2010 Verbal Commits in Action:
* Stanford running back commit Anthony Wilkerson had a game for the ages in the opener of his final high school season. Leading the Tustin (Calif.) Tillers to a 56-28 win over La Palma (Calif.) Kennedy, Wilkerson rushed for 354 yards and 5 touchdowns on 27 carries. He also caught a 24-yard touchdown, giving him 6 trips to pay dirt in all. Linebacker A.J. Rafter also starred for Tustin, intercepting three passes, forcing a fumble, and recovering a fumble. "A.J. had a great game, player of the game," Wilkerson humbly offered after the game. "Over me." The Drillers scored 35 points in the first quarter alone and 21 of them were set up by turnovers caused by Rafter. Rafter also scored the team's first touchdown on a 33-yard reception. But Wilkerson unquestionably also starred in a game to remember for Tustin, rushing for 163 yards in the first quarter and nearly breaking the school's single-game rushing record set by former UCLA and Carolina Panthers great DeShaun Foster. Wilkerson had a 43-yard run in the fourth quarter called back due to a holding penalty, preventing him from breaking Foster's mark of 379 yards, set in 1997. Wilkerson did receive a gentle admonishment from his coach for celebrating after one of the touchdowns, but the game was by and large a huge success for Wilkerson. While Tustin won comfortably and Wilkerson and Rafter were the unquestioned stars, Kennedy receiver Eli Pleasant also had a very good game. Just a sophomore, the brother of Oregon linebacker Eddie Pleasant had 7 receptions for 106 yards, including a diving catch for a touchdown with Wilkerson covering him, and also added a touchdown run.
* Brandon Bourbon joined Wilkerson in making the story of the week dominant rushing performances by Stanford's dynamic pair of senior running back commits. Bourbon's Potosi (Mo.) squad blew out Pacific (Mo.) 42-13 and Bourbon led the way, rushing for 326 yards and 4 touchdowns on only 12 carries. Bourbon took the first play from scrimmage 69 yards for a touchdown and also added scoring runs of 80 yards, 54 yards, and 85 yards. The 85-yarder came early in the third quarter and was one of only two second half touches for Bourbon. Through two games, Bourbon has 593 yards and 7 touchdowns, averaging over 15 yards per carry. Notably, fullback Dylan Wyrick, who also plays linebacker and as a fullback has blocked for Bourbon in his standout junior and senior campaigns for Potosi, had 120 yards and 2 touchdowns on 8 carries in the most recent game. On defense, Wyrick had 12 tackles the previous week and through two games returning all-conference defensive end Hunter Belfield already has 5 sacks. Potosi faces its biggest test of the regular season next week against New Madrid (Mo.) County Central, which is also 2-0 to start the season and knocked Potosi out of the playoffs last year.
* Stanford cornerback commit Louis Young and his Olney (Md.) Our Lady of Good Counsel team won their season opener 28-16 nearly 3,000 miles from home in a road game to visit El Cajon (Calif.) Valhalla. In a Stanford connection, Valhalla went 11-2 last season with their only losses coming against Stanford tight end Levine Toilolo's La Mesa (Calif.) Helix squad and Stanford running back Tyler Gaffney's state champion San Diego (Calif.) Cathedral Dons. This season's Valhalla squad presented a fascinating season-opening test for Young, linebacker Troy Gloster, and the Good Counsel defense because the California hosts are led by 4-star Arizona State quarterback commit Peter Thomas. Thomas scored on an option keeper with five minutes left in the first half for the sole Valhalla score of the half but also threw three interceptions in the game, including one that was returned for a touchdown by defensive tackle Joe Rosenblatt. In all for the game he was 24 for 41 for 202 yards and a touchdown along with the three picks. "The quarterback is a great player," Good Counsel head coach Bob Milloy said of the future Sun Devil. "You have to get pressure on that guy and even then he gets away. He's a legit player. I don't think we'll see anybody in our league anywhere near as good as that guy." Valhalla head coach Steve Sutton also had kind words for the opponent, saying of Young's team that "They are a physical team and they have some studs. That was a good game for us to be in. Our kids weren't intimidated and they played hard, they just came up short." Young and the defense held Valhalla to one first-half touchdown and a second-half field goal before giving up a late touchdown after the game was already in hand.
