The past two weeks of high school action have been chock full of interesting accomplishments and developments for recruits of interest to Stanford football, so let's get right to it. News and notes from the past two weeks of action, including a number of exciting championship races:
* After reeling off three straight wins to go into their regular season finale 7-2, Houston (Tex.) Stratford dropped that game 21-7. With a playoff berth already secure, Stanford commit Andrew Luck only played the first half. Stratford got back on the winning track with a 38-7 playoff win over Houston (Tex.) Chavez. Notably, Chavez features star junior defensive end Mike Brockers, who will be one to watch in recruiting in the coming months. In the game against Chavez, Luck threw 2 touchdowns and rushed for 2 more touchdowns. On the game, he completed 15 of his 28 pass attempts for 226 yards, the 2 passing touchdowns, and 1 interception. Stanford Head Coach Jim Harbaugh used the bye weekend for Stanford as a chance for a final fall evaluation visit and took the opportunity to see Luck, which provided the added bonus of seeing junior prospect Brockers. In addition to the excitement of having his future coach see him in a game in which he excelled, Luck was also recently selected to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. The nationally televised game on January 5, 2008 will also include Stanford targets Covaughn Deboskie, Austin Holt, and Trevor Robinson.
* Newhall (Calif.) Hart continued to ride high with a pair of wins the last two weeks that made them 10-0-1 heading into a second round playoff game against Paso Robles. A 24-21 win over Saugus gave Hart the Foothill League Championship. Johnny MacArthur, the star soccer player who made his first field goal of his career earlier this season the dramatic game-winner of a win over defending state champion Canyon, made his second field goal another last-minute winner. This field goal clinched the league championship for Hart, which is led by Stanford commit Delano Howell. Howell starred in the Saugus game and scored all of Hart's touchdowns in the game. He finished with 141 rushing yards and a touchdown on 29 carries and 113 receiving yards and 2 more touchdowns on 6 catches. Howell's touchdowns in the game included a 50-yard run and 52-yard score on a hook-and-ladder play. The following week, Howell opened the CIF Southern Section Northern Division playoff off with a bang, scoring 6 touchdowns in a 48-24 win over Thousand Oaks. In all, he carried the ball 17 times for 224 yards and caught the ball 4 times for 98 yards.
* Cincinnati (Ohio) St. Xavier remains perfect and a contender for top national recognition after two more wins that put them at 13-0 and sent them to the state semifinals. Two weeks ago, they won 31-6 in the second round of the playoffs. The Bombers scored all of their points in the first half and played backups throughout the second half. Stanford commit Fred Craig and the St. Xavier defense shut down a vaunted Centerville triple option offense. Sophomore quarterback Luke Massa completed 18 of his 19 pass attempts for 212 yards while Louisville commit Darius Ashley rushed for 85 yards on 14 carries. The next week, St. Xavier played their third playoff game and won a high-profile regional final showdown by the final score of 29-14. The game pitted the Bombers against fellow Cincinnati powerhouse Colerain, also undefeated coming into the game and also ranked among the top ten teams nationally. St. Xavier and Colerain have met in the playoffs threw years in a row and Colerain ended St. Xavier's title bid last season. This season, Craig and the Bombers returned the favor. The 29-14 win came in front of a huge crowd of more than 20,000. Stanford special teams coach and Ohio recruiter D.J. Durkin was one of those in the crowd as he came to see Craig play. Durkin was rewarded by a strong performance by Craig and the St. X defense, which held a Colerain team that averaged 305 yards rushing coming into the game to only 103 yards rushing in this game. The defense even showed an ability to adjust as Colerain began the second half with a spread offense after St. X stifled the triple option in the first half. St. X now advanced to the state semifinals where they will face yet another undefeated team in their quest to be considered America's best high school team. Meanwhile, Craig continues to rack up postseason recognition, most recently being named Southwest District Defensive Player of the Year for Ohio.
