Thursday, September 29, 2011
FAB 50 Weekend Primer
By Mark Tennis & Doug Huff
GAME OF THE WEEK
No. 13 Servite (Anaheim, Calif.) 4-0 at No. 10 Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) 5-1, 10 p.m. ET, Friday (ESPNU)
The Gaels were hoping for a breakthrough win earlier in the season when they hosted No. 4 Armwood (Seffner, Fla.), but missed a late-second field goal and fell 20-17. They already have a quality win against one out-of-state foe, Chaparral (Scottsdale, Ariz.), which is playing before them Friday on ESPN2 against Notre Dame Prep (Scottsdale, Ariz.).
Bishop Gorman has yet to record a significant win against a California team in its history and is certainly getting a significant opponent in the Friars, who have won the CIF Southern Section Pac-Five Division title the last two years. Servite ascended to No. 1 in the state rankings this week due to previous No. 1 De La Salle (Concord, Calif.) losing 30-6 in its game with FAB 50 No. 2 St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.).
Since Bishop Gorman has dominated all of its Nevada opposition so far this year and won’t play any more out-of-state teams this season, it’s a bigger game for the Gaels than what it means for Servite. While head coach Troy Thomas’ club wants to show well on national television, the reality is that a brutal Trinity League schedule starts the very next weekend. In that league, the Friars will be meeting such foes as FAB 50 No. 49 Santa Margarita (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.) plus unbeaten Lutheran (Orange, Calif.), not to mention archrival Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.).
The Gaels feature a balanced offense with playmakers Jarrett Solomon at quarterback and Shaquille Powell at running back. Solomon has passed for 909 yards and 15 touchdowns with no interceptions while Powell has rushed for 886 yards and 15 scores. Both players have rarely seen any time in the second half of their games since playing Armwood.
The Friars have a versatile player on offense in senior Cody Pittman. Like Solomon, Pittman has yet to throw an interception this season and has passed for 616 yards and 15 scores. Another player to watch is linebacker and receiver Butch Pauu, who has committed to BYU.
The 6-foot, 190-pound senior running back has helped lead Iowa's top-ranked team to the No. 46 ranking in the FAB 50.
In five wins this season, the Iowa State recruit has rushed for 1,135 yards, a 9.0-yard per carry norm, and has scored 21 touchdowns. Those totals lead all Class 6A players in the state in both categories.
Hill started the season with a school record six-touchdown effort vs. Hempstead (Dubuque, Iowa). In last week’s game, Hill ripped off 213 yards with two more scores in a 27-7 triumph against Xavier (Cedar Rapids, Iowa). His fast start also has pushed his career totals to 4,774 rushing yards and 70 touchdowns. He has chance to pad those totals in four remaining regular season games plus postseason play.
On Friday, Cedar Falls takes on Wahlert (Dubuque, Iowa).
If Coppell gets out to another slow start in the first half, this is an opponent that sure seems capable of knocking the Cowboys from the ranks of the unbeaten. In those slow starts, Coppell has rallied for wins after trailing 24-14 in the first half against Arlington (Arlington, Texas) and being tied 21-21 after three quarters against Jesuit (Dallas).
Denton Guyer also is making its home debut and even though the Wildcats have a three-point loss to Cedar Hill (Cedar Hill, Texas) they are coming in off a 49-20 victory against Northwest (Justin, Texas). The team played in the Class 5A Division II state final last season and is led by Stanford-bound receiver Connor Crane (15 catches, 377 yards, six TDs).
If it’s a close game in the fourth quarter, Coppell may have the edge due to senior Nick Jordan’s kicking. The specialist is one of the best in the state and has committed to Texas.
Upset Alerts so far this season: 1-3
TEAM ON THE RISE?
North Allegheny (Wexford, Pa.) 4-0
Entering the season, the Tigers didn't get much of a rankings' push even though they were coming off a 15-1 record season capped by a Class AAAA state title. Graduation took its toll on the roster and an underclass-led squad didn't generate much poll interest in the preseason.
After four wins, however, that situation has changed. With junior quarterback Mack Leftwich running the offense behind a solid line, the Tigers have posted wins of 53-21, 49-7, 28-21 over previously unbeaten Upper St. Clair (Pittsburgh) and 49-14 last weekend over McDowell (Erie, Pa.). In the latest win, Leftwich completed 15 of 23 passes for 284 yards and two scores.
Up next for coach Art Walker's team is a Friday visit to Seneca Valley (Harmony, Pa.). The Tigers currently are No. 9 in the East Region rankings with the top seven teams in the FAB 50 national list.