Repeat-minded Raiders on the rise
During last year's national championship run, St. Thomas Aquinas stormed out of the gate. It took down a traditional out-of-state power, Skyline (Texas), on the road in Week 1. It knocked off a pair of highly touted foes in its subsequent two games. It punished opponents with a swarming defense and mistake-free attack.
Sound familiar? It should. The Raiders have stuck to the same formula in 2011, and following a 30-6 rout of De La Salle, have earned the top spot in SI.com's power rankings. They're playing even better than last year's group.
It starts on defense. Aquinas limited the Spartans to just six points, the only touchdown coming on an option pass from Andrew Buckley to Anthony Williams. Bart Houston, De La Salle's four-star quarterback, was held to 80 yards with an interception and two fumbles. He seemed lost all game.
On the other side, quarterback Max Lescano and tailback Fred Coppet scored twice apiece for the Raiders, who've now defeated three top 100 opponents. If they can take down a fourth -- undefeated Miramar visits Fort Lauderdale on Oct. 6 -- they may be a Florida 5A title away from a national repeat.
Don Bosco drops despite winning 35-0, and the rest of the top five remains intact. But there was movement at the bottom. Prattville exits after a stunning loss at Opelika, and Gaffney's stock continues to rise following its demolition of Greenville.
After a wild week of action, here's how the Top 10 stacks up.
Fun with numbers: Through three games last season, Aquinas quarterback Jake Rudock collected eight total touchdowns (six passing, two rushing). Through three this year, replacement Max Lescano has notched nine (four passing, five rushing). A question mark in the preseason, he has far exceeded expectations, serving as every bit the steady leader his predecessor was.
And keep an eye on junior defensive end Joey Bosa. While Jelani Hamilton and Bryan Cox Jr. receive the lion's share of attention on the line, Bosa has been equally disruptive, collecting two sacks and two forced fumbles in last week's win. He has offers to Alabama and Florida State.
Despite the lopsided result, Bosco's tussle with in-state Ridgewood was much closer than anticipated. The Maroons dominated the first half -- maintaining possession for more than 19 of the 24 minutes -- and trailed just 7-0 until Leonte Carroo corralled a touchdown with 14 seconds remaining in the second quarter. Coming off a narrow win at Manatee (Fla.), the Ironmen appeared shaky once again.
Still, the dip in the rankings is more reflective of Aquinas' achievements than Bosco's shortcomings. Five players found the end zone, and the defense was typically unforgiving, recording its fifth shutout since 2010. Quarterback Mike Yankovich even threw for two scores, temporarily quelling doubts about his inconsistency under center.
Bosco will have a chance to restate its championship case soon. It plays Bergen Catholic and St. Edward in the next two weeks, the former its fiercest rival and the latter the top-ranked team in Ohio.
Allen continued its machine-like dominance on Friday, methodically dismantling Plano 44-7. The Eagles scored on every one of their first half possessions, and quarterback Alec Morris finished with 305 yards and four touchdowns. For the second time in three games, the defense didn't surrender a point, with Plano's lone score coming on a fumble recovery and return midway through the third quarter.
Scarier yet? Allen is still improving. Wideout Andrew Rodriguez added 145 yards and three touchdowns to his sensational senior campaign, and Missouri commit Jonathan Williams rushed for 95 yards in his first game back from back spasms.
Welcome back, Matt Jones. The four-star Florida-bound tailback was terrific in limited action, rushing for 83 yards and three touchdowns on six carries. He was just as elusive as before his knee injury, and helped Armwood secure its third consecutive rout: It led 61-0 at half and surrendered just eight total yards on defense.
Even with Jones' return, don't expect Wade Edwards' role to diminish. The 5-9 senior grabbed touchdown receptions of 39 and 40 yards, bolstering a brilliant early season showing. Look for Coach Sean Callahan to play both backs -- Jones in the backfield, Edwards in the slot -- to make an already dangerous Hawks' offense (averaging 45.5 points per game) even more so.
Tied with Indianapolis Cathedral at the half, Trinity wideout James Quick opened the third quarter in style. Stationed at his two-yard line, he fielded Justin Taylor's kickoff and bolted 98 yards to the end zone. Then, just over three minutes later, he hauled in a 17-yard touchdown reception. The rout was on.
The sequence was representative of Trinity's early season explosiveness. The 'Rocks are a threat to score on any play, and have outscored opponents 220-56 through five games. The usual suspects continued to thrive: Travis Wright tossed for 171 yards and two touchdowns and running back Dalyn Dawkins raced for 136 and two scores.
Next up? DuPont Manual, another 5-0 Louisville squad averaging 33.2 points per game. Expect fireworks.
Gaffney continued its torrid tear up the rankings, throttling Greenville 73-0 on Friday. It was more of the same: Quarterback Joey Copeland, wideout Quinshad Davis and the Indians defense -- a unit with nine interceptions on the season -- proved to be far too much to handle.
Copeland, in particular, has provided Gaffney with newfound production. Last year's starter, Deedward Burris, finished the year with 37 total touchdowns. Through six games in 2011, Copeland already has 27 (16 passing, 11 rushing), a blistering 4.5 touchdown per game pace.
Though skill players have received most of the credit for the Falcons' unbeaten start, Ryan Watson and Mike Madaras deserve some love as well. Both are four-star offensive line prospects, and have paved the way for Wes Brown and Kendall Fuller's eye-popping statistics.
Watson owns 27 Division-I offers (including West Virginia, Tennessee and South Carolina), while Madaras committed to Maryland in March. They're not flashy, but they're the unsung heroes behind Good Counsel's early success.
The Hawks lived up to their high-flying reputation in a 43-0 romp of Southfield-Lathrup. The Jake Vento-to-Aaron Burbridge connection was open early and often: They hooked up for 215 yards and three touchdowns, seemingly completing passes at will.
Sure, Harrison has faced inferior competition. But that doesn't make its track record any less astounding. Dating back to 2009, Coach John Herrington and Co. have won 19 consecutive contests by an average of nearly four touchdowns per game.
Since its slim loss to Armwood on Aug. 26, Bishop Gorman has crushed the competition. It's won its last four games by a combined 244-13, boasting an average margin of victory of 57.75 points. The Gaels haven't been challenged in nearly a month.
That should change next week. Gorman hosts Anaheim Servite, an undefeated national powerhouse that lost in last year's CIF Pac-5 Finals. And the Friars' defense contains top-level talent: Defensive end Jherremya Leuta-Douyere and linebacker Butch Pauu are both committed to BYU.
After a sixth straight dominant performance, the Wolves finally crack the Top 10. Their consistency has been remarkable, as they've allowed just 21 points -- never more than seven in a single game.
That's thanks, in large part, to linebacker Dillon Lee. The 6-4 senior is one of the nation's best pure tacklers, and appears to be Dont'a Hightower and Courtney Upshaw's heir apparent at Alabama. He's certainly one to watch.