High-SchoolFootball: Don Bosco Prep

FAB 50 Offseason Primer: Don Bosco Prep

May, 30, 2012
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TBD EditorJeff Skopin/ESPNNewYorkDon Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.) won its sixth straight state title last season to finish No. 1 in the POWERADE FAB 50 for the second time in three years.
During the offseason, we’ll check out one team per week that looks like a sure bet to be among the best in the nation this fall.

FAB 50 Offseason Primer archive

This week’s team: Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.)

2011 Season: 11-0, Non-Public Group IV state champion, No. 1 in the final POWERADE FAB 50.

Projected 2012 Preseason Ranking: Top 25. The Ironmen have an almost unmatched resume in recent seasons, winning six straight state titles, achieving three consecutive unbeaten seasons and earning two FAB 50 national crowns in the last three years. Don Bosco will take a 46-game win streak -- the second-longest active winning streak in the nation -- into the season. This year, the Ironmen will once again face a difficult schedule. Season-opening opponent Gilman (Baltimore) finished No. 21 in the FAB 50, while St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) was the 2010 FAB 50 champ and Alta (Sandy, Utah) is a strong program. Don Bosco could move up the FAB 50 ladder with early-season success against the non-Jersey foes, but it faces its biggest task in recent years. The Ironmen must replace several talented starters, including ESPNHS All-American and Rutgers recruit Darius Hamilton and sophomore running back/cornerback Jabrill Peppers, an ESPNHS Underclass All-American who transferred to Paramus Catholic (Paramus, N.J.). While coach Greg Toal’s track record has to be respected in the preseason FAB 50 positioning, top 10 might just be too high in the early going.

Team Strengths: The major strength of this fall’s squad will be on defense, especially along the line, which returns standouts Alquadin Muhammad, who’s the No. 145 recruit in the ESPN 150, and Razohnn Gross. Also expected back is junior linebacker Spencer Scannell and junior defensive backs Isaiah Hill and Justin Wimberly. The Ironmen won the FAB 50 crown with a first-year starter, Mike Yankovich, at quarterback. They’ll have to do the same this year. Sophomore Eric Meile could be in line for the starting nod this fall. Sophomore running back Aaron Guzman could be another key offensive performer.

Another New Jersey team to watch: Bergen Catholic (Oradell, N.J.) could be the team that ends of the domination of Don Bosco. Bergen Catholic’s losing streak against the Ironmen is 10 games, but they did lead after three quarters in the first of last year’s two losses. The Crusaders, however, have the returning personnel to get the job done. The veterans for coach Nunzio Campanile, a former Don Bosco coach, include quarterback Jon Germano, who passed for 2,359 yards and 31 scores for the 8-3 team; wide receiver John Tsimis, who caught 50 passes for 754 yards and 11 scores; top rusher James Dawson; and linebackers Parker Tobia and Dan Grasso.

Don Bosco (N.J.) star DB Peppers transfers

February, 8, 2012
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TBD EditorDave Rubel/NJSportsMedia/ESPNHSTop Class of 2014 talent and dual-threat Jabrill Peppers has transferred from Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.) to Paramus Catholic (Paramus, N.J.).
In a big blow to repeating as the top team in the POWERADE FAB 50, Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.) star sophomore defensive back and running back Jabrill Peppers has transferred to local foe Paramus Catholic (Paramus, N.J.), The Record reports.

Peppers, a third-team ESPNHS All-American selection and ESPNHS Underclass All-American, is regarded as one of the top talents in the Class of 2014 and was an elite contributor to the vaunted Ironmen defense in 2011. The two-way standout joins fellow former Don Bosco player Keyon Washington at Paramus Catholic and is expected to begin classes at his new school on Thursday.

Wright expelled from Don Bosco Prep for tweets

January, 20, 2012
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Yuri WrightDanny Wild/US PresswireYuri Wright is rated as the No. 4 cornerback in the ESPNU 150, but after being expelled from FAB 50 No. 1 Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.) for explicit tweets, his future could be up in the air.
In what could prove a cautionary tale to top recruits, Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.) senior Yuri Wright was expelled Thursday for explicit comments he made on Twitter, according to The Star-Ledger. The tweets were racial in nature and sexually graphic, leading the school to take action against its star cornerback. Wright is ranked as the nation's No. 4 cornerback and No. 40 overall recruit by ESPNU.

