Editor’s note: Do you want your high school football fix? Most people these days do, especially in Yuba-Sutter-Colusa where there are no games right now due to the pandemic. Well, MaxPreps has compiled a state-by-state breakdown of the greatest high school teams ever. Today is the second of a three-part series.
When it comes to determining the greatest team of all-time from each state, the recent offerings from Mater Dei (Santa Ana) and St. John Bosco (Bellflower) certainly come into consideration for California. Any discussion about the greatest teams in the Golden State, however, has to begin with De La Salle (Concord). The only question: Which Spartan team do you pick?
De La Salle was named national champion seven times, including four in a row between 2000 and 2003.
However, MaxPreps chose the 2001 team because it best exemplified the four pillars that we determined mark greatness – dominance, consistency, efficiency and leadership.
We used national rankings to determine dominance, win streaks and state-title streaks to measure consistency, offensive/defensive point totals to mark efficiency and head coaching prowess to measure leadership.
The 2001 De La Salle team is just one of example of 50 all-time great squads chosen from each state.
Some teams were no-brainers, like the 1970 Brewer (Maine) team that finished No. 5 in the national rankings — the highest ever ranking for a team from that state. Or the 1940 Washington (Massillon, Ohio) team where every starter earned a spot on the All-State first team. Other states were not so easy.
Sources for the list include state association websites, along with school yearbooks, MaxPreps’ story from 2018 on the Top 50 greatest teams of all-time. We also tried to honor any in-state newspaper’s choice as the greatest team from that state when such a determination was made.
Greatest prep teams of All-Time
Lake City (Coeur d’Alene), 2006
Coach: Van Troxel
Points For/Against: 494-175
Breakdown: One of the highest-ranking teams in state history, Lake City finished ranked No. 10 in the nation by MaxPreps. The Timberwolves defeated one of the top teams in Washington in Moses Lake and Highland (Pocatello) 35-7 in the state finals.
East St. Louis, 1985
Coach: Bob Shannon
Points For/Against: 679-53
Breakdown: Ranked No. 1 in the nation by the NSNS and USA Today, East St. Louis defeated Brother Rice (Chicago) 46-0 in the state finals. The Flyers featured All-American Kerwin Price at quarterback and future NFL All-Pro Bryan Cox on defense. The team was part of a 44-game winning streak and was led by Shannon, who won 74 percent of his games and collected six state championships.
Warren Central (Indianapolis), 2006
Coach: Steve Tutsie
Points For/Against: 722-124
Breakdown: In 2015, The Indy Star determined the 2006 Warriors were the Hoosier State’s best. Under first-year coach Tutsie, Warren Central outscored its playoff opponents 236-13. Running back Darren Evans scored 61 touchdowns to lead the nation and he was named a Parade All-American. Warren Central finished No. 4 overall in the USA Today rankings.
Washington (Cedar Rapids), 1924
Coach: Leo Novak
Points For/Against: 197-26
Breakdown: While the National Sports News Service recognizes Toledo Waite as the national champion for 1924, Washington also laid claim to the title after defeating 1918 and 1919 national champion Harrisburg Tech (Pa.) 19-0 in a “national championship” game. While it should be noted that not all “national championship” games are created equal (Toledo Waite also played a reported national championship game that same year), Cedar Rapids certainly played an interesting schedule. It knocked off teams from Iowa, Illinois, South Dakota, Minnesota, Kentucky and Pennsylvania in going 8-0. The Cedar Rapids team is the only Iowa school ever considered as a possible national champion.
Coach: Al Woolard
Points For/Against: 233-38
Breakdown: The National High School Football Record Book by Doug Huff lists Lawrence as the national champion in 1960, although the National Sports News Service lists Lawrence at No. 12 overall. Regardless, the 1960 squad is one of 31 unbeaten teams at the school and is the only one that has been considered a national champion. It’s also the only Kansas school to ever be regarded a national champion. Woolard coached the team and he won 10 state titles with a record of 153-12-5.
Trinity (Louisville), 2011
Coach: Bob Beatty
Points For/Against: 697-116
Breakdown: In winning the Class 6A state championship, Trinity dominated against a very strong schedule. The average winning margin against Ohio schools Archbishop Moeller, St. Xavier and Elder was 31 points. Trinity also defeated Cathedral (Indianapolis), one of the top programs in Indiana, and Brentwood Academy and Montgomery Bell Academy from Tennessee. Trinity finished the season ranked No. 2 in the nation behind Don Bosco Prep (see New Jersey’s greatest team).
