With Stanford playing this past weekend in the Arizona desert, the major recruiting story of the week was the coaching staff's decision to use the night before the game against the Wildcats as a chance to evaluate Arizona prospects in both the current senior class and the lower classes. The highest profile game attended by Stanford coaches was the matchup between Chandler (Ariz.) Basha and Phoenix (Ariz.) Desert Vista. The game featured a number of current and prospective Stanford recruits, including Basha cornerback Quinn Evans, Desert Vista athlete Luke Matthews, and Desert Vista's superstar junior defensive end Devon Kennard. Given the significant number of Stanford prospects playing in the game, the game was high on the Cardinal radar as evidenced by the decision by Stanford Head Coach Jim Harbaugh himself to make the long drive from Tucson to Phoenix the night before the Arizona game. Ultimately, Desert Vista prevailed 31-14 in a game in which Kennard and Matthews each contributed goal line touchdown runs. After a chance to see one of the nation's top juniors in action, Harbaugh will no doubt have Kennard very high on his wish list for 2009. On the Basha side of the ball, Evans played both ways in the losing effort and gained 78 yards on 12 carries. Both teams are now 5-3 on the season. In addition to the trip to the Basha-Desert Vista game, Stanford had coaches spread out throughout the state for various games, largely to evaluate potential prospects in the class of 2009. One top Arizona target, Covaughn Deboskie of Chandler (Ariz.) Hamilton, was not in action due to a bye week. Aside from the action in Arizona, there were plenty of other games of interest to Stanford played throughout the country this past weekend:
* Cincinnati (Ohio) St. Xavier avoided the first blemish on their record and edged out a 17-14 triple overtime win in a thrilling showdown with fellow Ohio power Cleveland (Ohio) St. Ignatius. St. Xavier, now 9-0 and still on the short list for the top team in America, excels on the strength of a defense led by Stanford commit Fred Craig but ultimately beat St. Ignatius with a 33-yard field goal from all-purpose weapon Danny Milligan. St. Ignatius had their own chance to win with a 34-yard field goal attempt in the third overtime but the kick was blocked. The game was deadlocked at 7-7 after regulation in a game dominated by the defenses.
* Stanford commit Sam Schwartzstein and the Southlake (Tex.) Carroll offense continued to dominate in a 65-24 win in which they consistently moved down the field with over 500 yards of total offense fairly evenly divided between the run and the pass. Texas commit Tre Newton paved the way in the running game with 158 yards on 11 carries. The scoring action was spread out with eight different players scoring touchdowns, though North Texas quarterback commit Riley Dodge led the way with 3 touchdowns. Southlake Carroll has now won five in a row since dropping a nationally televised game against fellow powerhouse Miami (Fla.) Northwestern.
* Newhall (Calif.) Hart kept rolling and improved to 7-0 with a 36-15 win. The game was close early in the fourth quarter with Hart leading by only a score at 21-15, but Stanford commit Delano Howell broke the game open with a 36-yard touchdown run. Howell finished the game with 132 yards on only 10 carries. Until Howell broke it open, the game was much closer than many expected, prompting UCLA commit Patrick Larimore to suggest "I think we were looking ahead to Valencia," next week's opponent. Despite their perfect record, Hart remains concerned with their run defense. While Howell projects as either a running back or defensive back at the next level, he has played running back almost exclusively as a senior.
* Stanford quarterback commit Andrew Luck led his Houston (Tex.) Stratford team to a 42-14 win that made them 5-2 on the season. Luck passed for 186 yards and a touchdown while completing 13 of his 26 pass attempts, but he did particular damage on the ground with 126 yards and 3 rushing touchdowns on a dozen carries. After one more league game next week Stratford and Luck will head into their big showdown with local power Nimitz and Stanford target Michael Thomas.
* After two losses in their first six games, the typically high-flying Mission Viejo (Calif.) team came to a 31-31 stalemate against rival San Clemente. It could have been worse as they narrowly averted their third loss by scoring 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter. Stanford wide receiver commit Warren Reuland contributed to the cause with two touchdown passes, one in the fourth quarter, and 115 yards receiving. Junior quarterback Allan Bridgford also had a huge game, ending up with 347 yards passing and 3 touchdowns on 28-of-42 passing, but Mission Viejo could not stop San Clemente often enough. Kevin Murphy and the San Clemente offensive line paved the way for 179 yards passing and 295 yards rushing.
* Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian is also suffering through an unusually difficult season. Their 25-20 loss on Friday was their third already this season, giving them the most losses in a year in the history of their dominant program. It was their third loss in the past five weeks and the first time they have lost against a league opponent in nearly four years. Sophomore Malcolm Jones rushed for 207 yards in the losing effort. Stanford wide receiver commit Chris Owusu remained out with a knee injury and is nearing his return to action for the Lions.
* Stanford commit David DeCastro and Bellevue (Wash.) won for the seventh consecutive game. The 19-3 win came with another strong running performance by Bellevue, which averages 317 yards rushing per game.
* San Diego (Calif.) Francis Parker lost for the third game in a row to fall to 4-3 on the season. Although they punted six times in the 35-0 loss, a freshman punter and not Stanford commit Matt Zubyk handled the punting duties.
* Sandy (Utah) Alta also kept rolling with a 35-12 win that gave them eight wins in a row since their early season loss to fellow Utah top team Bingham. Alta running back Sausan Shakerin, the reigning Mr. Football in Utah who has been unavailable or limited for much of the season, broke through with a big 168-yard rushing performance on the strength of 29 carries. He also added a touchdown. Alta now has guaranteed that they will go into the playoffs with home field advantage for the first two rounds locked up. High school observers in Utah expect a decisive playoff showdown between Alta and Bingham, the participants in last year's state championship game.
* That South Jordan (Utah) Bingham team did their part in keeping the buzz going for a postseason rematch between Alta and Bingham as they finished the regular season 9-1 with a 55-14 win. Austin Holt contributed 3 catches for 35 yards.
* Memphis (Tenn.) University School is now 5-3 after a 35-0 win that their coaches and fans called their best played game of the season. All but one of their wins this season have come in games in which DeAndre Jones and the defense have prevented the opponent from scoring. In the latest shutout, Jones made 5 tackles and sacked the quarterback twice.
* Bowling Green (Ky.) improved to 7-1 with a 56-6 blowout win. 56 points was the fewest in district play this season for high-powered Bowling Green offense. Tight end Ryan Wallace caught 3 passes for 22 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown pass. Receiver D.L. Moore paced Bowling Green with 119 yards and a touchdown on 6 catches. Over the weekend, both Wallace and Moore watched the home state Kentucky Wildcats lose to Florida.
* The aforementioned Houston (Tex.) Nimitz team led by the athletic Michael Thomas lost for the first time in 2007 as they dropped a battle of unbeaten teams by a 20-14 final score. Thomas completed 7 of 11 passes for 94 yards but was largely bottled up on the ground save for a 26-yard run that set up the Nimitz first half touchdown. Nimitz will attempt to bounce back next week before squaring off against Luck and Stratford.
* Lemont (Ill.) returned to the win column with a 42-0 win in their regular season finale, their fifth shutout in seven wins. Lemont has scored 42 or more points in each of the shutouts. The final score of 42-0 was on the board by midway through the second quarter. From his quarterback position, Brett Nagel completed a touchdown pass on one of his two passes in the game and scored rushing touchdowns on two of his six rushing attempts. In those six carries, Nagel romped for 110 yards. Lemont now heads into the first round of the playoffs with a 7-2 record.
* Marietta (Ga.) Walton won 56-24 for their sixth win in a row after an opening week loss. The win was a rare game in which defensive end Chase Thomas did not register a sack but he did wreak havoc with 8 tackles and 2 quarterback hurries. Walton running back J.J. Jackson rushed for a staggering 283 yards and 4 touchdowns on 20 carries.
* Las Vegas (Nev.) Canyon Springs improved to 7-1 with a 46-14 victory. Led by Devonte Christopher at quarterback, the Canyon Springs offense averages 50 points per game. Christopher lit up the scoreboard again this past week completing 13 of his 16 pass attempts for 402 yards and 6 touchdowns with no interceptions. With each passing week, Christopher asserts himself in trying to prove that he can handle the quarterback position as he transitions to the next level.
* Pittsburgh (Pa.) Central Catholic edged within one game of a perfect regular season with a 42-14 win that made them 8-0. Versatile Stanford prospect Quentin Williams did not get into the offensive action as Central Catholic stuck mostly with the run but he did star on defense with 5 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and a sack. Dan Vaughan's 77 rushing yards were only the third most by a Central Catholic player in the game but they were particularly opportunistic yards that netted him 4 touchdowns on only 9 carries.
