High-SchoolFootball: Darius Hamilton

FAB 50 Offseason Primer: Don Bosco Prep

May, 30, 2012
5/30/12
9:58
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TBD EditorJeff Skopin/ESPNNewYorkDon Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.) won its sixth straight state title last season to finish No. 1 in the POWERADE FAB 50 for the second time in three years.
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 this fall.

FAB 50 Offseason Primer archive

This week’s team: Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.)

2011 Season: 11-0, Non-Public Group IV state champion, No. 1 in the final POWERADE FAB 50.

Projected 2012 Preseason Ranking: Top 25. The Ironmen have an almost unmatched resume in recent seasons, winning six straight state titles, achieving three consecutive unbeaten seasons and earning two FAB 50 national crowns in the last three years. Don Bosco will take a 46-game win streak -- the second-longest active winning streak in the nation -- into the season. This year, the Ironmen will once again face a difficult schedule. Season-opening opponent Gilman (Baltimore) finished No. 21 in the FAB 50, while St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) was the 2010 FAB 50 champ and Alta (Sandy, Utah) is a strong program. Don Bosco could move up the FAB 50 ladder with early-season success against the non-Jersey foes, but it faces its biggest task in recent years. The Ironmen must replace several talented starters, including ESPNHS All-American and Rutgers recruit Darius Hamilton and sophomore running back/cornerback Jabrill Peppers, an ESPNHS Underclass All-American who transferred to Paramus Catholic (Paramus, N.J.). While coach Greg Toal’s track record has to be respected in the preseason FAB 50 positioning, top 10 might just be too high in the early going.

Team Strengths: The major strength of this fall’s squad will be on defense, especially along the line, which returns standouts Alquadin Muhammad, who’s the No. 145 recruit in the ESPN 150, and Razohnn Gross. Also expected back is junior linebacker Spencer Scannell and junior defensive backs Isaiah Hill and Justin Wimberly. The Ironmen won the FAB 50 crown with a first-year starter, Mike Yankovich, at quarterback. They’ll have to do the same this year. Sophomore Eric Meile could be in line for the starting nod this fall. Sophomore running back Aaron Guzman could be another key offensive performer.

Another New Jersey team to watch: Bergen Catholic (Oradell, N.J.) could be the team that ends of the domination of Don Bosco. Bergen Catholic’s losing streak against the Ironmen is 10 games, but they did lead after three quarters in the first of last year’s two losses. The Crusaders, however, have the returning personnel to get the job done. The veterans for coach Nunzio Campanile, a former Don Bosco coach, include quarterback Jon Germano, who passed for 2,359 yards and 31 scores for the 8-3 team; wide receiver John Tsimis, who caught 50 passes for 754 yards and 11 scores; top rusher James Dawson; and linebackers Parker Tobia and Dan Grasso.

Inside the FAB 50: No. 1 team opens at last

September, 8, 2011
9/08/11
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GAME OF THE WEEK

No. 6 Mission Viejo (Mission Viejo, Calif.) 1-0 at No. 1 Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.) 0-0, Saturday

The Ironmen are 2-0 in games against California teams with both wins coming against De La Salle of Concord.

Mission Viejo has traveled for games before to Washington and Ohio and has never lost although one win against Moeller (Cincinnati, Ohio) in 2007 was later reversed to a forfeit loss.

While the Diablos are traveling across the country, they have already played once (35-6 win over Centennial of Bakersfield, Calif.) compared to this being Don Bosco Prep’s long-awaited season opener. First game miscues are common in all levels of high school football so the Ironmen being at home could be somewhat negated.

The Ironmen start out with a 35-game winning streak and are seeking their fifth straight state title. They should be superb on defense with ends Darius Hamilton and Mike Strizak along with Yuri Wright and Elijah Shoemate in the secondary. The team’s only apparent question mark is at quarterback due to the graduation of two-year starter Gary Nova.

Mission Viejo’s offense should provide a stern test for that Don Bosco Prep defense. The Diablos can throw with quarterback Alex Bridgford (four touchdown passes last week) and they can run with USC-bound running back Jahleel Pinner. There’s also a veteran, well-coached, big and physical offensive line. If the upset happens, it’s probably because the Mission Viejo linemen have won a majority of the battles up front against the Ironmen and their own quick, strong group of linemen.

PLAYER TO WATCH

Alex Ross, Jenks (Jenks, Okla.)

The standout running back should be anxious to get on the field this week as the Trojans held him out of their season opening 54-13 win over Bixby (Bixby, Okla.) so he could heal for this week’s big Backyard Brawl rivalry matchup against Union (Tulsa, Okla.).

Before the season opener, Ross sprained his ankle in the Trojan Preview and he was a game-time decision to play in the season opener before being held out. According to the Tulsa World News, his status for the game against the Redskins is questionable while Ross himself said “probably not” when asked if he would play this week. Head coach Allan Trimble sounded a little more optimistic, telling the local newspaper, “His ankle is still sore but I’m sure he’ll play.”

Last season, the University of Oklahoma commit rushed for 1,548 yards and 27 touchdowns while also recording seven sacks on defense.

After both teams won last week, Jenks was No. 13 while Tulsa Union was No. 29 in this week’s FAB 50.

UPSET ALERT

No. 42 Gilman (Baltimore) 2-0 vs. No. 11 Good Counsel (Olney, Md.) 1-0, Saturday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, Md.

This game is for bragging rights in Maryland as well as standing in the FAB 50 rankings. The top two teams in the state -- one ranked No. 1 in the Baltimore area and the other No. 1 in the Washington, D.C., area -- clash in the Patriot Classic.

Both teams are coming off impressive wins to boost their FAB 50 stock. Good Counsel debuted with a 24-17 double-overtime win over ranked Florida power Manatee (Bradenton, Fla.). Gilman won its second game 51-27 over Virginia power Oscar Smith (Chesapeake, Va.), which had lost only two regular season games since 2004.

The ranked teams also boast two of the top recruited athletes in the land in Good Counsel's 6-foot, 185-pound wide receiver-defensive back Stefon Diggs and Gilman's 5-foot-10, 180-pound running back-defensive back Cyrus Jones. Both impressed last weekend.

The two Maryland powers met last year with Gilman prevailing 28-7. The result could be the same this year, especially with Gilman having two games under its belt and outscoring both foes by 119-36.

Upset Alerts so far this season: 0-1

TEAM ON THE RISE?

Acadiana (Acadiana, La.)

The defending Class 5A state champion is back to No. 1 in Louisiana after last year's runnerup and this year’s preseason No. 1, West Monroe (West Monroe, La.), was upset in its opener by Byrd (Shreveport, La.).

Acadiana debuted with a 36-13 victory over city rival Northside (Lafayette, La.). The Rams led 28-7 at halftime and cruised to the victory. Jeff Brown was the main offensive weapon with 17 carries for 148 yards and two touchdowns.

Acadiana, which finished last season with an on-field record of 14-1, should face an early-season test this Friday in the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans. A win by Acadiana over state Class 4A No. 1 St. Paul (Covington, La.) could vault the Rams into the FAB 50 picture. St. Paul debuted with an impressive 38-7 win over preseason Class 4A state No. 1 Karr (New Orleans, La.).

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