A look at the top games and story lines for POWERADE FAB 50 teams heading into the final weekend of the 2011 high school football season.
GAME OF THE WEEK
No. 2 Armwood (Seffner, Fla.) vs. No. 17 Miami Central (Miami) 1 p.m. Saturday at Citrus Bowl, Orlando, Fla.
This FAB 50 headliner matches the No. 2 Hawks, seeking a Class 6A state title after falling short in Class 4A last season, against defending 6A champion Miami Central.
Armwood lost its only 2010 game to Lincoln (Tallahassee, Fla.) in the finale last year, but started its 14-0 record campaign with a bang. The Hawks traveled to Las Vegas and handed FAB 50 No. 9 Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) its only loss of the season. If Armwood beats the No. 17 Rockets to wrap up the state crown, it would solidify a final No. 2 ranking in the FAB 50.
The Hawks survived a 46-38 semifinal shootout win over Bartram Trail (St. Johns, Fla.) last weekend, while Miami Central was ousting Mainland (Daytona Beach, Fla.) 17-7 in the other semifinal.
Armwood's offense is run by junior quarterback Alvin Bailey, but senior tailback Wade Edwards came up big last week with 235 yards on 28 carries with two key fourth-quarter touchdowns. Miami Central has been led all year by touted sophomore tailback Joseph Yearby, who rushed for a game-high 160 yards and two scores on 25 carries against Mainland.
These teams have been ranked at the top of the Florida Class 6A polls all season. So to see both of them get this far and face each other in the final only makes the showdown that much more enticing.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Tommy Armstrong, Steele (Cibolo, Texas)
We sure hope we don’t jinx Armstrong by calling him out because last week’s Player to Watch, kicker Alex Ball from Westlake (Westlake Village, Calif.), suffered a torn ACL in his game the next day and will miss this week’s CIF state bowl game.
Armstrong, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound senior dual-threat quarterback, will bid to guide the Knights to a second straight Class 5A-II state championship this weekend. Steele (15-0), ranked No. 14 in the FAB 50, will tackle 13-2 Dekaney (Houston) Saturday night in the title game at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.
The Nebraska recruit has led the Knights to 28 straight wins, including a 51-31 rout of Memorial (Port Arthur, Texas) in the semifinals last weekend. In that game, Armstrong ran for four touchdowns and passed for another score. On the season, Armstrong has accounted for more than 3,000 yards of total offense and 43 touchdowns. He's also passed for more than 1,900 yards with 27 touchdowns and no interceptions.
The title game matchup also pits Armstrong against touted Dekaney running back Trey Williams, a Texas A&M recruit who has rushed for 3,633 yards and 45 TDs this season.
FAB 50 No. 45 Santa Margarita (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.) vs. No. 23 Bellarmine (San Jose, Calif.), Friday at The Home Depot Center, Carson, Calif.
This matchup for the CIF Division I state bowl title could be the quickest game ever played because both teams are well-known for ball-control, offensive possessions that can take eight to 10 minutes off the clock. Santa Margarita had one like that in the second half of its 27-13 victory over San Clemente (Calif.) in last week’s CIF Southern Section Pac-5 Division championship at Anaheim Stadium. The Bells had one like that as well in the fourth quarter when they played FAB 50 No. 11 De La Salle (Concord, Calif.) in their first game. That helped Bellarmine tie the game and send it into overtime, where a missed PAT was costly in a 26-23 loss.
Both teams can throw but love to leave it in the hands of their Tim Tebow-sized quarterbacks. Santa Margarita’s Johnny Stanton enters the game with 2,027 yards passing and 1,204 yards rushing. He has accounted for 27 touchdowns. Bellarmine’s Travis McHugh doesn’t throw as often, but has 1,373 yards rushing in one less game. McHugh also has 847 yards in the air and has accounted for 33 scores.
While Bellarmine runs its double-wing offense as good as anyone and may have an edge on defense with active linebackers Joe Gigantino and Brad Kuh, the Eagles are a much bigger, perhaps more powerful group up front. Their line, which includes 6-foot-5, 320-pound junior Riley Sorensen and 6-foot-7, 310-pound junior Erik Bunte, is led by 6-foot-6, 265-pound Max Tuerk. The USC-bound Tuerk is perhaps the top postseason honors candidate for a lineman in California this season.
Santa Margarita has never been in a CIF state bowl game, but coach Harry Welch has been twice with different schools and won both times. His team in 2006 at Canyon (Canyon Country, Calif.) knocked off De La Salle when the Spartans were favored and expected to finish off another undefeated season.
Upset Alerts So Far This Season: 8-7
Team On The Rise?
Del Oro (Loomis, Calif.)
There’s actually two games in the CIF state bowl championships at The Home Depot Center that could greatly alter Del Oro’s final overall ranking in California and could even get them into next week’s final FAB 50.
First, on Saturday in the CIF Division II state bowl game, the Golden Eagles (13-1) need to get past an extremely talented squad from Helix (La Mesa, Calif.). Then a few hours later, if FAB 50 No. 14 Westlake beats No. 11 De La Salle and does so by more than three points, Del Oro can claim it gave the Warriors their toughest game of the year. In that game, coach Casey Taylor’s team came within one play of beating Westlake in a 30-27 overtime loss. If both scenarios come true, Del Oro could rise to as high as No. 2 in California.
Del Oro’s chances against Helix will hinge on the team’s multi-faceted offense. It’s a unit that features a “thunder and lightning” backfield combo with senior Nick O’Sullivan and junior Brandon Monroe. O’Sullivan, the thunder part of the duo, enters the game with 1,342 yards rushing and 23 touchdowns. Monroe, definitely serving in the lightning role, has 1,605 yards rushing and 22 touchdowns. Quarterback Bobby Heatherington also has shown he can throw with 2,133 yards and 22 touchdown passes.
Del Oro, which still has not lost to any other team this season other than Westlake, captured its second straight CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division III title two weeks ago with a 21-7 triumph over previously unbeaten Oakdale (Calif.).