* Stanford commit David DeCastro has led the way for a dominant Bellevue (Wash.) running game all season and has them one win away from playing in the state championship. After second and third round playoff wins the past two weeks by 21-10 and 37-10 scores, Bellevue plays O'Dea Friday night in the semifinals at the Tacoma Dome.
* After going into their regular season finale with three wins and a tie in their previous four games, Mission Viejo (Calif.) dropped their last two games to end their season a disappointing 6-4-1. In the 28-24 regular season finale loss to Tesoro, Stanford commit Warren Reuland had 100 yards receiving and caught two touchdown passes and a two point conversion, but the Diablos could not withstand a two-touchdown fourth quarter comeback by Tesoro. Junior quarterback Allan Bridgford completed 12 of 22 passes for 209 yards and 2 touchdowns with no interceptions. The following week, the Mission Viejo season came to an end with a 28-7 first round playoff loss against Orange Lutheran. To make matters worse, official record books will reflect Mission Viejo's season record as 4-6-1 since the Southern Section announced this week that they would have to forfeit their first two games for using an ineligible player. Even counting those first two games as wins this was Mission Viejo's worst season of the decade. Reuland will now focus on his senior season of basketball before matriculating to Stanford.
* Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian has won four games in a row and currently stands at 8-3 heading into a big second round playoff showdown against Gardena (Calif.) Serra. Stanford commit Chris Owusu missed six games in a row with a knee injury but returned to the field for the playoffs. In the Lions' 56-27 playoff opener against San Dimas, Owusu caught an 11-yard touchdown to ease back into action. He ended the game with 4 catches for 51 yards, one 4-yard run. Boise State commit Chris Potter completed 8 of his 12 pass attempts for 150 yards and 3 touchdowns with no interceptions and he also added 2 more touchdowns on 140 yards rushing. Star sophomore running back Malcolm Jones contributed 161 yards and 2 touchdowns on 17 carries.
* Stanford commit Sam Schwartzstein and Southlake (Tex.) Carroll kept rolling with a pair of wins that made them 10-1 on the season. A 54-14 regular season finale gave Southlake Carroll a chance to deviate from the typical approach of having North Texas commit Riley Dodge and Texas commit Tre Newton run the ball down opponents' throats as the two combined for 96 yards rushing, a paltry output compared to their typical dominance. Instead, Dodge stuck largely to the air, where he threw for 239 yards and 2 touchdowns on an efficient 14-of-18 passing. Southlake Carroll also played backups liberally in the second half. The playoff opener the following week was a much tougher game that the Dragons pulled out 35-24. Newton sat out the game with an injury and Southlake Carroll was forced to rely on Dodge's playmaking behind a line led by Schwartzstein. Dodge ended up with a staggering 567 yards of total offense that included 216 rushing yards and 351 passing yards.
* Long Beach (Calif.) Cabrillo went out with a whimper as they lost their season finale 38-0 two weeks ago to finish the season 2-8. In recent weeks, Cabrillo cornerback Marcus Turner has reaffirmed his commitment to Stanford after being admitted to the school.
* Stanford punter commit Matt Zubyk's San Diego (Calif.) Francis Parker team lost their regular season finale 21-10. It was their fourth straight game without Zubyk and they have lost all four to fall to 4-5 on the season. They somehow snuck into the playoffs nonetheless and will face La Jolla (Calif.) Country Day, team of new Stanford walk-on commit Travis Golia.
* Golia's La Jolla Country Day team won 36-19 last week to go to 6-3 heading into the game against Zubyk-less Francis Parker. Golia, who figures to play in to Stanford's kicker mix in future years as a non-scholarship option, kicked three field goals in the most recent game including a 43-yarder. His prolific high school career has netted him over 170 points and five field goals longer than 40 yards, with two longer than 50 yards.