Reports had swirled this week that Michigan had backed off recruiting Wright because of his tweets. Wright is also considering offers from Colorado, Notre Dame and Rutgers.

Click here to read more about the story from ESPN.com.

Brandon Parker covers high school sports for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHS.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.

High School Football Stories of the Year

December, 23, 2011
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Jadeveon ClowneyJohn Fedele/ESPNHSSouth Pointe (Rock Hill, S.C.) defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, now at South Carolina, was the most hyped football recruit in a decade.
From Jadeveon Clowney’s recruitment to Johnathan Gray, Dorial Green-Beckham and Maty Mauk breaking national records, we look back at the stories that made this a compelling year of high school football.

The Hype of Jadeveon Clowney

Clowney had a boatload of pressure placed upon him starting with his junior year of high school when people began calling him the best high school football recruit in a decade. Somehow the South Pointe (Rock Hill, S.C.) star defensive end backed it up, recording a ridiculous 162 tackles and 29.5 sacks as a senior. Every major college coach would have loved to get him to sign a letter of intent, so that’s why it’s fitting Clowney signed with South Carolina on Valentine’s Day, which also happened to be his 18th birthday.

The Emergence of Robert Nkemdiche

After Clowney graduated, he passed the torch to Nkemdiche, an immensely talented junior defensive lineman at Grayson (Loganville, Ga.). The 6-foot-5, 270-pounder has the same freakish type of athleticism as Clowney and also the burden of living up to expectations. But like Clowney, he hasn’t let it bother him. This year, Nkemdiche led POWERADE FAB 50 No. 4 Grayson to its first state title and tallied 18 sacks despite facing double- and triple-teams every game.

Gridiron Records Shattered

It seemed as if no high school football record was safe this season.

Aledo (Texas) senior running back Johnathan Gray became the nation’s all-time leader in career touchdowns (205), which he set in his final high school game, and finished second in career points (1,232).

Meanwhile, Hillcrest (Springfield, Mo.) senior wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham broke the career receiving yards (6,356) mark, and Kenton (Ohio) senior quarterback Maty Mauk capped his unbelievable career with national career records in passing yards (18,932), touchdown passes (219), completions (1,353), attempts (2,110) and total yards (22,681).

Mainland, Joplin & Tuscaloosa Overcome the Odds

In sports, the idea is to never back down from the opponent no matter how big or intimidating. Unfortunately for thousands in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Joplin, Mo., and Linwood, N.J., nobody told them their greatest opponents would come by way of natural disasters and tragedy. In April, a massive tornado tore through Tuscaloosa. A month later, another violent tornado demolished the town and school in Joplin. And in August, four Mainland Regional football players died in a car accident.

As the rebuilding continues in each town, sports, in particular football, have helped the communities unite as reminders that even these opponents can’t destroy their wills.

The Rise of 7-on-7

AAU basketball, for good and for bad, has been a staple of the high school hoops scene for decades. Now high school football could have its own version of AAU in the form of 7-on-7 traveling teams.

The rise of 7-on-7 teams has become a hot-button issue with the NCAA because of the fear of third-party influences who could jeopardize the college eligibility of players on those traveling teams. And this June, the SEC banned non-scholastic 7-on-7 events from being held on its schools’ campuses.

Don Bosco Prep’s Run to a National Title

The Ironmen began the year with a bull’s-eye on their backs after being ranked No. 1 in the preseason POWERADE FAB 50 ESPNHS Team Rankings. But Bosco backed up the billing, running through a competitive schedule that included a road win over No. 12 Manatee (Bradenton, Fla.) to go wire-to-wire as the nation’s top team.

It was the second time in three years the Ironmen have finished No. 1 in the FAB 50. Maybe it’s time we started including New Jersey among the football power states.

