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High school softball: Salpointe Catholic, Neshoba Central win state titles, rise in this week's OFFICIAL Top 25 - OFFICIAL
High school softball: Salpointe Catholic, Neshoba Central win state titles, rise in this week's MaxPreps Top 25
Leander (Texas) lost for the first time this season, 1-0 in second game of a 5A playoffs series with Medina Valley. In the finale, the Lions scored five in the fourth inning to advance and remain No. 1 in this week's MaxPreps Top 25 high school softball rankings.

Leander plays Carroll (Corpus Christi, Texas) starting Thursday. The Tigers are 30-5 and are led by Rhea Ann Avalos. The Texas Wesleyan University commit has hit 18 home runs.

In Florida, the winner of the 7A bracket has a legit case to be the top-ranked team in the country. The Final Four consists of third-ranked Lakewood Ranch (Bradenton, Fla.), 24-4 Palmetto (Miami) and a semifinal game that features teams with a combined 53-0 mark.

No. 4 Park Vista (Lake Worth, Fla.) and eight-ranked University (Orange City, Fla.) play Friday with a chance to advance to the state finals. The winner will get either Lakewood Ranch or Palmetto.

No. 9 Neshoba Central (Philadelphia, Miss.) captured a MHSAA Class 5A championship, the eight-straight title for the Rockets. The two-game sweep of East Central also extended their 48-game win streak.

Salpointe Catholic (Tucson, Ariz.) won the 4A championship Monday. The 15th-ranked Lancers beat Vista Grande 5-4 in the title game. Alyssa Aguilar tossed a complete-game win and hit a home run as the top squad from Arizona went 24-0.
Salpointe Catholic celebrates its 4A title.
Photo by Steven Davis
Salpointe Catholic celebrates its 4A title.
MaxPreps Top 25 high school softball rankings

1. Leander (Texas)
Record:
34-1 | Last week: 1
Angelo State commit Lauren Tetreault allowed no runs on five hits in the decisive playoff game against Medina Valley.

2. Barbers Hill (Mt. Belvieu, Texas)
Record:
34-2 | Last week: 2
The Eagles open 5A Regional 1&3 semifinal action Wednesday against Waller.

3. Lakewood Ranch (Bradenton, Fla.)
Record:
28-2 | Last week: 3
Jillian Herbst had two home runs, two doubles and six RBI Tuesday against Newsome.

4. Park Vista (Lake Worth, Fla.)
Record:
28-0 | Last week: 4
Two underclassmen, sophomore Chloe Fariello and freshman Nicole Mergen, were dominant in the circle against Treasure Coast.

5. Norco (Calif.)
Record:
19-1 | Last week: 6
The Cougars have a three-game series with King this week.

6. Hewitt-Trussville (Trussville, Ala.)
Record:
45-2-1 | Last week: 7
A very tough 7A bracket is all set in Alabama. The Huskies open Thursday against Baker.

7. Lake Creek (Montgomery, Texas)
Record:
37-0 | Last week: 9
Sophomore Kalee Rochinski was named Player of the Game after smashing a home run and driving in three runs during the Regional Quarterfinals.

8. University (Orange City, Fla.)
Record:
25-0 | Last week: 10
Madde Jorczak had two hits and an RBI against Lake Brantley on Friday.

9. Neshoba Central (Philadelphia, Miss.)
Record:
31-0 | Last week: 10
 Mississippi 5A champions. Season over.

10. Spring-Ford (Royersford, Pa.)
Record:
15-0 | Last week: 12
The Rams have scored 149 runs so far this season.

11. Doral Academy (Doral, Fla.)
Record:
27-2 | Last week: 13
Alyssa Zabala went the distance, striking out eight as the Firebirds beat a very good Cooper City team to advance.

12. Judson (Converse, Texas)
Record:
30-1 | Last week: 14
Keely Williams had three hits and Destiny Ortega-Rodriguez drove in three to lift the Rockets over Round Rock.

13. Williamsburg (Ohio)
Record:
25-0 | Last week: 16
Pitcher Madi Ogden has now struck out over 300 batters this season.

14. Barbe (Lake Charles, La.)
Record:
31-2 | Last week: 17
Louisiana 5A state champion. Season over.

15. Salpointe Catholic (Tucson, Ariz.)
Record:
23-0 | Last week: 18
Kimmy McDaniels had a pair of hits in state title victory.

16. Bob Jones (Madison, Ala.)
Record:
31-3 | Last week: 12
The Patriots open 7A state title play against 40-7 Thompson in a prime time matchup.

