Top 10 holds form as playoffs near
Each member of the Top 15 either won or had a bye over Halloween weekend
After its win over Archbishop Moeller, Trinity is 40-for-41 in the red zone in 2011
Armwood's defense dominates, Gaffney exacts in-state revenge and much more
Strange weekend, befitting the Halloween holiday. As teams across the country prepared for their regular season finales, the nation was hit by a rare nor'easter, wreaking havoc on the majority of the East Coast. Fields in Florida fell victim to flooding. Games from Maryland to Maine were blanketed by snow. The weather was uncharacteristic and -- much like the prep season to date -- largely unpredictable.
This week's results, however, played out entirely as expected. Each member of the Top 15 either won or enjoyed a bye, serving as the calm before the storm that is the high school football playoffs. As October draws to a close, the rankings remain exactly intact, with Don Bosco leading a bevy of late season contenders.
Several, including Trinity (Ky.), Gaffney (S.C.) and Bishop Gorman (Nev.), kick off their respective postseasons Nov. 4. The playoff push is about to begin. Get ready.
Previous rank: 1
Last game: 45-0 win over Paramus Catholic (N.J.)
Next game: Nov. 4 vs. Clifton (N.J.)
With seven games now in the books, here's how Don Bosco stacks up to its 2009 group, a team that went on to win the mythical national championship.
|Don Bosco: 2009 vs. 2011|
The similarities bode well for Bosco. Following a 45-0 demolition of Paramus Catholic -- a game in which the Ironmen scored 28 points in the third quarter -- the top spot is theirs to lose. But others are closing fast. If the offense doesn't pick up its production, Bosco could be overtaken by Trinity, Armwood or Gaffney in coming weeks.
Previous rank: 2
Last game: 49-14 win over Archbishop Moeller (Ohio)
Next game: Nov. 4 vs. Kenton (Ky.)
How efficient is Trinity's offense? After converting all four red zone opportunities against Archbishop Moeller, another nationally ranked opponent, the 'Rocks have now scored on 40-of-41 red zone possessions, a 97.6 percent clip. The most efficient NFL team, by comparison, is Tennessee, a unit that's converted just 70.6 percent of its chances.
With the win, the Shamrocks clinched their 12th perfect regular season in program history, and now look to capture their ninth state title in the past 11 years. Their first foe is familiar: Kenton, 2-8 in '11, played Trinity for the 2008 Class 6A final, a 48-0 'Rocks victory.
Previous rank: 3
Last game: 21-0 win over Plant (Fla.)
Next game: Nov. 4 at King (Fla.)
Through nine games this season, Armwood's defense has allowed three touchdowns.Think about that for a moment. It surrendered two scores against Bishop Gorman (No. 7) and one against Hillsborough, otherwise blanking opponents for 31 of 32 quarters. It prompts the question: Are the Hawks the best defensive unit in Florida prep history?
Here's what most impressive: They're shutting down top-level competition. With a 21-0 shutout of previously unbeaten Plant, Armwood's opponents are a combined 43-34. The Hawks have outscored them 376-46.
Previous rank: 4
Last game: 49-20 win over Northwestern (S.C.)
Next game: Nov. 4 at Spartansburg (S.C.)
In addition to establishing itself as a bona fide title contender, Gaffney's 2011 campaign has exacted several measures of revenge. Since 2008, the Indians are 1-10 against Dorman, Greenwood, Byrnes and Northwestern. Here's how they've fared against that foursome this year.
|2011 Gaffney Indians|
If there's a more dangerous quarterback-to-wide receiver tandem than Gaffney's Joey Copeland-to-Quinshad Davis, I'd like to see it. The two connected for 192 yards and a touchdown against the Trojans, and have now hooked up for 1,378 yards and 19 scores on the season.
Previous rank: 5
Last game: 52-14 win over Katy Taylor (Texas)
Next game: Nov. 5 at Cinco Ranch (Texas)
Even with three-star quarterback Brooks Haack under center, Katy has embraced the ground-and-pound philosophy. It's averaging more than 243 rushing yards, and has surpassed the 300-yard mark three times in 2011. Friday brought more of the same: The Tigers tallied 349 yards on the ground, barreling Katy Taylor en route to a 52-14 victory.
Katy also experienced a Halloween scare; however, as Haack absorbed a potentially injury-inducing hit midway through the third quarter. He returned after just one play and should be at full health for the district 19-5A title clash against Cinco Ranch. The Tigers beat the Cougars 56-3 on the same stage in 2010.
Previous rank: 6
Last game: 54-19 win at Bishop O'Connell (Va.)
Next game: Nov. 4 vs. Archbishop Carroll (Washington, D.C.)
With Hopewell's Rushel Shell's commitment to Pitt two weeks ago, Wes Brown may have become the nation's most coveted running back recruit. The 6-1, 200-pounder has the strength to bowl over defenders, the shiftiness to juke them and the speed to blow by them (he runs a 4.5 40). All were on display Saturday: Brown galloped for 211 yards and four touchdowns, including a 60-yard burst early in the third quarter.
Even better for the Falcons, they're crushing teams with limited production from all-everything athlete Stefon Diggs. Despite his accounting for just 206 yards over the past four games, Good Counsel is 4-0 and has outscored the competition 152-54.
Record: 11-1 (includes forfeit win against Western (Nev.))
Previous rank: 7
Last game: 56-0 win over Bonanza (Nev.)
