Skip to main content

Top 20 Southern California high school football games to watch Week 8 (10/11/2023): St. John Bosco vs. Mater Dei headlines biggest week of season

To celebrate the most anticipated week of the 2023 regular season, this countdown includes 20 games instead of the usual 10

Ready for the most exciting week of the regular season in Southern California high school football? 

Not only does Week Eight feature the biggest regular season game in the entire country, which will be watched across the nation and beyond. SoCal's slate of games is so special that Week Eight would be arguably the most exciting of the regular season even without its headlining act.


With that said, here are the top 10 games – better yet, make it 20 games for the special occasion – to watch this week (Oct. 12-14) throughout Southern California.


(Games are 7 p.m. Friday unless noted)

20. Capistrano Valley at Tesoro

Four-team leagues are often the biggest bloodbaths of any conferences in Southern Section territory. And the South Coast League might be the best example. After this week, Capistrano Valley and Tesoro's final opponents will be Mission Viejo and San Clemente, and then it's playoff time. The two south OC stalwarts have to beat each other – or one of the two incumbent giants – just to not get last. Capo's unbeaten streak will be put to the test in an evenly-matched battle that both teams will be extra motivated for.

19. Chino Hills at Rancho Cucamonga

Rancho Cucamonga Vista Murrieta football3

On paper, this looks like a lopsided game in the making, and maybe it is. Rancho Cucamonga has one of its highest-ranked teams ever at 7-0, and last week's 35-7 win over rival Etiwanda was perhaps its best of the year. 

However, Chino Hills already pulled out one shocker in the Baseline League, which is known for its unpredictability, when the Huskies stunned previously-unbeaten Etiwanda. Chino Hills came back down to Earth last week when it lost 34-7 to Damien, making it hard to imagine an unexpected result in Week Eight. Still, Chino Hills was also a heavy underdog when it shocked everyone with a 20-6 win over Rancho Cucamonga to open league play two years. So if the Huskies have one more shocker left in them, this would be the time. Especially if Rancho Cucamonga gets caught looking ahead to next week's mega-clash with Damien.

18. Thousand Oaks at Moorpark

In the midst of a Canyon League race that has so much potential for so much chaos, Moorpark might be three games away from an undefeated regular season. The Musketeers' incredible 35-28 win over Newbury Park two weeks ago may retroactively prove to be the league championship. Especially because Newbury Park responded to take down previously-unbeaten Agoura. So, a Moorpark win would bring the program one big step closer to history, and a Moorpark loss would send the conference into chaos.

Thousand Oaks is the heavy underdog at 5-3, but don't write the Lancers off from pulling off the upset. They played Newbury Park very competitively and have blown out all other Ventura County competition this season.

17. Mira Costa at Santa Monica

A team of Mira Costa's caliber starting 0-7 is an aberration and then some. Like San Juan Hills was last year, Mira Costa is one of the best California high school football teams in recent memory to lose its first seven games. And that'll be eight games if Mira Costa doesn't knock off Santa Monica (6-1) on the road. That's because the Mustangs have played nothing but heavyweights in Damien, St. Francis (La Cañada), Villa Park, Culver City, Mayfair, Palos Verdes, and San Juan Hills – which is 7-0 after last year's 0-7 start. And they played every opponent except Damien close, with most of those games coming right down to the wire. In a 9-7 loss last week, Mira Costa nearly stunned unbeaten Palos Verdes, which might be on its way to a third consecutive league sweep.

Meanwhile, resurgent Santa Monica just picked up its first Bay League victory since before the pandemic-shortened 2020-21 season. That came after opening with a 27-0 loss to Palos Verdes. So, this is one of the biggest games of the regular season for both squads – and with no shortage of potential storylines.

16. Tustin at Crean Lutheran

What a year for Tustin. The Tillers are 7-0, and almost every game has been a lopsided win even though they've faced strong competition. And they're favored to make it 8-0 as well as they head to Crean Lutheran looking to put a hurting on yet another good team.

However, Tustin isn't the only team in the Empire League having a banner year. It's easy to forget that Crean Lutheran has only been around since 2007 with its fast rise in so many sports, but it's true, and this is only the 15th year of Crean Lutheran football. The Saints have perhaps their most talented squad ever and are 6-1, with a competitive loss to Trabuco Hills and statement wins in practically every other game. Given that Tustin beat Trabuco Hills 40-19, winning this potential league title game is a tall order for Crean Lutheran. But if they pull it off, they'll then be the favorite to defeat Cypress in Week 10 for a title.