17. Saint Francis (Mountain View, Calif.)
Record:
17-0 | Last week: 20
Bi Dipepr and Ella Mil each had three hits on Friday to help beat Presentation, 10-0.

18. Villa Park (Calif.)
Record:
17-1 | Last week: 21
Four regular season games remain for the Spartans.

19. Westlake (Westlake Village, Calif.)
Record:
13-1 | Last week: 25
Junior Emily Jones had four hits Monday in a 10-0 win.

20. Lake Central (St. John, Ind.)
Record:
23-1 | Last week: 24
Amanda Aardema hit a walk-off double as the Indians beat Marist 2-1 in a battle of national powers.

21. Marist (Chicago)
Record:
23-1 | Last week: 5
The RedHawks fell for the first time this season 2-1 to No. 20 Lake Central.

22. South Gibson (Medina, Tenn.)
Record:
32-2 | Last week: 22
Emmi Whittemore, Erica Carpenter and Olivia Pickard have all pitched over 50 innings this season with a combined 1.47 ERA.

23. Mahopac (N.Y.)
Record:
9-0 | Last week: 28
Shannon Becker has not allowed a run in nine games in the circle. She has also struck out 167 batters.

24. Clear Springs (League City, Texas)
Record:
28-0 | Last week: 30
Junior Emma Strood is 19-0 as a pitcher. She also has hit six home runs.

25. Xavier College Prep (Phoenix)
Record:
19-2 | Last week: NR
Riley Flynn struck out and nine and Macy Lee had seven RBI as the Gators won the 6A title.

Next five: Baylor (Chattanooga, Tenn.), Mater Dei Catholic (Chula Vista, Calif.), Crown Point (Ind.), Rocklin (Calif.), Clovis North (Fresno, Calif.)
High School Baseball: Florida's Jesuit enters 2021 as top team in preseason OFFICIAL Top 25 rankings - OFFICIAL
High School Baseball: Florida's Jesuit enters 2021 as top team in preseason MaxPreps Top 25 rankings
The coronavirus has affected high school sports for more than a year, but high school baseball first felt its effects when it brought an end to the season in mid-March. The cancellation left some teams with a season a little under half finished while other teams never took the field at all.

Compiling a national baseball preview involves combining the little information available from last season with the stats and records from the last completed season of 2019.

Fortunately in high school baseball, many of the top teams in the nation from two years ago are still the ones high on the list in 2021. The preseason MaxPreps Top 25 high school baseball rankings begins with Jesuit (Tampa, Fla.) at the top after the Tigers won a 2019 championship and were 9-0 with a No. 2 ranking when the season ended in 2020.
Jesuit head coach Miguel Menendez (center) has a wealth of talent including (left to right) Bradke Lohry, Dominic Castellano, Cole Russo, Alden Segui, Nick Rodriguez and BJ Graham.
Photo by Marc Estrada
Jesuit head coach Miguel Menendez (center) has a wealth of talent including (left to right) Bradke Lohry, Dominic Castellano, Cole Russo, Alden Segui, Nick Rodriguez and BJ Graham.
Preseason MaxPreps Top 25 Baseball Rankings

1. Jesuit (Tampa, Fla.)
Coach:
Miguel Menendez
2020 record: 9-0
2019 record: 27-5
Top Players: Cole Russo (C/3B .381); Alden Segui (RHP, 0-0, 7.00); Dominic Castellano (LHP, 2-0, 0.95); BJ Graham (OF, .296); Kris Sosnowski (RHP); Ryan Skelly (RHP); Jamie Arnold (LHP); Ryan Denison (RHP); AJ Nessler (3B); Nick Rodriguez (.385); Bradke Lohry.
Prognosis: The Tigers finished the 2020 season at 9-0 and had moved up to No. 2 in the nation in the MaxPreps Top 25 before COVID ended the season. Jesuit starts at No. 1 thanks to a deep returning pitching staff that allowed one run per game last year. Several of the top offensive players return from a team that averaged 11 runs per game.
Catcher Cole Russo
Photo by Marc Estrada
Catcher Cole Russo
2. IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.)
Coach:
Kason Gabbard
2020 record: 8-2
2019 record: 26-1
Top Players: Tommy White (3B); James Wood (OF); Drew Gray (LHP/OF); Mason Albright (LHP); Stone Russell (SS); Sam Hunt (C ); Ben Fiedler (RHP); Elijah Green (OF); Jackson Ferris (LHP); Blaydon Plain (1B/RHP); Drake Varnado (SS/RHP); Davion Hickson (RHP); Brady Neal (C).
Prognosis: The Ascenders likely have the most talented lineup in the nation with players like Wood, ranked by Perfect Game as one of the top players in the Class of 2020, and Green, ranked as one of the top players in the Class of 2021. Green transferred from TNXL Academy while MaxPreps All-American White transferred from Calvary Christian (Clearwater, Fla.). IMG Academy does not play in the state playoffs in Florida, but it will face some of the nation's top teams, including Texas teams Southlake Carroll and Flower Mound and preseason No. 1 Jesuit on April 20.

