Skip to main content

Top 10 Southern California high school football games to watch Week 5 (9/23/2023)

It's only Week Five, but some league races are already at their apex

With league play beginning in Week Six in most of Southern California, Week Five (Sept. 21-23) is the calm before the storm.

Many of the state's top teams have a bye this week, and many that are playing have already gotten their biggest non-league game or two over with.

But this is California high school football, which means there are still outstanding games in every corner of the Southland.


Here are the top 10 games to watch this week (Sep. 21-23) throughout California. Numbers preceding teams refer to their placements in SBLive's California weekly Power 25.


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

10. Millikan at Jordan (Long Beach)

In the Moore League, where Long Beach Poly looms large, the race is usually for second. In 2023, like other recent years, there a couple of dang good teams with top-end athletes playing for second in Millikan and Jordan. Millikan has claimed second place the majority of the last several years, and hasn't fallen to Jordan since 2016. 

Jordan is the fairly heavy underdog here again facing a Rams team with a host of Power-5 recruits, including USC-bound receiver Ryan Pellum. But if this game is anything like last year, it could be anyone's game, and perhaps a game of the year candidate. Their 2022 meeting was an instant classic that Millikan won 58-54. Jordan is led by 4-star running back and Arizona pledge Jordan Washington, who totaled 162 rushing yards, four rushing touchdowns, and three catches for 100 yards and a touchdown in last year's meeting.

9. San Pedro at Dymally

Fast-rising Dymally is off to a blistering 4-0 start, and appears to be bound for the CIFLACS Open Division. And the team is well-rested too, coming off a bye week. That makes it the perfect time to take a shot at perennial Open Division contender San Pedro. Despite a 2-2 record, San Pedro is formidable as usual in 2023, and a win over the upstart Challengers would be huge to have under its belt entering Marine League play. One team is going to pick up a marquee win, and the other will go home disappointed – but with a potential playoff rematch to hope for.

8. Thousand Oaks at Newbury Park

In the seven-team Canyon League, conference play starts in Week Four, which is earlier than most of the rest of the Southern Section. Whereas most teams won't begin league play until at least next week, Thousand Oaks and Newbury Park may well be playing for a league title in Week Five after opening the Canyon League gauntlet with blowout wins.

With unbeaten Agoura and Moorpark also in the conference title hunt, the league is wide-open. So losing this early in the league race would be almost impossible to come back from. Throw in the fact that Thousand Oaks and Newbury Park are crosstown rivals as well, and there is a ton at stake in this one.

7. #19 Etiwanda at Cajon


Over four years, Cajon quietly developed one of the more impressive regular season streaks in SoCal. After a 45-21 loss to Servite on Sept. 13, 2019, Cajon never lost a regular season game to another California opponent again. Until last week that is, when it got flattened 34-0 by San Diego powerhouse Lincoln. How will it respond against reigning CIFSS D5 champion Etiwanda, which is 5-0 and looking for another signature win?

6. Murrieta Valley at #13 San Clemente


Unlike most other games on the list, No. 6 doesn't have much of an angle. It's not a rivalry game, league game, or out-of-area battle, and Murrieta Valley enters as a pretty heavy underdog against 5-0 San Clemente. But with a lot of blue chip talent in action, this will be one of the games that draws the most eyes. 

San Clemente has its best team in at least a few seasons, featuring 3-star quarterback Dylan Mills, one of the most sought-after linebackers in the Class of 2025 in Matai Tagoa'i, 3-star ATH/linebacker Lee Puka Fuimaono, Stanford-bound lineman Connor Bachhuber, and UNLV target Broderick Redden, a tight end. High-scoring Murrieta Valley also has serious D-1 talent leading the way, such as 4-star signal caller Bear Bachmeier, 3-star defensive end Ethan Adams, and 3-star running back Asa Chapman. Both teams have some key players who aren't national recruits as well, such as San Clemente's Aiden Rubin and Riley Kelly.

5. Kennedy (Los Angeles) at San Fernando

After a few down years, San Fernando football is back. The Tigers enter the second week of conference play 5-0 following a thrashing of Canoga Park, and they've outscored opponents 159-54. There are certainly more than two teams with a realistic shot at a Valley Mission League, but there's a good chance that San Fernando versus Kennedy on Friday constitutes the title game. While San Fernando's last league title wasn't all that long ago, coming in 2019, let's just say a win here might be extra sweet for Kennedy – the Cougars can make history after not winning a league title in at least 20 seasons.