* Recent UCLA de-commit Jonathan Martin's North Hollywood (Calif.) Harvard-Westlake team won their playoff opener 42-16 to improve to 8-3 on the season and set up a second round playoff game against Oak Park. "Moose" Martin has signaled that he will commit to Stanford if accepted by the school's admissions office. On the season, Harvard-Westlake's offense has averaged 163 yards rushing and 135 yards passing per game. If Owusu's Oaks Christian team and Martin's Harvard-Westlake team each win their respective games this weekend, they will meet in the semifinals next Friday.
* Pawling (N.Y.) Trinity-Pawling achieved their goal for the season and won the New England Prep School Athletic Council championship. First, they won a tune-up two weeks ago with a 34-0 win. In that game, junior Stanford commit Shayne Skov had 3 catches for 54 yards as a receiver and had 3 tackles and an interception on defense. A week later, they came out blazing in the championship against Andover (Mass.) Phillips Academy and won 41-7. Skov contributed 3 catches for 50 yards, 5 tackles, and an interception in about a half of play, the typical amount of playing time for Skov in a season in which Trinity-Pawling has tended to pull their starters early. After the season, Skov was named a first team all-league receiver, but he also stars on defense for Trinity-Pawling. With his season complete and the Thanksgiving holiday upon him, Skov spent the last week in California and attended practices and meetings for Stanford Football in advance of this weekend's Notre Dame game, which he will attend on an unofficial visit.
* In a much-anticipated state semifinal game two weeks ago, defending state champion South Jordan (Utah) Bingham squared off against defending runner up Sandy (Utah) Alta. This time, Alta prevailed 21-7 in a game many thought should have been for the championship. It was the first Alta win over Bingham in the last five meetings between the Utah powers. Last year's Mr. Football in Utah, star running back Sausan Shakerin, scored all 3 touchdowns for Alta and ended up with 90 yards on 26 carries. Bingham All-American tight end Austin Holt had 2 catches for 18 yards in the final game of his high school football career before he goes to San Antonio in January for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Though the game had the feel of a state championship, Alta still had to win the next week to claim the crown. The Hawks took care of business with a 19-7 win enabled by stifling defense and running by Shakerin, who rushed for 119 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries. Shak also caught a 36-yard pass. Congratulations to Sausan Shakerin and the 2007 5A Utah state champions!
* The dynamic Lemont (Ill.) rushing attack continued their march to playoff glory with playoff wins in the third and fourth rounds. The third round win came in a 48-34 shootout against a previously undefeated team seeded ahead of Lemont in the playoffs. Lemont went out to a 41-13 lead and never looked back. Brett Nagel, an option quarterback in high school but a tight end or linebacker at the next level, rushed for 128 yards and 3 touchdowns and passed for 2 touchdowns. The win sent Lemont to the 6A state semifinals against one of the two teams to defeat them this season. They avenged the loss with a 27-20 triumph that put them in the state championship game Saturday in Champaign. The last three playoff wins for Lemont have all been considered upsets. The championship appearance is the first ever for Lemont. In addition to the honor of taking his team to the championship, Nagel also was named to the all-state team for Illinois by the Illinois High School Football Coaches' Association.
* Chandler (Ariz.) Hamilton kept rolling in their quest to be considered one of the top teams in America as they won the last two weeks to improve to 12-0. The wins were two of the three closest games of the season for Hamilton. In the first round of the playoffs, they beat Mesquite 26-14. Covaughn Deboskie had 15 carries for 77 yards and 3 catches 40 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown catch. The second round of the playoffs saw an even closer 21-14 win over Westwood. Deboskie was held to a modest 29 yards rushing on 6 carries and 24 yards receiving on 2 receptions. Hamilton's suddenly mediocre offense was bailed out in the second round by an interception return for a touchdown and a punt return for a touchdown and only scored one offensive touchdown in the game. Hamilton now gets a bye week for Thanksgiving to try to rediscover their nationally-touted offense before they face off against Brophy College Prep, another top Arizona team that they beat 29-6 earlier in the year.