3. JSerra Catholic (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.)
Coach:
Brett Kay
2020 record: 11-1
2019 record: 19-13
Top Players: Cody Schrier (SS); Eric Silva (RHP); Colin Blanchard (C ); Gage Jump (LHP);  Luke Jewett (RHP);  Gabe D'Arcy (OF); Joshua Phillips (OF); Anthony Aleman (C ); David Horn (RHP); Ricky Rodenberg (3B); Owen Fuller (2B); Matthew Champion (3B/RHP)
Prognosis: Two years ago, Kay noted in a season preview e-mail to MaxPreps that he felt his Class of 2021 was, perhaps, the best in the country. JSerra Catholic was 11-1 when the 2020 season ended with a loss to Birmingham (Lake Balboa). The Lions play in the Trinity League, arguably the toughest league in the nation, and a strong showing there should propel JSerra Catholic to the top of the rankings. Kay returns three of his top pitchers from last year along with nearly the entire infield.

4. Hamilton (Chandler, Ariz.)
Coach:
Mike Woods
2020 record: 8-0
2019 record: 26-7
Top Players: Brock Selvidge (LHP, 4 HR, 21 RBI); Prince Deboskie (OF); Luke Thiele (SS); Gavin Turley (OF); DJ Barrett (RHP); Logan Saloman (RHP, 5-1, 1.35 ERA); Roch Cholowsky (SS); Grant Degraffenried (1B); Kole Klecker (RHP); Josh Tiedermann (SS); Tre Spivey (SS); Will Shelor (OF); AJ Diaz (SS).
Prognosis: The Huskies pitching staff will be good with Selvidge and Saloman — two of the top pitchers in the nation in their respective classes — return along with junior Klecker. Hamilton ended the 2020 season as the No. 1 team in the nation by MaxPreps at 8-0. Hamilton has won seven state titles, including three of the past four seasons (not counting 2020).

5. Calvary Christian Academy (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
Coach:
Gil Morales
2020 record: 2-5
2019 record: 25-5
Top Players: Andrew Painter (RHP); Irving Carter (RHP); Ty Hollandsworth (OF); Rene Lastres (C, Florida); Alex Ulloa (SS); Erik Blair (LHP); Kyle Tako (OF); Sean Ambrose (2B); Jonathan Xuereb (SS).
Prognosis: Two years after winning a state championship in 2018, the Eagles struggled in 2020 with a 2-5 record when the season ended. Those losses were against some tough teams, however, falling to Calvary Christian (Clearwater), Jesuit and Stoneman Douglas. The Eagles return two of the top pitchers in the country in Painter and Carter, both of whom could be taken on the first day of the MLB draft. Painter is a potential Top 15 pick, according to Jonathan Mayo.

6. Baylor (Chattanooga, Tenn.)
Coach:
Greg Elie and Mike Kinney
2020 record: 1-0
2019 record: 27-6
Top Players: Cooper Kinney (2B); Daniel Corona (SS); Vito Valincius (1B); Jay Dill (3B); Nick Kurtz (1B); Henry Godbout (SS); Caleb Hampton (OF)
Prognosis: The Red Raiders might have the best infield in the nation as Prep Baseball Report ranks three players among the top eight in the state. First baseman Valincius is No. 3, shortstop Corona is No. 4 and second baseman Kinney comes in at No. 8. Baylor was coming off two straight Class AA Division 2 state championships in 2018 and 2019, but got one game played in 2020 before the season came to a halt. Baylor looms as the favorite again in Tennessee.

7. Buford (Ga.)
Coach:
Stuart Chester
2020 record: 10-2
2019 record: 24-12
Top Players: Treyton Rank (RHP); Riley Stanford (OF); Brant Baughcum (SS); Jackson Gaspard (SS/RHP); Nathan Smith (C ); Connor Sampers (SS); Dylan Lesko (RHP); Stan Zagrodnik (OF); Cole Taylor (SS); Carson King (1B); Ethan Murray (SS).
Prognosis: Georgia Dugout Preview lists Buford as the top team in its Class 6A preseason rankings. The Wolves have as many as nine players set to play Division I baseball next year, including pitcher Lesko. One of the top-ranked pitchers in the Class of 2021, Lesko is headed to Vanderbilt. He is a former MaxPreps Underclass All-American. Buford was 9-2 when its season ended with losses to Mountain Brook and North Paulding. The pitching staff figures to be exceptional this year with Lesko, Rank and junior Gaspard grabbing the bulk of the innings.

