High-SchoolFootball: Cord Sandberg

FAB 50 Offseason Primer: Manatee (Fla.)

January, 18, 2012
Cord SandbergKynon Codrington/ESPNHSManatee (Bradenton, Fla.) quarterback Cord Sandberg led the Hurricanes to their fifth state title in 2011 and is at the head of a talented 2012 roster.
During the offseason, we’ll check out one team per week that looks like a sure bet to be among the best in the nation for next fall.

FAB 50 Offseason Primer Archive

This week’s team: Manatee (Bradenton, Fla.).

2011 Season: 13-2, Class 7A state champion, finished No. 12 in the POWERADE FAB 50.

Projected 2012 Preseason Ranking: Top 10. The Hurricanes, with five state titles in three decades under coach Joe Kinnan, should enter the season as one of the top two or three ranked Florida teams in the FAB 50. The team’s schedule, which is a major factor in FAB 50 positioning, includes a rematch in Week 3 against defending FAB 50 champion Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.), which enters the season on a 46-game win streak. That includes a 22-16 win over Manatee last year in a game the Hurricanes led 10-9 midway in the fourth-quarter.

Team Strengths: Eleven starters, including six all-state honorees, return for a veteran team that was unbeaten the last two regular seasons versus in-state foes. The quarterback during this dominant in-state run returns in Cord Sandberg (6-2, 190), a first team all-stater and Florida Mr. Football finalist who passed for 2,185 yards and 19 scores and rushed for 814 yards and 10 touchdowns. Anthony Lauro will take over the primary rushing duties after leading the team with 51 receptions and running for 650 yards and eight touchdowns, mostly on reverses, in 2011. The offensive line should be anchored by all-state choice Thor Miller (6-2, 255). All four defensive linemen will be back, including three all-staters -- sophomore Derek Calloway (6-1, 305) and juniors Blake Keller and Marquis Dawsey. The three combined for 35 sacks in 2011.

Another Florida team to watch: Booker T. Washington (Miami) was bumped from the FAB 50 when the 12-2 record Tornadoes bowed to The Bolles School (Jacksonville, Fla.) 33-25 in the Class 4A state finals. Bolles finished No. 46 in the FAB 50. Washington welcomes back five players that all earned all-state recognition in 2011. That list includes rising junior quarterback Treon Harris, running back D'von Ballard, offensive lineman Denver Kirkland, and defensive linemen Matthew Thomas and rising junior Chad Thomas.

Mr. Football USA Week 2 Tracker

September, 7, 2011
xTom Hauck/ESPNHSJohnathan Gray ran for 336 yards and five touchdowns this week
One of the biggest individual honors a high school football player can receive is Mr. Football USA, the title bestowed upon the nation’s most outstanding player each fall by ESPNHS.

Below is a look at the top candidates in the chase for the 2011 Mr. Football USA. Every Tuesday during the regular season we’ll update the totals of many leading contenders as well as examine some of the new names that are emerging as strong contenders.


RB Johnathan Gray, Aledo (Aledo, Texas)
This week: Ran 15 times for 336 yards and five touchdowns, while also catching two passes for 21 yards in Aledo’s 50-7 rout of Weatherford (Weatherford, Texas).
Season totals: 42 carries for 556 yards and nine touchdowns rushing in two games; Aledo is 1-1
Stock – Up: Gray continues to shred Texas high school defenses and is now just three touchdowns away from the state record for career TDs of 146, held by current Univ. of Texas RB Traylon Shead.


WR Dorial Green-Beckham, Hillcrest (Springfield, Mo.)
This week: The nation’s No. 1 ranked WR by ESPNU posted big numbers again, catching seven passes for 142 yards and two scores, but it wasn’t enough as Hillcrest fell to Heritage (Rogers, Ark.), 37-20.
Season Totals: 25 catches for 426 yards and five touchdowns; team is 1-1
Stock – Slightly Down: His freakish talent is undeniable but it needs to translate into a lot of wins for Hillcrest for him to stay in top contention. Otherwise he’s just a big talent putting up big numbers, and there are a lot of those across the country in high school football where top players rarely face players across the line their equal.

ATH Stefon Diggs, Good Counsel (Olney, Md.)
This week: Diggs battled back from cramps to catch the game-winning 25-yard TD pass in overtime as Good Counsel topped Manatee (Bradenton, Fla .) 24-17 in a battle of two FAB 50 ranked teams. He also scored on an 80-yard reception earlier in the contest.
Season totals: Six receptions for 132 yards and two touchdowns.
Stock – Up: Big players make big plays in big games, and Diggs lived up to that addage this weekend.

DE Mario Edwards Jr., Denton Ryan (Denton, Texas)
This week: Edwards, the top-ranked recruit nationwide by ESPNU, was dominant for a second straight week, racking up five tackles for loss and two sacks in a 48-24 victory against Newman Smith (Carrollton, Texas).
Season totals: Four sacks and a forced fumble; team is 2-0 and No. 41 in the POWERADE FAB 50
Stock – Up: Edwards had a multi-sack outing for the second time in two games – if he keeps this up and Ryan has a deep run into the playoffs, a 20-25 sack season isn’t out of the question.

QB Alec Morris, Allen (Allen, Texas)
This week: Morris accounted for six touchdowns in three quarters of work in Allen’s 59-0 rout of Northwest (Justin, Texas). The Alabama-bound senior hit 18-of-32 passes for 320 yards and five touchdowns while also scoring on a one-yard rush.
Season totals: 35-of-60 for 570 yards and eight touchdowns with no interceptions, 51 yards and one touchdown rushing; team is 2-0 and No. 4 in the FAB 50.
Stock – Up: Allen is the consensus top team in Texas at this point and Morris is the driving force of the Eagles’ attack, having accounted for nine touchdowns in the first two games.