* Chandler (Ariz.) Basha could not join Hamilton in the semifinals, winning their first playoff game but dropping in the second round. The first round game ended in a thrilling 40-33 win for Basha. Quinn Evans secured the win with a 53-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown that came with only two minutes left in the game and on a play that looked to be a devastating quarterback sack and fumble for Basha. The touchdown was the sixth of the game for Evans, who dominated in all phases of the game. On offense, he contributed 174 yards and 4 touchdowns on only 13 carries. On special teams, he returned a kickoff 76 yards for a touchdown. On defense, he played his usual role at cornerback though he did not get in the scoring action like he did in the other phases of the game. On the other end of the spectrum, Basha then saw their season come to an unceremonious end the next week with a 21-0 loss.
* Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei improved to 9-1 with a 38-13 win over fellow top program Servite and a 31-17 first round playoff win over upstart Tesoro, who had beaten Mission Viejo the previous week. The Servite game gave Mater Dei a prominent stage to showcase star quarterback Matt Barkley and the highly-touted junior did not disappoint, finishing 16-of-24 for 348 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also added a rushing touchdown. Khaled Holmes served his usual role in leading the line that protects Barkley and he also added 5 tackles as a defensive lineman. In the successful playoff opener, Barkley did not enjoy his typical headline-making success but nonetheless led his team to the win. He finished that game 13-of-25 for 258 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception. Once again, Holmes kept Barkley's jersey clean and added 5 tackles on defense. Both Mater Dei stars are reported to favor USC and Cal, respectively, in their recruitments.
* Pittsburgh (Pa.) Central Catholic faces off against fellow Pennsylvania power Monroeville (Pa.) Gateway in the championship game Friday night at Heinz Field. They got to that point on the strength of two more wins that made them 12-0 and on the verge of a Pennsylvania state championship. In the 38-6 quarterfinals win, Quentin Williams caught 3 passes for 44 yards, including a 25-yard touchdown, and made 4 tackles. In the semifinals, they won by a closer 24-13 score. Williams once again starred with 4 catches for 90 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown, and 13 tackles with a fumble recovery. Williams is a legitimate prospect at either tight end or defensive end and stars both ways for one of America's top teams.
* Marietta (Ga.) Walton also won their regular season finale and playoff opener. They now stand 10-1 on the season and have won 10 straight since an opening week loss. In the 42-7 regular season finale, Chase Thomas had 4 tackles and 2 sacks. He added 3 more tackles the following week in the first round of the playoffs as Walton 31-20. On the season, Thomas has 67 tackles and 14 sacks from his defensive end position and 7 catches for 128 yards as a receiver.
* Memphis (Tenn.) University School saw their season come to an end with a 21-14 loss in the first round of the playoffs. DeAndre Jones contributed 11 tackles, a tackle for loss, and a forced fumble in the losing effort. After his season concluded, Jones was named as a finalist for Mr. Football in Tennessee and was also picked to play in the December 15 Memphis area football team called the AutoZone Liberty Bowl High School Al Star Game.
* After dominating opposing defenses all season, Devonte Christopher's North Las Vegas (Nev.) Canyon Springs offense stalled in their second round playoff game and saw their season came to an unexpected and disappointing end. The 28-24 loss brought by far Christopher's worst performance of the year as he threw 3 interceptions and only 1 touchdown and was held to 197 yards passing, only the second time this year he has been held under 200 yards this season. Christopher now turns his attention to SAT retake attempts and deciding among his many college suitors.
* After winning their first six games of the season, Michael Thomas' Houston (Tex.) Nimitz dropped their final four games. The final loss of the disappointing stretch was a 38-14 loss that kept Thomas and Nimitz out of the playoffs. Thomas was accepted by Stanford this week and will take an official visit to The Farm for the Cal game at the beginning of December.
* Bowling Green (Ky.) improved to 11-1 with two consecutive dominant blowout wins in their first two playoff games. Ryan Wallace had 2 catches for 28 yards in the 52-0 win and 2 catches for 40 yards in the 63-0 win. Bowling Green now advances to the 5A state quarterfinals for Kentucky.