Girls Make Impact on Gridiron

Girl athletes made headlines — and big plays — all over the football field this fall. Brianna Amat was dubbed the “kicking queen” and gained national attention for making the game-winning field goal for Pinckney (Mich.) on the same night she was named homecoming queen. Andrea Marsh, a senior cornerback at Panama (N.Y.), was named one of 12 finalists for the High School Football Rudy Award after leading her league in interceptions. Shawnee (Springfield, Ohio) kicker Carly Gregory became the first girl in Ohio state history to score in a state championship game when she made two extra points. And Lisa Spangler, a 5-foot-5 sophomore, was the starting middle linebacker for Fort Vancouver (Vancouver, Wash.).

“I never expected to have a girl be my middle linebacker,” Fort Vancouver coach Eric Ollikainen said. “But my job is to get the best 11 on the field, and she’s one of my best.”

Natalie Randolph Leads Coolidge to Title Game in Only Her Second Year

Randolph made news last year when she became only the third woman in history to be named a varsity football coach when she took over at Coolidge (Washington, D.C.).

She proved her future in coaching was bright, having led her squad to the DCIAA championship game this season. And though Coolidge fell to Dunbar (Washington, D.C.) 33-21, the team knows it’s in good hands with Randolph at the helm.

Refs Going too Much by the Book?

In August, refs penalized Alex Schooley of Louisville (Ohio) for excessive celebration after a touchdown when he pointed to the sky to honor his friend, who had died the week before the game in a car accident. Walsh Jesuit (Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio) was able to use the short field position it got from the penalty to drive down for the game-winning field goal.

Then in December, Cathedral (Boston) quarterback Matt Owens scored what appeared to be the game-winning score on a 56-yard touchdown run against Blue Hills (Canton, Mass.) in the Eastern Massachusetts Division 4A Super Bowl. But Owens raised his arm on the way to the end zone, leading refs to call him for unsportsmanlike conduct. The touchdown was negated, the ball was placed at the spot of the foul and Owens threw an interception on the very next play as Blue Hills went on to win the title.

Tanner Mangum and Neal Burcham Break Out

One was a quarterback from Idaho, and the other was a signal-caller from small-town Arkansas with one college offer. But Eagle (Idaho) senior Tanner Mangum and Greenbrier (Ark.) senior Neal Burcham proved this summer that you don’t have to be from a football hotbed to be a star quarterback.

The pair earned co-MVP honors with the nation’s No. 1 QB, Jameis Winston of Hueytown (Ala.), at Elite 11 and proceeded to have dominant senior campaigns. Mangum committed to BYU, while Mangum picked up more scholarship offers before committing to SMU.

Inside the FAB 50: Wire-to-wire No. 1 teams

November, 29, 2011
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Don Bosco Prep FootballSteve Boyle/ESPNHSDon Bosco Prep, the top-ranked football team in the POWERADE FAB 50 and five-time defending state champ, is led by this senior quintet. Clockwise from left: Elijah Shumate, Mike Strizak, Darius Hamilton, Leonte Carroo and Yuri Wright

New Jersey power Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.) will not only be seeking its 46th consecutive win and sixth straight Non-Public Group 4 state title Friday against rival Bergen Catholic (Oradell, N.J.), but the Ironmen could join an elite list with a victory.

Don Bosco Prep could become the 11th team in the last 15 years to go wire-to-wire from the preseason to the final rankings as No. 1 in the POWERADE FAB 50.

The Ironmen have been No. 1 all season in the FAB 50, which also was the case from 1997 to 2006 as all 10 preseason No. 1 ranked teams in those years went wire-to-wire and finished No. 1 in the final rankings.

The decade-long No. 1 streak started with Hampton (Hampton, Va.) in 1997, followed by De La Salle (Concord, Calif.) in 1998 and Evangel Christian (Shreveport, La.) in 1999. From 2000-03, De La Salle went wire-to-wire as the No. 1 team four times, while extending its national record win streak to 151 games.

The No. 1 wire-to-wire baton was passed to Southlake Carroll (Southlake, Texas) in 2004 and 2005 followed by Lakeland (Lakeland, Fla.) in 2006.