15. Ramona (Ramona) at San Marcos (San Marcos)

First-year Palomar League contestants Ramona and San Marcos both seem to be in the same spot entering Week Eight – underdogs behind Del Norte (San Diego), but legitimate conference title contenders nonetheless. All three teams are 2-0 this week, but one of the three candidates will see its odds take a big hit when Ramona and San Marcos clash. While a three-way tie will still be possible, the loser of this matchup will be out of the running for an undisputed crown.

14. Northview at San Dimas

Senior Angel Barraza (#9) leads Northview with 13 rushing touchdowns, 52 tackles (tied), 8 TFLs, and 3 sacks (tied)

Senior Angel Barraza (#9) leads Northview with 13 rushing touchdowns, 52 tackles (tied), 8 TFLs, and 3 sacks (tied)

While Northview is technically 6-1 thanks to an out-of-state loss, it's looking more and more like the Vikings aren't going to lose a game this regular season to anyone in California. However, one of the hardest stretches of their season is yet to start – Valle Vista League play. After a 14-13 win over Bonita in Week Six (and a Week Seven bye), Northview enters conference play as the clear top public school team in the San Gabriel Valley. Still, San Dimas is always a tough out. Whoever wins this week still has to deal with Diamond Ranch and Los Altos, so this may or may not prove to be the race's defining game.

13. Murrieta Mesa at Great Oak

This looks awfully familiar. Murrieta Mesa and Great Oak entering Big West League play below .500 before establishing themselves as the top teams in the league? That's what happened the first year of league history – in which Great Oak edged out Mesa 13-7 for a title – and it's become the story in its second year of existence as well.

Murrieta Mesa clearly isn't worse for wear after starting the season 0-5 with losses against nothing but heavyweights – Tesoro, Vista Murrieta, Valencia (Valencia), Murrieta Valley, and Beaumont. After starting league play with a 34-21 win over Santiago (Corona), the Rams made a huge statement with a 52-17 rout of Temecula Valley. Making this the perfect time for them to play a title game.

Like Murrieta Mesa, Great Oak lost to Murrieta Valley and Vista Murrieta in non-league play, and fell to another team from the Upper Division, Chaparral. It eked out a one-point win against M.L. King to open league play, and then thrashed Corona last week to set this title game up. Like last year, this one will almost assuredly come down to the wire, so grab your popcorn.

12. Apple Valley at Oak Hills

Oak Hills Apple Valley football18

The Mojave Desert League has seen some interesting title races in the last decade or more, including some big upsets. One thing it hasn't seen in recent history is a tie for first place. But that could change in 2023.

In fact, the only time in the last 20 years that two teams finished with the same record atop the standings was in 2016. That year, Serrano and Oak Hills both went 4-1 in conference play. But there was a clear tie-breaker, as Serrano defeated Oak Hills head-to-head despite getting upset by Burroughs (Ridgecrest) for its lone league loss.

If Apple Valley is able to pull off a major upset on Friday, a three-team co-championship is likely to occur. After Oak Hills gave upstart Hesperia its only loss, a 42-3 bludgeoning, Hesperia shocked Apple Valley 15-14 last week. Apple Valley gave Oak Hills a good battle in last year's league championship before falling 41-27. And despite entering 3-3 this time, it still has the size and pedigree to be scary when in peak form. Otherwise, it'll be time for Oak Hills to celebrate a three-peat in the MRL.

11. El Capitan at Mount Miguel – Thursday at 7 p.m.

One of many clear-cut league title games on this week's list sees Mount Miguel (6-1), fresh off a bye week, as a heavy favorite at home on Thursday. But after dominant wins against Monte Vista (Spring Valley) and Valhalla, El Capitan can't be counted out. El Capitan is the reigning league champion, but before its aforementioned league wins, it took a three-game tumble against Steele Canyon, Santana, and West Hills. Mount Miguel, on the other hand, seeks its first Grossmont - Valley League championship in a decade.

10. Laguna Hills at Dana Hills

As if winning a section and state championship last season wasn't enough, Laguna Hills is 7-0 to start 2023. That makes a 15-game winning streak heading into this matchup against the second-ranked team in the Pacific Coast League, Dana Hills (5-2). So, with one of the best winning streaks in the state on the line for Laguna Hills, what's on the line for Dana Hills? A shot at the Dolphins' first league title in at least 20 years.

9. Bonita at Ayala

football Ayala Bulldogs

After a 5-0 start, Bonita came painfully close to proving itself as the top public school team in the San Gabriel Valley but fell 14-13 to Northview. However, the Bearcats responded with a beatdown of Sierra Vista, and have a reasonable chance of winning the Mountain West League. Ayala came up one point short of doing just that last year, getting second place after losing 30-29 to Charter Oak and later beating Bonita by 23 points.

