They may be hundreds of miles apart, but it’s hard to dispute the similarities of running backs Jela Duncan of FAB 50 No. 13 Mallard Creek (Charlotte, N.C.) and Jalen Duncan of FAB 50 No. 19 Carmel (Carmel, Ind.).
As the ad says, America runs on Dunkin, but Mallard Creek and Carmel run with Duncan.
Jela Duncan, a 5-foot-10, 190-pound senior, bolted for 191 yards on 22 carries and scored a pair of touchdowns when Mallard Creek defeated Myers Park (Charlotte, N.C.) 42-10 last Friday in the Class 4AAA state quarterfinals.
Jela also was a standout as a junior with nearly 1,400 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns. He’s already surpassed those totals this season and is looking at college offers from Duke, Pitt, Purdue, South Carolina and others
Jalen Duncan, a 5-foot-10, 205-pound senior, has emerged as one of the top players in Indiana. He didn’t have a junior season quite like Jela Duncan in North Carolina, but is making up for it this fall.
In Carmel’s 21-17 victory over Center Grove (Greenwood, Ind.), Jalen led the way with 22 carries for 132 yards and three touchdowns. He does not yet have any reported college offers, but is receiving interest from a few Big Ten schools and the Mid-American Conference.
Both Duncans also will need to stay productive in major contests for their teams this week. Jela’s team faces 13-0 Page (Greensboro, N.C.) in the state semifinals while Jalen’s team is going up against 14-0 Penn (Mishawaka, Ind.) in the Class 5A state championship at Lucas Oil Stadium.
FAB 50 SPOTLIGHT PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Jonquel Dawson, M.L. King (Lithonia, Ga.)
The 5-foot-10, 185-pound senior quarterback has led the Lions to a 12-0 record and No. 22 ranking in the FAB 50.
Last week, in Class AAAAA state playoff eliminations, he passed for 344 yards and three scores to lead a 27-21 overtime victory over defending state titlist Brookwood (Snellville, Ga.).
The three touchdown passes gave Dawson 92 for his career and puts him in a three-way tie for second-place on the all-time state charts. Dawson, who has completed 186 of 314 passes for 2,891 yards and 35 touchdowns this season, could threaten the state record of 103 TD tosses set from 2007-10 by Nick Marshall of Wilcox County (Rochelle, Ga.). This week's playoff opponent is Lassiter (Marietta, Ga.).
RISING NEWCOMER OF THE WEEK
No. 41 Whitmer (Toledo, Ohio)
The 13-0 record Panthers are the only unbeaten team competing in this week’s Division 1 semifinals in Ohio.
Whitmer, which lost to eventual state champion Lakewood St. Edward in the 2010 semifinals, advanced last weekend with a convincing 37-0 blanking of Wadsworth (Wadsworth, Ohio). Whitmer's semifinal foe Saturday in Mansfield is 10-time state champion Cleveland St. Ignatius.
The Panthers, who are seeking their first state crown, are led on offense by all-state running back Jody Webb, who rushed for 992 yards and 24 touchdowns in the regular season. He runs behind a line anchored by 6-foot-8, 300-pound tackle Storm Norton, a University of Toledo recruit.
The Whitmer defense, which has limited nine opponents to seven points or less, is led by University of Michigan recruit Chris Wormley, a 6-foot-4, 230-pound all-state defensive end. Whitmer is the sixth Ohio team to be listed as the Rising Newcomer this season as the Buckeye State has been the scene of several power changes with upsets for a number of ranked teams.
Other 'Risers' from Ohio have included Hilliard Davidson, Mentor and three Cincinnati teams -- Moeller, St. Xavier and Colerain.
LOOKING AHEAD: Leaders in the Clubhouse
As the Thanksgiving weekend concludes, there could be as many as nine teams that will have locked up final positions in the last FAB 50 rankings of the season.
Two teams already are finished and have put the capper on a championship – No. 6 Good Counsel (Olney, Md.) and No. 25 Gilman (Baltimore). In golfing terms, Good Counsel also could be called our leader in the clubhouse to be No. 1 for the final rankings. It’s not likely, though, that all five teams ahead of coach Bob Milloy’s team will lose.
The other seven FAB 50 teams are all favored to win state titles over the next weekend, but history says that probably one or two will get upset.
Two of those seven are in Arizona where No. 11 Hamilton (Chandler, Ariz.) and No. 32 Chaparral (Scottsdale, Ariz.) also are going for multiple titles in a row. The other five are No. 19 Carmel (Carmel, Ind.); No. 31 Christian Brothers (St. Louis); No. 39 Loyola Academy (Wilmette, Ill.); No. 43 Detroit Catholic Central (Novi, Mich.); and No. 47 Wayzata (Plymouth, Minn.).
We can’t say that both No. 39 Allen (Allen, Texas) and No. 46 Warren Central (Indianapolis) have wrapped up final spots in the FAB 50 even though both teams are done for the season. This is because both teams’ final placement is dependent on how the teams they lost to fare later on in the playoffs.