Posted: Monday September 26, 2011 11:43AM ; Updated: Monday September 26, 2011 3:33PM
Ben Glicksman
Ben Glicksman>INSIDE HIGH SCHOOL

Repeat-minded Raiders on the rise

Story Highlights

St. Thomas Aquinas takes over the top spot after a 30-6 rout of De La Salle

Despite winning 35-0, Don Bosco was inconsistent for the second straight game

Gaffney dominates, Prattville stumbles and much more from a wild Week 6

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Fred Coppet (right) rushed for two touchdowns in St. Thomas Aquinas' resounding 30-6 win over De La Salle.
Fred Coppet (right) rushed for two touchdowns in St. Thomas Aquinas' resounding 30-6 win over De La Salle.
Robert Sansoe/De La Salle

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.

1. St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale)

Record: 3-0

Previous rank: 2

Last game: 30-6 win over De La Salle (Calif.)

Next game: Sept. 30 at McArthur (Fla.)

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.

2. Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.)

Record: 3-0

Previous rank: 1

Last game: 35-0 win over Ridgewood (N.J.)

Next game: Sept. 30 vs. Bergen Catholic (N.J.)

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.

3. Allen (Allen, Texas)

Record: 4-0

Previous rank: 3

Last game: 44-7 win at Plano (Texas)

Next game: Sept. 30 vs. Lewisville (Texas)

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.

4. Armwood (Seffner, Fla.)

Record: 4-0

Previous rank: 4

Last game: 68-0 win over Leto (Fla.)

Next game: Sept. 30 at Jefferson (Fla.)

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.

5. Trinity (Louisville)

Record: 5-0

Previous rank: 5

Last game: 36-14 win over Indianapolis Cathedral (Ind.)

Next game: Oct. 7 vs. DuPont Manual (Ky.)

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.

6. Gaffney (Gaffney, S.C.)

Record: 6-0

Previous rank: 10

Last game: 73-0 win at Greenville (S.C.)

Next game: Oct. 7 at Clover (S.C.)

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.

7. Our Lady of Good Counsel (Olney, Md.)

Record: 4-0

Previous rank: 9

Last game: 49-7 win over Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.)

Next game: Oct. 1 at Red Lion Christian Academy (Del.)

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.

Wide receiver Aaron Burbridge, a Michigan State commit, racked up 215 yards and three touchdowns against Southfield-Lathrup.
Wide receiver Aaron Burbridge, a Michigan State commit, racked up 215 yards and three touchdowns against Southfield-Lathrup.
Jack Mumford

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.

8. Harrison (Farmington Hills, Mich.)

Record: 5-0

Previous rank: 11

Last game: 43-0 win at Southfield-Lathrup (Mich.)

Next game: Sept. 30 vs. Oak Park (Mich.)

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.

9. Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas)

Record: 5-1

Previous rank: 13

Last game: 74-6 win at Sierra Vista (Nev.)

Next game: Sept. 30 vs. Servite (Calif.)

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.

10. Buford (Buford, Ga.)

Record: 6-0

Previous rank: 14

Last game: 35-7 win over Lovett (Ga.)

Next game: Sept. 30 vs. Decatur (Ga.)

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.

Next five: Katy (Texas); Trinity (Euless, Texas); Mallard Creek (Charlotte); DeSoto (DeSoto, Texas); St. Edward (Lakewood, Ohio)

Notes

Rushel Shell is the new WPIAL rushing king. A 205-yard showing against Mt. Lebanon (Pa.) upped the Hopewell (Aliquippa, Pa.) senior's career total to 7,718, breaking the previous mark (7,646) set by Fort Cherry's Mike Vernilo. Shell is now just 1,309 yards shy of the alltime Pennsylvania mark.

Moeller (Cincinnati) stayed unbeaten behind some savvy, NFL-style strategy. Coach John Rodenberg called a timeout moments before St. Xavier tried a game-tying field goal with six seconds remaining. After drilling the original 32-yard attempt, Nick Roemer was forced to kick again, and missed wide right.

A brawl broke out in Lamar's (Texas) 42-16 win over Chavez (Texas). Tempers flared in Houston after a late hit. Thanks to Hot Clicks for the link.

More of the same for Dorial Green-Beckham. The nation's top receiver reeled in 10 catches for 129 yards and two scores in Hillcrest's (Mo.) 35-8 win over Glendale. He simply can't be covered.

Opelika's upset of Prattville ranks among the biggest in Alabama 6A history. A grandiose statement? Perhaps. But when Will Black converted a 25-yard field goal with 10 seconds to go, he sealed one of the most improbable wins of the season. Since 2006, Opelika was outscored 106-48 in four consecutive losses to the Lions.

Bart Houston's early season struggles continue. Mentioned earlier, he went just 6-of-16 for 80 yards and an interception in De La Salle's 30-6 loss to Aquinas. The four-star passer has now thrown for just 244 yards through three games.

But Cocoa's woes finally ended. Entering the season with a 34-game winning streak, the Tigers dropped their first three contests to Colerain (Ohio), Skyline (Texas) and Miami Central. They exhausted their frustration against Warner Christian (Fla.), stomping the Eagles 55-0.

Trinity (Euless, Texas) escaped with a 38-35 win. The Trojans clipped Colleyville Heritage (Texas) thanks to missed field goals in both the end of regulation and overtime. Joel Kimpela scampered for 209 yards in the victory.

St. Edward continued its sparkling start. The Eagles improved to 5-0 following a surprisingly one-sided 52-13 rout of Jefferson (Fla.). Their season --and dark horse title hopes -- hinges on an Oct. 8 visit to Don Bosco in Ramsey.

 
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