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Let's Do It Again: De La Salle clinches fourth straight state title

Photo: Bradley C. Bower/AP

Wyomissing (Pa.) shocked powerhouse Aliquippa 17-14 to win the PIAA Class AA Championship game. Aliquippa was seeking its first state title since 2003.

California, Florida and Georgia are all wrapped up. Now only the Texas state finals remain unsettled. A familiar name conquered in California while a major upset altered the Texas landscape.

De La Salle reigns: Most California high school football enthusiasts probably know that De La Salle has won four consecutive CIF Open Division state titles. And to the nation, De La Salle (Concord, Calif.) is known as a West Coast powerhouse. Most of the state and some of the nation can usually see De La Salle once a year, sometimes twice. The Spartans are occasionally featured in an early-season intrastate matchup against regional powerhouse, but fans can always see them in the state championship.

De La Salle's sterling reputation is almost solely attributable to head coach Bob Ladouceur. Over 34 seasons, the Spartans set a national record with a 151-game winning streak and won 28 CIF North Coast Section championships, 17 California state championships and seven national championships (as determined by assorted media outlets). Saturday's 48-28 victory over Centennial (Corona, Calif.), the Spartans' fourth consecutive CIF Open state championship, may have been the legendary coach's last.

It is rumored that Ladouceur will be stepping down after this season, but his retirement has been rumored before. He publicly stated that he was considering retirement "after this year or next" and when asked about it after the game simply said that he was "just going to enjoy this one."

If Saturday's game was Ladouceur's last, then his 2012 side sent him off a champion.

The Spartans knocked off a surging Centennial (Corona, Calif.) side, which had set the single-season state record for total offense just one week earlier. Capitalizing on a series of early Centennial mistakes and displaying its trademark power running game, De La Salle raced out to an early 21-point lead in the first half. The Huskies made a concerted comeback effort in the second half, but never got any closer than 14 points.

It was widely assumed that Ladouceur's team could go undefeated in the regular season, but a series of lukewarm midseason victories didn't excite pundits enough. But, naturally, the Spartans ended the season at the top thanks to running back Tiapepe Vitale and quarterback Chris Williams.

De La Salle has a linebacker trio (Michael Hutchings, Victor Egu and David Moffitt) and a defensive end (Austin Hooper) that should all receive Pac-12 scholarships by the time National Signing Day arrives in February. It may have been Laudouceur's final game, and it merely cemented the well-known reality in California high school football: De La Salle is, has always been, and will probably continue to be king.

Allen continues dream season: Allen (Texas) started the 2012 season in the national news when it opened a $60 million football stadium that looked like a nice college football venue instead of a field graced by high schoolers every week. In the first official game on that field, the Eagles shut out the defending state champion, 24-0.

And now, in back-to-back weeks, Allen has rather easily dispatched of two of the state's renowned powerhouses. Two weeks ago, it beat Skyline (Dallas), a team rife with Division-I prospects; The Eagles took care of the Raiders 37-17.

This past weekend, Allen knocked off DeSoto (Texas), a team considered by several outlets to be the best in the nation with a multifaceted, high-powered offense.

In a battle of two squads nicknamed the Eagles, Allen took home the game with a huge third quarter to win 51-36 at SMU's Gerald J. Ford Stadium in University Park, Texas. Allen led only 21-14 at half, but scored three consecutive touchdowns in the third quarter -- off of a kickoff return and two touchdown runs -- to blow the game open.

Allen kept the prolific DeSoto offense down for long enough to build its 28-point third quarter lead in the third quarter. DeSoto finished the game with 473 yards of offense, but 371 of those yards came through the air -- a stark difference from its usual run-based ground game. The Eagles advanced to the Class 5A-I State Championship against Lamar (Houston) next week at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.