The streak ended in 2007 when preseason No. 2 Miami Northwestern (Miami, Fla.) upended preseason No. 1 Southlake Carroll (Southlake, Texas) and went on to capture the FAB 50 crown.

Since then, three more preseason No. 1 teams fell short of the accomplishment; including last year when Euless Trinity (Euless, Texas) lost in its final game. Will Don Bosco Prep be like teams of the last four years and not go wire-to-wire or will the Ironmen start a new streak of wire-to-wire FAB 50 champions? We’ll find out Friday night.

FAB 50 SPOTLIGHT PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Romello Goodman, Centennial (Corona, Calif.)

Running backs with prolific yardage and scoring totals is nothing new at Centennial, which went back into this week’s FAB 50 at No. 44 after a 56-21 victory against Chaparral (Temecula, Calif.) in the CIF Southern Section Inland Division playoffs.

Goodman, a mighty mite at 5-foot-6, 165-pounds, is the latest feature back in coach Matt Logan’s no-huddle, quick-tempo, spread offense. In the game against Chaparral, he carried 27 times for 355 yards and set a school record by scoring eight touchdowns. This came one week after Goodman shined with 32 carries for 325 yards and five scores in a first-round playoff win over Redlands (Redlands, Calif.).

Setting school records in rushing or scoring at Centennial is not the same as any other school in California; it’s hard to do. Since the 2000 season, tailbacks for the Huskies have included Mike Bass, who tallied 2,875 yards and 41 TDs in 2000, Brandon Minor with 2,714 yards and 50 TDs in 2004, Terrell Jackson with 2,664 yards and 43 TDs in 2003 (he also scored 50 times in 2002), Ryan Bass with 2,608 yards and 48 TDs in 2007 and Barrinton Collins with 2,427 yards and 42 TDs one year ago.

After his first two playoff games and with perhaps two or even three games left (depending on whether Centennial is chosen to play in a CIF bowl game), Goodman enters this week with 2,269 yards and 40 TDs. He’s certainly put himself into the discussion with those before him and at Centennial that is saying something.

RISING NEWCOMER OF THE WEEK

No. 23 Page (Greensboro, N.C.)

The Pirates will be seeking their first state title since 1985 after upsetting two FAB 50-ranked teams and advancing to Saturday's Class 4-AA title game against 15-0 Garner (Garner, N.C.).

Page moved into the FAB 50 this week after knocking off two-time defending champion Butler (Matthews, N.C.) 40-26 before eliminating previously unbeaten Mallard Creek (Charlotte, N.C.) 41-27 last weekend. After being the "hunter" the last two playoff weeks, the Pirates are now the 'hunted." And it's been a long time coming for the school. Page was a state football power in the early 1980s and reeled off a state record unbeaten streak of 46 games from 1982-85, a mark that would last for two decades.

The current Pirate football team, coached by Kevin Gillespie, took a back seat all season to Charlotte area powers Butler and Mallard Creek before recording the playoff upsets.

Page is led by 6-foot-2, 195-pound versatile quarterback James Summers. The North Carolina State recruit accounted for 336 total offense yards and four scores in last week's 41-27 win over then FAB 50 No. 13 Mallard Creek.

LOOKING AHEAD: STATE SHOWDOWNS

There are four matchups this weekend involving two FAB 50 teams and several more on the horizon.

Of this week’s showdowns, two will determine state championships with No. 23 Page (Greensboro, N.C.) playing No. 50 Garner (Garner, N.C.) and No. 34 Union (Tulsa, Okla.) battling No. 47 Broken Arrow (Broken Arrow, Okla.).

The other two are essentially state quarterfinals in Florida and Texas. In Florida, No. 12 Miami Norland travels to meet No. 39 Glades Central while in Texas it is No. 18 Southlake Carroll matching up with No. 38 Arlington Martin.

