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2003 Final Top 25 Prep Football Rankings

by: Jamie DeMoney
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1. De La Salle (Concord, Calif.)
The coach: Bob Ladouceur
2003 record: 13-0, CIF-NCS 4A champion
The resume: The Spartans have now won a national-record 151 straight games, 12 consecutive CIF titles and four straight National Prep Poll championships. Wins included an ESPN2-televised defeat of preseason No. 2-ranked Evangel Christian (Shreveport, La.). Ladouceur, 49, is recuperating from a mild heart attack suffered in his home on Dec. 31.

2. North Shore (Galena Park, Texas)
The coach: David Aymond
2003 record: 15-0, 5A/I state champion
The resume: After the Mustangs topped off their season with a 23-7 thumping of a nationally ranked The Woodlands squad in the state title game, folks in the Lone Star state were wondering if Aymond’s club would go down as the finest 5A team in state history. Or at least one of the best. The numbers support the argument. North Shore outscored its opponents by a combined 702-89 and trailed for only 5 minutes, 25 seconds the entire season.

3. Independence (Charlotte, N.C.)
The coach: Tommy Knotts
2003 record: 16-0, 4AA state champion
The resume: University of Florida quarterback Chris Leak is no longer an Independence Patriot, but that hasn’t stopped Knotts’ team from continuing to dominate North Carolina prep football. Independence has the nation’s second-longest winning streak (62) and will return junior pass-catch combination Joe Cox and Mohamed Massaquoi for a run at a fifth consecutive state championship next season.

4. Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.)
The coach: Greg Toal
2003 record: 11-0, Parochial IV state champion
The resume: Readers of the Newark Star-Ledger voted the 2003 Don Bosco team the best in New Jersey high school football history. The Ironmen rolled their first 10 opponents by tidy margins, but they were pushed to the hilt by rival Bergen Catholic in the state championship game, 14-13. Toal has won state championships at three different schools.

5. North Penn (Lansdale, Pa.)
The coach: Dick Beck
2003 record: 15-0, PIAA 4A state champion
The resume: The Knights won their first state title and became the first Pennsylvania team to finish the season in the Top 5 of the National Prep Poll since 2000. North Penn also made it eight straight big-school state titles for teams on the eastern half of Pennsylvania.

6. Camden County (Kingsland, Ga.)
The coach: Jeff Herron
2003 record: 15-0, 5A state champion
The resume: There have been numerous great football teams in the rich history of Georgia prep football, but few were as dominant on the defensive side of the ball as the 2003 Wildcats. Herron’s team allowed only 47 points in 15 games and recorded nine shutouts.

7. Byrnes (Duncan, S.C.)
The coach: Bobby Bentley
2003 record: 15-0, 4A/II state champion
The resume: The Rebels’ only loss since 2001 was a 20-10 setback at Evangel Christian last season. Otherwise, Byrnes has won 29 consecutive games over in-state opponents and owns back-to-back state championships.

8. Carol City (Miami)
The coach: Walt Frazier
2003 record: 14-1, 6A state champion
The resume: With Carol City and Miami Norland winning the last two 6A state championships, the balance of power in Florida’s largest classification has shifted back to Miami-Dade County after a three-year run of titles from up-state teams, Frazier and Carol City also won back-to-back championships in 1996-97.

9. Westfield (Chantilly, Va.)
The coach: Tom Verbanic
2003 record: 14-0, AAA Division 6 state champion
The resume: It didn’t take long for Verbanic to turn Westfield into a state-championship program. Try four years – the school has only been open that long. Longtime Virginia prep football observer Norman Gross called the 2003 Bulldogs the best team he’d seen in the state since Hampton won back-to-back National Prep Poll titles in 1996-97.

10. Westlake (Westlake Village, Calif.)
The coach: Jim Benkert
2003 record: 14-0, CIF-SS IV champion
The resume: Who was the best of the best in So-Cal prep football in 2003? It wasn’t a familiar name like Long Beach Poly, Los Alamitos or Mater Dei. It was Benkert’s Westlake team, which earned its first CIF title since 1999.