Quick hits: Katy (Texas) fought off Steele (Cibolo, Texas) 45-33 to advance to the Class 5A-II state final to play Cedar Hill (Texas). It was the first game that Katy didn't completely annihilate its opponent, as it stretched out its second half offense to outlast the resilient Knights. ... Apopka (Fla.) won the Class 8A Florida state championship with a wild 53-50 win over Cypress Bay. It marked the first time that a team has scored 50 points in a state final and lost. Apopka scored on seven drives of 80 yards or more. ... Wyomissing (Pa.) surprised state powerhouse Aliquippa with a 17-14 win in the PIAA Class AA Championship in Hershey, Pa. Anchored by future Notre Dame linebacker Alex Anzalone, Wyomissing stalled an Aliquippa offense that entered the game averaging over 49 points a game. ... Granite Bay (Calif.) hadn't scored an offensive touchdown all night against Long Beach (Calif.) Poly's defense, but it compiled a six-play, 77-yard drive to score a touchdown with 1:12 remaining that clinched a 21-20 win over Poly in the CIF Division I State Championship Bowl game. ... North Allegheny (Wexford, Pa.) set a state title record by scoring 63 points in its 63-28 rout of Coatesville (Pa.) in the PIAA Class AAAA Championship.

And to the rankings:

1. Bellevue (Wash.)

Record: 14-0

Previous rank: 1

Last week: Season over -- finished state champions

2. John Curtis (River Ridge, La.)

Record: 14-0

Previous rank: 2

Last week: Season over -- finished state champions

3. Katy (Texas)

Record: 15-0

Previous rank: 4

Last week: Defeated Steele (Cibolo, Texas) 45-33 in the Class 5A Division II Area semifinals

Next week: vs. Cedar Hill (Texas) in the Class 5A Division II Area championship

The Tigers had to claw a bit more than usual, but they head to Cowboys Stadium undefeated for their first state title appearance since 2009.

4. De La Salle (Concord, Calif.)

Record: 15-0

Previous rank: 5

Last week: Defeated Centennial (Corona, Calif.) 48-28 in the CIF Open Division championship

Another perfect season for the Spartans and another two trophies to bring back to campus. California's finest program completes another spectactular season.

5. Allen (Texas)

Record: 14-1

Previous rank: NR

Last week: Defeated No. 3 DeSoto 51-36 in the Class 5A Division I Area semifinals

Next week: vs. Lamar (Houston) in the Class 5A Division I Area championship

Yes, the Eagles have lost a game this season (it was 27-24 to vaunted Coppell), but this victory is too impressive not to launch them into the rankings. DeSoto ran all over every team it faced this season, but could not reach 100 yards rushing until the fourth quarter against Allen.

6. Butler (Matthews, N.C.)

Record: 15-0

Previous rank: 6

Season concluded -- finished state champions.

7. Ensworth (Nashville)

Record: 13-0

Previous rank: 7

Season concluded -- finished state champions.

8. University (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

Record: 13-0

Previous rank: 8

Season concluded -- finished state champions.

9. Norcross (Ga.)

Record: 15-0

Previous rank: 10

Last week: Defeated Lovejoy (Ga.) 21-14 in the Georgia Class 6A championship

Star running back Alvin Kamara made a tremendous final impression to college recruiters, scoring two fourth quarter touchdowns in Norcross's stunning comeback. The Blue Devils trailed 14-3 entering the final 12 minutes, but Kamara scored on a 61-yard touchdown reception and a 10-yard touchdown run to clinch the inaugural 6A title. Kamara is still deciding between Alabama and Georgia.

10. Hoover (Ala.)

Record: 16-0

Previous rank: NR

Last game: Defeated Opelika (Ala.) 31-0 in the AHSAA State Championship (12/7)

We never gave Hoover proper respect for its dominating all of its competition this season. The Buccaneers won every game by at least two scores and only allowed 20 points or more twice this season.

Next five: Our Lady of Good Counsel (Olney, Md.), Archbishop Moeller (Cincinnati), Trinity (Louisville), Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas), Booker T. Washington (Miami)

Dropped Out: No. 3 DeSoto (Texas), No. 9 Centennial (Corona, Calif.)

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