Bishop Gorman on the rise; Jameis Winston, Gunner Kiel struggle early
With just two of the Top 10 teams opening their seasons last weekend, reworking the power rankings seemed a frivolous task. The top four -- Don Bosco Prep (N.J.), De La Salle (Calif.), Armwood (Fla.) and Prattville (Ala.) -- were all inactive, leaving little room for others to overtake them. The latter two play St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.) and Bishop Gorman (Nev.), respectively, next Friday, high-powered matchups that should alter the high school hierarchy. Until then, it's difficult to make an adjustment.
Plenty of other teams jumped into action, and there was plenty of excitement. There were upsets, star performances and dramatic comeback victories. A duo of top recruits struggled. Perhaps most important, Bishop Gorman and Chaparral (Ariz.) -- two Top 20 teams -- took the field Saturday in Phoenix. Though the power rankings aren't updated, know this: The Gaels are certainly on the rise.
Here are several of the top headlines from prep football's first week.
The Gaels appeared unstoppable. Feature back Shaquille Powell rushed for 300 yards and five touchdowns. The defense surrendered just eight points in the second half. Their success was reflective of Bishop's team-wide dominance: In the third quarter, it outgained Chaparral a lopsided 213 yards to two.
Connor Brewer and Davonte Neal, the Firebirds' highly touted quarterback-receiver tandem, proved largely ineffective. They didn't connect for a touchdown until the game's final two minutes, and by then the deficit was already out of reach. Chaparral's 22 points were a far cry from the nearly 52 per game it averaged in 2010, and it'll need to perform far better to make a run at a third consecutive title.
The result bodes unquestionably well for Bishop Gorman, who now squarely enters the national title discussion. It also heightens anticipation for its follow-up act with Armwood (Fla.). Another win could solidify the Gaels one of the nation's best -- if not
He was also frustrating. Winston tossed three interceptions in the first half alone, completing just 10 of 21 passes for 138 yards. He was far from the five-star passer he's been billed to be, and will need to be significantly sharper in contests against Pleasant Grove (Ala.) and McAdory (Ala.) His progress is something to keep an eye on.
But take the game for what it was: A rust-plagued preseason classic. Winston led two crucial scoring drives in the fourth quarter. That certainly counts for something.
The outcome was stunning for a number of reasons. West Rowan led 14-0 at the half. It located the end zone just twice, uncharacteristic for a team that averaged more than 40 points per game in 2010. Most concerning, it allowed Mooresville to score three second half touchdowns. In its previous six meetings with the Blue Devils, it allowed just one.
The road ahead doesn't get any easier: Salisbury (N.C.), West Rowan's opponent on Sept. 2, won its first game 51-0.
There was a silver lining. The Olympians still won 28-7, and Kiel contributed 70 yards on 10 carries on the ground. He threw two touchdown passes, and several of his incompletions were the fault of his receiving corps, a primarily green unit with a knack for drops.
But Kiel's accuracy was streaky. He didn't resemble the wunderkind quarterback he's been in games past. If anything, the performance put the nation on alert: Kiel needs to improve. And he'll need to complete far more than four passes to justify his five-star hype.
Tailback Jela Duncan paved the way with 217 rushing yards, while quarterback Andrew Goodman added two passing touchdowns in the Mavericks' 28-20 victory. Butler signal caller Riley Ferguson countered with three touchdown tosses of his own -- including one to older brother Zach -- but it wasn't enough. The Mallard Creek defense, anchored by linebacker Michael Savage and defensive back Takhare Donalson, surrendered nothing down the stretch.
Expect both squads to resume their winning ways moving forward. Mallard Creek takes on 0-1 Sun Valley (N.C.) on Friday, while Butler faces off with Olympic (N.C.), a team that went just 6-6 in 2010.
South Panola routed West Point (Miss.) 37-17 behind the backfield platoon of Antonio Connor and Marcus Dixon, a tandem that combined for four touchdowns. Warren Central steamrolled Merrillville (Ind.) 64-13, outgaining the Pirates 612 yards to 197. Trinity dusted off Brentwood Academy (Tenn.) 45-7, a result that -- other than Bishop Gorman's statement win -- may have been the most impressive of the weekend. Brentwood allowed just 17.2 points per game in 2010, making the Shamrocks' 45 all the more striking.
All will look to follow the same script next week, cementing their reputations as national title contenders. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Here are the Top 10 from last week, accompanied by each team's upcoming game.
First game: Sept. 10 vs. Mission Viejo (Calif.)
First game: Sept. 2 vs. Bellarmine (Calif.)
First game: Aug. 26 vs. Bishop Gorman
First game: Aug. 27 vs. St. Thomas Aquinas
First game: Aug. 27 vs. Cedar Hill (Texas)
Next game: Aug. 26 vs. Armwood
First game: Aug. 27 vs. Prattville
First game: Aug. 26 vs. Tyler Lee (Texas)
Next game: Aug. 27 at Hoover (Ala.)
Next game: Aug. 27 at Cass Tech (Mich.)