John Curtis Christian (River Ridge), 2012
Coach: J.T. Curtis
Points For/Against: 677-60
Breakdown: The Patriots have won 26 state championships and been ranked among the top teams in the nation many times, but the 2012 team is the only one that has been recognized as a national champion. MaxPreps ranked the Patriots as the top team after it defeated Evangel Christian Academy in the Class 2A state championship game. Coach Curtis ranks as the No. 2 all-time winningest coach in high school history and he could go over 600 wins this year.
Coach: Ken Perrone
Points For/Against: 488-40
Breakdown: Ranked No. 1 in New England and No. 5 in the entire nation, the Witches are the highest-ranking team in Maine history. The team dominated in such a way that 12 players earned first- or second-team All-State honors. Running back Ralph Payne was rated as one of the top 10 running backs in the nation by Letterman magazine and earned All-American honors by Scholastic Coach. The Witches went 30-2 over three seasons, winning state titles in 1968 and 1970.
St. Frances Academy (Baltimore), 2019
Coach: Henry Russell
Points For/Against: 489-74
Breakdown: No Maryland team has ever won a national title, but St. Frances Academy came closest when it finished No. 3. The only loss came against the No. 2 team, Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.). The Panthers defeated teams from six states and one from Canada. Included in the wins was a 35-7 win over IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.), which finished the season No. 8 in the country, and Central (Miami), which finished No. 21 in the country by MaxPreps.
Coach: Cleo O’Donnell
Points For/Against: 600-0
Breakdown: Sports Illustrated dubbed Everett the “greatest high school team of all-time” in the 1980s. The team didn’t allow a point on defense and led the nation in scoring with 600 points. Jack Cannell was the national scoring leader with 38 touchdowns. Everett’s greatest win was an 80-0 win over Oak Park (Ill.), which had won four straight national championships from 1910 to 1913. O’Donnell posted a record of 68-8-6 between 1901 and 1915.
Central (Detroit), 1915
Coach: Edbert C. Buss
Points For/Against: 523-14
Breakdown: The only Michigan school to ever be named as the mythical national champion, Detroit Central shared the honor with Everett (Mass.) after tying the Massachusetts school 0-0 in a national championship game in Detroit. Detroit Central also defeated powerhouse teams from Toledo Waite (Ohio), 89-0; Toledo Scott (Ohio), 23-0; Muskegon, 28-0; and Oak Park (Ill.), 39-0. The team posted 10 shutouts and running back George “Dutch” Hendrian led the nation in scoring with 175 points.
Eden Prairie, 2007
Coach: Mike Grant
Points For/Against: 585-111
Breakdown: Coached by Grant, the son of former Minnesota Vikings coach Bud Grant, Eden Prairie has been the premiere program in the state for most of the current century. Grant and Eden Prairie have won 11 state titles, the most in state playoff history, and the 2007 team is considered the best of that group. The team finished ranked No. 14 in the nation by MaxPreps and was the second of back-to-back undefeated teams.
South Panola (Batesville), 2010
Coach: Lance Pogue
Points For/Against: 687-117
Breakdown: The Tigers posted one of the nation’s all-time longest win streaks at 89 games in a row, but ironically the 2010 team was not part of that streak. That squad was part of a smaller 28-game win streak and a 119-2 run over nine seasons. The 2010 team was also the only team during that time to be ranked No. 1 in the nation, as chosen by USA Today, and is the only Mississippi team to receiving mythical champion recognition.
Jefferson City, 1994
Coach: Pete Adkins
Points For/Against: 391-98
Breakdown: In winning their fifth state championship in seven seasons and the second in a row, the Jays gave Adkins his 405th career win, tying him with Gordon Wood for second place on the all-time coaching wins list. Adkins retired following the 1994 season with nine state championships under his belt. The team finished No. 9 in the nation by the National Prep Poll.
Russell (Great Falls), 1990
Coach: Jack Johnson
Points For/Against: 516-192
Breakdown: The second of back-to-back state champions for Johnson, who finished his career in 2014 as the state’s all-time winningest coach with 340 wins. Future CFL MVP Dave Dickenson quarterbacked the team to a 23-0 record over two seasons. The team finished No. 20 in the nation by USA Today and linebacker Jon Knutson was a Parade All-American.