On Saturday, Stanford had arguably its most important recruiting day of the year to date as the program hosted 11 official visitors and one unofficial visitor (Warren Reuland). The official visitors were: Harold Bernard, Covaughn Deboskie, David DeCastro, Quinn Evans, Delano Howell, Andrew Luck, Luke Matthews, Sam Schwartzstein, Chase Thomas, and Marcus Turner. Under-the-radar offensive tackle prospect Kevin Murphy also attended the visit weekend (officially) and watched the game with the large contingent of prospective future Cardinal players. With so many committed prospects and a couple of major outstanding targets all on hand for the game, the weekend held undeniable importance for the staff's efforts in using the 2008 recruiting class to spearhead a turnaround of the football program. Stay tuned for updates in the coming weeks regarding how this big official visit weekend and the other trips hosted by the program this fall affect Stanford's recruiting outlook. Meanwhile, these prospects and the others on Stanford's wish list competed on high school fields across the country, with Luck, Michael Thomas, and Zaviar Gooden enjoying bye weeks for their teams. While Luck took the opportunity to visit Stanford, Thomas began his tour of official visits with a trip to Northwestern. Bernard did not play because he is recuperating from a broken fibula. The weekend's action:
* Last Wednesday brought big news for Sam Schwartzstein when he learned that he had been admitted to Stanford through the rigorous application process. Armed with that peace of mind, Schwartzstein made his commitment to the Cardinal public and departed to Stanford for an official visit. First, though, he had business to take care of in helping Southlake (Tex.) Carroll bounce back from their tough loss in a nationally televised game the previous week. For a time, the win seemed in danger for the Dragons for the second week in a row, but Carroll stormed back after falling behind 21-7. They eventually prevailed 49-42 after North Texas quarterback commit Riley Dodge exploded for 7 touchdown passes. His favorite target was Oregon wide receiver commit Blake Cantu, who compiled 12 catches for 221 yards and 3 touchdowns. Schwartzstein, as always, provided the protection.
* Before coming north for the visit festivities, Stanford commit Marcus Turner led his overmatched Long Beach (Calif. ) Cabrillo team into battle against the nationally acclaimed Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei juggernaut. The game went essentially as expected with Mater Dei dominating from the start and cruising to a 48-8 victory. Khaled Holmes and the line kept Matt Barkley clean and Barkley once again picked apart the opposing defense, throwing for another 5 touchdown passes on 18-of-24 passing for 287 yards. Barkley did not, however, pick on Turner. In the half of action in which Barkley did his damage, he only tested Turner once and that resulted in one of Barkley's few incomplete passes. The loss was Cabrillo's third in a row and they now sit at 1-3. Mater Dei remains one of the nation's top teams at a convincing 3-0 with over 50 points per game powered by a seemingly unstoppable passing attack.
* In one of the marquee games for the season in California, two of the top programs in the state squared off as Stanford commit Chris Owusu and Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian took on Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure. Bonaventure pulled out to a 27-0 lead and hung on for a 41-33 win. St. Bonaventure's triumph was largely a testament to their new weapon Darrell Scott, the West's top player and nation's top running back. Scott carried the ball 27 times for 247 yards and 5 touchdowns. Oaks Christian's comeback attempt was led by Boise State commit Chris Potter and Owusu, who had 9 catches for 165 yards, including the 44-yard touchdown catch that started the Oaks Christian comeback. Owusu showed his big-play ability, adding a 41-yard reception to that 44-yard touchdown. Potter's final line was outstanding as he completed 20 of 25 passes for 283 yards and 2 touchdowns, rushed for another touchdown and 57 yards, and intercepted a pass as a defensive back. Ultimately, however, the best efforts of Owusu and Potter were not enough to overcome the big early lead built up by St. Bonaventure and Scott's powerful running. For Oaks Christian, routinely on the other side of blowout wins, including a 59-13 dismantling of the Scott-less St. Bonaventure team last year, it was the first loss in 49 games and came just one week after Schwartzstein's Southlake (Tex.) Carroll lost for the first time in 50 games.
