Every so often, unpredictability reigns. In a high school football landscape dominated by perennial powers, by five-star recruits and D-I caliber talents, the underdogs occasionally break through. That happened this weekend. Then again. And again.
In the first week of November, upsets abound. Here are a few of the stunning results.
• Warren Central (Ind.) fell to Carmel (Ind.) 34-30, its first loss since Oct. 2010. The Greyhounds nearly topped the Warriors five weeks earlier, on Sept. 30, storming back from a 19-0 deficit before losing 22-20. This time, Carmel rallied from a 23-13 halftime margin to win on a 16-yard Jalen Duncan scamper with 23 seconds remaining. "It feels like we just won the state championship," quarterback Brandon Denning told the Indianapolis Star after the game.
• St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.) lost to Cooper City (Fla.) 21-16, the latter's first upset of a nationally ranked program in school history. The Cowboys captured the District 15-7A title -- the first time Aquinas hasn't won since 1996 -- and improved to 10-0 with the victory.
• DeSoto (Texas) lost to Longview (Texas) 23-21, ending the Eagles bid for a perfect season. Defensive lineman Jalen Porter forced a safety with 1:49 to go, and the Lobos held the Eagles to three offensive touchdowns. Entering the game, DeSoto was averaging 49.7 points.
• Harrison's (Mich.) 24-game winning streak came to an end, with the unbeaten Hawks losing to Brother Rice (Mich.) 30-7. Harrison's offense was anemic without injured quarterback Jake Vento, outgained 320 to 216.
• Maine South (Ill.) suffered its first postseason loss in 16 tries, losing to Stevenson (Ill.) 24-22. Patriots' quarterback Jake Micucci threw for 247 yards and two touchdowns, ending the Hawks' undefeated season and quest for a fourth consecutive Illinois Class 8A crown.
They weren't the only notable happenings. Others: The Top 10 all won, outscoring the competition 474-83. Trinity's Bob Beatty reached a coaching milestone, and Kenton (Ohio) quarterback Maty Mauk reached a passing one. Gaffney's defense dominated, Allen's offense exploded and Miami Central escaped in four overtimes.
From coast to coast, the prep scene captivated. Now onto this week's rankings...
Previous rank: 1
Last game: 56-8 win over Clifton (N.J.)
Next game: Nov. 24 at St. Joseph Regional (N.J.)
Notoriously slow starters, Don Bosco limped to another unremarkable opening against Clifton, leading 7-0 after the first quarter. Then, it proceeded to dominate. Jabrill Peppers (twice), Elijah Shumate and Yuri Wright all notched second quarter scores, giving the Ironmen a 35-0 halftime lead. It continued a larger trend: Over the past three weeks, they've outscored opponents 122-7 in the second and third quarters.
Bosco remains in a holding pattern, beating up inferior competition since stomping St. Edward on Oct. 8. Their next foe should be tougher. After consecutive byes, it'll resume play against St. Joseph, 7-1, a team that hasn't allowed more than 18 points all season. It should provide a better measuring stick of whether the Ironmen truly deserve their spot atop the rankings.
Previous rank: 2
Last game: 72-0 win over Kenton (Ky.)
Next game: Nov. 11 vs. DuPont Manual (Ky.)
If anyone has an argument to supplant top-ranked Bosco, it's Trinity. Following a 72-0 smackdown of Kenton, it has won 21 straight games dating back to 2010. Its accomplishments are striking.
• The Shamrocks have gained more than 500 all-purpose yards in eight games this season, including each of their last four.
• In ten games, they've scored 35 rushing touchdowns. Their opponents have scored five.
• With Friday's win, Bob Beatty captured his 150th victory as head coach. He's 50-3 all-time in the playoffs.
Trinity won't play the Ironmen, an obvious pitfall of the high school system. But that doesn't mean it won't pass them its quest for a national title. If the 'Rocks continue their steadfast dominance and Bosco continues its early game struggles, the two could soon trade places at the top.