* For the second straight week to start the season, Gainesville (Ga.) romped to a blowout, shutout victory. After contributing 4 tackles in last week's 34-0 win, Stanford safety commit Daunte Carr was in on another shutout performance as Gainesville dispatched of Carnesville (Ga.) Franklin County 41-0. Gainesville gave up just 131 yards of offense and forced 7 three and outs. "I'm proud of the defense because shutouts mean you're playing great defense," Gainesville head coach Bruce Miller said after the game. "Even in the fourth quarter with some second string guys in, you could still see them hustling to the ball. It's a tribute to coach [Jim] Pavao and the defensive players who take pride in getting a shutout." On offense, Alabama commit Blake Sims fumbled on the first drive but then went on to complete 15 of 25 passes for 187 yards and to rush for 3 touchdowns. Stanford wide receiver commit Tai-ler Jones was once again Sims' favorite target, with the two connecting 7 times for 96 yards. That follows a 5-catch, 73-yard effort the previous week for Jones. Gainesville has a lot of weapons, including running back Teryan Rucker who rushed for his second straight 100-yard game.
* Huntington Beach (Calif.) Edison trounced Lakewood (Calif.) Artesia 36-0 in the season opener for both teams. Stanford linebacker commit Jordan Zumwalt, playing middle linebacker for the Chargers, and the Edison defense were dominant in pitching the shutout. In an oddity, 30 of the 36 points in the game were scored in the second quarter.
* Stanford defensive end commit Alex Turner and the Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman also pitched a shutout, running away from Las Vegas (Nev.) Durango 31-0. Despite the dominant win, the Gaels were charged with 125 yards in penalties, more than Turner and the defense gave up in the entire game. The defense surrendered only 82 yards rushing on 27 carries and held Durango to 7-of-20 passing for 43 yards. Durango running back Julio Mora had rushed for 205 yards and 3 touchdowns the previous week but was held to 95 yards by Bishop Gorman, still accounting for almost all of his team's production. On offense, sophomore running back Shaquille Powell continues to shine for the Gaels. After rushing for 4 touchdowns last week, he added 2 more this week, giving him two 100+-yard rushing performances in a row and 6 rushing touchdowns to start his sophomore campaign. He also recovered a fumble on defense and returned it 56 yards for a touchdown. Freshman quarterback Anu Soloman completed 10 of his 17 pass attempts for 112 yards.
* Chandler (Ariz.) Hamilton, which features Stanford safety commit Devon Carrington and top junior offensive tackle prospect Christian Westerman, improved to 2-0 as well by beating Avondale (Ariz.) Westview 48-10. Westview played without their starting quarterback, who was out with a sprained foot. Hamilton scored 35 points in the first half and was up 35-3 at the break, allowing them to put it on cruise control in the second half. They have now won their first two games by a combined margin of 96 points. Carrington had 4 tackles and one interception the previous week.
* Stanford offensive line commit David Yankey and his Roswell (Ga.) Centennial squad fell to 1-1 after a 41-15 loss against Roswell (Ga.). Yankey's Centennial offense runs an option offense and put up 38 points in the opener the previous week, but struggled this weekend after an early drive that set up a 32-yard field goal.
* Stanford commit Kain Colter quarterbacked Englewood (Colo.) Cherry Creek to a 45-27 season opening win against Aurora (Colo.) Smoky Hill. He was efficient in the passing game, completing 6 of 8 passes for 75 yards and a touchdown, but he was equally dangerous with his feet, rushing for 87 yards and 2 touchdowns on 7 attempts. The touchdown pass was a 25-yard strike and the runs were from 57 yards out and 11 yards out. Cherry Creek scored the first 30 points of the game and cruised in the second half.
* Stanford defensive line commit Eddie Plantaric contributed to the winning cause for Fair Oaks (Calif.) Del Campo, blocking a punt and returning it 4 yards for a touchdown in a 42-6 victory over San Lorenzo (Calif.) Arroyo. Plantaric also anchored the defense that largely shut down the Dons. Plantaric is now reputed to weigh 260 pounds. On offense, Del Campo quarterback Ryan Dimino starred, rushing for an amazing 382 yards and 2 touchdowns and passing for 86 yards and another touchdown.
* Bethlehem (Pa.) Liberty lost their season opener to Lansdale (Pa.) North Penn by the wide margin of 42-10. Liberty is the defending Pennsylvania Class AAAA champions and the game was supposed to be a major, competitive Keystone State showdown. Instead, it was a blowout that ended a 15-game win streak for Liberty that has lasted since the last time these teams met, another North Penn victory. In the latest loss, Stanford wide receiver commit Jarrod West did catch a 54-yard bomb for a touchdown from 4-star quarterback Anthony Gonzalez on the game's first drive but that was his only catch of the game and was most of the offense Liberty would muster. ''It's a total embarrassment,'' Liberty head coach Tim Moncman said of the loss. ''I knew we were suspect defensively, but we had no one step up and make a play. It was a lack of leadership, a lack of intensity. We just quit in the second half," when Liberty was outscored 25-0. Gonzalez completed 6 of 12 passes for 103 yards and also rushed for 62 yards.
