In high school football, November is when the real tests are taken. As big rivalry games and the pressure of the playoffs sweep the country, seasons are on the line, and not just rankings and records.
It’s truly a pass or fail climate this time of year. For proof of just how competitive the games become in these pivotal late-season weekends, we witnessed six of the top 25 teams, and seven of the top 31 ranked teams in the POWERADE FAB 50 lose over the weekend.
Two top 10 teams were defeated. No. 9 Harrison (Farmington Hills, Mich.), the top team in the Michigan and the Midwest, got drubbed 30-7 by Brother Rice (Bloomfield, Mich.) in the district finals on Saturday night.
Meanwhile, No. 10 Maine South (Park Ridge, Ill.) lost to Stevenson (Lincolnshire, Ill.) on Saturday in their Class 8A playoff game thanks to a heroic performance from Stevenson’s signal-caller Matt Micucci, who went 20-for-32 for 243 yards in the air with two passing scores. He also kicked a field goal to help knock off the three-time defending Class 8A champions in the massive upset. Saturday marked just the third loss in the past four seasons for Maine South, whose seniors finished with three state championships. Read the game breakdown from ESPN Chicago.
The No. 14 team in the FAB 50, Warren Central (Indianapolis), fell to No. 43 Carmel (Carmel, Ind.) in dramatic fashion. Carmel came back from a 20-0 deficit to win on a 16-yard touchdown run by running back Jalen Duncan with just 23 seconds left in the game to cap off a furious comeback and cement a 34-30 win in the Sectional 5 title game.
In a historic upset, the Raiders of St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), the 2010 FAB 50 national high school football champions and current No. 16 team in the FAB 50, lost to local foe Cooper City (Cooper City, Fla.) 21-16. The loss in the District 15-7A championship on Friday night marked the first time the Raiders failed to claim the title since 1996, and the win by Cooper City was their first victory over STA since 1972. It was an upset nearly 40 years in the making.
In front of an estimated 15,000 fans, No. 24 Stephenson (Stone Mountain, Ga.) lost to No. 49 M.L. King (Lithonia, Ga.) in, you guessed it, dramatic fashion. M.L. King mounted a furious comeback, recovering from a 43-26 deficit midway through the third quarter to win 50-49 in the final regular season game of Region 2-AAAAA. Stephenson lives to fight another day, with a playoff game next weekend against Lowndes (Valdosta, Ga.).
No. 25 DeSoto (DeSoto, Texas) fell to Longview (Longview, Texas) on Thursday night by a score of 23-21. Texas editor Brandon Parker detailed Longview’s big win on the ESPNHS Texas football blog:
While holding DeSoto to its lowest point total of the year, Longview DL Jalen Porter forced DeSoto QB Desmon White to fumble in the end zone with 1:49 to go, resulting in the decisive safety in the Lobos' 23-21 win. The result was Longview's eighth straight District 11-5A crown and huge momentum boost entering the playoffs.
As a testament to what stingy defense and deliberate field-position maneuvering can accomplish, Lake Zurich (Lake Zurich, Ill.) upset No. 31 Glenbard West (Glen Ellynm, Ill.) 10-3 despite netting just five first downs and 132 yards of total offense in the win. The Bears of Lake Zurich registered their first first down of the second half on their final drive of the contest and only saw two plays in the game go for more than ten yards. Even if it wasn't pretty, the score is what ultimately matters.
On any given weekend anything can happen on the gridiron, and this weekend was no exception. Make sure to check in on Monday for our updated POWERADE FAB 50 rankings, as there will assuredly be some significant changes given the results of this dramatic weekend of high school football action.