This year, it again looks to be a toss-up heading into the apparent conference title game. Ayala enters just 3-4, but it's battle-tested from valiantly taking on a particularly challenging non-league schedule.

8. San Jacinto at Liberty (Winchester)

Liberty football went 9-2 and made the CIFSS D8 playoffs in its first year of existence. Now sitting at 6-1 in year two, there's a real chance that the Bison run the table in Mountain Pass League play in year two. San Jacinto won by a whopping 42-0 last year, and still has one of the best receivers in the country in 4-star Oregon commit Dillon Gresham. But based on solely 2023 results, Liberty doesn't appear to be that much of an underdog this time around. While the Bison haven't played a brutal schedule, they're 6-1 with their only loss coming in overtime to San Diego heavyweight Del Norte. This will go down as a marquee win for whichever team pulls it out.

7. Carlsbad at Torrey Pines

7 Mater Dei Catholic at Carlsbad 8-26-23 Justin Fine

Two weeks ago, we hyped up Carlsbad versus Mission Hills to be the game of the week because of Mission Hills' penchant for taking Carlsbad down to the wire. Well, Carlsbad rolled past Mission Hills in a no-doubter, and Torrey Pines upset Mission Hills 10-6 the following week anyway. So, let's try this again.

This is the Avocado League title game. After starting the season with multi-score losses to formidable foes, Del Norte (San Diego) and San Clemente, Torrey Pines has reeled off five straight wins. And last week's makes it the new No. 2 team in the conference. Does that mean Carlsbad isn't favored to beat the Falcons by a few scores? No. But Torrey Pines is so good defensively right now that not even Carlsbad can risk starting slow and going down multiple scores early.

6. Santa Margarita at JSerra

JSerra Santa Margarita football8

Within the madness that is Trinity League play, it's often forgotten that the conference's southern Orange County constituents, Santa Margarita and JSerra, are local rivals. Of course, it doesn't hurt that they are usually right next to each other fighting for positioning in the nation's toughest conference as well. 

Santa Margarita's breakthrough game in the Anthony Rouzier era was a 42-0 beatdown of JSerra in the 2020-21 spring season, and the Eagles won their next two league meetings as well. But JSerra responded in their most recent meeting by overcoming a 20-5 halftime deficit to knock Santa Margarita out of the 2022 CIFSS D1 playoffs.

After finishing in third place in the league during the last two seasons, the Eagles have their back against the wall to preserve the hierarchy. That's because they fell 28-20 to Orange Lutheran last week right after JSerra beat OLu 24-14. If Santa Margarita wins on Friday, it looks to be a repeat of last year's three-way tie for third. If not, it'll be a particularly tough loss for Santa Margarita and monumental win for JSerra.

5. Dorsey at Crenshaw – 7:30 p.m.

By simple virtue of being one California's most historic rivalries, Dorsey versus Crenshaw is one of the top games of the season any time the teams are fairly evenly-matched. And in 2023, we might have a great game on our hands. 

Crenshaw is the clear favorite at 5-2, but Dorsey (2-5) is actually higher in the Coliseum League standings, where it's tied at the top. Dorsey went winless during a tough non-league schedule, but opened conference play with blowouts of George Washington Prep and Fremont (Los Angeles). So the Dons' league title hopes are untainted thus far. Crenshaw lost a well-contested game to upstart Dymally last week, but it can effectively clinch second place by beating its rival, which also opens the door for a three-way tie for first.

4. Citrus Valley at Cajon

Arguably the most underrated rivalry game in the Southern Section is set to pop off once again. September was a tough month for Cajon which lost 34-0 to Lincoln (San Diego) and 48-26 to Etiwanda. That ended its unbeaten regular season streak against in-state opponents, which dated back to 2019. However, the Cowboys' undefeated streak in Citrus Belt League play, which started in 2017, is still alive and well. But that could change.

After all, Citrus Valley actually did break through to beat Cajon last season – in the playoffs. That rewrote recent history in the rivals' matchup, but not as far as Cajon's league streak is concerned, because Cajon rolled to a 28-7 win in their league meeting. For most of Cajon's streak, Citrus Valley has been the No. 2 team in the league, including the last two seasons. And after Citrus Valley defeated Beaumont 33-29 last week, that likely won't change. Citrus Valley is once again an underdog heading to Cajon for a league title match, but that was the same situation it was in the last time they met. So get ready for a potential instant classic.

3. Warren vs. Downey (Downey) at SoFi Stadium

Downey Vikings football

As usual, Downey enters the 2023 Gateway League championship as the underdog against crosstown rival Warren, but not by an insurmountable margin. 