* Stanford commit Delano Howell had a good weekend as he helped Newhall (Calif.) Hart team improve to 3-0 with a 41-16 win and then traveled to Palo Alto to see his future teammates in action. Howell carried the ball 19 times for 93 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also made big contributions in the field position battle, averaging nearly 30 yards per return on his 7 punt returns. The game was rare in that Howell was actually out-rushed by a teammate since quarterback B.R. Holbrook rushed for 136 yards. According to Hart coach Mike Herrington, that oddity was prompted by an opponent strategy that keyed in on Howell: "They had a spy on him all the time. At least it seemed that way." Howell was critical of his own performance, offering that "I think the offense needs to step up. The defense stepped up and set up a lot of our scores."
* Stanford commit Warren Reuland did not enjoy a similarly happy lead-up to his unofficial visit at Stanford as his Mission Viejo (Calif.) team lost for the first time this year in falling 26-14 in a shocker. Allan Bridgford was intercepted three times and Mission Viejo was stifled in the second half, only gaining 19 yards and converting 3 first downs. Bridgford was also pressured all night and had one particularly rough sequence in the fourth quarter when the same player sacked him on three consecutive plays. His final stat line was a frustrating 11-of-26 passing for 122 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions. Mission Viejo now gets a week off to lick their wounds and prepare for their big showdown with De La Salle in two weeks.
* Cincinnati (Ohio) St. Xavier continued their attempted march to a mythical national championship with a 30-0 win that made them 5-0 on the season. The game was the first shutout of the year for Stanford commit Fred Craig and the St. X defense. The margin of victory obscures the quality of the opponent, the third out-of-state team St. X has faced in 2007. St. X may face the toughest schedule of any team in the nation. Of particular note in this game, star running back Darius Ashley made his return from an ankle injury and rushed for 103 yards and 2 touchdowns on 13 carries.
* Bellevue (Wash.) won their third game in a row, this time by a big 43-10 margin, and the offense continues to gel each week. The 51-yard touchdown run in the third quarter that turned the tide and sent Bellevue off on their way to a victory was enabled by a big block by Stanford commit David DeCastro, who sets the tone for Bellevue's run game.
* In a quirky coincidence, Stanford punter commit Matt Zubyk faced off against potential kicker prospect Travis Golia. Zubyk's San Diego (Calif.) Francis Parker team improved to 3-0 by beating Golia's La Jolla (Calif.) Country Day team 49-26. Zubyk had three punts that averaged 33 yards per punt. Golia was two-for-three on extra-point attempts and made two field goals, one from 37 yards and another from 28 yards.
* Shayne Skov, Stanford's lone commit in the newly recruitable class of 2009, began his season this past weekend as Pawling (N.Y.) Trinity-Pawling opened up with a 33-0 win in their late September opener. Skov starred in all phases of the game. On offense, he contributed 7 catches for 135 yards, including a 16-yard touchdown catch. From his safety position on defense, he added 2 tackles and an interception. Finally, on special teams, Skov had a total of 83 yards on two punt returns and a kickoff return.
* Of all the official visitors at Stanford Stadium this past weekend, Marietta (Ga.) Walton's Chase Thomas traveled the furthest, but like most of the other visitors, he, too, was able to get a game in for his high school team. Walton, now 3-1, won 13-0 to win their third straight defensively dominated game. They have now given up fewer points each week of the season. In this game, Thomas sacked the quarterback twice and had 7 tackles. Through four games, Thomas is tied for second on his team with 26 tackles. He has really made his mark, however, in making life difficult for opposing quarterbacks, who he has sacked 7 times. Nobody else on his team has more than 1 sack on the year.
* Before joining the large Arizona contingent of official visitors at the Stanford-Oregon game, Covaughn Deboskie helped Chandler (Ariz.) Hamilton stay undefeated with a 23-0 victory. From his running back position, Deboskie only carried the ball 13 times but was able to eat up 71 yards on the ground. He also had a 19-yard touchdown catch and another 14-yard catch. Hamilton is now 5-0 and looks like the best team in Arizona.