8. St. Mary Prep (Orchard Lake, Mich.)
Coach:
Matt Petry
2020 record: 0-0
2019 record: 34-9-2
Top Players: Alex Mooney (SS); Brock Porter (RHP); Nolan Schubart (OF/RHP); John Essig (LHP); Steve Essig (C ); Ike Irish (C ); Jake Dresselhouse (2B); Thomas Allman (RHP); Coleson Titus (C ); Jack Crichton (3B); Ciaran Caughey (SS); Jake Keaser (RHP); Jasen Oliver (SS); Ryan Mooney (OF).
Prognosis: St. Mary Prep never took the field in 2020, but it has three of the nation's top players in Mooney, Porter and Schubart. All three are set to play at a Division I program and all three are ranked among the top players in Michigan by Perfect Game. The Eaglets were 5-9 at one point in 2019, but caught fire and didn't lose the rest of the season to win a state championship. St. Mary Prep has a 29-game unbeaten streak heading into the 2021 season.

9. Barbe (Lake Charles, La.)
Coach:
Glenn Cecchini
2020 record: 11-3
2019 record: 38-3
Top Players: Jack Walker (RHP); Kameron Edwards (OF); Kyle Debarge (SS, .388); Adam Guth (LHP, 5-0, 0.56 ERA, 44 Ks); Gavin Guidry (SS); Ethan Medlin (OF); Jon Cassidy Vanek (LHP); Donovan LaSalle (OF).
Prognosis: An outstanding outfield and two of the state's top pitchers lead one of the nation's top all-around programs. Walker returns after missing his junior season with an arm injury. He was all-state as a sophomore and has signed to play at Mississippi State. He'll join Guth, who was 5-0 as a sophomore in 2019.

10. Thousand Oaks (Calif.)
Coach:
Jack Wilson
2020 record: 8-0
2019 record: 24-6
Top Players: Maxwell Muncy (SS); Roc Riggio (2B/OF); Charlie Saum (C ); Michael Welikala (1B); Josh Melnick (C/OF); Justin Abercrombie (MIF); Myles Weiss (RHP); Collin Adams (LHP); Easton Rulli (SS).
Prognosis: Thousand Oaks was off to a strong start in 2020, winning its first eight games of the season. ESPN's Jonathan Mayo ranks two of the Lancers, shortstop Muncy and second baseman Riggio, as Top 100 draft picks for 2021. Muncy and Riggio combine to form one of the top double play combinations in the nation.

11. Parkview (Lilburn, Ga.)
Coach:
Chan Brown
2020 record: 13-2
2019 record: 36-4
Top Players: Ryan Spikes (SS, .405), Landon Stripling (1B); Sam Smith (IF, .361); Jayden Talik (OF, Jr.); Dobbs Bowden (.400); Colin Houck (SS/P, So., 1-0, 0.00 ERA); Mason Brown (P, 3-0, 0.00 ERA).
Prognosis: The Panthers lost to North Gwinnett and Archbishop McCarthy (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) last year, but racked up 10 shutouts in its 13 wins last year. The pitching staff might not be as strong as last year when it featured all-state players like Xander Stephens and Miles Garrett. However, look for Brown, Spikes and Lowery to take over the bulk of the work on the mound. Parkview has averaged 30 wins a year over the past decade (not including 2020) and has won national championships in 2012, 2015 and 2018 and eight state championships since 1996.

12. Calvary Christian (Clearwater, Fla.)
Coach:
Greg Olsen
2020 record: 10-2
2019 record: 26-4
Top Players: Tyler Dietz (RHP); Jack Cebert (RHP); Ethan Phillips (RHP); Miles Curley (3B); Charles Stevens (OF/LHP); Matt Rose (SS); Landen Maroudis (RHP/IF)
Prognosis: Olsen has fielded one of the top programs in the nation the past five seasons, winning a state crown in 2019 and 2017 and winning 60 straight games at one point. While the team's top player from last year, Tommy White, has transferred to IMG Academy, Calvary Christian still returns several players from the 2019 championship team, including Stevens, Dietz and Cebert.