4. St. Mary's (Stockton) at Bishop Amat

De La Salle 24, St. Mary's 10 by Dennis Lee 9-15-23091520235 (2)

One fun phenomenon we've seen in 2023 has been an increase in one-off NorCal vs. SoCal matchups between heavyweight programs that don't often meet. This is a perfect example, as St. Mary's and Bishop Amat have both been on a shortlist of the best programs in their expanded regions for years on end, but haven't played any time recently.

Bishop Amat is the heavy underdog here, entering as the best 1-3 team in SoCal, if not the state. Competitive losses to Valencia (Valencia), Santa Margarita, and Rancho Cucamonga show that the Lancers can still play with the big boys just like any other year, but they'll need their A-game on Friday to have a chance to close out St. Mary's. The Rams showed vulnerability in last week's loss to De La Salle, and this might be their last test against a team that can push them until the playoffs.

3. #9 Mission Viejo at St. John's (DC)

Mission Viejo vs Long Beach Poly September 1, 2023 Photo-Heston Quan23

The early stretch of the season has not been short on drama for the young Diablos, who fell to Long Beach Poly for the second straight season and are now coming off a triple-overtime win against Los Alamitos. Next up – a trip to the East Coast to play a Saturday afternoon game against another nationally-ranked opponent, St. John's (DC). Time to see Mission Viejo get tested yet again while trying to put on for the Golden State.

2. Liberty (AZ) at #4 Corona Centennial

Corona Centennial RB Cornell Hatcher Jr.

Sure, it's weird to see Corona Centennial at risk of finishing non-league play with a losing record. But that's what happens when you play the consensus two top teams in America, Mater Dei and Bishop Gorman. So, at 2-2, Centennial is very likely the runaway best team without a winning record in the nation. However, it will only be slightly less hard this week, as the Huskies host another one of the top-ranked teams in the country, Liberty (AZ). Liberty has blown out all four of its opponents, but it hasn't played a team close to Centennial's caliber, so this one looks like a tossup on paper. Have your popcorn ready as the Huskies will be hungry for a signature win.

1. Saguaro (AZ) at #5 Sierra Canyon

Sierra Canyon vs Orange Lutheran September 15, 2023 Photo-Nick Koza41

For the third time in six weeks of football, Sierra Canyon is playing in the No. 1 game in the countdown. This might be the last time that ever happens though, because the last two ended up in Sierra Canyon blowout victories. And we can't keep hyping up games that Sierra Canyon wins by halftime.

However, Saguaro isn't your average opponent, even by Sierra Canyon's standards. Saguaro finished a touchdown away from its second straight AIA Open Division title last season, and one of the wins that thrust the Sabercats into the spotlight in 2021 was a 24-7 victory over none other than Sierra Canyon. For Sierra Canyon, the road loss cost the Trailblazers a spot in CIFSS Division 1, so a win this time would feel extra sweet. So, Sierra Canyon can clinch a perfect pre-league slate and its spot in the national elite with one stone if it can conjure up some revenge over Saguaro at home. 


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.

(Numerals are state rankings by SBLive. Games are 7 p.m. unless noted.)


San Juan Hills at El Modena

Glendora at Diamond Ranch


Madison at #21 Granite Hills (El Cajon)

Santa Barbara at Ventura

Inglewood at #8 Lincoln (San Diego)

La Serna at #20 Damien

Edison (Huntington Beach) vs. Wilcox – Neutral

Ayala at Citrus Valley

Foothill (Santa Ana) at Chino Hills

Eastlake at Hammond Central (IN)

Palisades at Brentwood School

Birmingham at Steele (TX)

#1 Mater Dei at St. Frances Academy (MD)

Army-Navy at La Jolla Country Day

Oaks Christian at Loyola

Crenshaw at Marquez – 7:30 p.m.

Colony at Roosevelt (Eastvale)

Narbonne at Dominguez

Oceanside at El Camino (Oceanside)

#10 Rancho Cucamonga at Vista Murrieta

Servite at St. Paul

Panarama at Van Nuys

Upland at Charter Oak

Gila Ridge (AZ) at Brawley

Corona del Mar at Trabuco Hills

King/Drew at Gardena – 7:30 p.m.

Moorpark at Oak Park

Cathedral Catholic at Liberty (NV)

St. Augustine at Mater Dei Catholic – 6:30 p.m.

Lawndale at Alemany

Northview at Harvard-Westlake