Sep. 17—There's a new No. 1 this week.
Undefeated Bishop Diego has finally taken over the top spot in the Santa Maria Times' Power Rankings.
The Cardinals, based in Santa Barbara and members of the Camino League, started the season at No. 3, moved up to No. 2 with St. Joseph falling down the ladder.
Now, after Lompoc suffering its first loss of the season, the Cardinals have climbed the mountain.
There's really no arguing the Cardinals aren't the top dog in the Times' region, covering Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. They're the only team ranked in the top 100, according to CalPreps.com. Bishop Diego is No. 44 in the state. Mission Prep, No. 3 in the Power Rankings this week, is No. 177 in the state. Lompoc is now No. 183. Santa Barbara is up to No. 143.
No. 1: Bishop Diego (3-0, vs. Bakersfield Liberty)
Last week: No. 2. Beat Redondo Union 51-3. CalPreps state ranking: 44.
Tom Crawford has the Cardinals humming along. Crawford guided this program to a state championship in 2017. The only question now is how far will they go this year? Is another state title a possibility? It looks like they'll be able to roll through the Camino League, with games against Newbury Park, Moorpark and Camarillo.
How many county teams will beat Bishop Diego this year? None. That's because the Cardinals play exactly zero Santa Barbara County teams this year. (The scheduled opener against Righetti was canceled, leaving Bishop Diego without a county opponent this year).
The Cardinals added a game Thursday and will play host to Bakersfield Liberty Saturday night at La Playa Stadium on the Santa Barbara City College campus.
No. 2: Lompoc (3-1, at Santa Ynez)
Last week: No. 1. Lost to Arroyo Grande 48-47. CalPreps ranking: 183.
The Braves' defense has looked shaky for much of the season and things came to a head Friday with the 48-47 loss at Arroyo Grande.
Lompoc probably spent much of this week working on tackling and other defensive fundamentals after the Eagles put up about 600 yards of offense on them last week.
Lompoc's offense, meanwhile, has been terrific. Is that offense strong enough to win a Channel League title this year? I'm not so sure. That league is going to be tough with games against a really good Santa Barbara team and games against Oxnard, Oxnard Rio Mesa and Oxnard Pacifica.
No. 3: Mission Prep (3-0, Bye)
Last week: No. 4. Beat Watsonville St. Francis 42-7. CalPreps ranking: 177.
The Royals have a higher rating, per CalPreps, than Lompoc, but if those two teams met on the field, I'd pick the Braves.
Mission's offense has found some balance, with the passing attacking complementing a good ground game. The defense makes plays all over the field. Sharpie these guys for the Ocean League title.
No. 4: Santa Barbara (3-1, at Ventura)
Last week: No. 6. Beat San Marcos 40-7. CalPreps ranking: 143.
The Dons have been incredibly impressive this fall after a not-so-great spring season. Is this team better than the 2019 club that won the Channel League championship and played for a CIF title? It looks awfully close. I'm anxious to see how they do against Lompoc and other Channel League competition.
No. 5: Nipomo (3-0, vs. Morro Bay)
Last week: No. 3. Bye. CalPreps ranking: 305.
The Titans return to action with Friday's home game against Morro Bay after a bye last week. The Titans should enter league play 5-0, though I'm interested to see how Nipomo does against Mountain League competition this year. The Mountain League doesn't appear all that strong this year, but we'll see. Nipomo plays Morro Bay and SLO at home before playing at Righetti to start league.
No. 6: St. Joseph (0-3, vs. San Jose Santa Teresa)
Last week: No. 5. Lost to Bakersfield Centennial 17-14. CalPreps ranking: 256.
It's the fifth week of the season and the Knights will finally play their first home game Friday night against Santa Teresa Friday.
The Knights need some home cooking. They lost at Covina Charter Oak, at Bakersfield Frontier and Bakersfield Centennial.
Those last two losses were by a combined five points. St. Joseph is still my Mountain League favorite and one more thing: this is the last week the Knights will play without their transfers who are sitting out.
Expect a different team next week when St. Joseph hosts St. Margaret's.
No. 7: Arroyo Grande (2-2, vs. Torres)
Last week: No. 10. Beat Lompoc 48-47. CalPreps ranking: 244.
The Eagles are rising. Arroyo Grande's offense was spectacular against Lompoc and the Eagles were playing short-handed. A source told me that Arroyo Grande was without a handful of top players due to contact tracing.
That group included top returning rusher Makai Puga, who averaged over 150 yards a game rushing in the spring season.
Kaden Tynes put up 362 yards of offense without Puga against Lompoc last week. Max Perrett has grown in leaps and bounds this fall at the quarterback position, too.
Can Arroyo Grande contend for a Mountain League title after its rough 0-2 start? I can't wait to find out.
No. 8: Santa Ynez (3-1, vs. Lompoc)
Last week: No. 7. Beat Santa Maria 48-7. CalPreps ranking: 382.
The Pirates have won three straight home games after falling to Nipomo in the opener. Now they get Lompoc.
The Santa Ynez defense has been strong all year. But the Pirates will have to adjust quickly Friday night. There's a HUGE difference between playing Santa Maria and playing Lompoc.
Santa Ynez is my pick to win the Pacific View League title.
No. 9: Paso Robles (1-2 vs. Atascadero)
Last week: No. 8. Bye. CalPreps ranking: 329.
Paso Robles has played a rough preseason slate, with games against Clovis Buchanan and Lompoc, to prepare for league play.
The Bearcats have rival Atascadero in a non-league game Friday night.
No. 10: Templeton (2-1, vs. Bakersfield West)
Last week: No. 10. Beat Pioneer Valley 7-0. CalPreps ranking: 401.
Templeton squeaked out a 7-0 win over Pioneer Valley on Friday, becoming the second team to shutout the Panthers in three games this fall.