With the high school season over for many teams across the country, recruits are in the midst of official visits leading up to Signing Day in February. While Stanford players and fans rushed the field at the end of the game on Saturday in celebration of the team's first Big Game win over Cal since 2001, a handful of prospects making their official visits to Stanford also joined the celebrating masses. Notably, Stanford used the weekend to host wide receiver commit Warren Reuland, athlete Michael Thomas, and some more stealthy prospects. When the dust settled in the game, Stanford had won 20-13. Meanwhile, Gatorade announced their state Players of the Year, who are now eligible to be named National Player of the Year later this month. Devonte Christopher (Nevada) and a handful of other prospects of interest to Stanford received the prestigious honor. Of the 51 honorees, all but eight were seniors. The standout juniors included three early recipients of Stanford offers, including 5-star quarterback Matt Barkley (California), 5-star linebacker/running back Manti Te'o (Hawaii), and 4-star linebacker/fullback Jelani Jenkins (Maryland). Congratulations to all of the state winners! Despite the announcement of many state and national honors, some of the nation's top teams still have not completed action. The past weekend's slate of games:
* Cincinnati (Ohio) St. Xavier completed their quest to go wire-to-wire as arguably the top team in America by beating every team in their path on a schedule often called the toughest in the nation. The dominating 27-0 put an exclamation point on a perfect 15-0 season in which the Bombers beat many of the top teams in Ohio and the nation. After all is said and done, St. Xavier could be the champion of one state after having beaten all-comers in their own state and also beating the champions of two other states. The championship game shutout was the 14th time in 15 games this season in which Stanford commit Fred Craig and the Bomber defense have held an opponent to two scores or less and the fourth time they have shut out the opponent. The opposing team, Mentor, was led by 2007 Mr. Football Bart Tanski, who had been a dominant quarterback until running up against Craig and the St. X defense. In addition to the defensive effort, St. Xavier was led by a championship game record 271 yards rushing by Louisville commit Darius Ashley. Congratulations to Fred Craig and his Bomber teammates for the wonderful championship run!
* Newhall (Calf.) Hart dispatched Newbury Park 37-6 in the semifinals of the CIF-Southern Section Northern Division playoffs. Stanford commit Delano Howell took Hart on his back and absolutely dominated, rushing for 264 yards and 4 touchdowns on 30 carries and getting another 64 yards and 1 touchdown on 4 catches. The game was the fifth time this season that Howell rushed for over 200 yards. Hart will now square off against St. Bonaventure in a high profile championship match up of California powers that will have significant implications in deciding the Southern California representative for the state championship bowl game later this month. The championship game at the Home Depot Center in Carson will match Howell against Darrell Scott, the nation's top running back.
* Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian advanced to the Southern Section's Northwest Division championship with a similarly lopsided rout, winning by a 34-0 score over Oak Park. Stanford commit Chris Owusu had 3 catches for 61 yards and also made 5 tackles on defense. Super sophomore Malcolm Jones had 100 yards rushing and 2 touchdowns on the ground and a 43-yard reception for a third touchdown. The win avenged an Oaks Christian loss to Oak Park earlier this year that made them a disappointing 4-3 on the season. They have since won every game and now play in the championship on Friday. If Oaks Christian wins on Friday, they will likely be up against the winner of the Hart-St. Bonaventure in the minds of the selection committee to represent Southern California in the Division III state championship bowl game.
* Stanford commit Andrew Luck's high school career came to an end with a 31-27 loss. Luck completed 15 of his 24 pass attempts for 166 yards and a touchdown and also rushed for 94 yards and a touchdown. Interestingly, Luck, the son of former NFL quarterback Oliver Luck, played his final high school game came against Derek Carr, the quarterback for Clements and the younger brother of Carolina Panthers quarterback David Carr. In addition to scholar-athlete recognition Luck has already received from the Houston Touchdown Club, the organization recently named him a finalist for Houston player of the year honors. Luck's Houston (Tex.) Stratford team finished the season 9-4. The next game that he plays will be the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio on January 5.
* Sam Schwartzstein joined Luck as a Stanford commit from Texas whose high school career came to an end with a disappointing playoff loss this past weekend. The 22-21 loss was the first for Southlake (Tex.) Caroll against a fellow Texas team since 2003 and ends a five-year streak of playing in the state championship game, which they have won four times in those five years. The loss also marked the end of the legendary career of North Texas commit Riley Dodge, who was recently named the Gatorade Texas Player of the Year but could not finish the game after separating his shoulder in the second quarter. Said Schwartzstein, "Things just didn't turn out the way we wanted them to today. As long as you know you played your hardest and that you gave it your all, that's all you can ask for."
* Marietta (Ga.) Walton snuck out a 20-19 quarterfinal win to advance to the Georgia Class AAAAA semifinals in the Georgia Dome on Saturday. Chase Thomas caught 2 passes for 21 yards but as always made his mark on defense with 9 tackles and 2 sacks. The performance gives him 78 tackles and 17 sacks in his senior season.
