A couple of Cincinnati's recruits were still playing high school football in Florida this weekend, and one will be playing again next weekend for a 5A state championship.
A couple weeks ago, Darrin Williams and Brendon Kay led their respective high school teams to state titles in Michigan. Not to be outdone, Dominique Battle and Patrick Lambert are in a similar position in Florida.
Dominique Battle's American Heritage Delray school captured Florida's 1A state championship Friday night when Jordan Spennato kicked his first field goal (40 yarder) of the season as time expired to give the Stallions a 31-28 victory.
American Heritage had bludgeoned its way through the playoffs into the finals beating three schools by at least three touchdowns each until matching up with North Florida Christian coached by Casey Weldon (ex-Florida State quarterback). In fact, Friday's state final game was only the second time this season that the Stallions' final score was closer than a three touchdown margin, and the other close call produced the only blemish on American Heritage's 13-1 record in a 23-20 loss to King's Academy.
There was plenty of big time talent in the game despite the two schools' small enrollments (1A is the second smallest division in Florida). In addition to Dominique Battle, American Heritage's quarterback, Justin Feagin, who rushed for 206 yards last night, holds scholarship offers from both Cincinnati and West Virginia. Christian's sophomore quarterback, Rick Trickett (son of former West Virginia O-line coach and current Florida State O-line coach), was 18 of 25 for 307 yards. His favorite targets were Melvin Ray who had 146 yards and three TD passes on the evening along with Darrius McQueen's 117 yards.
Bearcat Insider spoke with Dominique on Saturday morning about his performance. "I broke up a few passes, and I had quite a few tackles. I also caught a couple passes on offense. I would have had three catches, but one got called back for holding." Battle said he had at least 30 catches on the season for over 500 yards and 11 touchdowns, but Cincinnati is recruiting him as a defensive back. Dominique said he had seven interceptions on the season.
Both Battle and Feagin play both ways for the Stallions and had their hands full trying to contain Melvin Ray (four star receiver) and Darrius McQueen (two star receiver). "They were running a spread offense because we stopped their run so we played with two safeties, and I was one of them." Ray, who is committed to Alabama, scored over Dominique for one of his three scores. "I tipped a pass in the end zone, but he (Ray) still caught it." Playing both ways put Battle and Feagin at a disadvantage on defense. "He (Ray) was well rested while Justin and I had to play both ways."
Battle said he was still a solid UC commitment and intended to sign his letter of intent with the Bearcats in February. Dominique took his official visit during the season.
Even though the regular season ended Friday night, Battle will play next week in the Outback Bowl, an all-star game for Palm Beach County. He will play receiver.
Patrick Lambert's Kissimmee Osceola Kowboy's also won their state 5A semifinal game Friday night in overtime by a 27-21 score against the Jacksonville Bartram Trail Bears. The undefeated Kowboys play for the state championship at 7 o'clock December 14th against Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas (13-1) at the Citrus Bowl.
Osceola was really tested when they lost their starting quarterback, T'Sharvan Bell, in the first quarter with a knee injury. Bell is being recruited by Auburn, Clemson, Georgia Tech, South Carolina and a host of others. Making the situation even worse, Kowboy star running back, Kwamaine "Bubba" Brown, injured his foot but still managed to run for 142 yards and three scores. Bell's status for next week's championship game was unknown as of Saturday morning.
Lambert led an Osceola defense that held Bartram Trail to -8 rushing yards, but the Bears turned to their Clemson bound quarterback, Kyle Parker. All Parker did was throw for 329 yards and two scores to go with a running touchdown although one of those TD passes was a 51 yard Hail Mary before the half. In the end, Bartram Trail's inability to run the football helped the Kowboys to three interceptions including a big one in overtime.
Just like Dominique Battle, Patrick Lambert is getting the opportunity to play against top talent. In addition to Kyle Parker, the Bears' offense boasts Charles Bailey, a three star receiver headed to Mississippi State and Andrew Parker, a three star tight end headed to Wake Forest.
Patrick Lambert spoke to Bearcat Insider about the Kowboy defensive performance. "Our defense really stepped up. We had to. We've really turned it on. They had a lot of talent." Osceola had given up only 14 points in the two previous playoff games.
The 6' 1"/185 pound Lambert estimated he has made about 170 stops on the season to go with one interception, and he again confirmed his solid commitment to the University of Cincinnati.