On the weekend of Dec. 10-11, the best games could be in Georgia, Texas and Oregon. Provided all teams keep winning, those contests would match No. 3 Grayson (Loganville, Ga.) against No. 28 Walton (Marietta, Ga.) for the Class AAAAA state title; No. 9 Skyline (Dallas) against No. 18 Southlake Carroll (Southlake, Texas) in the Class 5A Division I semifinals; No. 19 Steele (Cibolo, Texas) against No. 27 La Porte (La Porte, Texas) in the Class 5A Division II semifinals; and No. 32 Sheldon (Eugene, Ore.) against No. 48 Lake Oswego (Lake Oswego, Ore.) for the Class 6A state crown.

Then on the final weekend of the nation’s high school football season on Dec. 17-18, the best games may be in Florida and California. Again, provided all teams continue to win and the California state bowl game selections go as expected, those matchups would include No. 2 Armwood (Seffner, Fla.) against No. 20 Miami Central (Miami, Fla.) for the Class 6A state crown; No. 13 De La Salle (Concord, Calif.) against No. 15 Westlake (Westlake Village, Calif.) in the CIF State Open Division bowl game; and No. 25 Bellarmine (San Jose, Calif.) against No. 44 Centennial (Corona, Calif.) in the CIF State Division I bowl game.

Get Familiar: Mike Strizak

November, 21, 2011
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Mike StrizakSteve Boyle/ESPNHSMike Strizak and POWERADE FAB 50 No. 1 Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.) play on Thanksgiving Day.

Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.) has held on to the No. 1 spot in the POWERADE FAB 50 ESPNHS Team Rankings all season long thanks in large part to its dominant defense, which has held opponents to just 78 points through nine games (9-0).

Spearheading that effort is senior defensive end Mike Strizak, a 6-foot-2, 230-pound Boston College commit. Strizak is projected to play inside linebacker at BC and is rated No. 39 nationally at the position by ESPNU.

This weekend Strizak returned his third fumble for a touchdown, setting a single-season team record, in a 42-3 win over Paramus Catholic (Paramus, N.J.) in the Non-Public Group IV state semifinals. The Ironmen will go for their sixth straight state title when they face Bergen Catholic on Dec. 2.

But before they do that, they’ll battle rival St. Joseph Memorial (Montvale, N.J.) in their annual Thanksgiving Day matchup. While the game has no postseason impact, it does have POWERADE FAB 50 implications and there are bragging rights on the line. And St. Joseph Memorial (9-1) is certainly no pushover — the Green Knights will be playing for the Non-Public Group III state crown on Dec. 3.

So what’s it like playing in such a high-pressure atmosphere on Thanksgiving Day? Get Familiar with Mike Strizak to find out.

Read More »

BRONX, N.Y. — When you’re playing an elite team, you’ve got to take advantage of every opportunity you can get.

St. Edward (Lakewood, Ohio) certainly had its chances early on in its matchup with POWERADE FAB 50 No. 1 Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.) on Saturday night. In fact, the Eagles, who came in at No. 6 in the POWERADE FAB 50, had the ball twice in Don Bosco territory on their first two drives of the game.

But St. Edward came away empty on each drive, and the Ironmen responded with a pair of touchdowns in the first quarter en route to a surprisingly easy 38-7 win at Jack Coffey Field on the campus of Fordham University.

It was the 40th consecutive victory for Don Bosco (5-0) and its third win over a FAB 50 team this season. Meanwhile, St. Edward (6-1) had its 21-game winning streak halted.

“No doubt those stops were huge,” said Don Bosco coach Greg Toal. “I thought we made them one-dimensional, and when they’re one-dimensional, we could get after their pass a little bit. Thank God we could stuff the run; I think everything started from there.”

Things looked promising for the Eagles when senior Kirkland Bryant returned the opening kickoff 53 yards to the Don Bosco 44. They couldn’t capitalize, however, as the Ironmen forced a three-and-out. Once the Ironmen got the ball, they methodically marched 80 yards on 12 plays, capped by 1-yard touchdown run by sophomore running back Jabrill Peppers.

“The offense had to just keep staying on them, keep pressing and keep pressing,” said Peppers. “And we broke ‘em.”