On its own, this meeting already constitutes one of the best league rivalry games in Southern California. But when you throw in the X-factor – setting – you have one of the most highly-anticipated regular season games in recent regular season memory, in SoCal and beyond. That's because this is the first high school football game to ever be played at SoFi Stadium. Put it all together, and this one is about as good as it gets.

2. San Clemente at Mission Viejo

Mission Viejo vs Long Beach Poly September 1, 2023 Photo-Heston Quan48

The best public school football rivalry in California might be set for one of its best editions yet. After picking up its first loss by one point against Murrieta Valley in Week Five, San Clemente finds itself in its usual spot entering the probable South Coast League title game – as an underdog. But not by an overwhelming amount like in 2022, 2021, and 2019 when it got smoked – or in 2018, when it pulled off an incredible upset. The Tritons' last win in the series came in the final game of the 2020-21 spring season, when they entered as slight underdogs and broke their rivals' hearts with a last-second field goal to win 10-7.

It's no secret that Mission Viejo isn't having its strongest season as a result of being very young, but the Diablos are a nationally-relevant program even during reloading years. After their 2019 win, it looked like they might be at the start of a long winning streak against their arch nemesis, and they'd love nothing more than to keep moving in that direction.

1. Mater Dei at St. John Bosco

Cameron Jones leaps for St. John Bosco vs. Mater Dei by Heston Quan Oct. 7 2022

For the first time in SBLive's five seasons covering the battles between Mater Dei (7-0) and St. John Bosco (6-1), we have a couple major twists. This time around, there's already a heavy favorite and underdog going into their regular season meeting, which will more than likely count for a Trinity League title and the top overall seed in the Southern Section playoffs.

After falling to Kahuku in Hawaii on Sept. 16, Bosco has a loss entering league play for the first time since 2017, when it lost its season opener in Florida to St. Thomas Aquinas in overtime. A particularly lopsided loss to Mater Dei could plausibly see Bosco fall outside the national top 10 for the first time in nearly a decade. The case against St. John Bosco this week isn't just that it fell to Kahuku – it's that Mater Dei had destroyed Kahuku 55-8 in Kahuku's previous game.


Mater Dei wasn't as convincing as expected in relatively low-scoring wins over Corona Centennial and St. Frances Academy (MD). But it still won those games by multiple scores, and has overall looked the part of the No. 1 team in the country. Along with the Kahuku win, Mater Dei's 42-0 demolition of JSerra last week was one of its best of the year.

The other twist is that this is their first matchup for Mater Dei first-year head coach Frank McManus. With that said, he's spent the last 16 years coaching against the Braves as a Mater Dei assistant coach, so he won't exactly be in culture shock. And even if he were brand new to the ordeal, it'd be almost impossible to say specifically how that factor would be likely to come into play. But it's still a storyline to watch.

Will one of the most highly-touted Mater Dei teams ever inch closer towards immortality with a statement win over the reigning national champion? Can St. John Bosco take home its first Trinity League title since 2018? Will those storylines matter in the long run if these teams rematch in the CIFSS finals with a different result? The whole nation will be watching as those questions begin to get answered in Bellflower on Friday.


In any given week of Southern California high school football, there are dozens of great games to watch between top programs. Here are some other exciting matchups happening this week.


St. Bonaventure at Simi Valley

Mater Dei Catholic at Bonita Vista – 6:30 p.m.

Foothill (Santa Ana) at Villa Park

Huntington Park at Roosevelt (Los Angeles)

Vista Murrieta at Corona Centennial – 7:30 p.m.


San Pedro at Narbonne – 7:30 p.m.

Gardena at Banning (Wilmington) – 7:30 p.m.

Corona del Mar at Los Alamitos

Imperial at Brawley

Chaparral at Murrieta Valley

Chaminade at Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks)

Etiwanda at Upland

La Serna at Newbury Park

Morse at La Jolla

La Costa Canyon at Mission Hills

Servite vs. Orange Lutheran at Cerritos College

Cathedral Catholic at Madison

Chavez at Arleta – 7:30 p.m.

Norco at Roosevelt (Eastvale)

San Fernando at Panorama

Newport Harbor at Edison (Huntington Beach)

El Camino (Oceanside) at Poway

Serra (Gardena) at Bishop Amat

Mira Mesa at Point Loma

Cathedral at St. Francis (La Cañada)

El Camino Real at Birmingham

Paraclete at St. Paul

Fallbrook at Rancho Bernardo

Granada Hills Charter at Taft

Del Norte (San Diego) at Mt. Carmel

Redondo Union at Palos Verdes

Brea Olinda at Yorba Linda

Peninsula at Culver City


St. Augustine at Lincoln (San Diego) – 6 p.m.

(Feature photo by Heston Quan)

– Lance Smith | | @sbliveca