California playoffs heat up, Ohio race finally comes to a close
Centennial stunned Su'a Cravens and Vista Murrieta in a thrilling CIF regional final
Long Beach Poly has come back from a 1-3 start to win a regional championship
Archbishop Moeller wins the battle for Ohio with strong defense to beat Whitmer
A few more state titles were decided this past weekend, the California Regional Football Championship Bowl Games were announced, and one season-long member of the top ten was eliminated in its final game of the season. Only the big states (California, Texas and Florida) are continuing at this point, but those races remain intriguing.
Vista Murrieta loses, Poly stuns Mater Dei: The California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) football playoffs put two titles on the line, which makes the regional final one of the most coveted football games of the season. Not only is it a team's opportunity to reign supreme over its local rivals, but it also offers a chance to play in the "Bowl Games. " Each Division (I-IV) plays an opponent from its respective north or south classification before the respective winners matchup for a North-South final.
The most surprising team excluded from the final eight spots is Vista Murrieta (Calif.), which lost 30-28 to Centennial (Corona, Calif.) in the CIF Inland Division championship. This was the third consecutive season that the Broncos and the Huskies faced off in the regional final, and the Huskies managed to exact revenge after last year's loss. Centennial quarterback Robert Webber may have added his name to the growing lineage of elite quarterbacks to come from the school (Nebraska's Taylor Martinez, Arizona's Matt Scott, Arizona State's Michael Eubank) after completing 16 of 23 passes for 259 yards and one touchdown. The junior has no reported Division-I offers yet, but will likely get an extended look.
The Broncos shook off some shoddy offensive play (they turned the ball over four times) to make a furious charge at the end. Down 30-22, Vista Murrieta went to its star, USC commit Su'a Cravens down the stretch. It almost worked. As noted succinctly by Eric Sodenheimer at the Los Angeles Times, Cravens caught a 25-yard pass on fourth down, ran 12 yards to put his team deeper into Centennial territory, and eventually ran 14 yards to bring his team to within two points. Unfortunately for the Broncos, the last ball they needed to get to Cravens was broken up on the two-point conversion attempt.
Centennial has now won seven regional titles in 12 years. The Huskies will meet the dangerous Narbonne (Harbor City, Calif.), which beat Crenshaw (Calif.) 25-0 in its regional final.
The other shocking result from the CIF playoffs was Long Beach Poly's (Long Beach, Calif.) 35-17 win over Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.). Some may remember Long Beach Poly as the vaunted football powerhouse that once featured Mark Carrier, DeSean Jackson, Marcedes Lewis, Willie McGinest and even Snoop Dogg.
But this year was different for the Jackrabbits. They were 1-3 after week four and had lost three consecutive games by the combined score of 105-18. Now, Raul Lara's will take on the dangerous Clovis North (Fresno) this coming Friday.
Archbishop Moeller wins Ohio state title: In what may end up being the most exciting state playoff race this year, the Crusaders of Moeller (Cincinnati) overcame Whitmer (Toledo) 20-12 to win the Ohio Division I Championship. We have spent the past couple of weeks looking into the craze of the Ohio race -- whether it was Mentor's massive upsets, Moeller's persistence despite a brutal regular season schedule, or the final chance for Whitmer to get a state title -- yet the state title closed with some usual hard-hitting football.
The win was the seventh in Moeller's history, but the first it has clinched since 1985. The Crusaders were recognized as one of the top teams in the nation entering the season, but faced a vicious regular season schedule that included top-ranked Ohio teams St. Xavier (Cincinnati), Elder (Cincinnati), St. Edward (Lakewood, Ohio), and the loaded Trinity (Louisville).
North Carolina rushing record: Northern Guilford (Greensboro, N.C.) running back T.J. Logan had a championship to remember. According to the Charlotte Observer, the North Carolina commit rushed for a state record 510 yards and eight touchdowns in his team's 64-26 win over Charlotte Catholic (N.C.).
Previous rank: 1
Last week: Defeated Central (Fort Pierce, Fla.) 51-0
Next week: vs. St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) in FHSAA Class 7A State Semifinal
The Hurricanes easily clinched their regional championship and will now move on to the state semifinals where they will face a strong St. Thomas Aquinas side. It still seems unlikely that the Hurricanes will face a challenge in this game or even the final.
Previous rank: 2
Last week: Defeated Eastside Catholic (Sammamish, Wash.) 35-3 to win the WIAA 3A State Championship
That's the end of the road for a talented Bellevue side, and it never played a close game after Week 1. Football fans will probably hear the names Myles Jack, Budda Baker and Sean Constantine called at the next level.
Previous rank: 3
Last week: Defeated Springfield (La.) 55-0
Next week: vs. Evangel Christian Academy (Shreveport, La.) in the Class 3A State Championship
It was yet another easy win for Curtis, and it will advance to the title game with another traditional state power in Evangel Christian Academy (former high school of quarterbacks John David Booty and Brock Berlin as well as running back Jacob Hester).
Previous rank: 4
Last week: Defeated La Porte (Texas) 55-10
Next week: vs.Cypress Ranch (Houston) in the Conference 5A Divison 2 quarterfinals
Last week we wrote that Katy may get a more difficult test from LaPorte. It didn't. The Tigers will now face a rallying Cypress Ranch, which has won each of its playoff games in breathtaking fashion.
Previous rank: 5
Last week: Defeated Bowie (Texas) 24-6
Next week: vs. Carroll (Southlake, Texas) in Class 5A Division I Area quarterfinals
The Eagles were slowed down a bit -- but certainly not stopped -- this past weekend. They know play the game of the week against defending 5A Division 1 champion Southlake Carroll, which has won 12 consecutive games.
Previous rank: 6
Last week: Defeated James Logan (Union City, Calif.) 52-7
Next week: vs. Folsom (Calif.) in the CIF Division I Football State Championship semifinals
The Spartans obliterated an upstart Logan side in its CIF regional final. With one plaque down, De La Salle will need to survive a high-flying Folsom side that consistently features one of the top offenses in California.
Previous rank: 7
Last week: Defeated Jack Britt (Fayetteville, N.C.) 56-28 in the NCHSAA 4AA Championship
The Bulldogs are champs and completed arguably its most dominating season in school history.
Previous rank: 9
Last week: Defeated Memphis University (Tenn.) 31-14 in the Tennessee Boys State Football II-AA Championship
Next week: The streak goes to 21 and Ensworth again proves their dominance in the Tennessee preps rankings.
Previous rank: 10
Last week: Defeated Clearwater Central Catholic (Clearwater, Fla.) 42-0
Next week: vs. Madison County (Fla.) in the Florida Class 3A State finals
University keeps rolling through
Previous rank: NR
Last week: Defeated Crenshaw (Calif.) 25-0
Next week: vs. Centennial (Corona, Calif.) in the CIF Division I Football State Championship semifinals
Narbonne has essentially obliterated its opponents all season, but it will see a stiff test from Centennial, which knocked Vista Murrieta (Murrieta, Calif.) out of the top 10 this past weekend.
Next five: Our Lady of Good Counsel (Olney, Md.), Archbishop Moeller (Cincinnati), Hoover (Ala.), Trinity (Louisville), Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas)
Dropped Out: No. 8 Vista Murrieta (Murrieta, Calif.)