St. Edward failed to gain any yards on its next three plays, but senior Anthony Young kept the drive alive with a 32-yard run off a fake punt. But Don Bosco junior lineman Razohnn Gross stopped the Eagles’ momentum by sacking St. Edward junior quarterback Ryan Fallon on third down.

The Ironmen then went 70 yards in only 1:21 as senior Elijah Shumate pushed the score to 14-0 with a 9-yard run. Bosco senior quarterback Mike Yankovich connected on all seven of his passes in the first quarter for 100 yards, while senior wide receiver Leonte Carroo hauled in four passes for 43 yards.

Any thoughts of St. Edward gaining any momentum back ended on the Eagles’ first drive of the second quarter when Gross crushed Fallon from behind, forcing a fumble that Don Bosco senior defensive end Mike Strizak returned 40 yards for the score.

St. Edward cut the lead to 21-7 on a 6-yard pass from Fallon to senior Quincy Jones with 4:42 remaining in the half. But the Ironmen pushed the lead to 28-7 with a 1-yard run by Peppers with 25 seconds left. Peppers set up the score by picking off Fallon and returning it 23 yards to the St. Edward 2-yard line.

Peppers added his third 1-yard touchdown run of the game on the first play of the fourth and finished with 38 yards on the ground, while Yankovich completed 15-of-20 passes for 165 yards.

Meanwhile, St. Edward, which faces POWERADE FAB 50 No. 42 St. Xavier (Cincinnati, Ohio) next Saturday, got 68 rushing yards from junior running back Dwayne Aaron and 61 receiving yards from Jones.

“A loss like this makes you look in the mirror and figure out what you have to do to be No. 1, to be where Don Bosco is at,” said St. Edward coach Rick Finotti.

Don Bosco is off next week and will play Passaic County Tech (Wayne, N.J.) on Oct. 21. But don’t think the Ironmen will lose any focus, even with their brutal out-of-state schedule now complete.

“We’ll be back at it,” said Yankovich. “The coaches will be after us and we’ll be preparing. We’re going to close this out the right way.”

What It Means for Next Week’s FAB 50
What stands out from this game is the margin of victory by Don Bosco against a defending Division I state champion from Ohio, which is a major football state. This was the last of the major state vs. state games and it shows again how hard it is for the visiting team to win in these contests. However, earlier in the season, Bosco was on the road against nationally ranked Manatee (Bradenton, Fla.) and won. And this victory adds to Bosco’s growing list of impressive wins against national opponents. Meanwhile, though St. Edward lost to the No. 1 team in the nation, the margin of victory will probably drop the Eagles to the 20s.

Mark Tennis contributed to this report

Weekend FAB 50 Football Primer

October, 6, 2011
10/06/11
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GAME OF THE WEEK

No. 1 Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.) 4-0 vs. No. 6 St. Edward (Lakewood, Ohio) 6-0, 6 p.m., Saturday at Fordham University (Bronx, N.Y.)

The featured third game of a high school tripleheader Saturday at Fordham University will have major POWERADE FAB 50 ranking implications.

Don Bosco, the 2009 FAB 50 champion, has been No. 1 since the preseason and enters the showdown with a 39-game win streak after losing the 2008 season opener to another Ohio foe, St. Xavier (Cincinnati), 17-10.

The Ironmen already this season have defeated two teams that ranked in the preseason top 10 -- No. 5 Mission Viejo (Mission Viejo, Calif.) and No. 6 Manatee (Bradenton, Fla.). They also are seeking their sixth straight Non-Public Group 4 state championship under coach Greg Toal.

The Ironmen are led on offense by running back Elijah Shumate while lineman Darius Hamilton is a force on a veteran defensive unit.

St. Edward, meanwhile, is riding a 21-game win streak after posting a 15-0 mark last season while winning the Eagles' first-ever Division 1 state crown.

The Eagles have a clock-eating ground attack that runs behind a massive line anchored by University of Michigan recruit Kyle Kalis. Junior Dwayne Aaron leads the rushers and had 35 carries for 155 yards and one touchdown in last week’s game.

