GAME OF THE WEEK
No. 3 De La Salle (Concord, Calif.) 2-0 at No. 2 St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) 2-0, Friday (ESPN2)
Although this showdown isn’t a No. 1 vs. No. 2, it might as well be. De La Salle has been the No. 1 team in California for two straight seasons while St. Thomas Aquinas has been No. 1 in the nation twice in the last three years.
Both teams almost lost in their openers, except De La Salle’s 26-23 win in two overtimes against Bellarmine (San Jose, Calif.) was not expected to be that close. The Spartans turned the ball over three times in that game and missed a field goal in the fourth quarter to give the Bells a chance for a game-tying touchdown. The Raiders went up against Prattville (Prattville, Ala.), which was another highly ranked team and still sits at No. 12 in the FAB 50. St. Thomas Aquinas prevailed 34-31.
Both offenses may have a hard time against the opposing defense. Elite 11 quarterback Bart Houston has not played well in De La Salle’s first two games and figures to be seeing a lot of 6-foot-4, 245-pound defensive end Jelani Hamilton getting into his face. The Spartans also have had some injuries in the offensive line and won’t get top returning running back Joe Te’o until the middle of the season due to a knee injury. St. Thomas Aquinas, meanwhile, is breaking in a new quarterback in Max Lescano and is facing a De La Salle defense that posted a shutout in its second game. The strength of the Spartans’ defense is at linebacker where senior Michael Barton, who has committed to Cal, is surrounded by three juniors who could all be college starters someday as well.
St. Thomas Aquinas has never played a team from California. De La Salle is 0-1 against Florida with the loss coming two years ago 31-30 in overtime to Lakeland. Houston, a sophomore at the time, took over as the starting quarterback the every next week and the Spartans have not lost since.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Alonzo Williams, Long Beach Poly (Long Beach, Calif.)
When the Jackrabbits lost to Mission Viejo (Mission Viejo, Calif.) 37-7 last season, it was a mismatch up front with Mission Viejo’s offensive line doing much of the dominating. When the two FAB 50 ranked teams play on Friday, Williams may help even the score.
A 6-foot-4, 265-pound senior who moved to Southern California from Abbeville, La., Williams gives No. 37 Long Beach Poly (3-0) a force to be reckoned with at defensive end. The Texas A&M commit came up with two sacks in the Jackrabbits’ season-opening victory over Grant (Sacramento, Calif.), then had two more in a triumph against Carson (Carson, Calif.).
If Williams can put pressure on quarterback Alex Bridgford and help plug the running lanes, Poly might be able to slow down the No. 34 Diablos’ offense. It won’t be easy, though, as Mission Viejo (2-1) still has many of its top linemen back from a year ago, including Colby Cyburt (6-5, 265) and Austin Maass (6-4, 280).
No. 28 St. Xavier (Cincinnati) 3-1 vs. Moeller (Cincinnati) 4-0, Friday at Nippert Stadium
Some observers may not consider this an upset if unbeaten Moeller wins its second straight game over its rival. After all, one Cincinnati newspaper puts Moeller No. 1 and St. Xavier No. 2 in the area ratings.
Records, however, can sometimes be deceiving. For example, St. Xavier has a 17-14 win over FAB 50 No. 44 Colerain, another Cincinnati rival, while the team’s only loss was 17-7 just last weekend to FAB 50 No. 9 Trinity (Louisville, Ky.). Trinity also entered that game with a 56-point scoring average.
Another rankings edge for St. X compared to Moeller is the team’s 38-21 win against Pickerington Central (Pickerington, Ohio). Moeller beat the same team 14-0.
St. Xavier is led by three-year running back Conor Hundley and quarterback Griffin Dolle. Hundley has rushed for 329 yards and seven touchdowns. Dolle has passed for 649 yards and four scores.
Moeller's passing combination of junior quarterback Spencer Iacovone and wide receiver Monty Madaris has been prolific despite limited time in a couple of blowout wins. Iacovone has passed for 586 yards and 10 scores. Madaris, a top recruit, has landed 13 passes for 378 yards and seven touchdowns.
Upset Alerts so far this season: 0-3
TEAM ON THE RISE?
Detroit Catholic Central (Novi, Mich.) 4-0
The Shamrocks are knocking on the door of the FAB 50, and a victory over unbeaten De La Salle (Warren, Mich.) Saturday night would go a long way for inclusion in next week’s rankings. Last year, Catholic Central bested De La Salle 27-7.
Catholic Central, which has won 10 state titles since 1979 under current coach Tom Mach, is seeking its first Division 1 state title since 2009. The Shamrocks have outscored four victims 146-13, including a 42-6 win last weekend over Highland Park (Highland Park, Mich.).
The Shamrocks feature a power running game behind 6-foot-7 quarterback Kyle Cooper. The ground attack is led by Wyatt Shallman and Zach Bock. The defensive unit is anchored by University of Michigan recruit Matt Godin, a 6-foot-6, 265-pound tackle.