While scattered high school football games involving early birds in Alaska and elsewhere had started up earlier this month, this weekend represented a more complete start to the action with a host of states starting their seasons. The games included preseason favorites in Arizona, Ohio, Hawaii, and Utah with each of those teams featuring recruits being courted by Stanford. In one case, a recruit at a position of need for Stanford had a huge game and then committed to Stanford later in the weekend. Highlights from this past weekend's action:
* Stanford's newest commit, defensive end Trent Murphy, turned in the most notable performance of the weekend in leading his Phoenix (Ariz.) Brophy College Prep to a 16-6 victory over Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman in the Sollenberger Classic at University of Phoenix Stadium, the site of the most recent Super Bowl. Notably, the game pitted the reigning state champions from the top classifications in Arizona and Nevada. Murphy and the Broncos' defense was dominant, only allowing 125 yards, 79 of which came on a single play. Murphy helped set the tone with a blocked extra point after the lone Bishop Gorman touchdown, and was extremely disruptive throughout the game, ending up with 3 sacks. One of the sacks pinned Bishop Gorman deep in their own territory, forcing a subsequent intentional safety. Murphy committed to Stanford this weekend following his big opening game. Brophy College Prep now enjoys a bye week to prepare for their major September 5th clash with fellow in-state power Chandler (Ariz.) Hamilton, one of the top programs in the West and home to a slew of major college prospects in recent years.
* The most prominent Stanford recruit to start his season this weekend was Honolulu (Hawaii) Punahou 5-star linebacker Manti Te'o, Scout.com's #4 player in the nation and the highest ranked player not to announce a college decision yet. Punahou opened up their season with a 37-21 win over Wai'anae (Hawaii). Te'o and running back Dalton Hilliard are Punahou's most celebrated weapons, but Punahou's offensive attack on Saturday focused largely on the passing game, with Hilliard ending up with 55 yards rushing on 12 carries. In the passing game, quarterback Cayman Shutter completing 16 of 23 passes for 243 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. Most of the damage was done by Robby Toma, who finished with 9 receptions for 134 yards. Toma did, however, emphasize his frustration with the job he and the other receivers did in their blocking assignments on plays called for Hilliard, saying "the receivers weren't blocking too well when Dalton was breaking it. It was always one of the guys we're blocking who was making the tackle." In the end, though, the unquestioned star for Punahou remains Te'o. The defense he leads contributed to the winning effort by allowing only 122 yards rushing on 32 attempts and sacking the opposing quarterback 6 times.
* Athlete Marsalis Teague, who plays quarterback at the high school level, led Paris (Tenn.) Henry County to a 56-6 rout of Clarksville (Tenn.) Northwest. Henry County bust out to a 33-0 second quarter lead and cruised to the rout. Teague only attempted two passes and completed both of them, one for a 24-yard completion and the other for a 66-yard touchdown. On the ground, he ran the ball 4 times for 117 yards and a touchdown, which was a 92-yard home run.
* After going 15-0, winning the Ohio state championship, and gaining recognition as arguably the best high school team in the nation in 2007, Cincinnati (Ohio) St. Xavier started the season off on a decidedly disappointing note, dropping a tightly-contested game 13-8 against fellow Cincinnati power Colerain. The game pitted the top two teams in Cincinnati in the Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown played at the University of Cincinnati's Nippert Stadium in front of around 15,000 fans. St. Xavier lost 18 of their 22 starters from last year's state championship team, including current Stanford player Fred Craig, Cincinnati's Danny Milligan, and Louisville's Darius Ashley, Greg Scruggs, and Stephon Ball. Two starters remain from the Bombers' stifling defense of last year, linebacker Luke Kuechly and defensive end Pat Muldoon, and both have been offered by Stanford. In the season opening loss, Kuechly, Muldoon, and the defense shut down Colerain in the second half after a solid first half was marred by two touchdown runs by Colerain sophomore running back Tyler Williams (including a 48-yarder). The St. Xavier offense, however, could get nothing going against Colerain and the Bombers scored all of their points on field goals and a safety Colerain took as the clock expired. St. X was playing without starting quarterback Luke Massa, who sat out as he recovers from torn scar tissue in his right foot. As they did last year, the Bombers will play one of the toughest schedules in the nation this year and will have to try to bounce back next week against Alabama powerhouse Prattville.
