in the game have either 3-star recruiting rankings — see all of them — and the recent history of the series is rich and compelling.

Normally, more than 5,000 fans would jam into Santa Ana Stadium, but only a little more than 1,000 will be allowed in due to social distancing precautions.
How to watch

What: High school football
Teams: Mater Dei (4-0) vs. St. John Bosco (5-0)
Date: Saturday, April 17 | Time: 7 p.m. PT
Location: Santa Ana Stadium (Santa Ana, Calif.)
Television/Streaming: FoxSportsGo
Marceese Yetts (5), Mater Dei running back
File photo by Louis Lopez
Marceese Yetts (5), Mater Dei running back
Matayo Uiagalelei (11), St. John Bosco tight end, defensive end
File photo by Heston Quan
Matayo Uiagalelei (11), St. John Bosco tight end, defensive end