ESPNHS Players of the Week

(After games of Sept. 15-17)

One standout performer is chosen from each region of the country. The only other criteria is that no player will be chosen more than once during a season.


Rushel Shell, Hopewell (Aliquippa, Pa.)

With an ideal name for a standout running back, Shell has been running all over fields in Western Pennsylvania for years now. This past week’s epic outing in a 56-28 drubbing of Moon Area (Moon Township, Pa.) saw him rush for 366 yards and score six touchdowns. His streak of consecutive games with 100 yards on the ground is now at 32, and he needs just 135 yards to top the all-time WPIAL rushing record. Shell added 101 yards receiving in the monster outing and had scoring runs of 59, 39, 68 and 46 yards in the second half.


Caleb Upton, Cathedral (Natchez, Miss.)

The 5-foot-10, 175-pound senior quarterback led his team back from a 33-14 deficit with 11:50 left to play in 36-33 defeat OF Stringer (Stringer, Miss.). The rally pushed the team’s record to 4-0. Upton ended with 532 passing yards and five scores, including three touchdown tosses of 7, 45 and 56 yards in the come-from-behind fourth quarter rally. Upton, also an all-state baseball catcher, is not a one-game wonder. As a junior, he passed for 471 yards and six touchdowns in a game.


Blake Gimbel, Marshalltown (Marshalltown, Iowa)

The 6-foot-4, 170-pound junior quarterback broke an Iowa state record by passing for 562 yards in a 63-41 shootout victory over Sioux City East (Sioux City, Iowa). He connected on 42 of 62 passes with five touchdown tosses to five different receivers. The 42 completions was one short of the state mark of 43. The yardage mark bettered the previous state record of 542 set in 2007 by D.J. Freesmeier of Central Lee (Donnellson, Iowa). Gimbel opened the season with 405 passing yards vs. Roosevelt (Sioux City, Iowa). He has now passed for 1,922 yards in five games and could threaten the state single season mark of 3,729 yards set in 2007 by current University of Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg of Keokuk (Keokuk, Iowa).


Mike McHugh, Kirkwood (Kirkwood, Mo.)

The 6-2, 185-pound senior who plays wide receiver and defensive back shined on both sides of the ball to lead Kirkwood past Hazelwood Central (Florrisant, Mo.) 47-0. On offense, McHugh caught four passes for 214 yards and three touchdowns, including one scoring play of 93 yards. On defense, he sparked the shutout by picking off a pass and running it back 98 yards for another touchdown. McHugh, who has committed to Northwestern, has led Kirkwood to a 3-0 record and a top five ranking in the St. Louis Post-Distpatch large schools poll.


Steven Long, Lake Oswego (Lake Oswego, Ore.)

It was a statement win for Long and his team as the Lakers outlasted Skyline (Sammamish, Wash.) 54-46. Facing a team that has been a perennial power in the Northwest, Long dialed in long scoring runs of 73 and 75 yards as part of a seven-touchdown night. Three other touchdowns were from at least 30 yards out. When the dust settled, Skyline quarterback Max Browne had set a new school record with 459 passing yards, but Long had almost as many on the ground with 28 carries for 424 yards. Long rushed for 1,156 yards and 19 touchdowns last season at Sherwood (Sherwood, Ore.) and transferred to Lake Oswego for this season. The win propelled the Lakers into this week’s ESPNHS West Region Top 20 rankings.