* After giving up less than 10 points per game in 2007, defensive end Davon Custis and the Columbus (Ohio) St. Francis de Sales defense opened the 2008 season by pitching a shutout, cruising to a 28-0 win over Lima (Ohio) Shawnee and only allowing 63 total yards. On offense, senior Ike Ariguzo started off the scoring for the Stallions with a 30-yard touchdown reception and junior Chi Chi Ariguzo finished off the scoring with a 30-yard interception return for a touchdown. The team rushed for 315 yards, including 94 from Josh Kusan.
* Provo (Utah) Timpview, arguably the top team in the Beehive State and the owner of a 23-game winning streak heading into the season (five away from the Utah record), survived a scare and beat Pleasant Grove (Utah) 10-6. Timpview is led by elite offensive line prospect Xavier Su'a-Filo and junior tight end/defensive end Bronson Kaufusi. The ability of that duo to dominate the line of scrimmage, considered Timpview's strength going into the season, will be seriously tested now that a shoulder injury to BYU offensive line commit Tui Crichton could cost him his senior season. In the opener against Pleasant Grove, the offense benefited from Travis Van Leeuwen's 8 catches for 90 yards. On defense, the front led by Kaufusi had five sacks and numerous hurries and made three fourth quarter stops within the 10-yard line to preserve the narrow win.
* Tight end Richard Wilson's Spanish Fork (Utah) team drew a tough assignment in the opening week against defending state champion Sandy (Utah) Alta and was blown out 42-6. Wilson ended up with 63 yards receiving in the losing effort, including a 20-yard completion on a 3rd-and-8 conversion attempt. Alta received contributions from numerous players, including two rushing touchdowns and a 60-yard punt return for a touchdown from Alex Rivas and 6 receptions for 142 yards and 2 touchdowns from Parker Webster. Spanish Fork's lone score came on a 16-yard pass to Jordunn Mattinson. They draw another difficult opponent next week when they face Su'a-Filo's Timpview team.
* Running back Wesley Tate, an under-the-radar prospect to keep an eye on and the younger brother of Notre Dame's Golden Tate, suffered a heartbreaker this weekend when his Hendersonville (Tenn.) Pope John Paul II team lost 20-17 to Greenbrier (Tenn.) on a Hail Mary pass in the game's final minute, the first time Greenbrier led all game. To add insult to injury, the last ditch pass was actually caught on the 3-yard line and the receiver fumbled the ball into the endzone, where a Greenbrier player fell on the ball for the game-winning score. Before the zany conclusion, Tate had racked up 82 yards rushing and 2 touchdowns on 22 carries. He scored on touchdown runs of 36 yards and 6 yards.
2010 recruits in action:
* A number of 2010 recruits to keep an eye on also started their football season this weekend. Junior tight end Harrison Jones, younger brother of Alabama freshman Barrett Jones, hauled in 5 receptions for 61 yards in a 21-12 winning effort for Cordova (Tenn.) Evangelical Christian over Cordova (Tenn.) HS. Evangelical Christian's biggest offensive contribution came from running back Davis Childers, who rushed for 102 yards on 16 carries.
* In other Tennessee action, junior offensive lineman James Stone and his Nashville (Tenn.) Maplewood team kicked off action with a 13-6 victory over Memphis (Tenn.) East in the Music City Classic. The Maplewood offense struggled throughout the game, compiling only 126 total yards of offense on the game, fumbling the ball 7 times (though only losing it once), and only completing one pass attempt the entire game. Running back Markus Cantrell ended up with 63 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. The Maplewood defense was as stout as the offense was ineffective, holding East to 118 yards and a single touchdown.
* Junior big athlete Blake Lueders and Zionsville (Ind.) began their season with a 22-14 loss at the hands of Lafayette (Ind.) Jefferson. Lueders played fullback last year but looks to be primarily a middle linebacker this season and could project at a number of positions. He and his defensive mates kept Jefferson mostly in check but Zionsville was done in by a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and 60-yard interception return for a touchdown.
* Plainfield (Ind.) junior offensive lineman James Hurst joins Lueders as a 2010 prospect from Indiana to keep an eye on. Plainfield won their first game comfortably over Danville (Ind.) 35-7. Plainfield's win christened their new football stadium and they built a 21-0 first half lead. Running back Zach Fakes rushed for 126 yards and 2 touchdowns on 21 carries and Kevin Mucho also added 2 touchdowns, one on a 46-yard punt return and the other on a 68-yard reverse. While Hurst and the Quakers' offensive line blocked for numerous big plays and a clear victory, the game was slowed by 11 Plainfield penalties for 108 yards.
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