Assuming Mater Dei doesn’t MARCH its way undefeated to a 3rd consecutive trophy on December 14, and we don’t crown another unanimous and unquestionable champion, a la 2017, the national title race is actually in a very interesting spot right now. And that even includes scenarios where Bosco goes undefeated (which would not guarantee them the title, given their questionable non league schedule — outside of DeMatha).
Within the top 25, there are essentially pods of teams across the country that are lined up to potentially have to battle each other by the end of the season in their respective states, to get to a state title (or the equivalent). Whoever comes out on top in these states will certainly be in the mix for the #1 spot if MD falls.
Consensus National #6 (And USA Today #2) St Thomas Aquinas seems destined to matchup again with #13 Lakeland in the 7A state playoffs. Lakeland beat Aquinas in the state title game last season.
Consensus #4 Duncanville leads 4 national top 25 teams all in the same playoff bracket Texas 6A-D1: #7 Katy, # 16 North Shore (defending Maxpreps national champ), and #18 Allen, which went into the Texas playoffs last season at #2 in the nation before being upset by Duncanville. These 4 seem to meet in the UIL playoffs in some combo every year, and whoever rises from the fire this year may again claim a share of the national title depending on Mater Dei and Bosco’s (and IMG’s) finish.
#12 Valdosta Lowndes, #19 Marietta and #24 Powder Springs McEachern are all in Georgia’s Class 7A, with Marietta and McEachern in the same Atlanta area Region. Lowndes is in the same South GA region as annual state and national power Colquitt County. Those 4 teams will inevitably have to go through each other to win the Georgia state title, and if one of them remains undefeated or has one loss, they could be one of the last 4-5 standing for the national title.
Milton (TL Classic participant) shockingly beat out all of these teams to win GA 7A last season.
Some top 15 teams should cruise to undefeated seasons in weaker states, and may sneak into the final discussion nonetheless:
#10 Mentor (OH) will have to battle through the always tough Ohio D1 bracket against local Cleveland rival powers like St Ignatius and St Edward, and the Cincinnati powers like St Xavier, Elder and Colerain. Ohio seems like a 1 team state this year though and it will be surprising if Mentor (Mitch Trubisky’s alma Mater) doesn’t cruise to the state title.
#8 Honolulu St Louis should win its 4th straight Hawaii state title with little resistance. Traditional Oahu competitors like Punahou, Mililani and Kahuku are no match for Marcus Mariota and Tua Tagavailoa’s Crusaders this year.
#14 John Curtis (Joe McKnight) should skate through the Louisiana playoffs to another title.
Other major head to head matchups coming:
#15 DeMatha at #11 Gonzaga on Oct 19 in the DC Catholic League (WCAC). Gonzaga is in the top 9 of 3 polls, is #7 in the HSFB America poll, and has looked very good against good competition this season. If the Eagles can sweep the WCAC gauntlet with St Johns and Good Counsel included, they would have a solid resume.
The aforementioned Oct 18 matchup in Baltimore between #3 IMG and #5 St Frances Academy carries much bigger stakes for IMG’s hopes, and the Ascenders will later play their annual game at Alabama state power Hoover to finish the season a couple of weeks later.
And of course the California group will go head up, with the leaders in the clubhouse #1 MD and #2 SJB playing twice, and one of them destined for a 4th straight state title matchup with #9 De La Salle in Cerritos.
A lot of consequential games yet to be played and some very interesting state playoff brackets.