Trinity, Don Bosco top final high school football Power Rankings
With the final round of state playoffs taking place over the weekend, the 2011 high school season officially draws to a close. It didn't disappoint. Many teams and players left lasting legacies -- from Trinity's dominance to Johnathan Gray's Herculean statistics.
With games now at an end, the top teams in the nation have crystallized. Here are the ultimate prep football Power Rankings.
Spearheaded by the three-pronged attack of Travis Wright, Dalyn Dawkins and James Quick, Trinity mauled opponents in 2011. It won by an average of 41.5 points -- a number that jumped to 49.4 in the playoffs. Even scarier, the Shamrocks could be even better next year. Wright, Dawkins and Quick -- a trio that combined for 4,295 yards and 60 touchdowns -- are all juniors.
Billed as the nation's premier defense during the preseason, Don Bosco lived up to its lofty hype. It stifled offenses behind U.S. Army All-Americans Darius Hamilton, Yuri Wright and Elijah Shumate, allowing a mere 92 points. The Ironmen have now won 46 consecutive games and six straight Non-Public Group 4 titles. Simply put: They're the most consistent program in the country.
Bosco may boast the nation's best defense, but not by much. Fronted by five-star defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, the Rams' unit was equally unforgiving, notching six shutouts in 2011. The last one, a 24-0 blanking of Walton (Ga.) in the Class 5A championship, was a consummate display of dominance: Grayson surrendered 95 total yards,
All-everything athlete Stefon Diggs was the headliner for Good Counsel, but four-star running back Wes Brown was the engine that made it go. He amassed 1,382 yards and 22 touchdowns, 383 yards and seven scores coming in two playoff games. Diggs wasn't bad, either. He accounted for 1,443 all-purpose yards in leading the Falcons to their third consecutive WCAC title.
Following a regular season in which the Hawks' D appeared impenetrable -- it collected 28 sacks in 10 games through Nov. 4 -- linebacker Eric Striker and Co. allowed an average of 22.8 points in the playoffs. They came through when it mattered most. Armwood notched four turnovers, including two first quarter pick-sixes, to oust Miami Central for the Florida Class 6A title. Eleven seniors -- including Florida-bound running back Matt Jones, South Carolina-bound offensive lineman Cody Waldrop and South Florida-bound safety Jarvis McCall -- hold offers to play at the next level.
With a resounding 22-7 win over Midway, Lake Travis completed its storied "Drive for Five", a quest for an unprecedented fifth consecutive Texas Class 4A Division 1 title. This one may have been the sweetest. Pegged as nonfactors following quarterback Michael Brewer's (Texas Tech) graduation, the Cavaliers averaged 45.3 points per game. Their offensive stats were astounding: Quarterback Baker Mayfield threw for 3,788 yards and 45 touchdowns, and Zach Austin, Varshaun Nixon, Colin Lagasse and Griffin Gilbert all accounted for more than 1,000 all-purpose yards.
From almost any perspective, Carroll was a team of destiny in 2011. It trailed in the second half on six separate occasions, finding a way to win every time. Junior wunderkind Kenny Hill led the charge. The 6-1, 205-pound quarterback totaled 2,790 passing yards, 1,398 rushing yards and 46 total touchdowns -- and ran for dramatic game-winning scores in both the state semifinals and finals.
After capturing 10 Washington Class 3A titles in the past 12 season, Bellevue has long established itself as a perennial contender. This year was no different. Behind their run-centric Wing-T offense -- and the dazzling play of senior quarterback and cornerback Tyler Hasty -- the Wolverines outscored opponents 538-167.
If not for a three-point loss to Armwood on Aug. 26, Bishop Gorman may sit atop this list. The Gaels rattled off 15 consecutive victories to end the year, riding the stellar play of Shaquille Powell (2,427 rushing yards, 40 touchdowns) and Anu Solomon (2,770 passing yards, 41 touchdowns). Tony Sanchez also deserves due. Since his taking over as coach in 2009, Gorman is 32-3 with three Nevada Class 4A titles.
As far as clutch performances go, few were more impressive than that of Norland's Duke Johnson. The 5-9, 170-pound dynamo ran for 1,036 yards in five playoff games, single-handedly carrying the Vikings to the Florida Class 5A championship. Perhaps no team better embodied the ground-and-pound philosophy: Norland outrushed opponents an incredible 3,521-657 this season.
For all of De La Salle's vaunted defenses over the years -- of which there are many -- this one may have been its best. The Spartans surrendered just six touchdowns in their final 11 games, suffocating opponents behind linebackers Michael Barton and Michael Hutchings. Saturday's championship was a microcosm of the season: Coach Bob Ladouceur's crew held high-flying Westlake -- previously averaging 47.6 points per game -- scoreless in a 35-0 rout.
After trailing 20-0 in the second quarter of its Nov. 14 playoff with Warren Central, Carmel mounted one of the more remarkable comebacks of the season. It rallied to cut the deficit to three, eventually topping the Warriors with 23 seconds remaining. The Greyhounds also beat Ben Davis, Center Grove and Penn en route to the Indiana Class 5A title, thanks in large part to a trio of D-I talents: Langston Newton, Shawn Heffern and Jimmy Herman are committed to Kentucky, Indiana and Purdue, respectively.