* Stanford linebacker commit A.J. Tarpley and defending Minnesota Division AAAAA state champion Plymouth (Minn.) Wayzata started their campaign for a repeat championship with a comfortable 34-7 victory over Apple Valley (Minn.) Eastview. The win was a bittersweet one for Wayzata, however, as Grant Olson, their star linebacker and the leading tackler from last year's team, had to be taken to the hospital with an abdominal injury. He will miss next week's major showdown against Minnetonka (Minn.), which features 4-star defensive tackle Beau Allen, and may be out longer as well. Before Olson suffered his injury, Olson, Tarpley, and the Wayzata defense stymied Eastview in the season opener. The third photo in this photo gallery (http://www.twincities.com/allheadlines/ci_13261610) shows Tarpley and Olson running on to the field together before the game.
* Stanford offensive line commit Dillon Bonnell and the Highlands Ranch (Colo.) ThunderRidge Grizzlies got their season started with a 21-20 win over Castle Rock (Colo.) Douglas County. The two teams appear relatively evenly-matched, with ThunderRidge winning the season opener last year on their way to an undefeated regular season before losing the rematch to Douglas County in the playoffs. This year's opener was a thriller, decided with five seconds remaining when the Grizzlies' Nathan Jordan blocked a 35-yard field goal attempt that would have won the game for Douglas County. The Bonnell-anchored offense struggled mightily in the first half and at one point trailed 20-2, with the only points coming on a safety. The winning score came on an interception return for a touchdown and the Grizzlies' only offensive touchdowns were two strikes from quarterback Alex Waner to receiver David Bidwell.
* Stanford offensive line commit Joe McNamara and his Weston (Fla.) Cypress Bay team also got their season off to a winning start in a close game, pulling past Lauderdale Lakes (Fla.) Boyd Anderson by the final score of 20-15 after a touchdown in the game's final two minutes. "Everyone was together on that drive," quarterback Zac Green said of the game-winning drive. "Everyone blocked well and everyone did their job." Cypress Bay's longest scoring drive of the game was only 24-yards until the 81-yard winning drive. On the game, running back Danny Epstein had 92 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. "Epstein and [David] McKnight ran so hard," Cypress Bay head coach Mark Guandolo commented on the running game. "That O-line had some trouble, but they came together and really dug in. And our defense, it's a group that's worked so hard and they've surprised me." Cypress Bay's offense is heavily run-oriented, with the Lightning only attempting five passes on Friday and not completing any of them. The game was an offensive struggle for Cypress Bay but their defense forced seven turnovers to keep the game in reach for the final drive. Although the game was sloppy, it was also illustrative of the quality of competition McNamara faces in Broward County. Boyd Anderson's team includes 4-star Florida safety commit Demar Dorsey, 3-star Mississippi cornerback commit Cliff Coleman, 3-star Rutgers linebacker commit Marcus Thompson, and wide receiver Steven Green.
* After surviving a scare the previous weekend in the season opener, Denton (Tex.) Guyer won more comfortably in the second week, besting Stephenville (Tex.) 45-14. For the second straight week Guyer went into halftime with a big lead but this time they did not nearly squander the lead in the second half. Head coach John Walsh partly credited Stanford offensive line commit Cole Underwood with helping the team maintain focus. "I walked in and said, 'Do I gotta do any coaching this week?'" Walsh related of his halftime approach. "[Defensive end Robert] Satterfield and [tackle Cole] Underwood stepped up, and I didn't do any coaching. I've got a mature group, and they were coaching themselves." Underwood and the offense rolled, amassing 559 yards of total offense and enjoying a 100-yard receiving performance, a 250-yard passing performance, and two 100-yard rushing performances. Junior quarterback J.W. Walsh was 17 for 22 through the air for 254 yards and 2 touchdowns and also punched in a rushing touchdown.