Next game: Nov. 4 vs. Cheyenne (Nev.)
Bishop Gorman concluded its regular season in typically dominant fashion, beating Bonanza 56-0. Shaquille Powell rushed for 117 yards, Tajon Allen returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown and Zack Singer notched three sacks in the shutout, the team's fifth in eight in-state games. Gorman has outscored opponents 511-48 since Aug. 26, a stat that grows increasingly cartoonish with each passing week.
After capturing their fifth consecutive Southwest Division title, the Gaels begin the playoffs next Friday against Cheyenne. If the transitive property applies, it shouldn't be close: Arbor View (Nev.) stomped Cheyenne 45-14 on Oct. 6. Two weeks later, Gorman rolled Arbor View 56-7.
Previous rank: 8
Last game: 42-20 win at Everglades (Fla.)
Next game: Oct. 31 at Western (Fla.)
Are you ready for some football? Due to severe weather conditions that postponed Friday's Miramar-Western clash, Florida fans will be treated to a rare Monday night showdown. Expect a blowout: The last time these two met on Oct. 22, 2010, the Patriots won 39-10, limiting the Wildcats to just 93 total yards.
As the Class 7A playoffs draw nearer, look for coach Damon Cogdell and Co. to maintain balance on the ground. While quarterback Cam Hudge receives the lion's share of credit, eight Patriots have rushed for touchdowns on the year, led by senior D'Vontis Arnold, with six.
Previous rank: 9
Last game: 28-0 win over Greater Atlanta Christian (Ga.)
Next game: Nov. 4 vs. Blessed Trinity (Ga.)
Buford traveled to Blessed Trinity for its Aug. 19 season-opener, and proceeded to thump the Titans: The Wolves scored on every first half possession, forced three first half turnovers and rumbled for 277 rushing yards in a 42-0 beatdown.
Nearly three months later, Buford faces Blessed Trinity again, this time for the Region 6-AA championship. Expect it to be closer -- the Titans won their last five games, including three on the road -- but not by much. Quarterback Sam Clay and running back Andre Johnson could be resting for much of the second half.
Previous rank: 10
Last game: 28-21 win at Hebron (Texas)
Next game: Nov. 4 at Flower Mound (Texas)
Much like their nearby NFL counterpart, the Dallas Cowboys, Texas' Allen Eagles also have a flair for the dramatic. After pulling out nailbiters against Plano East and Marcus, coach Tom Westerberg and Co. staged another comeback against Hebron, escaping 28-21. Trailing 21-7 in the third quarter, Allen scored the final 21 points, punctuated by Jonathan Williams' five-yard touchdown run with under two minutes to go.
By remaining unbeaten in Texas Class 5A Division I, the Eagles stay in the national championship picture. They just need to win out. Quarterback Alec Morris and wideout Andrew Rodriguez will need to step it up: The former tossed three interceptions against the Hawks, while the latter recorded two catches for 21 yards.
Next five: DeSoto (DeSoto, Texas), St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale), Mallard Creek (Charlotte), Warren Central (Indianapolis), Trinity (Euless, Texas)
Other notables: Camden County (Kingsland, Ga.), Bentonville (Bentonville, Ark.), Lake Travis (Austin), Bellevue (Bellevue, Wash.), Harrison (Farmington Hills, Mich.), Central Catholic (Pittsburgh), Hamilton (Chandler, Ariz.), Skyline (Dallas), Servite (Anaheim, Calif.), De La Salle (Concord, Calif.)
Dorial-Green Beckham added another record to his collection. The nation's top receiver hauled in 11 catches for 303 yards and four touchdowns, passing Evangel Academy's (La.) Abram Booty as the country's all-time leading career receiver. He now has with 6,209 yards and 69 touchdowns at Hillcrest (Mo.), and 98 catches, 1,986 yards and 21 scores in 2011.
Rushel Shell became Pennsylvania's second all-time leading rusher. The newly committed Pitt tailback continued his own record-breaking quest, rushing for 216 yards and four touchdowns in Hopewell's 31-14 win. He boasts 8,541 career rushing yards, 496 shy of the all-time mark.
Flooding washed away several Sunshine State showdowns. In addition to the Miramar-Western matchup, the St. Thomas Aquinas-Plantation and Ely-Boyd Anderson game, among others, faced severe weather-related implications.
Joe Pa wasn't the only coach to reach a milestone this weekend. John Curtis Christian's (La.) J.T. Curtis notched his remarkable 500th career victory with a 49-6 win over Clark (La.). In his legendary tenure, he also has 23 state championships and 11 perfect seasons. Congrats, J.T.
Mentor (Ohio) suffered the Halloween upset of the weekend. Twinsburg took down the previously unbeaten Cardinals, Ohio's top-ranked team, after withstanding a 21-point fourth quarter comeback to win 38-35. Tigers' quarterback Jalen Washington threw for 359 yards and three touchdowns.
Johnathan Gray had another stat-stuffing performance. The Aledo standout ran for 258 yards and seven touchdowns, leading the Bearcats to a 67-42 victory over Birdville. After starting 1-2, coach Tim Buchanan and Co. have now secured at least a share of the District 5-4A title.
With the playoffs approaching, take note of these results. Warren Central whipped Arsenal Tech 61-14, Mallard Creek mauled Hough 51-14, Camden County crushed Johnson 55-0 and Lake Travis thrashed Marble Falls 57-0. All remain undefeated, lurking just outside the Top 10.