Top 10 holds form as playoffs near
Strange weekend, befitting the Halloween holiday. As teams across the country prepared for their regular season finales, the nation was hit by a rare nor'easter, wreaking havoc on the majority of the East Coast. Fields in Florida fell victim to flooding. Games from Maryland to Maine were blanketed by snow. The weather was uncharacteristic and -- much like the prep season to date -- largely unpredictable.
This week's results, however, played out entirely as expected. Each member of the Top 15 either won or enjoyed a bye, serving as the calm before the storm that is the high school football playoffs. As October draws to a close, the rankings remain exactly intact, with Don Bosco leading a bevy of late season contenders.
Several, including Trinity (Ky.), Gaffney (S.C.) and Bishop Gorman (Nev.), kick off their respective postseasons Nov. 4. The playoff push is about to begin. Get ready.
With seven games now in the books, here's how Don Bosco stacks up to its 2009 group, a team that went on to win the mythical national championship.
The similarities bode well for Bosco. Following a 45-0 demolition of Paramus Catholic -- a game in which the Ironmen scored 28 points in the third quarter -- the top spot is theirs to lose. But others are closing fast. If the offense doesn't pick up its production, Bosco could be overtaken by Trinity, Armwood or Gaffney in coming weeks.
How efficient is Trinity's offense? After converting all four red zone opportunities against Archbishop Moeller, another nationally ranked opponent, the 'Rocks have now scored on 40-of-41 red zone possessions, a 97.6 percent clip. The most efficient NFL team, by comparison, is Tennessee, a unit that's converted just 70.6 percent of its chances.
With the win, the Shamrocks clinched their 12th perfect regular season in program history, and now look to capture their ninth state title in the past 11 years. Their first foe is familiar: Kenton, 2-8 in '11, played Trinity for the 2008 Class 6A final, a 48-0 'Rocks victory.
Through nine games this season, Armwood's defense has allowed
Here's what most impressive: They're shutting down top-level competition. With a 21-0 shutout of previously unbeaten Plant, Armwood's opponents are a combined 43-34. The Hawks have outscored them 376-46.
In addition to establishing itself as a bona fide title contender, Gaffney's 2011 campaign has exacted several measures of revenge. Since 2008, the Indians are 1-10 against Dorman, Greenwood, Byrnes and Northwestern. Here's how they've fared against that foursome this year.
If there's a more dangerous quarterback-to-wide receiver tandem than Gaffney's Joey Copeland-to-Quinshad Davis, I'd like to see it. The two connected for 192 yards and a touchdown against the Trojans, and have now hooked up for 1,378 yards and 19 scores on the season.
Even with three-star quarterback Brooks Haack under center, Katy has embraced the ground-and-pound philosophy. It's averaging more than 243 rushing yards, and has surpassed the 300-yard mark three times in 2011. Friday brought more of the same: The Tigers tallied 349 yards on the ground, barreling Katy Taylor en route to a 52-14 victory.
Katy also experienced a Halloween scare; however, as Haack absorbed a potentially injury-inducing hit midway through the third quarter. He returned after just one play and should be at full health for the district 19-5A title clash against Cinco Ranch. The Tigers beat the Cougars 56-3 on the same stage in 2010.
With Hopewell's Rushel Shell's commitment to Pitt two weeks ago, Wes Brown may have become the nation's most coveted running back recruit. The 6-1, 200-pounder has the strength to bowl over defenders, the shiftiness to juke them and the speed to blow by them (he runs a 4.5 40). All were on display Saturday: Brown galloped for 211 yards and four touchdowns, including a 60-yard burst early in the third quarter.
Even better for the Falcons, they're crushing teams with limited production from all-everything athlete Stefon Diggs. Despite his accounting for just 206 yards over the past four games, Good Counsel is 4-0 and has outscored the competition 152-54.
Bishop Gorman concluded its regular season in typically dominant fashion, beating Bonanza 56-0. Shaquille Powell rushed for 117 yards, Tajon Allen returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown and Zack Singer notched three sacks in the shutout, the team's fifth in eight in-state games. Gorman has outscored opponents 511-48 since Aug. 26, a stat that grows increasingly cartoonish with each passing week.
After capturing their fifth consecutive Southwest Division title, the Gaels begin the playoffs next Friday against Cheyenne. If the transitive property applies, it shouldn't be close: Arbor View (Nev.) stomped Cheyenne 45-14 on Oct. 6. Two weeks later, Gorman rolled Arbor View 56-7.
Are you ready for some football? Due to severe weather conditions that postponed Friday's Miramar-Western clash, Florida fans will be treated to a rare Monday night showdown. Expect a blowout: The last time these two met on Oct. 22, 2010, the Patriots won 39-10, limiting the Wildcats to just 93 total yards.
As the Class 7A playoffs draw nearer, look for coach Damon Cogdell and Co. to maintain balance on the ground. While quarterback Cam Hudge receives the lion's share of credit, eight Patriots have rushed for touchdowns on the year, led by senior D'Vontis Arnold, with six.
Buford traveled to Blessed Trinity for its Aug. 19 season-opener, and proceeded to thump the Titans: The Wolves scored on every first half possession, forced three first half turnovers and rumbled for 277 rushing yards in a 42-0 beatdown.
Nearly three months later, Buford faces Blessed Trinity again, this time for the Region 6-AA championship. Expect it to be closer -- the Titans won their last five games, including three on the road -- but not by much. Quarterback Sam Clay and running back Andre Johnson could be resting for much of the second half.
Much like their nearby NFL counterpart, the Dallas Cowboys, Texas' Allen Eagles also have a flair for the dramatic. After pulling out nailbiters against Plano East and Marcus, coach Tom Westerberg and Co. staged another comeback against Hebron, escaping 28-21. Trailing 21-7 in the third quarter, Allen scored the final 21 points, punctuated by Jonathan Williams' five-yard touchdown run with under two minutes to go.
By remaining unbeaten in Texas Class 5A Division I, the Eagles stay in the national championship picture. They just need to win out. Quarterback Alec Morris and wideout Andrew Rodriguez will need to step it up: The former tossed three interceptions against the Hawks, while the latter recorded two catches for 21 yards.