11. Katy (Texas)
The coach: Mike Johnston
2003 record: 15-1, 5A/II state champion
The resume: No Texas program has matched Katy’s recent run of success. The Tigers have won state titles in three of the last seven seasons and compiled a record of 132-20 since 1993. Katy’s 16-15 win over defending champion Southlake Carroll in the 5A/II title game was No. 200 for Johnston.

12. Carmel (Mundelein, Ill.)
The coach: Andy Bitto
2003 record: 14-0, 6A state champion
The resume: The Corsairs started the season as the top-ranked team in Illinois and finished that way, as well. Carmel’s 6A state championship in 2003 was the first-ever for the program and for Bitto.

13. Elder (Cincinnati)
The coach: Doug Ramsey
2003 record: 14-1, Division I state champion
The resume: The Panthers became the first Ohio team to repeat as state champion in Division I since Canton McKinley did it in 1997-98. Prior to Elder’s back-to-back titles, the Cincinnati region had not produced a big-school champ since 1987.

14. Blue Springs (Mo.)
The coach: Kelly Donohoe
2003 record: 13-0, Class 6 state champion
The resume: Behind 2003’s Schutt Sports National Coach of the Year Donohoe, the Wildcats have won large-school titles in two of the last three seasons and spent each of the past 57 weeks either nationally or regionally ranked in the National Prep Poll.

15. Chaminade-Madonna (Hollywood, Fla.)
The coach: Mark Guandolo
2003 record: 14-1, 2A state champion
The resume: Six of the Lion’s 10 regular-season opponents were playoff qualifiers, including eventual Florida 5A state champion Daytona Beach Mainland, whom Chaminade dominated, 31-9. Guandolo also coached at Chaminade-Madonna in 1987-88, and the Lions are 50-7 since his return in 2000.

16. Hoover (Ala.)
The coach: Rush Propst
2003 record: 14-1, 6A state champion
The resume: Propst has led the Buccaneers to three state championships in the past four seasons and a 62-7 record over the past five.

17. Hahnville (Boutte, La.)
The coach: Lou Valdin
2003 record: 15-0, 5A state champion
The resume: The Tigers’ state championship was their sixth in school history, but it was the first time any team other than Evangel Christian or West Monroe had won the large-school championship since 1995.

18. Warren Central (Indianapolis)
The coach: Kevin Wright
2003 record: 13-2, 5A state champion
The resume: The Warriors fired out of the gate in 2003 with a 45-20 Week 2 neutral-field win over preseason No. 6 Cincinnati Elder, then suffered a pair of in-state upset losses during mid-season, and were firing on all cylinders again come playoff time when Warren Central outscored its state semifinal and final opponents by a combined 87-7.

19. Manheim Central (Pa.)
The coach: Mike Williams
2003 record: 15-0, PIAA 3A state champion
The resume: In a blinding snowstorm, the Barons beat Pine-Richland, 39-38, in double-overtime, for the 3A state title. It was a hard-fought victory for a team that was hungry for a championship after losing in each of its last eight trips to the state semifinals. Williams, who is 234-45-3 in 23 years at Manheim, was named 3A state coach of the year.

20. Hart (Newhall, Calif.)
The coach: Mike Herrington
2003 record: 11-3, CIF-SS II champion
The resume: The Indians didn’t let an 0-3 start deter them from winning their fifth section title in six seasons (the first four in Division III.) Nope, Herrington’s crew turned it around and reeled off 11 straight wins, including its 25-7 win in the CIF championship that ended Mission Viejo’s 41-game winning streak.

21. La Marque (Texas)
The coach: Bryan Erwin
2003 record: 16-0, 4A/II state champion
The resume: Erwin has restored the roar in La Marque Football that had guided the Cougars to three consecutive state championships in 1995-97.

22. Jenks (Okla.)
The coach: Allan Trimble
2003 record: 12-2, 6A state champion
The resume: The Trojans had won six consecutive state championships before bitter rival Tulsa Union ended their run in 2002. Things returned to normalcy in 2003, with the Trojans winning their seventh title in eight years. Trimble is now 90-10 at Jenks.

