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Friday, December 2, 2011
Inside the FAB 50: Shake-up at No. 1

By Sheldon Shealer

David Graydon
David Graydon (in black) fends off a defender for Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) during the 2010-2011 high school season.
NOTE: Inside the POWERADE FAB 50 will be a weekly look at the rankings, starting on Dec. 6. This edition of Inside the FAB 50 merely plays catch-up on the early season play leading up to the first regular-season rankings for the 2011-2012 winter season on Dec. 6.

It didn’t take long for the honor of being No. 1 to shift in the Winter POWERADE FAB 50.

Preseason No. 1 Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) lost a star player due to an ACL injury and then tied a pair of early season matches. No. 2 Brophy Prep (Phoenix, Ariz.) suffered a 2-1 overtime loss to fellow FAB 50-ranked Chaparral on Thursday.

The early action will leave Strake Jesuit (Houston, Texas) at No. 1 when week 1 of the FAB 50 is released on Tuesday. One thing for certain, Strake Jesuit will hold the top spot for at least a month – that’s because the team does not start play until early January.

Unlike the fall season, where states basically start and end within a three-week window of each other, the winter has a vast arrangement of seasons. Teams in Florida and Mississippi began play in early November, while most of Texas does not start until January. Also, the Florida programs are finished in February, while the Texas season drags on into April.

With such a range of seasons, the Winter FAB 50 often becomes a process with the undefeated teams being rewarded now, knowing their day will be coming later in the season. Those undefeated teams, however, may still be 0-0, but they have an entire season in front of them to prove (or disprove) the ranking.

Montverde, Brophy Prep, No. 4 American Heritage-Delray (Delray Beach, Fla.) and No. 12 Killian (Miami, Fla.) had their chance at a high ranking and ties and/or losses will move them down, at least temporarily. Once the California teams hit full stride next week, a similar cycle will take place as many of those teams will start to play their way down in the rankings. Ditto that for Texas in January.

It’s all geared so that once February hits, the teams will be in a fair ranking order in time for the winter playoff run.

ON THE RISE

South Florida flexed its muscle at the state tournament last season, and a pair of perennial powers is proving to be serious title contenders this season.

Boca Raton (Boca Raton, Fla.) and Cypress Bay (Weston, Fla.) are both 7-0 and doing it with defense. Cypress Bay, the defending state champion, has shut out its last four opponents. Humbardo Diaz leads Cypress Bay’s offense with five goals. Meanwhile, Boca Raton has surrendered only three goals this season – two of them were penalty kicks.

Boca started the season at No. 5 in the POWERADE FAB 50. Cypress Bay was No. 17. Coupled with the early results in Arizona, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi, Boca Raton and Cypress Bay stand to move up significantly in the next national rankings.

BALANCING ACT

Jesuit (New Orleans, La.) has long been the beast of the Southeast, dominating opponents in Louisiana, as well as Mississippi. But perhaps the tables are turning. Jesuit, which was ranked No. 1 in Louisiana, and Ocean Springs (Ocean Springs, Miss.), which was the preseason No. 3 team in Mississippi, played to a 1-1 draw Wednesday. Jesuit will be in Mississippi this weekend for the Brooke Welch Memorial Tournament.

LOOKING AHEAD

This weekend’s action in the Aliso Cup in California features three teams ranked among the ESPNHS California top 17, including state No. 1 Capistrano Valley (Mission Viejo, Calif.). Capistrano Valley, which was No. 6 in the preseason FAB 50, has a difficult draw – facing FAB 50 No. 31 Edison (Huntington Beach, Calif.) on Friday.