GAME OF THE WEEK
Riverdale (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) 12-0 at No. 20 Maryville (Maryville, Tenn.) 12-0, Friday
Despite the abundance of state playoff games around the nation, including a few finals, there are no matchups this weekend that bring together two FAB 50 teams. Although, this Tennessee Class 6A semifinal battle comes pretty close.
Riverdale is basically the No. 21 team in the Southeast Region, which is the toughest in the nation, and certainly would jump into the FAB 50 with a win against Maryville. It’s going to be tough for the Warriors to knock off the defending state champs, however, since season-long starting quarterback Dillon Woodruff went down with two torn knee ligaments in last week’s 35-10 triumph against Oak Ridge (Tenn.).
Riverdale has only had a few close games. The Warriors, who feature several three-year starters, including running back Adam Davenport (offer from Navy), also went outside the state once to beat St. Xavier (Louisville, Ky.) 23-9.
The Rebels of Maryville already have won a much-hyped game this season when they defeated Alcoa (Alcoa, Tenn.) 26-19 in their second game. At the time, Alcoa was No. 46 in the FAB 50 and had a 44-game winning streak snapped. Elite 11 quarterback Patton Robinette (committed to North Carolina) had 141 yards passing, 91 yards rushing and accounted for two touchdowns in that game. In last week’s 41-7 romp over Sevier County (Sevierville, Tenn.), Robinette shined with 276 total yards and accounted for six scores.
Also helping the Rebels sustain their gaudy average of more than 38 points per game has been running back Shawn Prevo, who has 1,008 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns, plus senior center Jay Guillermo (verbal to Clemson).
PLAYER TO WATCH
Shaq Powell, Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas)
The milestones are beginning to pile up for Powell, who first carried the ball for the Gaels as a freshman. The senior running back went over 2,000 yards for the season with 218 yards and one touchdown in last week’s 35-7 win over previously unbeaten Palo Verde (Las Vegas). He’s also close to going over 5,000 yards for his career and could do that with another 200-yard night in this week’s state semifinal game against Liberty (Henderson, Nev.).
Since most games on No. 7 Bishop Gorman’s schedule are over before halftime, Powell’s totals become more impressive. He also missed several games at the end of last season due to injuries. He’s a runner who hits the hole hard, can break it around the corners and catches the ball well out of the backfield.
The last running back from Bishop Gorman who was as effective as Powell was DeMarco Murray, now starring as a rookie in the NFL for the Dallas Cowboys.
Oklahoma, where Murray went to college, is not on the list of colleges that have offered the Gaels’ next potentially great back. Those who have include Arizona State, Duke, Fresno State, Illinois, San Diego State, Washington and Vanderbilt.
Upper St. Clair (Upper St. Clair, Pa.) 11-1 vs. No. 26 North Allegheny (Wexford, Pa.) 12-0, Saturday at Heinz Field (Pittsburgh)
These two Western Pennsylvania rivals know each other well. They regularly play in the regular season and will meet this year for a second time in the WPIAL Class AAAA finals, with the winner advancing in the state playoffs.
In the regular-season contest, defending 4-A state champion North Allegheny handed Upper St. Clair its lone loss 28-21. The Panthers then reeled off nine straight wins, including last week's 28-14 upset of FAB 50 No. 13 Pittsburgh Central Catholic (Pittsburgh, Pa.) while playing with a backup quarterback making his first start. Junior Pete Coughlin responded with 270 total offense yards, including 209 on 21 carries and was named the ESPNHS East Region Player of the Week. Coughlin replaced the injured Dakota Conwell, a Pittsburgh recruit who was sidelined with an ailing ankle. Conwell, who has 2,072 total offense yards and 30 touchdowns this season, could return this weekend.
North Allegheny's quarterback, Mack Leftwich, has been the Tigers' offensive spark. He has passed for 1,803 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Both teams are led by two of the state's top coaches. USC's Jim Render has 354 career wins, third best all-time in the Keystone State, and won state crowns in 2006 and 1989. NA's Art Walker has won state championships at two schools; last season with North Allegheny and in 2004 with Pittsburgh Central Catholic.
Upset Alerts So Far This Season: 6-6
TEAM ON THE RISE?
Page (Greensboro, N.C.)
The Pirates (13-0) opened some eyes last weekend when they eliminated two-time Class 4-AA state champion Butler (Matthews, N.C.) with a 40-26 victory. Butler also was No. 28 in the FAB 50.
Page scored the final 34 points of the game after trailing 26-12 at halftime as Butler quarterback Riley Ferguson passed for 347 yards and three scores before intermission. But in the second half, Ferguson completed only three passes and wound up with 431 yards in the losing effort. Butler had won 42 of its previous 43 games and was averaging 50 points per game during its 11-game win streak.
Page was led by quarterback James Summers, a North Carolina State recruit who rushed for 131 yards and three second-half touchdowns. He also passed for two scores. Running back Drew Rogers ran for 137 yards.
The Pirates will face their second straight FAB 50-ranked foe Friday in the semifinals as they host FAB 50 No. 13 Mallard Creek (Charlotte, N.C.) in a clash of unbeaten teams. The winner advances to the state finals on Dec. 3 against the survivor of the other semifinal matching Garner (Garner, N.C.) and Britt (Fayetteville, N.C.).