Game of the Week
No. 8 Manatee (Bradenton, Fla.) 0-0 at No. 19 Good Counsel (Olney, Md.) 0-0, Friday Sept. 2.
For the second straight year, both FAB 50 ranked teams will open with inter-sectional showdowns. Last year, Manatee played its first-ever out-of-state game when the Hurricanes traveled to Pittsburgh and defeated host Woodland Hills. Good Counsel also won its opener on the road against host St. Xavier of Cincinnati.
Manatee competed last weekend in a preseason jamboree and scored late to defeat American Heritage (Delray Beach, Fla.) 20-14. The Hurricanes are led by junior quarterback Cord Sandberg, a standout last season for the Class 5A state semifinalist and one of the top underclass candidates for Mr. Football USA. Manatee is coached by Joe Kinnan, who is in his second tour at the helm after guiding the Hurricanes to four state titles in 10 years during the 1980s.
Good Counsel, coached by Bob Milloy, Maryland's all-time winningest coach in his 40th season, also has a candidate for Mr. Football USA in senior Stefon Diggs. He can play several skill positions, including wide receiver, running back, defensive back and kick returner. He can be a game-breaker on both sides of the ball.
Player to Watch
Colin Thompson, Archbishop Wood (Warminster, Pa.)
Ranked the nation's No. 1 tight end in the Class of 2012 by ESPNU, the 6-foot-4, 255-pounder will be a featured player in Sunday afternoon's FAB 50 intra-state showdown vs. Pittsburgh Central Catholic (Pittsburgh) at Gateway High School in Monroeville, Pa. Kickoff is 2 p.m. for the ESPN2 televised game matching FAB 50 No. 22 Central Catholic vs. No. 46 Archbishop Wood.
The University of Florida recruit is one of six NCAA Division 1 recruits on the Archbishop Wood roster as the Class AAA state contender from Eastern Pennsylvania tackles the Class AAAA power from Western Pa. Thompson, a two-way lineman and senior team captain, is rated a top blocking tight end with good hands and running skills. The versatile athlete also has seen playing time at fullback and in the slot for the top-ranked team in the Philadelphia area.
No. 36 Bellevue (Bellevue, Wash.) 0-0 vs. Oaks Christian (Westlake Village, Calif.) 0-0, Saturday at Mission Viejo (Mission Viejo, Calif.)
While Bellevue is in the FAB 50 and Oaks Christian is not, it wouldn’t be much of an upset if the Lions were to win. This matchup is the best of a five-game set being billed as the Mission Viejo Football Classic. The host school, FAB 50 No. 6 Mission Viejo, plays on Friday night against Centennial (Bakersfield, Calif.).
Both teams are coming off championship seasons. Bellevue (13-1) won its third straight Class 3A state title, while Oaks Christian (12-2) won the CIF Southern Section Northern Division crown. Bellevue brings its well-oiled Wing-T offense to California for the first time. The Wolverines have a 3-1 record in games held in Washington against California teams. They were 3-0 (including the win in 2004 that broke Concord De La Salle’s 151-game national record win streak) before losing two years ago to Grant of Sacramento.
Oaks Christian played in Washington on the same weekend two years ago when Bellevue lost to Grant and defeated Skyline (Sammamish, Wash.) The Lions are now completely done with the famous sons being on the roster with the graduations of Trevor Gretzky and Trey Smith, but they figure to remain firmly in the spotlight as one of the top programs in the state. This year’s team has some rebuilding to do with the front seven on defense and up front on offense. The skill positions, however, still look loaded with USC-bound receiver Payton Jordan, two-way standout Ishmael Adams, transfer quarterback Luke Falk and linebacker-running back Carlos Mendoza leading the way. Bellevue will try to spring running back Latrelle Dukes for big gains while other players to watch include defensive back Tyler Hasty, and 6-foot-5, 295-pound offensive tackle Jake Eldrenkamp.
Team on the rise?
Stephenville (Stephenville, Texas) 1-0
Led by 2010 ESPNHS Mr. Football USA Johnathan Gray, Aledo (Aledo, Texas) entered the season with a 29-game winning streak and high expectations for a third straight state title. That winning streak, however, was snapped in dramatic fashion last weekend by Stephenville in the season opener for both squads.
Trailing by as many as 17 points at two different points of the game, the Yellow Jackets rallied behind the arm of junior Brice Gunter, who completed 20 of 24 pass attempts for 224 yards and three touchdowns while also running for a score after entering for injured starter Connor Washington. Leading 48-47 with seconds remaining, junior cornerback Preston Brown blocked Aledo’s game-winning field goal attempt with no time remaining but a roughing the kicker penalty gave the Bearcats a second attempt which Brown also blocked. Aiavon Edwards also rushed for 223 yards in the win for Stephenville, which will now head to Abilene to take on Wylie in this week’s game.
The Yellow Jackets also should now become fans of the Bearcats as they will take on FAB 50 No. 39 Lake Travis (Austin, Texas) on Sept. 9. A win by Aledo in that game would definitely help the Yellow Jackets move up the rankings as long as they also continue to win.