A Florida state championship regular -- coach Robert Weiner and Co. have earned a title berth in each of the past four seasons -- Plant was overlooked entering its Class 8A title clash with Miramar. No longer. The Panthers knocked off the Patriots 31-20, sparked by key performances from quarterback James Few and tailback Wesley Bullock. The latter was especially effective. The 5-6, 150-pound Bullock ran for 124 yards and a touchdown, his seventh consecutive 100-yard game.
Possibly the unlikeliest member of the Top 25, Page climbed into the national spotlight after ousting a pair of traditional Carolina powers, Butler and Mallard Creek. It wasn't a fluke. N.C. State-bound quarterback James Summers tallied 622 rushing yards, 434 passing yards and 15 total touchdowns in five playoff games.
No stranger to in-state success, Maryville boasts a 104-4 record since coach George Quarles' arrival in 2004. This team was his best. ACC commits quarterback Patton Robinette (UNC) and center Jay Guillermo (Clemson) anchored a high-powered offense, and the defense surrendered just eight points per game. The Rebels won 14 of 15 contests by two touchdowns or more.
Bolstered by a ferocious pass rush -- Juniors Marquis Dawsey and Blake Keller each compiled double-digit sack totals -- Manatee won 13 in-state games by an average of more than four touchdowns. Its two losses are understandable: The Hurricanes lost to No. 1 Don Bosco and No. 4 Good Counsel, respectively, by a combined 13 points in September.
Archbishop Wood didn't just have one BCS-caliber running back -- it had two. And cousins Brandon and Desmon Peoples -- headed to Temple and Rutgers next year, respectively -- overwhelmed Pennsylvania Class 3A foes. One week after gutting Allentown Central Catholic for 318 yards and five touchdowns, they dismantled Bishop McDevitt for 322 yards and five scores to clinch the title 52-0. More telling: The Vikings triggered the running clock, a PIAA mercy rule, in each of their last 13 games.
Texas A&M commit Trey Williams capped his career in legendary fashion, racing for 203 yards and three touchdowns to up his season statistics to 3,890 yards and 48 scores. He was far from Dekaney's only standout. Houston-bound corner Jarrett Irving also starred, hauling in nine interceptions -- two in the Wildcats' 34-14 championship triumph over Cibolo Steele.
Arguably the most talented roster in the nation -- 15 players hold Division-I offers -- Prattville plummeted from the national scene after dropping two of its first five games. It responded resoundingly. Quarterback Justin Thomas collected 1,473 yards (939 passing, 534 rushing) in the Lions' last nine games, and Prattville edged Hoover in the Dec. 2 final to emerge as Alabama Class 6A champs.
After riding a late-season hot streak to a state title last year, Byrnes followed the script in 2011. The Rebels weathered a 2-2 start before roaring to 13 straight victories. Sophomore quarterback Shuler Bentley was terrific: He passed for 3,497 yards and 47 touchdowns after gaining the starting role on Sept. 23.
Gaffney was one game -- and perhaps one turnover -- from a top three national finish. Led by the aerial tandem of Joey Copeland and Quinshad Davis (2,009 yards, 25 touchdowns), it outscored opponents 686-128 over its first 14 games. The Indians were doomed, however, when a fourth quarter fumble proved costly in a 31-24 championship loss to Byrnes.
Olive Branch secured the first state title in its 85-year history with a 35-34 triumph over Petal. It didn't come easy. Coach Scott Samsel's squad trailed 34-27, overtaking the Red Panthers on a Todd Mays touchdown -- and subsequent two-point conversion -- with 1:12 remaining. This year's Conquistadors could be next year's Memphis Tigers. Linebacker Wynton McManis (130 tackles) is already committed, and Mays and linebacker Leonard Pegues (146 tackles) are currently weighing offers.
Spurred by Oregon Gatorade Player of the Year Steven Long, Lake Oswego torched overmatched defenses this season. It scored at least 40 points in 10 of 14 games, winning by an average margin of 28.9. The 5-foot-7, 172-pound Long was remarkable: He ran for 2,205 yards and 37 touchdowns, including 322 and four scores in the title game against Sheldon.
Despite an uncharacteristically slow start to the season, dropping two of its first three to snap a 29-game winning streak, Aledo finished 2011 as it did '09 and '10 -- with a Texas Class 4A Division 2 crown. Johnathan Gray was sensational. After galloping for 241 yards and a score in the final, he ended his career with 10,908 rushing yards and 205 touchdowns, the latter breaking a national record previously held by Onondaga Central's (N.Y.) Michael Hart.
Miramar suffered a crushing end to an otherwise perfect season, falling to Plant 31-20. It doesn't diminish the accomplishments of its "Dark Side" defense. Even with the loss, Tracy Howard and Co. surrendered just 123 yards per game -- and allowed a paltry 35 second half points all season.