* The weekend was a disappointing one for Katy (Tex.), which came into the week ranked the #3 team in the nation by USA Today but lost to The Woodlands (Tex.) 31-27. It was the second year in a row the powerhouse Tigers have lost to the Highlanders, although this season's version was much closer than last year's 47-0 rout. Stanford tight end commit Zach Swanson had one catch for 10 yards the previous week and is typically involved in the offense mostly as a blocker for the running game, which gained 364 yards against The Woodlands. In the losing effort, running back Will Jeffery rushed for 227 yards and 2 touchdowns on 19 carries and Vernon Jefferies gained 101 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries.
* Austin (Tex.) Westwood evened their record at 1-1 by beating Harker Heights (Tex.) 35-7. Stanford kicker commit Jordan Williamson made all 5 of his extra point attempts. He had 6 kickoffs for 360 yards, with 3 of them resulting in touchbacks.
* Stanford defensive end commit Henry Anderson and College Park (Ga.) Woodward Academy bounced back from an opening week loss by taking out Atlanta (Ga.) Westminster 23-21. Westminster is now 0-2.
2011 Verbal Commits in Action:
* Stanford's newest commit, junior quarterback Evan Crower edged out a win to begin his penultimate season. It was a nail-biter as San Diego (Calif.) St. Augustine had to come back for a 15-14 win over Carlsbad (Calif.) by hitting a third-quarter field goal and scoring a fourth-quarter touchdown while holding Carlsbad scoreless in the second half. Junior kicker Paul Hundley led the way with 3 field goals but Crower's 4-yard touchdown pass on a rollout in the fourth quarter was the game-winner and was the only St. Augustine touchdown of the game. Notably, the win was the first time the Saints have ever beaten Carlsbad in six meetings. "I didn't know that," Crower admitted. "The last three years it was always a close game but they came out on top. We just came out and stepped it up." Sam Macias, who caught the game-winner from Crower, explained the touchdown by saying, "It was a shallow out, but the guy was right there, so I kind of bubbled out to help my quarterback out. He saw me and I just scored." The game was in doubt until the very end, when Carlsbad drove down field but botched the snap on what would have been a 28-yard field goal attempt to win the game. With St. Augustine mounting an 8-point comeback and holding Carlsbad scoreless in the second half, Crower gave credit to the defense, saying, "The defense stepped up. It was on the defense, it wasn't on the offense. The defense did all the work." Crower did have a solid game, though, completing 16 of 24 passes for 162 yards, the decisive touchdown, and no interceptions. He was 5-of-6 for 45 yards on the final drive. Crower's favorite receiving target, Dana Barbaro, missed the game with an injury. Last season Barbaro had 63 catches for 827 and 13 touchdowns.
* Sunnyvale (Calif.) King's Academy also got their season off to a good start, beating San Jose (Calif.) Evergreen Valley 32-6. Junior running back commit Amir Carlisle rushed for 175 yards and a touchdown on only 11 carries. He also returned a punt 12 yards and a kick 66 yards.
* Dallas (Tex.) St. Mark's lost for the second straight week and is now a disappointing 0-2 after getting blown out 46-0 by Fort Worth (Tex.) Nolan Catholic. Stanford commit Ty Montgomery and the St. Mark's offense were kept off of the score board entirely. Montgomery completed 3 of his 6 pass attempts 31 yards and 2 interceptions and gained 70 yards on the ground on 17 carries. Montgomery projects as a receiver or defensive back at the next level but in high school he plays quarterback and St. Mark's tries to get the ball in his hands in myriad ways, including on kick returns. Montgomery also had a 41-yard quick kick punt when St. Mark's was pinned deep in its own territory. Nolan Catholic's Marco Hernandez rushed for 264 yards and 4 touchdowns on 18 carries.
2012 Verbal Commit in Action:
* Stanford's extremely early 2012 commit, Skyler Mornhinweg , also started his season this past weekend with his Philadelphia (Pa.) St. Joseph's team edging past McKeesport (Pa.) 27-26. After playing safety for St. Joseph's last year, the sophomore Mornhinweg is now lined up behind center playing the quarterback position his father Marty, the current offensive coordinator of the Philadelphia Eagles, has long coached. As a quarterback, young Skyler Mornhinweg engineered a thrilling two-touchdown fourth quarter comeback to secure the one-point win. He started slow in the first half, with St. Joe's only gaining 65 first half yards and one late first half drive ending on an interception Mornhinweg threw in the end zone, but he picked it up in the second half. After a 2-of-10 start for 14 yards and an interception, Mornhinweg went on a 4-4 stretch in which he passed for 96 yards and the 2 decisive touchdowns to finish 6 for 14 with 110 yards, 2 touchdowns, and an interception. He then made the game-clinching interception while playing defense.
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