13. Lake Travis (Austin, Texas)
Coach:
Mike Rogers
2020 record: 14-2-1
2019 record: 37-5
Top Players: Alec Grossman (P); Ethan Roark (P)
Prognosis: The Cavaliers averaged over 30 wins a season since 2015 (not counting 2020) and came close to winning a state title, falling to Southlake Carroll in the semifinals in 2019. Rogers annually has one of the top teams in the country and the return of seven starters, including two all-district pitchers in Grossman and Roark, make the Cavaliers a team to contend with in Class 6A in Texas.

14. Valley Christian (San Jose, Calif.)
Coach:
John Diatte
2020 record: 5-3
2019 record: 29-4
Top Players: Jonathan Cymrot (1B/P); Trevor Haskins (SS); Griffin Allen (P/1B); Jaxon Wall (C ); Jacob Hudson (So.,P/OF)
Prognosis: The Central Coast Section champions in 2019, the Warriors stumbled out of the blocks in 2020 with losses to Foothill (Santa Ana), Orange Lutheran and Archbishop Mitty. However, Valley Christian has two of the top returning seniors in the state in Cymrot and Haskins. Both batted over .300 as sophomores with Cymrot also posting an 8-1 mound record.

15. Jackson Prep (Jackson, Miss.)
Coach:
Brent Heavener
2020 record: 12-4
2019 record: 29-7
Top Players: Riley Maddox (SS); Mason Nichols (RHP);  Thaxton Berch (SS); Jeffrey Ince (SS); Trey Bridges (OF); Rives Reynolds (OF); Will Gibbs (RHP); Eli Berch (C )
Prognosis: Eight of the top nine leading hitters from last year's squad return, including an All-America candidate Maddox. The Patriots will miss three-year starter Kelly Crumpton, an All-America candidate who transferred to Oxford.

16. Stoneman Douglas (Parkland, Fla.)
Coach:
Todd Fitz-Gerald
2020 record: 6-2
2019 record: 20-6
Top Players: Gavin Conticello (3B); Roman Anthony (OF); Santiago Ordonez (C ); Jake Clement (RHP); Chris Arroyo (OF); Christian Rodriguez (OF); Rolando Lujo (SS/RHP); Derek Rodriguez (OF/RHP)
Prognosis: Fitz-Gerald feels he has a good one this year with the Eagles. The outfield looks outstanding with Arroyo, Rodriguez and Anthony. Conticello, at third base, figures to be a possible draft pick for the Eagles.

17. De La Salle (Concord, Calif.)
Coach:
David Jeans
2020 record: 3-1
2019 record: 29-1
Top Players: Joey Donnelly (C/1B, .286); Zeke Berry (Jr., OF, .250); Blake Burke (P/OF, .395, 4 HR); Anthony Martinez (Jr., C/1B)
Prognosis: The Spartans have been one of the top programs in California, winning four straight North Coast Section from 2016 to 2019. They've annually had the top player in the Bay Area and they have another candidate this year in outfielder Burke, who earned MaxPreps Underclass All-American honors as a freshman.

18. American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.)
Coach:
Bruce Aven
2020 record: 10-0
2019 record: 19-6
Top Players: Devin Futrell (LHP); Juhlien Gonzalez (3B); Justin Quintana (OF); Justin Webster (RHP); Anthony Nelson (LHP); Brandon Barriera (LHP); Evan Dobias (RHP); Brandon Gonsalves (1B); Spencer Butt (SS); Mateo Serna (C)
Prognosis: The Patriots rose to No. 4 in 2020 with a 10-0 record. Pitching should be the key in 2021 as five Patriot hurlers figure to play at the Division I level. Leading the way is Futrell, who has been one of the Patriots' top players since his freshman year.

19. Prosper (Texas)
Coach:
Shaun Stanton
2020 record: 11-2
2019 record: 32-8
Top Players: Easton Carmichael (Jr., C); Chase Pendley (SS)
Prognosis: Texas High School Baseball ranks Prosper at the top of the Class 6A rankings thanks to the return of 10 starters from last year. Leading the way is junior catcher Carmichael, who batted .487 last year, along with  Pendley, who batted .437.

20. Reagan (San Antonio)
Coach:
Chans Chapman
2020 record: 13-2-1
2019 record: 33-8
Top Players: Cohen Feser (RHP); Stayton Ankrom (SS); Hogan Heller ( C); Ryan Beaird (RHP).
Prognosis: The Rattlers have been the top team out of San Antonio over the past half decade and are ranked fourth in Class 6A to start the season by Texas High School Baseball. A total of seven starters return, including TCU-bound pitcher Feser.

21. Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas)
Coach:
Gino DiMaria
2020 record: 0-0
2019 record: 21-10
Top Players: Tyler Whitaker (3B); Justin Crawford (OF); Santino Panaro (OF); Gavin Mez (C);  Billy Ham (3B); Julian Molto-Herrera (2B); Demitri Diamant (3B/RHP); Tai Nguyen (1B); Tyler Avery (RHP); Raffael Chiarella (LHP); Easton Shelton (3B); Kamdyn Perry (RHP); Anthony Marnell IV (C); Aiden Pollock (OF)
Prognosis: After winning eight of 10 state championships, the Gaels haven't won a state title since 2015. That could change in 2020 as Bishop Gorman returns six players who have committed to play at the Division I level. As many as six players saw significant playing time as sophomores or freshmen two years ago when the Gaels last took the field. Included among those players are Avery (4-2 as a freshman pitcher) and catcher Mez (.366 as a sophomore).

22. Heritage Hall (Oklahoma City)
Coach:
Jordan Semore
2020 record: 1-0
2019 record: 17-15
Top Players: Jackson Jobe; Gray Thomas (RHP).
Prognosis: The Chargers play at the 4A level, but have two of the state's top players in pitchers Jobe and Thomas. Job has committed to Ole Miss while Thomas will play at TCU. The tandem both throw around 95 mph and were selected to play in the Perfect Game All-American Classic in September.

23. Ronald Reagan (Pfafftown, N.C.)
Coach:
Gary Nail
2020 record: 3-0
2019 record: 21-7
Top Players: Carter Boyd (Jr., OF); Tommy Hawke (SS); Austin Hawke (SS); Josh Hartle (LHP); Jack Mullane (OF/RHP); Chase Humphrey (3B/RHP); Colby Welborn (C)
Prognosis: The Raiders figured to be a favorite to win the Class 4A state championship last year, but saw the season end after three games. Four players should play Division I baseball next year while Hartle, a left-handed pitcher, could go one the second day of the 2021 MLB draft.

24. Farragut (Knoxville, Tenn.)
Coach:
Matt Buckner
2020 record: 2-1
2019 record: 42-3
Top Players: Angus Pence (SS); Hunter Merrick (LHP/OF); Bryce Burkey (OF).
Prognosis: Two years after finishing with one of the highest win totals in the nation to go with a Tennessee state title, the Admirals could be in the running for another state crown in 2021. Hunter Merrick figures to lead the pitching staff and an outstanding outfield lineup. In Pence, the Admirals have one of the state's top shortstops.

25. Charlotte Christian (Charlotte, N.C.)
Coach:
Greg Simmons
2020 record: 5-0
2019 record: 27-6
Top Players: Philip Abner (LHP); JD Suarez (SS); Will Farrell (3B); Calvert Clark (OF/RHP); Judd Utermark (3B); Everett Harris (RHP).
Prognosis:
The Knights looked to be the state favorite last year with a mostly underclass lineup. That lineup went 5-0 last year and is now one of the top lineups in the nation. Five players have committed to play Division I next year while pitcher Abner is expected to go somewhere in the top five rounds of the 2021 MLB draft.
High school football: Los Gatos senior Adam Garwood carries ball, legacy for his late uncle Pat Tillman - OFFICIAL
High school football: Los Gatos senior Adam Garwood carries ball, legacy for his late uncle Pat Tillman
Los Gatos (Calif.) senior Adam Garwood doesn't hide it. He just doesn't talk about it much. He doesn't need to.

The chiseled 5-foot-9, 185-pound running back and linebacker proudly wears No. 42 on his black and orange jersey and a small decal of the same number with an American flag that's pasted on his helmet.

It's to honor his uncle, Pat Tillman, the former NFL safety who — in the prime of his career — enlisted in the Army after 9/11 and was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan in 2004. Tillman was only 27.

Garwood was a baby at the time of his uncle's death but has worn Tillman's retired Arizona State number since starting youth football at age 8.

"I just try to represent and carry on his legacy," Garwood said. "He's the role model. He's everything."

By all accounts and every measure, Garwood has represented Tillman impeccably.

The third-year starter leads California's Central Coast Section in rushing (467 yards), yards per carry (13.7) and rushing touchdowns (10) for the section's third-ranked team during an abbreviated spring season due to the pandemic. The Wildcats (3-0) play their biggest game of the season Thursday at fifth-ranked Wilcox (Santa Clara).