Previous rank: 3
Last game: 54-6 win at King (Fla.)
Next game: Nov. 18 vs. Lakewood Ranch (Fla.)
If St. Thomas Aquinas is the most renowned Florida football powerhouse, Armwood is gaining as a close second. After crushing King on the road, it's 49-1 in regular season games over the past five years, its only defeat coming to rival Plant in Oct. 2009.
The formula is simple: running and defense. And so far, it's worked beautifully. Eight Hawks have rushed for touchdowns in '11, and seven have tallied multiple sacks.
Previous rank: 4
Last game: 42-0 win over Spartanburg (S.C.)
Next game: TBA
Mentioned in last week's column, Gaffney's Joey Copeland and Quinshad Davis form the nation's top quarterback-to-receiver tandem. They proved that again this week against Spartanburg. The duo connected 10 times for 167 yards and a touchdown, bettering their season totals to 1,545 yards and 20 scores.
"I'm not trying to be cocky or anything, but we're always confident in what we can do," Davis told Go Upstate Preps after clinching the Region III-4A title.
It's not cocky if you back it up.
Previous rank: 5
Last game: 38-7 win over Cinco Ranch (Texas)
Next game: Nov. 11 vs. Houston Madison (Texas)
Katy ran rampant over Cinco Ranch, compiling 393 rushing yards en route to the District 19-5A championship. Here's how it has fared on the ground this season.
That adds up to 2,584 yards (258.4 per game) and 32 touchdowns, most of it without injured tailback Adam Taylor. Give credit to the offensive line: Aaron Sowell, Cole Gessler and Cameron Glover.
Record: 12-1 (includes forfeit win over Western (Nev.))
Previous rank: 7
Last game: 49-6 win over Cheyenne (Nev.)
Next game: Nov. 10 vs. Arbor View (Nev.)
Alabama fans, Bishop Gorman feels your pain. Despite losing to a championship contender (20-17 to Armwood on Aug. 26), the Gaels can make a case as the nation's most complete team. They furthered that notion against Cheyenne: Gorman cruised 49-6, spearheaded by three touchdowns from do-everything back Shaquille Powell (two rushing, one receiving).
The victory sets up a No. 1-No. 2 contest of its own, a clash with Arbor View in the Sunset Regional final. This rematch isn't as compelling. When the two played on Oct. 21, the Gaels rolled 56-7.
Previous rank: 6
Last game: 35-0 win over Archbishop Carroll (Washington, D.C.)
Next game: Nov. 11 vs. St. John's (Washington, D.C.)
How overpowering is Good Counsel's running game? Consider: Over the past three weeks, the Falcons have scored 117 points. They've completed a mere 10 passes.
That's thanks to the two-pronged backfield attack of Wes Brown and Dorial O'Daniel, a tandem that rushed for 296 yards and three touchdowns against Carroll, and 1,743 and 29 scores, respectively, in 2011. Expect more in the WCAC semifinals: When the Falcons faced the Cadets on Oct. 21, Brown and O'Daniel combined for 277 yards and three touchdowns in a 28-14 win.
Previous rank: 9
Last game: 49-10 win over Blessed Trinity (Ga.)
Next game: Nov. 11 vs. Temple (Ga.)
Buford's slow and steady rankings' ascent continues, with the Wolves inching to No. 8. They turned in another trademark performance in the Region 6-AA final: 293 rushing yards, 93 passing yards and defensive and special teams' touchdowns in a 49-10 rout of Blessed Trinity.
Here's the problem -- Buford still hasn't played anyone of note. Its closest game was a 28-0 shutout of Greater Atlanta Christian, and it has beaten opponents by an average of 42.2 points. The lack of worthy challengers isn't the Wolves' fault (Camden County, Colquitt County and Grayson are in Class 5A, not 2A), but certainly hinders their opportunities to move up.
