In this week's ESPN RISE Regional Players of the Week, a sophomore in Pennsylvania builds on an already impressive high school resume and a senior in Illinois continues to cement his legacy.
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East Region Player of the Week
Rushel Shell (Hopewell, Aliquippa, Pa.)
Talk about super sophomores. Shell may be one of the best in the nation. The 5-11, 215-pound running back had a career-high 349 yards on 23 carries and scored three touchdowns as Hopewell improved to 7-0 with a 34-26 win over once-beaten West Allegheny (Imperial, Pa.). Shell played varsity as a freshman and rushed for 1,576 yards. He has 1,492 yards and 22 touchdowns this season and enters this week with 13 straight 100-yard games. He's reached 200 yards seven times in his prep career.
Southeast Region Player of the Week
Orleans Darkwa (Ensworth, Nashville, Tenn.)
The 5-11, 200-pound senior was sensational in leading unbeaten Ensworth to a 35-27 victory over Father Ryan (Nashville, Tenn.). Ensworth entered the game as one of the top-ranked teams in Tennessee and turned back the upset bid behind Darkwa, who racked up 364 yards on 39 carries and scored four touchdowns. Darkwa returned a kickoff 95 yards for another score. As a junior, Darkwa rushed for 1,952 yards and had 21 touchdowns. Through seven games this season, he has 1,870 yards and 21 touchdowns.
Midwest Region Player of the Week
Matt Perez (Maine South, Park Ridge, Ill.)
The 5-foot-11, 205-pound senior running back/linebacker helped unbeaten Maine South, now No. 22 in the ESPN FAB 50, rally from a 34-24 deficit late in the third quarter and beat Glenbard South (Glen Ellyn, Ill.) 45-34. The University of Indiana recruit scored twice in the last five minutes and carried 11 times for 174 yards in the second half. He finished with 341 yards on 23 carries and scored on runs of 69, 24, 28 and 26 yards. He also had two sacks. It was the 22nd straight victory for the defending state Class 8A champions and the 43rd straight Central Suburban South conference win. "It was the best individual performance I've seen," Glenbard South coach Mike Noll told the media. "Nobody does more for his team than he does."
Southwest Region Player of the Week
Matt Joeckel (Arlington, Texas)
The Texas A&M commit had perhaps his best game in a 62-26 victory over Summit (Manfield, Texas), passing for 390 yards and five touchdowns and rushing for 120 yards and two scores. He is on pace to surpass last year's totals of 3,017 yards passing and 29 touchdowns. Joeckel is the twin brother of Arlington offensive tackle Luke Joeckel, but the two do not share the same dimensions. Matt is a sturdy quarterback at 6-5, 230 pounds, Luke a more massive 6-6, 295 pounds. Luke also has committed to Texas A&M.
West Region Player of the Week
Dano Graves (Folsom, Calif.)
He's not real big at 5-10 and 175 pounds, but the junior quarterback has been remarkable this season. In a 55-21 win over Jesuit (Carmichael, Calif.), Graves rolled up 394 yards through the air, completing 28 of 36 passes, with five touchdowns and one interception. He also rushed 10 times for 47 yards and a score. Graves had a 500-yard game of rushing plus passing the week before, and for the season he has passed for 1,918 yards and 31 touchdowns. Folsom enters this week at 6-0 and is beginning to make noise in the CalHiSports.com state rankings. Graves has an older brother, David, who is a quarterback at the University of Hawaii.