After this showdown, the Eagles will have to turn their attention to three in-state tests, including those against FAB 50 ranked foes St. Xavier (Cincinnati) and unbeaten Moeller (Cincinnati) plus rival St. Ignatius (Cleveland), which has lost just once so far.

The first two games of the tripleheader pit Bergen Catholic (Oradell, N.J.) vs. Friendship Collegiate Academy (Washington, D.C.) and St. Peter's (Jersey City, N.J.) vs. Ursuline (Youngstown, Ohio).

PLAYER TO WATCH

Jonathan Williams, Allen (Allen, Texas)

One of the top running backs in Texas, Williams could be becoming more oKf a focus in Allen’s multi-faceted offense.

The 5-foot-11, 205-pound senior entered the season as part of a 1-2 punch with junior quarterback Alec Morris. In Allen’s first four games, though, it was Morris (committed to Alabama) who was piling up the passing yards and touchdowns. In last week’s 45-13 win over Lewisville (Lewisville, Texas), Williams took center stage with 233 yards rushing and one score.

Williams, Morris and the rest of the 5-0 Eagles, who are No. 3 in the FAB 50, will be on display Thursday night in an ESPN2 matchup against 2-3 Plano East (Plano, Texas).

Williams, who has committed to Missouri, rushed for 2,078 yards and scored 19 touchdowns as a junior. He also caught 17 passes for another 174 yards and one score. He is one of those combo backs who can break tackles running inside and has the speed to go outside.

UPSET ALERT

Hillgrove (Powder Springs, Ga.) at No. 33 McEachern (Powder Springs, Ga.), 7:30 p.m., Friday

This game is to see which team has the most power in Powder Springs as the two rivals are off to 5-0 record starts.

It’s also a chance, however, for Hillgrove to make a rankings' statement since the Hawks are unranked in the FAB 50 or the Class AAAA top 10 for the state.

The two teams have only played once. It happened last season when McEachern won 64-48 in a shootout and went on to post a 10-2 record.

Hillgrove is led this season by Kenyan Drake, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound running back and University of Alabama recruit. Last week, in a 21-14 victory over rival Harrison (Kennesaw, Ga.), Drake scored twice on a rush and a pass reception.

McEachern, meanwhile, belted South Cobb (Austell, Ga.) 45-7 last weekend. Quarterback Trent Thompson passed for 254 yards and three touchdowns and Mike Sherman rushed 16 times for 132 yards.

The matchup of unbeaten city rivals could be another offensive shootout.

Upset Alerts so far this season: 2-3

TEAM ON THE RISE?

Centennial (Peoria, Ariz.) 5-0

When last seen in the FAB 50 during the 2009 season, the Coyotes had climbed all the way to No. 5 and were riding a 39-game winning streak. They were then stunned in the Class 5A Division II state semifinals by Marcos de Niza (Tempe, Ariz.).

This year’s team remained unbeaten with a 21-7 victory last week against Ironwood Ridge (Glendale, Ariz.) and has been ranked higher within the state than Chaparral (Scottsdale, Ariz.), the team Centennial lost to in last year’s playoffs.

Although Chaparral’s loss was to FAB 50 No. 9 Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) and arguably should still be ranked higher, there’s no doubt that the Coyotes are continuing their winning ways after going 14-0, 13-1 and 12-2 in the last three seasons.

Heading into a showdown game Thursday at 6-0 Deer Valley (Glendale, Ariz.), coach Richard Taylor’s team features quarterback Justin Sanchez (902 yards passing, 10 TDs) and junior running back Jalen Ortiz (560 yards rushing, eight TDs scored). The top college prospect on the team is fullback-strong safety Zach Hoffpauir (6-0, 210), who has committed to Cal.

Inside the FAB 50: No. 1 team opens at last

September, 8, 2011
9/08/11
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GAME OF THE WEEK

No. 6 Mission Viejo (Mission Viejo, Calif.) 1-0 at No. 1 Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.) 0-0, Saturday

The Ironmen are 2-0 in games against California teams with both wins coming against De La Salle of Concord.

Mission Viejo has traveled for games before to Washington and Ohio and has never lost although one win against Moeller (Cincinnati, Ohio) in 2007 was later reversed to a forfeit loss.

