The FAB 50 team making the greatest improvement from last season to this current campaign has to be No. 42 Westfield (Chantilly, Va.). The Bulldogs capped a 10-0 regular season last week with a 64-7 rout of Herndon (Herndon, Va.) and will face Robinson (Fairfax, Va.) on Friday in the first round of the AAA state playoffs.
At this time last year, the Wildcats ended a 6-5 record season with a first-round playoff loss to Chantilly (Chantilly, Va.) 7-0. It was Westfield's second loss to its rivals after bowing 17-14 in the regular season. This season, Westfield avenged those 2010 losses with a 40-14 romp of Chantilly.
In his first year as coach of the Bulldogs, Kyle Simmons helped his team avenge two other losses from last season en route to a perfect regular season record and a place in the FAB 50 national rankings. Westfield defeated Lake Braddock (Burke, Va.) 45-7 after losing 12-7 a year ago. And the Bulldogs blanked Robinson (Fairfax, Va.) 28-0 this season after a 14-0 setback last season. Robinson is this week's playoff opponent.
FAB 50 SPOTLIGHT PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Conner Brewer, Chaparral (Scottsdale, Ariz.)
Sometime in the first half on Thursday night against Perry (Gilbert, Ariz.), this senior quarterback should break the state record for touchdown passes in a career. He tied the record with four TD passes last week in the Firebirds' 62-0 first-round rout of Gila Ridge (Yuma, Ariz.) in the playoffs.
With 94 career touchdown passes, he is currently tied with Brian Chason, who played eight-man football at Tucson Christian from 1982-85, and also with Phillip Aholt, who played at Cactus Shadow (Cave Creek, Ariz.) from 2003-06.
Leading the Firebirds to 11 straight wins since opening the season with a loss to FAB 50 No. 7 Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas), Brewer has passed for 2,464 yards and 37 touchdowns to place himself as one of the leading contenders for state player of the year. Last season, Brewer passed for 37 TDs and as a sophomore he had 20 scoring passes.
With the team likely to make a deep playoff run towards another state championship, he has a chance to surpass the 100-TD career mark.
Ranked as the No. 3 quarterback and No. 34 overall in the the ESPNU 150 player rankings, Brewer will head to Texas next season after committing to the Longhorns in February.
HIGHEST RISING NEWCOMER OF THE WEEK
No. 45 Hilliard Davidson (Hilliard, Ohio)
It shouldn’t be a surprise that the unbeaten Wildcats have joined the FAB 50 after finishing atop the Division 1 regular season state poll by The Associated Press. Last week, Davidson opened the playoffs with its sixth shutout of the season in a 22-0 blanking of Olentangy Orange (Lewis Center, Ohio). This week, the team tackles Upper Arlington (Columbus, Ohio) in the second-round of the playoffs.
The Wildcats' defense has been stingy all season and allowed only 28 points over the entire schedule. Senior linebacker Jake Himmeger anchors the defense for coach Brian White's team. On offense, senior running back Alex Mickley, who rushed for 1,491 yards in 14 games last season, continues to pave the way.
Davidson has been one of Ohio's top D-1 programs the last five years, with two state titles and three regional championships. Last season, the Wildcats went 14-1 while advancing to the state semi-finals.
LOOKING AHEAD: Team Movement in Florida Playoffs
Post-season state championship playoffs won't start in Florida until next week (Nov. 18-19), but four of the five FAB 50 Sunshine State teams will be competing in different classes from last season.
Only defending Class 6A state titlist Miami Central, currently No. 39 in the FAB 50, will compete in the same class as last season. The Rockets could face current FAB 50 No. 2 Armwood (Seffner, Fla.) in the 6A finals since the Hawks moved to this level from Class 4A last season, where they had finished as state runner-up.
New to Class 7A is FAB 50 No. 25 Manatee (Bradenton, Fla.), which moved up from Class 5A a year ago. In 7A, Manatee might run into defending FAB 50 national champion St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), which also was bumped up from Class 5A.
Two other FAB 50 teams competing in different classes are No. 10 Miramar (Miramar, Fla.) and No. 18 Miami Norland. Miramar will compete in the highest Class 8A after vying last season in 6A (which also was the highest class last season). Norland is reclassified 5A this season after being a 3A team in 2010.