* Phoenix (Ariz.) Desert Vista evened their record at 2-2 with a 28-14 win. Luke Matthews, who joined Deboskie on the visit as a prospective Stanford recruit from Arizona, starred despite a limited number of carries. Although he only carried the ball five times, he made the most of his opportunities, gaining 65 yards and scoring 2 touchdowns.
* Without quite the star power of Hamilton or Desert Vista, Chandler (Ariz.) Basha has quietly asserted itself alongside Hamilton as an undefeated team to be reckoned with. Quinn Evans and Co. helped Basha to a 17-12 win that presumably allowed Evans to share stories of recent gridiron glory with his fellow Arizona visitors this past weekend at Stanford. Evans had 10 tackles for a defense that gave up more than 3 points for the first time this season.
* Lemont (Ill.) got back to their winning ways with a 42-0 blowout. The win was the third time in five games that Brett Nagel and the Lemont defense have pitched a shutout. This particular shutout was particularly stifling with Lemont only allowing three first downs in the entire game. Nagel also stars on offense, where he leads a potent rushing attack from the quarterback position. In this game, Nagel rushed for 115 yards and 3 touchdowns, including a 65-yard run. He also threw a touchdown pass.
* Pittsburgh (Pa.) Central Catholic moved to 5-0 with a 45-7 win. Quentin Williams had 2 catches for 27 yards from his tight end position and 5 tackles from his defensive end position.
* Devonte Christopher and his Las Vegas (Nev.) Canyon Springs offense continue to be a difficult force to stop, winning this past weekend 53-14. Christopher finished his night with 10 completions on 15 attempts for 241 yards passing, 4 touchdowns, and 1 interception. He also added a rushing touchdown.
* Columbia (S.C.) A.C. Flora won 27-20 to improve to 3-2. The game was the most successful yet for the A.C. Flora offense, which Kenneth Page opens holes for. In this game, A.C. Flora scored the most points it has in any game this year and saw a running back romp for 232 yards rushing. On defense, Page added 2 tackles. In less pleasant news, the game was played despite a staph infection spreading to two A.C. Flora players, prompting the team locker room and common areas to be bleached and gym classes to be cancelled.
* For the second week in a row, Anthony Mains and his Naples (Fla.) Golden Gate team lost a heartbreaking one-point loss, this time falling 18-17. Despite a big defensive performance with 10 tackles, the game was not a fun night for Mains after he was ejected for kicking an opposing player who had just illegally chop blocked him. He will have to sit out next week's game.
* Memphis (Tenn.) University School fell to 3-2 with a 14-7 loss. A week after his official visit to Stanford, DeAndre Jones scored the lone touchdown for MUS. The touchdown Jones scored was a 56-yard return on a fumble recovery. In addition to the fumble recovery for a touchdown, he had 4 tackles including one for loss.
* After missing much of September with injuries, Sausan Shakerin returned to action for Sandy (Utah) Alta and helped his team become 5-1 with a 49-7 win. Shakerin carried the ball 22 times for 93 yards and 3 touchdowns.
* South Jordan (Utah) Bingham also improved to 5-1 as they cruised to a 44-13 win. As they did last week, Bingham involved Austin Holt in the passing game more than in the season's earlier games. He ended up with 4 catches for 84 yards.
* Another tight end prospect on the board for Stanford, Ryan Wallace, helped Bowling Green (Ky.) up their record to 4-1, although Wallace's one catch for 22 yards amounts to a less noteworthy performance than he sometimes puts together.
* Ellenwood (Ga.) Cedar Grove slid to 1-3 with 35-25 loss, but Xavier Avery did make things close with an 11-yard touchdown run.
* Clinton (Mich.) moved back above .500 with a convincing 58-28 win. While Spencer Krauss usually garners headlines for his play at quarterback, in this game, he made his impression on defense with an interception and a fumble recovery.
