De La Salle's survival leaves doubts
An extra point. That's all that separated San Jose's Bellarmine Prep from dethroning Concord's (Calif.) De La Salle, from ending the Spartans' two decade, 213-game winning streak against Northern California competition. Bellarmine quarterback Travis McHugh scampered into the end zone from eight yards out, seemingly securing a thrilling, and monumental, overtime victory.
It was meant to be. Until it wasn't.
Bellarmine kicker Aaron Gamboa pushed the PAT wide left, and De La Salle's Bart Houston scored on a one-yard quarterback keeper to seal a 26-23 double overtime win. The Spartans escaped. However improbably, it keeps their hopes of a second straight undefeated season alive.
"You always think a PAT is going to be good," De La Salle coach Bob Ladouceur told reporters after the game. "But in high school it's not always the case."
Lucky? Certainly. But it's a win, and one over a quality opponent at that. In any championship season, a team needs a few fortuitous breaks. De La Salle just received its biggest one yet. Come November, the stunning result could have far-reaching national implications.
For this week, however, the rankings remain largely intact. None of the top 10 teams lost -- though one came perilously close -- and there was only a slight reshuffling of the power structure. That could change next week: Don Bosco Prep, St. Thomas Aquinas and Allen all play top 100 opponents.
The wait is almost over. Nine months after capturing its fifth consecutive New Jersey Group 4 crown, Don Bosco prepares to embark on another championship campaign. Expectations are enormous. And anticipation is growing. The Ironmen's first opponent, Mission Viejo, rolled Bakersfield Centennial (Calif.) 35-6 in their season-opener, setting the stage for Saturday's coast-to-coast clash.
The Raiders received a well deserved week off following their 34-31 statement victory over Prattville (Ala.), a game that solidified Aquinas as a 2011 power. They resume play this Friday against Cypress Bay, a team coming off an impressive 24-7 win of its own.
Expect an increased role for do-it-all back Fred Coppet. The 5-9 junior exploded for 143 all-purpose yards against the Lions, including a 32-yard reception that largely set the tone for the offense. His versatility could cause headaches for opposing defenses all season.
No starters, no problems. Even with knee injuries to first-string quarterback Darryl Richardson and running back Matt Jones, Armwood's attack overwhelmed Brandon. Backup Alvin Bailey dissected the Eagles both through the air and on the ground, and tailbacks Wade Edwards and Greg Newton combined for 181 yards and four touchdowns. More encouraging, the Hawks defense surrendered just 185 yards, with Brandon's only score coming on a 96-yard kick return.
Armwood's upcoming schedule is also favorable: Its next three opponents -- Tampa Bay Tech, Leto (Fla.) and Jefferson (Fla.) -- are winless so far in 2011.
How dominant is Allen's defense? Of Northwest's 12 drives during their Sept. 2 showdown, seven ended in punts, two in fumbles, one in an interception, one in a turnover on downs and one in the completion of the game. None resulted in scores. For the most part, the Texans weren't even close. They were smothered from the onset.
Quarterback Alec Morris also may have found his rhythm. After an inconsistent outing against Cedar Hill (Texas) and a shaky opening against Northwest -- he was 10-for-24 through two quarters -- Morris was perfect in the second half. He went 8-for-8 for 145 yards and three scores, showcasing the full arsenal of skills that earned him a scholarship to Alabama. That's great news for Eagles fans, and awful for the rest of the nation.
De La Salle's thrilling 26-23 double overtime win over Bellarmine Prep left many doubts, particularly about the Spartans' offense. They were outgained 296 yards to 214. They ran just 16 plays in the first half to the Bells' 33. Quarterback Bart Houston was nearly a nonfactor, completing just 4-of-11 passes for 110 yards and two interceptions. It certainly raises questions about the team's national hopes.
Still, the Spartans survived. And wideout Anthony Williams delivered a particularly inspiring performance, contributing both a 90-yard punt return and 70-yard touchdown reception. Despite the dip in the rankings, De La Salle will soon have a chance to reassert its supremacy. Bob Ladouceur's squad travels to second-ranked St. Thomas Aquinas on Sept. 23, a matchup that could produce the out-of-state game of the year.
Harrison showed resilience for the second consecutive week, claiming a 28-14 win over Southfield. It was more of the same for the Hawks: Storm to an early lead, and let a well-coached defense and resourceful offense do the rest.
Despite a loaded receiving corps (see: Aaron Burbridge, Devin Funchess, Gairus Coleman) defensive end Mario Ojemudia might be the Hawks' best player. The Michigan commit collected another two sacks against the Bluejays, building off a terrific 127-tackle, 12-sack junior year campaign.
Though it's still too early to tell, Trinity may have the most potent rushing attack in the nation. A week after punishing Tyler Lee (Texas) for 241 rushing yards, the Trojans raced for 286 in their 34-17 win over Abilene. Senior Joel Kimpela did the heavy-lifting: He rushed for 199 yards and two touchdowns, averaging a gaudy 11.7 yards per carry.
Trinity did struggle at times, though. The Trojans fumbled twice inside their own 20-yard line at the end of the first half, though Abilene was unable to convert either turnover into points. They'll have to be more sure-handed to maintain their Texas 5A stronghold.
Following a bye week, The Shamrocks prepare for back-to-back bouts with Cincinnati opponents. It marks the midpoint of their out-of-state slate, as Trinity looks to shed its image as solely a regional power.
The latter matchup should be particularly interesting, pitting two top receivers in Cathedral's John Roby and Trinity's James Quick. The aptly named Quick -- he runs a 4.41 40 -- compiled 1,209 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2010, and already has 300 yards and four scores in 2011.
Prattville fans can breathe a collective sigh of relief. Six days after suffering a heartbreaking defeat to St. Thomas Aquinas, the Lions seemed on the verge of another upset loss, trailing Stanhope Elmore 7-6 at the half. Quarterback Justin Thomas was out of sorts. Stanhope backs Kenterrius Tyree and C.J. Davis sprinted for 115 rushing yards. For a team with national title aspirations, things seemed unmistakably grim.
The Lions flipped a switch in the second half. Sparked by an acrobatic 60-yard reception by Brandon Smith, Prattville outscored the Mustangs 17-0 in the third, allowing just 23 yards on defense. It cruised to victory, finally resembling the talent-rich team -- 15 players hold Division-I offers -- it was billed as during the preseason.
Though unlikely, don't write off a national title yet. Four of the top five play top 25 opponents within the next three weeks, leaving much to be sorted out before conference play kicks off.
Katy's defense lacks any top-ranked recruits. It's absent a high-profile commit, void of anyone guaranteed NCAA success. The unit is still worth getting to know. It's been suffocating, allowing a mere 240 combined yards through two season-opening games.
Quarterback Brooks Haack has also been consistent, tossing four touchdowns to no interceptions. He'll need to maintain that ratio to bolster recruiting interest. Though he's drawn interest from Arizona, Oklahoma State and Kansas, he's only received offers from North Texas and Wyoming, among others.