Making the game particularly interesting was the fact that there was some bad blood between the two rival schools as many folks were unhappy about superstar Scott's never-fully-explained transfer for his senior year to powerhouse St. Bonaventure, a move that left his abandoned former teammates at Moorpark High less than happy and the Hart head coach, among others in the league, quite upset - so much so that Hart cancelled an earlier regular-season game with St. Bonaventure in protest.
The match-up of the two star backs lived up to the hype for as long as it lasted.
Unfortunately, Howell was forced to leave the game due to injury near the middle of the third quarter. St. Bonaventure won the game 42-28 and wasn't really threatened past the beginning of the third quarter when Hart's first possession after the second half kick-off ended quickly and the Seraphs went down for a touchdown. The rest of the way St. Bonaventure used the running game to shorten the game. The QB, Casey Serna, gained 140 yards on the ground on well-timed scrambles as well as designed plays.
Howell had 93 yards on 15 carries; 6.2 yards per attempt for the Indians while Scott had 156 yards on 32 carries for the Seraphs. Howell had another 37 yards on three receptions. Scott had one catch for 40 yards and a td. Scott ended up scoring four touchdowns while Howell scored once (which gave him 13 TDs in four play-off games and 36 for the season - who knows what he would have had if he had continued to play).
Both kids are similar in style. They run north & south, have excellent vision, and cut back effectively to exploit space. Scott and Howell both attack the defense to get the last yard or two out of a play. They can exploit openings, but also do the tough work to get the two or three positive yards out of each and every touch. Neither believes in negative yardage. Scott is noticeably larger at 6'2", 215 lbs. while Howell is listed at 5'11", 190 lbs. Scott appears to be a little more explosive and certainly takes full advantage of his physical size. Scott focuses only on offense. Howell, on the other hand, plays both ways for Hart and he takes a pounding because of his running style. It was a real pleasure to see these kids compete.
Running backs aside, with the conclusion of this recruiting cycle approaching, it is fun to take a look at younger players on high caliber teams like these. There are several worth mentioning.
An offense, the running game in particular, is dependant on the kids up front and it is rare to see a sophomore lining up at left tackle for a team that controls the line of scrimmage. Giovanni Di Poalo is the starting left tackle for St. Bonaventure. He is listed at 6'4" and 260 lbs. His helmet is the highest in the huddle and he is lean at that weight. As a result he moves extremely well pulling or working down field. Getting downfield in front of Darrell Scott on a sweep says something about his mobility. Di Poalo is agile and he sets up with his butt down in pass protection so he can maintain his balance. He works well in the running game whether drive- blocking or setting up to cut off backside pursuit. His punch stops defenders. From a single observation, I believe Giovanni will be a high profile recruit in the 2010 recruiting cycle. Two years in the weight room and work on technique will produce a dominant offensive lineman.
Two defenders on St. Bonaventure also passed the eyeball test. Xavier Ramos is a junior safety listed at 6'0", 180 lbs. He is a hitter who took out a wide receiver over the middle and the Hart QB on a safety blitz. He does from time to time miss a tackle instead looking for the big hit, so he will need to develop additional assignment discipline. If he grows he may be a player of interest. Dyland Davis is a sophomore starting at middle linebacker. He had two sacks. Davis is listed at 6'0" and 210 lbs. If he develops physically he could be a player of interest for 2010.
On the Hart side, sophomore wide receiver Blake Borland makes plays. While he is only 5'9" and 160 lbs., he ended up with seven catches for 71 yards. He has hands and speed- the question will be whether or not he grows a bit.
I suspect St. Bonaventure will be selected to play in the Division III state championship game so there will be one additional opportunity to see this team line up. All in all this was a good match up of well-coached athletes.