Read More »

POWERADE FAB 50 Weekend Primer

September, 1, 2011
Game of the Week

No. 8 Manatee (Bradenton, Fla.) 0-0 at No. 19 Good Counsel (Olney, Md.) 0-0, Friday Sept. 2.
For the second straight year, both FAB 50 ranked teams will open with inter-sectional showdowns. Last year, Manatee played its first-ever out-of-state game when the Hurricanes traveled to Pittsburgh and defeated host Woodland Hills. Good Counsel also won its opener on the road against host St. Xavier of Cincinnati.

Manatee competed last weekend in a preseason jamboree and scored late to defeat American Heritage (Delray Beach, Fla.) 20-14. The Hurricanes are led by junior quarterback Cord Sandberg, a standout last season for the Class 5A state semifinalist and one of the top underclass candidates for Mr. Football USA. Manatee is coached by Joe Kinnan, who is in his second tour at the helm after guiding the Hurricanes to four state titles in 10 years during the 1980s.

Good Counsel, coached by Bob Milloy, Maryland's all-time winningest coach in his 40th season, also has a candidate for Mr. Football USA in senior Stefon Diggs. He can play several skill positions, including wide receiver, running back, defensive back and kick returner. He can be a game-breaker on both sides of the ball.

Player to Watch

Colin Thompson, Archbishop Wood (Warminster, Pa.)
Ranked the nation's No. 1 tight end in the Class of 2012 by ESPNU, the 6-foot-4, 255-pounder will be a featured player in Sunday afternoon's FAB 50 intra-state showdown vs. Pittsburgh Central Catholic (Pittsburgh) at Gateway High School in Monroeville, Pa. Kickoff is 2 p.m. for the ESPN2 televised game matching FAB 50 No. 22 Central Catholic vs. No. 46 Archbishop Wood.

The University of Florida recruit is one of six NCAA Division 1 recruits on the Archbishop Wood roster as the Class AAA state contender from Eastern Pennsylvania tackles the Class AAAA power from Western Pa. Thompson, a two-way lineman and senior team captain, is rated a top blocking tight end with good hands and running skills. The versatile athlete also has seen playing time at fullback and in the slot for the top-ranked team in the Philadelphia area.

Upset Alert

No. 36 Bellevue (Bellevue, Wash.) 0-0 vs. Oaks Christian (Westlake Village, Calif.) 0-0, Saturday at Mission Viejo (Mission Viejo, Calif.)
While Bellevue is in the FAB 50 and Oaks Christian is not, it wouldn’t be much of an upset if the Lions were to win. This matchup is the best of a five-game set being billed as the Mission Viejo Football Classic. The host school, FAB 50 No. 6 Mission Viejo, plays on Friday night against Centennial (Bakersfield, Calif.).

Both teams are coming off championship seasons. Bellevue (13-1) won its third straight Class 3A state title, while Oaks Christian (12-2) won the CIF Southern Section Northern Division crown. Bellevue brings its well-oiled Wing-T offense to California for the first time. The Wolverines have a 3-1 record in games held in Washington against California teams. They were 3-0 (including the win in 2004 that broke Concord De La Salle’s 151-game national record win streak) before losing two years ago to Grant of Sacramento.

Oaks Christian played in Washington on the same weekend two years ago when Bellevue lost to Grant and defeated Skyline (Sammamish, Wash.) The Lions are now completely done with the famous sons being on the roster with the graduations of Trevor Gretzky and Trey Smith, but they figure to remain firmly in the spotlight as one of the top programs in the state. This year’s team has some rebuilding to do with the front seven on defense and up front on offense. The skill positions, however, still look loaded with USC-bound receiver Payton Jordan, two-way standout Ishmael Adams, transfer quarterback Luke Falk and linebacker-running back Carlos Mendoza leading the way. Bellevue will try to spring running back Latrelle Dukes for big gains while other players to watch include defensive back Tyler Hasty, and 6-foot-5, 295-pound offensive tackle Jake Eldrenkamp.

Team on the rise?

Stephenville (Stephenville, Texas) 1-0
Led by 2010 ESPNHS Mr. Football USA Johnathan Gray, Aledo (Aledo, Texas) entered the season with a 29-game winning streak and high expectations for a third straight state title. That winning streak, however, was snapped in dramatic fashion last weekend by Stephenville in the season opener for both squads.

Trailing by as many as 17 points at two different points of the game, the Yellow Jackets rallied behind the arm of junior Brice Gunter, who completed 20 of 24 pass attempts for 224 yards and three touchdowns while also running for a score after entering for injured starter Connor Washington. Leading 48-47 with seconds remaining, junior cornerback Preston Brown blocked Aledo’s game-winning field goal attempt with no time remaining but a roughing the kicker penalty gave the Bearcats a second attempt which Brown also blocked. Aiavon Edwards also rushed for 223 yards in the win for Stephenville, which will now head to Abilene to take on Wylie in this week’s game.

The Yellow Jackets also should now become fans of the Bearcats as they will take on FAB 50 No. 39 Lake Travis (Austin, Texas) on Sept. 9. A win by Aledo in that game would definitely help the Yellow Jackets move up the rankings as long as they also continue to win.