Previous rank: 10
Last game: 59-30 win at Flower Mound (Texas)
Next game: Nov. 12 vs. Keller Central (Texas)
There are offensive explosions, and then there was Allen's remarkable output in its regular season finale. The Eagles racked up 657 yards of total offense, pounding Flower Mound behind a bevy of sparkling performances. Alec Morris threw for 384 yards, Jonathan Williams ran for 144 and Andrew Rodriguez and Oliver Pierce had 134 and 116 receiving yards, respectively.
Allen poses a formidable offensive threat, scoring at least 40 points in seven of 10 games. But the defense needs to improve. It's allowed 208 points to date, 107 more than any other member of the Top 10.
Previous rank: 8
Last game: 20-16 win over Flanagan (Fla.)
Next game: TBA
Miramar completed its first perfect regular season in school history, but just barely. Clinging to a 20-16 lead with less than three minutes remaining, five-star corner Tracy Howard intercepted a Flanagan pass at the Pats' 30-yard line, saving the game and salvaging their outside national title hopes.
More importantly, it continued Miramar's mission to honor fallen lineman Isaiah Laurencin, whose number, 76, was retired at halftime. The 6-3, 286-pound guard died from cardiac arrest after a team workout over the summer.
"It was pressure, with the retiring of Isaiah's jersey and all," coach Damon Cogdell told the Miami Herald. "Going through senior night with 37 seniors on the team, all that had a part to play in it."
Next five: Mallard Creek (Charlotte), Trinity (Euless, Texas), Camden County (Kingsland, Ga.), Lake Travis (Austin), Carmel (Carmel, Ind.)
Other notables: Bentonville (Bentonville, Ark.), Bellevue (Bellevue, Wash.), Grayson (Loganville, Ga.), Central Catholic (Pittsburgh), Skyline (Dallas), Hamilton (Chandler, Ariz.), Longview (Longview, Texas), Servite (Anaheim, Calif.), De La Salle (Concord, Calif.)
• Kenton's (Ohio) Maty Mauk snapped the all-time national career passing record. The 6-2, 190-pound quarterback channeled his inner Case Keenum, going 27-of-29 for 507 yards and nine touchdowns in a 74-22 triumph over Wellington (Ohio). He passed his older brother Ben's mark of 17,364 passing yards on his third completion of the game.
• As far as overtime thrillers go, few were better than the Miami Central-Belen Jesuit classic. The Rockets claimed the District 16-6A title, 59-56, in four overtimes, keeping their unbeaten season alive. Kicker Emile Nadelman converted a game-winning 27-yard field goal after Dawan Hunt intercepted Danny Admire's third-and-goal pass.
• Servite survived an unexpected scare. The Friars edged Mater Dei 35-28 after overcoming a 21-14 third quarter deficit. Servite has now won three straight against the Monarchs, their longest such streak since 1988.
• Wondering why Arik Armstead decommitted from USC? Check out this article in Los Angeles Times. Apparently, Armstead wasn't happy with the Trojans' decision to deny his older brother, Armond, medical clearance. Washington, Notre Dame and Cal are now in the recruiting mix.
• Two dozen fans fell ill Friday in Houston. During the Austin-Yates showdown, 22 students were hospitalized after suffering from extreme nausea. Officials originally believed the cause to be exposure to an unknown chemical, and the game was called with Yates leading 47-14.
• Heritage Hall (Okla.) defended its Class 3A crown. In a rematch of last year's title game, the Chargers knocked off Kingfisher (Okla.) 35-27. Senior wideout Cale Courtney was the unlikely hero, hauling in four touchdown receptions.
• Additional upsets. In addition to the surprising results listed above, Lake Zurich (Ill.) knocked off Glenbard West (Ill.) 10-3 and Valdosta (Ga.) beat Colquitt County (Ga.) 27-24 in overtime, the latter clinching the Wildcats' first Region 1-5A title.