* San Clemente (Calif.) went down swinging as they lost a first round playoff game against powerful Servite in a 54-43 shootout. Kevin Murphy and the offensive line blocked for a 104 yards rushing, 355 yards passing, 43 point performance but San Clemente ultimately could not hold off USC commit D.J. Shoemate and the high-powered Servite offense.
* While Harbaugh was in Houston to drop in on Luck and Thomas, he also visited Houston (Tex.) Cypress Ridge. Cypress Ridge is led by junior quarterback Russell Shepard, one of two junior quarterbacks nationally along with Barkley to be named a 5-star prospect by Scout.com. The visit resulted in a Stanford offer for Shepard and yet more winning for the red-hot Cypress Ridge Rams. A 35-7 win last week against Alief Elsik in the playoff opener sent Cypress Ridge to the second round and improved their record on the season to 10-1. Shepard rushed for 103 yards and a touchdown in the game. On the season, he has 758 yards passing and 7 touchdowns with 3 interceptions but has made his biggest contributions on the ground, where he has added 1260 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns.
* After a four-loss regular season, the talented Phoenix (Ariz.) Desert Vista has hit their stride in the playoffs with two consecutive wins. The first playoff win came in a 31-14 conquest of Chandler (Ariz.), which played without Stanford commit Harold Bernard for the eighth straight week. Bernard saw his high school career come to a disappointing end with a broken fibula. In the Chandler game, Desert Vista's star junior Devon Kennard had 7 carries for 57 yards and made his presence felt on defense with 4 tackles, a sack, and a fumble recovery for a touchdown. Desert Vista kept the momentum going the next week with a 17-7 win over Mountain View, an eight time state champion that no current Desert Vista player had ever beaten. Kennard had a relatively quiet game for him with 30 yards rushing and 3 tackles. Like Deboskie's Hamilton team, Desert Vista now gets a bye before advancing to the semifinals.
* Junior defensive tackle Corey Adams joined Deboskie an Kennard as Stanford targets who advanced to the semifinals in Arizona and will enjoy a bye this week before returning to action the following week. His Scottsdale (Calif.) Saguaro team began the playoffs with a 63-21 win in which Adams dominated with 6 tackles, 4 of which went for loss, and 3 sacks. Their 27-14 second round win sets up a rematch with a Chaparral team that Saguaro beat 31-28 earlier in the season.
* Johnny Simon is yet another star junior defensive tackle on Stanford's radar. His Youngstown (Ohio) Cardinal Mooney joined Craig's St. Xavier team as a 13-0 Ohio team in the state semifinals with another pair of wins. The 28-7 second round win set up a showdown against Steubenville, another undefeated team and a defending state champion. Steubenville had won 42 consecutive games but had no answer for Simon and the stifling Cardinal Mooney defense, which enabled a 35-20 district final win in a game that was less close than the score indicated. Cardinal Mooney went out to a 28-0 lead and cruised to the win. Simon played his typical disruptive role in the middle and also tipped a pass and caused an interception. Simon was also recently named first team all Northeast Inland District in Ohio. He was joined by a number of teammates, including district players of the year Dan McCarthy, who is committed to Notre Dame, and Michael Zordich, who is committed to Penn State. McCarthy suffered a neck injury earlier in the month and is not playing for Cardinal Mooney in the current playoff run.
* Wheaton (Md.) Our Lady of Good Counsel finished their season 10-2 with a tough 12-7 championship loss at the U.S. Naval Academy against a DeMatha team they had beaten two weeks earlier. It was the fourth year in a row in which Good Counsel has lost to DeMatha in the championship by less than a touchdown. A week after forcing a fumble on defense and running for a 76-yard touchdown, Good Counsel star athlete Jelani Jenkins was bottled up by a strategy focused on stacking the box against the running game. Jenkins has starred all season as a linebacker and bruising fullback.