His coach Mark Krail calls him the team's heartbeat for an unrelenting work ethic, authentic appreciation of teammates and desire to always be better.
Adam Garwood (42) is the nephew of late Arizona Cardinals safety Pat Tillman.
File photo by Dennis Putian
Adam Garwood (42) is the nephew of late Arizona Cardinals safety Pat Tillman.
"He's for sure the most dedicated player I've ever met," said junior linebacker Jake Ripp, a 6-3, 210-pound FBS prospect who Friday had 19 tackles. "He's a great leader. Very intense. He definitely leads by example."

Last week after practice, Krail was heading home but happened to glance out at the field. There was Garwood doing gassers. By himself. Again.

"He does them all the time," Ripp said. "Some of us will join him but he always outlasts us."

Said Krail: "He's always the last guy off the field. It's just him wanting to be great. He's the heart and soul of the team, but you'll never hear it from him."

Garwood doesn't talk much about his own accomplishments and rarely speaks about Tillman. Even though he plays the same positions, he didn't study Tillman's game film at Leland (San Jose, Calif.), Arizona State or with the Arizona Cardinals.

"Adam doesn't watch much," said his father Alex Garwood. "He's more of a doer."

A star football player himself at Leland and later at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, Alex Garwood earned All-American and conference Defensive Player of the Year honors as a linebacker.

He and his wife Christine, a soccer player and competitive dancer, were high school sweethearts at Leland and Christine's sister Marie married Tillman. The four were extremely tight.

When Tillman was killed, Alex quit his day job as a Silicon Valley software salesman and co-founded the Pat Tillman Foundation, which according to its website was "born overnight in the wake of tremendous tragedy, and with determination to honor a man whose passion for life was contagious."

The foundation has raised more than $18 million to "unite and empower remarkable military service members, veterans and spouses as the next generation of public and private sector leaders committed to service beyond self."
Adam Garwood leads the Central Coast Section in rushing yards, touchdowns and yards per carry.
File photo by Dennis Putian
Adam Garwood leads the Central Coast Section in rushing yards, touchdowns and yards per carry.
Alex and Christine never pushed Tillman as a role model for Adam or their two other sons — Ryan, now 20, or Scott, 15. 

"How could they live up to that? How could anyone?" Alex said. "Obviously, we've struggled with Pat's passing. He was just an incredible human being and everything you've ever heard about him, he was better than that. He was the best conversationalist I ever met. Best friend. Simply, an awesome, awesome person."

With dad working daily on the foundation for four years — he's now back to selling software — Tillman's life was prominent among the boys. His traits and actions naturally permeated and penetrated.

Adam Garwood told Ripp about running in one of the foundation's 4.2-mile "Pat's Run," held annually in Tempe (Ariz.).

"He said he ran the entire way with a Navy Seal, and how cool he thought that was," Ripp said. "He told me all about that guy."

Alex Garwood said Tillman's influence was more off the field for his son than on the field. Offerings of hard work, being a good teammate and an example for others. Being well-rounded, interested, resilient, true to yourself and engaged. 

Tillman left behind a blue print to live. Not to mention a Purple Heart. And a Silver Star.

"In that way Pat never stops giving back," Alex Garwood said. "But Pat wasn't perfect and we don't hold him up as a Norse God. We just raised our sons to be the very best versions of who they are. And they have. And we're so grateful for that."

Turns out. Adam shares a lot in common with his uncle on the field as well.

Tillman was considered too small growing up to play football. Instead, he was a two-way terror at Leland, rushing for 34 touchdowns as a senior in addition to leading the team in tackles and to the school's first section title in 1993.

"He wasn't about glory," a former Tillman teammate Rudy Perez told the San Jose Mercury News in 2012. "He was the MVP of the championship game, but he never took the credit."

At 165 pounds, Adam Garwood was well undersized as a junior, but put up a team-best 1,260 yards rushing and 20 touchdowns to go along with 50 tackles and four fumble recoveries. He led the Wildcats to the program's 13th CCS title.

Since then, he's added 20 pounds of muscle, and utilizing a super speed treadmill at home, he's lowered his 40-yard time to 4.47 seconds while upping his top-end treadmill speed to 22 mph. Adam is getting FCS Division I recruiting looks, including Cal Poly, his dad's alma mater.

"Had he played in the fall, I think he'd have many more opportunities," Krail said. "He didn't complain about the time off or bemoan the pandemic. He made the most of the time away. He's considerably bigger and faster. Whoever gets him will be very pleased."

