The league matchups are getting progressively better, which means the rankings will be shaken up. Perennial Orange County powerhouse Mater Dei reasserted its importance in an upset victory over Santa Margarita, the best team in South Carolina suffered a shocking loss, and Bellevue made a compelling case for why it might be the best team in the nation.
We're running out of weeks in the regular season, and the competition for the top spots is heating up.
Wolverines devour rival Wildcats: Bellevue (Wash.) announced itself as one of the top teams in the country when it knocked off Texas powerhouse Trinity (Euless, Texas) to open the 2012 season. Its dominating win against one of Washington's best on Friday night means that it could be the best in the country.
The Wolverines turned The Evergreen State's most anticipated game of the year into a laugher by halftime and annihilated Mount Si (Snoqualmie, Wash.), 49-10. Prior to Friday night's game, the Wildcats were ranked second in Washington by The Seattle Times, had won every game by at least three touchdowns, and hadn't allowed more than eight points in a game this season. By halftime on Friday, Mount Si was losing 49-3 on its home field.
Bellevue two-way star Myles Jack (currently committed to UCLA) dominated on both sides of the ball, bulldozing the Wildcat defense for a 78-yard touchdown run in the first quarter and anchoring a defense that suffocated Mount Si all night.
While Jack and fellow linebacker Sean Constantine are due to head off to Pac-12 schools next season (Constantine is committed to Washington), junior Budda Baker may have bolstered his offer sheet with an electric performance on Friday night. Baker scored three touchdowns, a 53-yard run and two interceptions for TDs, in the rout.
Bellevue now has a fairly easy schedule to end the regular season. For those curious, the Wolverines will not have an opportunity to take on USC commit Max Browne and Skyline (Sammamish, Wash.) since the two teams play in different divisions.
Santa Margarita falls: The absence of dual-threat quarterback Johnny Stanton finally haunted the Eagles on Friday night, and it came against a fierce Trinity League rival. With a tremendous collection of Division-I talent and the Nebraska commit marshalling the offense, Santa Margarita appeared to be the best team in California. But the loss of Stanton to a torn ACL (he reportedly played two more quarters after it was torn) eliminated the team's best offensive threat.
And on Friday, Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) exploited Stanton's absence.
WAGNER: Mater Dei's Rollinson churns out the finest QBs
The Monarchs, who missed the CIF playoffs last season for the first time since 1988, knocked off the Eagles 24-7 to shake up the Trinity League standings and reassert their importance in Southern California. Mater Dei held a 10-0 lead for most of the game, but the Eagles thrust themselves back in when sophomore quarterback Kyle Sweet connected a 30-yard touchdown pass on 4th and 27.
The thrilling play wouldn't be enough. Mater Dei held the ball for most of the fourth quarters and tacked on two late touchdowns for the victory. The Trinity League race is wide open as a result, and it should make for an unpredictable race towards CIF.
Byrnes shocked: After a resounding victory over one of Virginia's best in Oscar Smith (Chesapeake, Va.), Byrnes (Duncan, S.C.) looked like it had the schedule to run the table. The Rebels would face teams from a moderately competitive district in a small state, and this was a balanced team on both sides of the ball.
And then came Gaffney.
In one of the biggest stunners of the year, Gaffney (S.C.) used a late score to knock off the South Carolina powerhouse 22-18.
The star of the show was Gaffney senior running back Hyleck Foster, who scored the game-winning touchdown with under a minute left and then sealed the victory with an interception just moments later. It marks the first Byrnes loss of the year and easily one of the largest national upsets of the season.
Previous rank: 1
Last week: Defeated Cypress Bay (Weston, Fla.) 42-20
Next week: @ Venice (Venice, Fla.)
Cord Sandberg had a great night; he anchored the Hurricane offense in a rocky, but comfortable 42-20 victory over Cypress Bay and was named homecoming king. Not bad, right? Makes you reminisce about high school... if you were one of those rare star quarterback/homecoming king combos.
Previous rank: 4
Last week: Defeated Mount Si (Snoqualmie, Wash.) 49-10
Next week: vs. Liberty (Renton, Wash.)
The Wolverines get the bump after their thrashing of the second best team in the state. Barring any significant meltdown, Bellevue should cruise until deep into the playoffs.
Previous rank: 3
Last week: Defeated Newman (New Orleans) 50-0
Next week: TBA
Curtis continues to dominate local competition -- even in pink jerseys. The Patriots came out with pink to honor Breast Cancer Awareness month, and then steamrolled another opponent. In any color, Curtis will be one of the best teams in the country.
Previous rank: 5
Last week: Defeated St. Francis (Athol Springs, NY) 56-0
Next week: @ St. Xavier (Cincinnati)
The Wildcats essentially had an extra practice this past weekend, but they get their best test of the season next week. Cincinnati's St. Xavier has had one of the most difficult schedules in the nation (St. Ignatius is the top team in Ohio, the Bombers have played the other two). With the Bobcats' perfect record on the line, this could be the best game in Ohio this season.
Previous rank: 7
Last week: Defeated Tift Couny (Tifton, Ga.) 47-0
Next week: Bye
Tift County is far from a marquee opponent (it is now 2-5), but Camden County continues to notch dominating wins whoever it plays. The Wildcats have not allowed more than 12 points in any game this season and have scored at least 39 in every game.
Previous rank: 6
Last week: Defeated Amador Valley (Pleasanton, Calif.) 52-24
Next week: vs. Monte Vista (Danville, Calif.)
The Spartans played a game that was never necessarily in question, but the defense surrendered 10 first quarter points. That defense will be in for a significant test next week when it plays a Monte Vista side that has scored at least 44 points in three consecutive games.
Previous rank: 9
Last week: Defeated Male (Louisville) 38-7
Next week: vs. Archbishop Moeller (Cincinnati)
Trinity only has one game left this season, but it'll be an Ohio Valley showdown for the ages when it takes on the powerful Archbishop Moeller.
Previous rank: 10
Last week: Defeated Great Oak (Temecula, Calif.) 65-14
Next week: @ Murrieta Valley (Murrieta, Calif.)
It seems unlikely that the Broncos will record a third consecutive blowout win this Friday; Su'a Cravens and company will take on another undefeated side from the same city in a game that is sure to pack the Murrieta Valley stands.
Previous rank: NR
Last week: Defeated Katy Taylor (Katy, Texas) 56-7
Next week: @ Seven Lakes (Katy, Texas)
Arguably the top team in Texas, the Tigers get their first appearance in the rankings this season after dominating a city rival. The Tigers' schedule has been a tad underwhelming up to this point, but running back Adam Taylor and defensive end Matt Dimon anchor a fast Katy side that has scored at least 56 points in its last four games.
Previous rank: NR
Last week: Defeated Providence (Charlotte) 45-14
Next week: @ South Mecklenburg (Charlotte)
North Carolina gets its first representation in Power Rankings this season, and it's predominantly due to the outstanding play of linebacker Peter Kalambayi (committed to Stanford) and quarterback Riley Ferguson (committed to Tennessee). The Bulldogs are one of the most talented teams in the country, and they have won every game since August 24 by at least 31 points. After a 27-6 Week 1 victory over Mallard Creek (Charlotte), Butler has scored at least 40 points in every game.
Next Five: Narbonne (Harbor City, Calif.), Miami Central (Fla.), Hoover (Ala.), University (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), Santa Margarita (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.)
Dropped Out: No. 2 Santa Margarita, No. 8 Byrnes