* Cambridge (Mass.) Rindge & Latin lost their last two games to finish 7-4. In their final game, their high-powered spread offense was stifled by a final score of 42-6. Star junior receiver Joshua Adams was limited to one catch for 7 yards. He came into the game with a division-leading 9 touchdown receptions.
* San Diego (Calif.) Scripps Ranch won their last two games, including a first round playoff game, to improve to 6-4 on the season. The 52-21 regular season finale was spearheaded by 4 touchdown passes by junior quarterback Tate Forcier. A week later, they opened the playoffs with a 28-3 win. Forcier threw a touchdown pass in the playoff opener but made his mark primarily on the ground, where he rushed for 102 yards and 3 touchdowns, including a 35-yard scamper and a 45-yard score. Scripps Ranch moves on to play Oceanside in the second round.
* Two weeks ago, La Mesa (Calif.) Helix finished their regular season 7-1-1 with a 48-7 win. Junior tight end Levine Toilolo caught a 5-yard touchdown pass and finished with 3 catches for 41 yards. After a bye last week, they begin the playoffs this weekend against West Hills.
* Junior defensive line recruit Justin Renfrow's Philadelphia (Pa.) Penn Charter team ended their regular season with a 28-24 win but fell short of the playoffs with a 5-4 record.
* A heartbreaking 21-20 loss in the regular season finale kept Friendswood (Tex.) out of the playoffs. Friendswood actually could have put the game into overtime with an extra point in the closing minutes of regulation but instead opted to attempt a fake extra point that failed. Junior quarterback Jacob Karam was involved in all of Friendswood's scores as passed for two touchdowns and ran for one more. He finished with 136 yards on 12-of-26 passing with 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. Friendswood was 7-3 on the season.
Games of Interest:
Hart-Paso Robles (Delano Howell) – Friday
Oaks Christian-Gardena Serra (Chris Owusu) – Friday
Francis Parker-La Jolla Country Day (Matt Zubyk vs. Travis Golia) – Friday
Harvard-Westlake-Oak Park (Moose Martin) - Friday
Mater Dei-Crespi (Khaled Holmes and Matt Barkley) – Friday
Helix-West Hills (Levine Toilolo) – Friday
Scripps Ranch-Oceanside (Tate Forcier) – Friday
Stratford-Cypress Falls (Andrew Luck) – Saturday
Southlake Carroll-Cedar Hill (Sam Schwartzstein) – Friday
Cypress Ridge-Eisenhower (Russell Shepard) – Saturday
St. Xavier-Coffman (Fred Craig) – Saturday
Cardinal Mooney-Marion Pleasant (Johnny Simon) – Saturday
Central Catholic-Gateway (Quentin Williams) – Friday
Walton-Harrison (Chase Thomas) – Friday
Lemont-Catholic Academy (Brett Nagel) – Saturday
Bowling Green-Hardin (Ryan Wallace) – Friday
Bellevue-O'Dea (David DeCastro) – Friday
Byes: Hamilton (Covaughn Deboskie) heading into playoff game against Brophy College Prep, Desert Vista (Devon Kennard) heading into playoff game against Red Mountain, Saguaro (Corey Adams) heading into playoff game against Chaparral
Season Over: Mission Viejo (Warren Reuland and Allan Bridgford), Chandler (Harold Bernard), Basha (Quinn Evans), Cabrillo (Marcus Turner), Nimitz (Michael Thomas), Memphis University School (DeAndre Jones), Bingham (Austin Holt), Canyon Springs (Devonte Christopher), Gonzaga (Johnson Bademosi), San Clemente (Kevin Murphy), Wilson (Jemari Roberts), Our Lady of Good Counsel (Jelani Jenkins), Cambridge Rindge & Latin (Joshua Adams), Punahou (Manti Te'o), Friendswood (Jacob Karam), Penn Charter (Justin Renfrow)
Champions: Alta (Sausan Shakerin), Trinity-Pawling (Shayne Skov)
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