* Kenneth Page's Columbia (S.C.) Flora team won for the fourth time in nine games with a 17-0 win that was their most convincing of the season. Before the game, Page was selected to participate in the postseason Shrine Bowl all-star game pitting top players from South Carolina against top players from North Carolina.
* La Jolla (Calif.) Country Day moved above .500 for the first time this season with a 55-7 blowout, their third straight win by at least 42 points. Kicker Travis Golia made 6 of his 7 extra point attempts and had touchbacks on 3 of his 9 kickoffs.
* Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei continued to strengthen their case as a contender for the California championship bowl game with a 34-7 game that made them 7-0 on the season. Despite the win, the game was actually the first time this season the seemingly unstoppable Mater Dei passing attack has been held under 42 points in a game. Nonetheless, Matt Barkley, one of two junior quarterbacks named by Scout.com as one of the initial 5-star prospects for the class of 2009, was able to air it out for 314 yards on 25-of-43 passing with 2 touchdowns, both to cousin and fellow Stanford prospect Robbie Boyer. Khaled Holmes and the Mater Dei offensive line have prevented Barkley from being sacked even a single time all season.
* Youngstown (Ohio) Cardinal Mooney joined Fred Craig's St. Xavier team as a defense-dominated Ohio powerhouse that is heading into the last week of the regular season with a 9-0 record. The latest win came in 37-14 triumph that clinched their fourth straight Steel Valley Conference championship. Cardinal Mooney defensive lineman Johnny Simon joined Matt Barkley as one of the ten juniors identified by Scout.com as a 5-star prospect.
* Honolulu (Hawaii) Punahou junior linebacker Manti Te'o, who completed the elite trio of Stanford junior offer recipients named as 5-star prospects, led Punahou to a 31-17 win that made them 5-2 on the year. Te'o lost two key fumbles but one was shown to be a poor call by a replay and Te'o more than made up for the fumbles in any case with 3 second-half touchdown runs, 4 tackles for loss from his linebacker position, and an important fourth down sack. As a running back, he added 43 yards on 11 carries, three of which ended up in those second-half touchdowns.
* A 35-8 win made Wheaton (Md.) Our Lady of Good Counsel 7-1 on the season, but they now have to deal with an ankle injury to star junior Jelani Jenkins that is the second ankle injury to strike Jenkins this year and has him questionable for Friday's game. Before suffering the injury, Jenkins dominated with 125 yards rushing and 2 touchdowns on 10 carries and a 50-yard receiving touchdown. On the season, Jenkins has scored a touchdown in every game he has played and has 15 touchdowns in total, fourth best in the Washington, DC region. In addition to his duties as a fullback, Jenkins is a standout linebacker and ranks third on his team in tackles. Jenkins' athleticism and versatility have reportedly attracted scholarship attention from Stanford, Maryland, Virginia, and Notre Dame.
* Pawling (N.Y.) Trinity-Pawling bounced back from their loss last week with an emphatic 50-16 win on Parent's Weekend for the all-male boarding school. Trinity-Pawling's dynamic two-way star Shayne Skov is Stanford's first commit of the 2009 class.
* Cambridge (Mass.) Rindge & Latin fell to 5-2 with a 37-6 loss that represented by far their most limited offensive performance of the year. Their star junior receiver Joshua Adams had been having a big year and was recently slotted as one of the top 100 juniors in the nation by Scout.com.
* After two losses in a row, Friendswood (Tex.) got back on the winning track by edging out a 21-20 win. Now 6-2, Friendswood remains alive in the playoff hunt. All three Friendswood touchdowns in their latest game came on touchdown passes by junior quarterback Jacob Karam. In all, Karam was 12-of-21 for 131 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. The difference in the game was a blocked extra point attempt in the second half.
* San Diego (Calif.) Scripps Ranch fell to 3-4 with a 49-25 loss. Junior quarterback Tate Forcier snuck in a touchdown run and threw two red zone touchdown passes in the losing effort.
* La Mesa (Calif.) Helix cruised to their third straight huge blowout win, this time with a 49-0 win. Junior Levine Toilolo is a highly-regarded prospect for Helix recently named by Scout.com as one of those top 100 juniors but did not get in the scoring action in this game after catching two touchdowns the previous week.
* Long Beach (Calif.) Wilson was blown out by Long Beach (Calif.) Poly for Wilson's seventh loss in a row. Wilson star junior Jemari Roberts sat with an injury for the second week in a row. Before the injury, Wilson had been a bona fide weapon on kick returns with 3 touchdown returns and also played a key role at wide receiver for the struggling Bruins.
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