* With his participation in the weekend's visit activities, Kevin Murphy emerges as someone Stanford fans should keep an eye on, though he has been in the back of the coaching staff's mind for quite a while. His San Clemente (Calif.) team is now 3-1 after a 23-7 win.
* Concord (Calif.) De La Salle shut out Salinas (Calif.) Palma 55-0 and looks like the same undefeated dominant De La Salle team of yore. Brady Amack led the defense with 9 tackles and a sack. Amack and the first team defense have yet to give up a point this season and all of the 36 points surrendered by De La Salle this season have been given up by reserves with the two previous wins well in hand. Like Reuland and Mission Viejo , Amack and De La Salle will now get a bye week to prepare for their big game in early October.
* The Stanford coaching staff continues to get a very early start on 2009 recruiting and recently extended a new offer to exciting athlete Jelani Jenkins from Wheaton (Md.) Our Lady of Good Counsel. Through four games, the latest being Good Counsel's first loss of the season, Jenkins is averaging a little more than a rushing touchdown a game and double-digit yards per carry from his fullback position and has also forced multiple turnovers from his linebacker spot on defense. Jenkins has serious speed but lines up at fullback on offense as part of a fast, dynamic, two-back attack.
* Friendswood (Tex.) improved to a perfect 4-0 with a 40-35 win. Junior quarterback prospect Jacob Karam stayed hot and led his second fourth-quarter comeback in as many weeks. The winning score came on a 25-yard touchdown pass that Karam placed on a corner route in the end zone with six minutes left, giving Friendswood their first lead since the first quarter. Karam had 299 yards and 4 touchdowns on the game without throwing an interception.
* Youngstown (Ohio) Cardinal Mooney improved to 5-0 with a 40-14 blowout. It was the first time in three games that Johnny Simon and the Cardinal Mooney defense gave up any points and the most points they have given up this season, an indication of their dominance. Their defense made a habit of causing turnovers in this game with Penn State commit Brandon Beachum and Notre Dame commit Dan McCarthy each contributing interceptions and Penn State commit Mike Zordich recovering a fumble.
* Honolulu (Hawaii) Punahou met their match when they faced Honolulu (Hawaii) St. Louis, the top team in the state, and lost for the first time this season. St. Louis won 28-14. Punahou standout junior Manti Te'o stood out once again, this time adding a 7-yard touchdown catch at the end of the game and making a strong effort to contain St. Louis' strong offense, but ultimately St. Louis was just too strong for Punahou.
* Cambridge (Mass.) Rindge & Latin was upset and lost for the first time in three weeks. Before falling 17-14, Rindge & Latin enjoyed another strong performance from star junior Joshua Adams, who caught 5 passes for 120 yards and took a direct snap in for a 3-yard touchdown.
* One week after a close lose against a rival area power, junior Levine Toilolo and La Mesa (Calif.) Helix fought to a dispiriting 7-7 draw. The loss was a bitter one for Helix because it represented a David vs. Goliath type achievement for their opponent, a private school with only 350 enrolled students. Helix, a San Diego power that has produced stars including Alex Smith of the San Francisco 49ers and Reggie Bush of the New Orleans Saints, was heavily favored to win.
* San Diego (Calif.) Scripps Ranch lost for the second straight week against top competition as they got blown out 56-16 by Corona (Calif.) Centennial. Junior quarterback Tate Forcier has had trouble getting into the end zone this year, not throwing a touchdown pass in this game after not throwing one until late in garbage time last week.
* It was a tough week for top junior prospects from California that are on Stanford's radar as Jemari Roberts' team also lost. Long Beach (Calif.) Wilson could not find a way to stop Los Alamitos (Calif.) quarterback Clark Evans, who had 154 yards rushing, 216 yards passing, and accounted for every Los Alamitos touchdown on the way to a 42-20 win over Wilson. The loss was the third in a row for Wilson after an opening week win.
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