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Inside the FAB 50: Linebacker turned QB leads No. 49 Gaffney

If it looks like senior quarterback Joey Copeland of Gaffney (Gaffney, S.C.) is built like a linebacker, that would make sense. The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder played linebacker last season and has switched over to the quarterback role vacated by a graduating senior.

Copeland, who has helped the Indians move up to No. 49 in the latest FAB 50 rankings, is this week’s choice as the POWERADE FAB 50 Spotlight Player of the Week. Copeland is the replacement for 2010 Gaffney standout DeEdward Burns, who amassed 3,666 total offense yards and 33 touchdowns in 2010. He did play quarterback as a sophomore, but has definitely picked up where Burns left off. After three straight wins this year, Copeland has passed for 956 yards and nine touchdowns and has rushed for seven scores.

Last weekend, he led Gaffney to an impressive 47-21 win over state-ranked Greenwood (Greenwood, S.C.) by accounting for six touchdowns, including a school-record 99-yard scoring pass to Shaq Davidson. Copeland ended with 391 passing yards and four scores and added two rushing touchdowns.

Combined with previous FAB 50 ranked Byrnes (Duncan, S.C.) losing in its game last weekend 28-21 to Myrtle Beach (Myrtle Beach, S.C.) and with Gaffney also having a win already over perennial power Dorman (Roebuck, S.C.), it was easy to move up Copeland and his team in this week’s rankings. This weekend, Copeland will lead the Indians, who have won a record 16 state titles, against Union County (Union, S.C.).

PROMINENT NFL PLAYERS FROM FAB 50 TEAMS

Due to No. 6 Mission Viejo’s trip to play No. 1 Don Bosco Prep on Saturday, it seemed like a good week to compile a list of current top players in the NFL who are from teams in this week’s rankings. The Diablos, of course, are where New York Jets’ quarterback Mark Sanchez played his high school ball under coach Bob Johnson, who is still leading the program.

When Sanchez played at Mission Viejo, he was a first team all-state quarterback. The team he played on was 14-0 in 2004 and was No. 2 in the FAB 50, but was just as strong running the ball as with Sanchez throwing it. In fact, a different player on that team, junior fullback Cheyne Moline, actually was the Orange County Player of the Year. Moline rushed for 40 touchdowns.

Others to mention on this list would be OL Sam Young of No. 2 St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.); RB Maurice Jones-Drew and LB D.J. Williams of No. 3 De La Salle (Concord, Calif.); QB Andy Dalton of No. 7 Katy (Katy, Texas); OL Stefan Wisniewski of No. 20 Pittsburgh Central Catholic: LB Terrell Suggs of No. 26 Hamilton (Chandler, Ariz.); DB Jamarca Sanford of No. 40 South Panola (Batesville, Miss.); and WR Desean Jackson, TE Marcedes Lewis and OT Winston Justice of No. 46 Long Beach Poly (Long Beach, Calif.).

HIGHEST RISING NEWCOMER OF THE WEEK

No. 43 DeSoto (DeSoto, Texas)

The Eagles left the Midlands Region bubble list and entered the FAB 50 national rankings this week after dominating a smaller Oklahoma contender, Douglass (Oklahoma City, Okla.), 63-0 in a televised contest from Cowboys Stadium. First-year senior starting quarterback Raheem Wilson tossed three touchdown passes to lead the offense. He is replacing three-year record-breaking starter Ryan Polite (now at Texas-San Antonio). Meanwhile, the DeSoto defense, which has allowed only three points in two wins, limited Douglass to 49 total yards and forced nine punts. DeSoto's lineup includes recruits for Texas, Texas A&M, LSU and Kansas State. Douglass is the defending Oklahoma Class 4A champion and couldn’t keep up with the Eagles. DeSoto should face a much stiffer test this Saturday against 1-1 Cedar Hill (Cedar Hill, Texas), which lost 28-13 to No. 4 Allen (Allen, Texas) in its first game, then came back to defeat state-ranked Denton Guyer (Denton, Texas) 24-21 on Monday.

OPPONENTS THAT WE'D LIKE TO SEE FAB 50 TEAMS FACE

No. 15 Lincoln (Tallahassee, Fla.) – The Trojans not only have a sister school in California, but one with the same mascot. Lincoln (Stockton, Calif.) also is the Trojans and made news last weekend with a 50-49 win in two overtimes over previous FAB 50 ranked Pleasant Grove (Elk Grove, Calif.).

No. 38 Mallard Creek (Charlotte, N.C.) – There just aren’t nearly enough North Carolina vs. South Carolina games as you’d expect. The Mavericks played Chester (Chester, S.C.) last year, but perhaps should take on one of that state’s big three, including Gaffney, Dorman or Byrnes.

No. 44 Daphne (Daphne, Ala.) – Hey, we love the rhymes so of course Daphne should play the team with this week’s Spotlight FAB 50 Player of the Week. Then it would be Daphne vs. Gaffney.

No. 45 Rockhurst (Kansas City) – Coach Tony Severino’s program has played teams from Kansas, Colorado, Minnesota and Oklahoma in recent years. It wouldn’t be too much of a trip, though, for the Hawklets to take on either Jenks or Union of Tulsa, the big two from nearby Oklahoma.

No. 5 Armwood (Seffner, Fla.) vs. No. 50 Archbishop Wood (Warminster, Pa.) -- These teams have a reputation of chopping down the opposition.