Not only for his talent or speed, Krail said, but also the impassioned, selfless intangibles that mirrors Tillman. Adam led the team in offseason workouts, for instance, and after every touchdown, he truly celebrates with the offensive linemen who paved the way. It's not simply a ritual.
Adam Garwood (42) has celebrated with his offensive linemen 10 times in three games in 2021.
File photo by Scott Dinn
Adam Garwood (42) has celebrated with his offensive linemen 10 times in three games in 2021.
"He'll sprint back to us and really let each of us know we did a great job," Ripp said. "He'll get to us as fast as he got in the end zone. And if you ask him how many touchdowns he's scored and it's always one less than he actually has."

Said Adam: "I definitely don't consider myself the heart and soul of the team. Every single person plays a role, senior or sophomore, two-way player or reserve. Every snap, 11 players have to do their job."

The entire Garwood family embraces that "all-for-one, one-for-all" football culture. Ryan, who graduated from Los Gatos in 2019, introduced it to Adam. And now, Adam displays it to Scott, who stars on the freshman team. The brothers are extremely close.

"Right, wrong or indifferent, we're a football family," Alex Garwood said.

Adam Garwood definitely shares that unbridled passion of football with his uncle. He's played with "intensity and fire" since he was 8, said Alex Garwood. It's the only area his dad would compare him to Tillman.

"Pat played like every play was his last," said Alex Garwood, who graduated from Leland in 1990, four years before Tillman. "He flew around and figured out a way to make a tackle or play. Adam does that, too."

And he does it with a joy that brings tears to his father's eyes. Before the team's first game this season, Adam led the team in warm-ups, then guided them to the sidelines, where he flailed his fists and roared to the skies, unleashing 15 months of pent up fury from no competition. 

Or perhaps he channeled his uncle's favorite quote: "To err on the side of passion is human and right and the only way I'll live."

Or perhaps he just expressed the glee of playing the game he loves with his best friends.

"Football means everything to me," Adam Garwood said. "The relationship you build with teammates is hard to describe. It's a feeling that only we share, under the lights. It's beautiful."
Adam Garwood looking up at a gigantic Pat Tillman jersey before an annual 4.2-mile run in Tempe (Ariz.) put on by the Pat Tillman Foundation. "Pat's Run" is the signature fundraiser for the foundation's scholarship program, this year scheduled April 24 to be run virtually.
Courtesy of Garwood family
Adam Garwood looking up at a gigantic Pat Tillman jersey before an annual 4.2-mile run in Tempe (Ariz.) put on by the Pat Tillman Foundation. "Pat's Run" is the signature fundraiser for the foundation's scholarship program, this year scheduled April 24 to be run virtually.

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



Preseason OFFICIAL Top 25 high school basketball rankings: Players to watch, storylines for No. 10 DeMatha - OFFICIAL
Preseason MaxPreps Top 25 high school basketball rankings: Players to watch, storylines for No. 10 DeMatha
DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) has established itself as a mainstay in the MaxPreps Top 25 high school basketball rankings, finishing in the top 10 each of the past three seasons.

The Washington Catholic Athletic Conference's No. 2 preseason team, the Stags return eight players who saw minutes in their rotation last season while adding top 100 junior Rodney Rice.

Elijah and Jordan Hawkins, Jacoi Hutchinson, Will Reynolds, Jerrell Roberson and Tyler Ward return from last year's 30-3 team and all are expected to see increased roles this year for coach Mike Jones.

A fourth straight 30-win season earned the Stags a No. 6 rank in the final MaxPreps Top 25. They are expected to compete in this year's Spalding Hoophall Classic, Hoophall West and Peachtree Invitational along with a grueling WCAC schedule.
Guard Jacoi Hutchinson
File photo by Lonnie Webb
Guard Jacoi Hutchinson
Players to watch

Height: 5-9 | Class: Senior (2021)
National rank: NR | Status: Uncommitted

Height: 6-6 | Class: Senior (2021)
National rank: 47 | Status: Committed to Connecticut

Height: 6-2 | Class: Sophomore (2023)
National rank: 20 | Status: Uncommitted

Height: 6-3 | Class: Senior (2022)
National rank: NR | Status: Uncommitted

Height: 6-4 | Class: Junior (2022)
National rank: 83 | Status: Uncommitted

Height: 6-8 | Class: Junior (2022)
National rank: NR | Status: Uncommitted

Height: 6-5 | Class: Junior (2022)
National rank: 128 | Status: Uncommitted
Guard Rodney Rice shown playing for Bullis (Md.) last season.
File photo by Cliff Lavelle
Guard Rodney Rice shown playing for Bullis (Md.) last season.