While the Diablos are traveling across the country, they have already played once (35-6 win over Centennial of Bakersfield, Calif.) compared to this being Don Bosco Prep’s long-awaited season opener. First game miscues are common in all levels of high school football so the Ironmen being at home could be somewhat negated.

The Ironmen start out with a 35-game winning streak and are seeking their fifth straight state title. They should be superb on defense with ends Darius Hamilton and Mike Strizak along with Yuri Wright and Elijah Shoemate in the secondary. The team’s only apparent question mark is at quarterback due to the graduation of two-year starter Gary Nova.

Mission Viejo’s offense should provide a stern test for that Don Bosco Prep defense. The Diablos can throw with quarterback Alex Bridgford (four touchdown passes last week) and they can run with USC-bound running back Jahleel Pinner. There’s also a veteran, well-coached, big and physical offensive line. If the upset happens, it’s probably because the Mission Viejo linemen have won a majority of the battles up front against the Ironmen and their own quick, strong group of linemen.

PLAYER TO WATCH

Alex Ross, Jenks (Jenks, Okla.)

The standout running back should be anxious to get on the field this week as the Trojans held him out of their season opening 54-13 win over Bixby (Bixby, Okla.) so he could heal for this week’s big Backyard Brawl rivalry matchup against Union (Tulsa, Okla.).

Before the season opener, Ross sprained his ankle in the Trojan Preview and he was a game-time decision to play in the season opener before being held out. According to the Tulsa World News, his status for the game against the Redskins is questionable while Ross himself said “probably not” when asked if he would play this week. Head coach Allan Trimble sounded a little more optimistic, telling the local newspaper, “His ankle is still sore but I’m sure he’ll play.”

Last season, the University of Oklahoma commit rushed for 1,548 yards and 27 touchdowns while also recording seven sacks on defense.

After both teams won last week, Jenks was No. 13 while Tulsa Union was No. 29 in this week’s FAB 50.

UPSET ALERT

No. 42 Gilman (Baltimore) 2-0 vs. No. 11 Good Counsel (Olney, Md.) 1-0, Saturday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, Md.

This game is for bragging rights in Maryland as well as standing in the FAB 50 rankings. The top two teams in the state -- one ranked No. 1 in the Baltimore area and the other No. 1 in the Washington, D.C., area -- clash in the Patriot Classic.

Both teams are coming off impressive wins to boost their FAB 50 stock. Good Counsel debuted with a 24-17 double-overtime win over ranked Florida power Manatee (Bradenton, Fla.). Gilman won its second game 51-27 over Virginia power Oscar Smith (Chesapeake, Va.), which had lost only two regular season games since 2004.

The ranked teams also boast two of the top recruited athletes in the land in Good Counsel's 6-foot, 185-pound wide receiver-defensive back Stefon Diggs and Gilman's 5-foot-10, 180-pound running back-defensive back Cyrus Jones. Both impressed last weekend.

The two Maryland powers met last year with Gilman prevailing 28-7. The result could be the same this year, especially with Gilman having two games under its belt and outscoring both foes by 119-36.

Upset Alerts so far this season: 0-1

TEAM ON THE RISE?

Acadiana (Acadiana, La.)

The defending Class 5A state champion is back to No. 1 in Louisiana after last year's runnerup and this year’s preseason No. 1, West Monroe (West Monroe, La.), was upset in its opener by Byrd (Shreveport, La.).

Acadiana debuted with a 36-13 victory over city rival Northside (Lafayette, La.). The Rams led 28-7 at halftime and cruised to the victory. Jeff Brown was the main offensive weapon with 17 carries for 148 yards and two touchdowns.

Acadiana, which finished last season with an on-field record of 14-1, should face an early-season test this Friday in the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans. A win by Acadiana over state Class 4A No. 1 St. Paul (Covington, La.) could vault the Rams into the FAB 50 picture. St. Paul debuted with an impressive 38-7 win over preseason Class 4A state No. 1 Karr (New Orleans, La.).

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