* Chandler (Ariz.) Hamilton, which has been ranked all year as one of the top teams in the nation, lost for the first time this season, ending their championship run. The 24-14 semifinal loss to Phoenix (Ariz.) Brophy College Prep brought an end to a three-game playoff run in which Covaughn Deboskie, Gerell Robinson, and the vaunted Hamilton offense struggled to reach the same level of dominance they enjoyed during the regular season.
* Pittsburgh (Pa.) Central Catholic advanced to the Pennsylvania state semifinals with a resounding 44-6 victory that brought the national powerhouse to 14-0 on the season and one win away from a berth in the state championship game. Quentin Williams caught 3 passes for 69 yards, including a 30-yard touchdown pass. On defense, he had 6 tackles, 1.5 for loss. Quarterback Tino Sunseri completed 11 of his 15 pass attempts for 298 yards and 2 touchdowns with no interceptions.
* Bowling Green (Ky.) advanced to Friday's Kentucky 5A championship at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium with a 35-13 win. Tight end Ryan Wallace had 2 catches for 39 yards, including a 25-yard touchdown. Teammate D.L. Moore had a huge game with 7 catches for 145 yards.
* Houston (Tex.) Cypress Ridge dropped in the Class 5A Division I Region III semifinals with a 24-21 loss. The game provided one last junior year stage for 5-star quarterback Russell Shepard, who showed off his playmaking ability with a 44-yard touchdown run. As a running quarterback, he finished 2-of-5 passing for 36 yards and had 71 yards rushing.
* After going 14-0 to earn a spot in one of the Ohio state championship games and on lists of the best teams in America, Youngstown (Ohio) Cardinal Mooney fell short of the championship with a heartbreaking 28-27 loss. After scoring a touchdown with 21 seconds left in the game, Cardinal Mooney had a chance to tie the game with an extra point but had that attempt blocked to end their title hopes. Even more devastating for Cardinal Mooney, the game only came to that point after Coldwater scored 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter against the dominant and famed Cardinal Mooney defense. Junior defensive tackle Johnny Simon and the Cardinal Mooney defense, which features numerous major college prospects, only gave up 98 yards and no points in the first half but fell victim to trick plays as the game wore on.
* Phoenix (Ariz.) Desert Vista advanced to the state championship against Brophy College Prep with a 14-7 win. 4-star junior Devon Kennard added a 1-yard rushing touchdown and 6 tackles in the winning effort. Desert Vista lost three times in their first five games but have gotten hot in the second half of the season and are now one win away from winning the state championship. The Class 5A Division 1 state championship against Brophy College Prep will be played on Saturday at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.
* Scottsdale (Ariz.) Saguaro advanced to the Class 4A Division 1 state championship in Glendale on Saturday as they won 12-6 in the semifinals. Saguaro features a stifling defensive line led by 4-star junior Corey Adams.
* La Mesa (Calif.) Helix lost 17-14 in the San Diego Section Division II semifinals. Junior Levine Toilolo had 2 catches for 31 yards in the game. He had 4 receiving touchdowns in his junior year.
Games of Interest:
Hart-St. Bonaventure (Delano Howell) – Saturday @ Home Depot Center
Oaks Christian-Nordhoff (Chris Owusu) – Friday @ Oaks Christian
Desert Vista-Brophy College Prep (Devon Kennard) – Saturday @ University of
Saguaro-Canyon del Oro (Corey Adams) – Saturday @ University of Phoenix Stadium
Walton-North Gwinnett (Chase Thomas) – Saturday @ Georgia Dome
Bowling Green-Highlands (Ryan Wallace) – Friday @ Papa John's Cardinal Stadium
Central Catholic-Harrisburg (Quentin Williams) – Saturday
Season Over: Stratford (Andrew Luck), Stratford (Sam Schwartzstein), Mater Dei (Matt Barkley), Mission Viejo (Warren Reuland and Allan Bridgford), Bellevue (David DeCastro), Harvard-Westlake (Jonathan Martin), Chandler (Harold Bernard), Hamilton (Covaughn Deboskie), Basha (Quinn Evans), Cabrillo (Marcus Turner), Francis Parker (Matt Zubyk), La Jolla Country Day (Travis Golia), Lemont (Brett Nagel), Nimitz (Michael Thomas), Memphis University School (DeAndre Jones), Bingham (Austin Holt), Canyon Springs (Devonte Christopher), Gonzaga (Johnson Bademosi), San Clemente (Kevin Murphy), Helix (Levine Toilolo), Wilson (Jemari Roberts), Cypress Ridge (Russell Shepard), Scripps Ranch (Tate Forcier), Our Lady of Good Counsel (Jelani Jenkins), Cambridge Rindge & Latin (Joshua Adams), Punahou (Manti Te'o), Cardinal Mooney (Johnny Simon), Friendswood (Jacob Karam), Penn Charter (Justin Renfrow)
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