23. Hamilton (Chandler, Ariz.)
The coach: John Wrenn
2003 record: 14-1, 5A state champion
The resume: Probably the Huskies’ biggest accomplishment in 2003 was beating defending state champ Mesa Mountain View for the first time in their last three tries after the Toros had run roughshod over the rest of the state the last two seasons. Hamilton got the job done over Mountain View, 35-28 in triple overtime, to win its first 5A state title in only its sixth year since the school opened.

24. Valley (West Des Moines, Iowa)
The coach: Gary Swenson
2003 record: 13-0, 4-A state champion
The resume: Swenson eclipsed the 200-win coaching milestone in his 30th season patrolling the sidelines, and the Tigers won their second consecutive state championship. Swenson now has three state titles and two different schools.

25. Millard North (Omaha, Neb.)
The coach: Fred Petito
2003 record: 13-0, Class A state champion
The resume: Petito’s Mustangs won their first state championship and completed their first undefeated season despite losing star quarterback and leader Adam Shada to a blood-clot injury at mid-season. An impressive 38-7 title-game win over state-No. 2 Omaha Creighton Prep sealed the deal. Millard North averaged a state-record 467 yards of total offense per game.

2003 Final AFM Public Schools National Top 25

1. North Shore (Galena Park, Texas) 15-0
2. Independence (Charlotte, N.C.) 16-0
3. North Penn (Lansdale, Pa.) 15-0
4. Camden County (Kingsland, Ga.) 15-0
5. Byrnes (Duncan, S.C.) 15-0
6. Carol City (Miami) 14-1
7. Westfield (Chantilly, Va.) 14-0
8. Westlake (Westlake Village, Calif.) 14-0
9. Katy (Texas) 15-1
10. Blue Springs (Mo.) 13-0
11. Hoover (Ala.) 14-1
12. Hahnville (Boutte, La.) 15-0
13. Warren Central (Indianapolis) 13-2
14. Manheim Central (Pa.) 15-0
15. Hart (Newhall, Calif.) 11-3
16. La Marque (Texas) 16-0
17. Jenks (Okla.) 12-2
18. Hamilton (Chandler, Ariz.) 14-1
19. Valley (West Des Moines, Iowa) 13-0
20. Millard North (Omaha, Neb.) 13-0
21. Everett (Mass.) 11-0
22. Lakeville (Minn.) 14-0
23. Avon Lake (Ohio) 15-0
24. North (Riverside, Calif.) 14-0
25. Kahuku (Hawaii) 14-0

2003 Final AFM Private Schools National Top 25

1. De La Salle (Concord, Calif.) 13-0
2. Don Bosco (Ramsey, N.J.) 11-0
3. Carmel (Mundelein, Ill.) 14-0
4. Elder (Cincinnati) 14-1
5. Chaminade-Madonna (Hollywood, Fla.) 14-1
6. St. Joseph’s Prep (Philadelphia) 12-0
7. Montgomery Bell (Nashville, Tenn.) 11-1
8. Catholic Central (Redford, Mich.) 13-1
9. Chatard (Indianapolis) 14-1
10. Central Catholic (Pittsburgh) 13-2
11. Bergen Catholic (Oradell, N.J.) 10-2
12. Benedictine (Cleveland) 14-1
13. Marion Catholic (San Diego) 13-0
14. Loyola (Los Angeles) 11-3
15. DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) 12-0
16. Monsignor Pace (Miami) 12-3
17. Redemptorist (Baton Rouge, La.) 14-1
18. Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks, Calif.) 12-2
19. Marist (Atlanta) 14-1
20. St. Joseph’s (Montvale, N.J.) 10-2
21. Stake Jesuit (Houston) 9-2
22. Briarwood Christian (Birmingham, Ala.) 12-2
23. St. Peter’s (Jersey City, N.J.) 10-1
24. Bishop Lynch (Dallas) 9-2
25. Trinity (Louisville, Ky.) 11-4

Jamie DeMoney is the editor and publisher for and a contributing writer for American Football Monthly.


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