St. Thomas aiming for national title
All eyes will be on the Class 5A state final Friday at the Orlando Citrus Bowl when ESPN RISE FAB 50 national No. 1 St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) puts it all on the line against Lakeland in a showdown of unbeatens.
Ironically, two years ago, it was Lakeland that began a two-year streak of mythical national champions from Florida to break a long hiatus. Prior to the Dreadnaughts finishing at No. 1 in the FAB 50, the state hadn't had a No. 1 national squad since Coral Gables in 1965.
Last year, Miami Northwestern was No. 1 in the land and this year it could be St. Thomas Aquinas to end up with that crown. The Raiders, though, still have to get past Lakeland to do it. They won 35-15 in their semifinal game over Largo.
To get the upset, Lakeland, which has been No. 10 in the FAB 50 the past two weeks, will have to play better than it did in last week's 22-21 semifinal win over Pine Forest.
If Lakeland wins, the next team in line to perhaps move up to No. 1 in the final ESPN RISE FAB 50 is Poly (Long Beach, Calif.). The No. 2 Jackrabbits are playing No. 37 Grant of Sacramento (13-0) on Friday in the first-ever California Interscholastic Federation Open Division title game.
The CIF Division I state championship game Friday will be just as big, maybe even bigger, because it will pit No. 8 Centennial of Corona against No. 19 De La Salle of Concord.
If both St. Thomas Aquinas and Poly lose, watch out for the winner of the Texas Class 5A Division I final between Allen (14-1) and Hightower of Fort Bend (15-0) to get a crack at moving up. Hightower is only No. 15 compared to Allen's No. 3 in this week's national rankings, but if it were to win, it would have a final argument that could be tough to ignore.
The ESPN RISE FAB 50 rankings were compiled by a panel of ESPN RISE and ESPN.com high school editors, which includes Mark Tennis, Doug Huff, Chris Lawlor, Jon Mahoney, Sheldon Shealer, Ronnie Flores and Paul Muyskens.
ESPN RISE FAB 50
Results as of Dec. 13.1. St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
Points: 250 pts
Previous rank: 1
The FAB 50 No. 1-ranked Raiders made short work of semifinal opponent Largo en route to a 35-14 blowout at Brian Piccolo Stadium. Quarterback Ryan Becker had a special night, breaking Dan Shula's single-season passing yardage mark with 1,927 and Mississippi State QB Wesley Carroll's career yards record with 3,621 after completing 14 of 21 passes for 148 yards. WR Duron Carter had a pair of touchdown catches and running back Giovanni Bernard rushed for 171 yards and a score. The win sets up a showdown with playoff rival and FAB 50 No. 10 Lakeland in the 5A state title game. The defending state champions are looking to repeat for the first time in school history and give head coach George Smith his first 15-0 season.
2. Poly (Long Beach, Calif.)
Points: 244 pts
Previous record: 2
For the first time, a school from the olden days of California prep football will be trying to win a CIF state title when the Jackrabbits take on FAB 50 No. 37 Grant of Sacramento (13-0) in the Open Division championship Saturday night at The Home Depot Center in Carson. Poly, which won its first CIF state crown in 1919, was selected Sunday after defeating its third nationally ranked foe of the season, Tesoro of Las Flores, the night before in the CIF Southern Section Pac-Five championship. The 20-17 win was achieved basically on two remarkable plays: a 24-yard touchdown pass from Morgan Fennell to Damion Smith on fourth down with 6:48 left -- Fennell basically heaved it up for grabs as he was being clocked -- and a 61-yard sideline side-stepping touchdown run by Melvin Richardson with 2:56 left.
3. Allen (Allen, Texas)
Points: 239 pts
Previous record: 3
The Eagles are beginning to look like a team of destiny, as a storybook run through the Texas 5A Division I bracket was extended when Tucker Carter found Dakarai Pecikonis from 21 yards out with just 39 seconds remaining, giving Allen a 23-21 win over Stony Point and a spot in the 5A title game. Despite being outgained 382-177, Allen was in control for most of the game after Steven Terrell ran back an interception 90 yards for a score to knot the game at 7 in the second quarter. The lead ballooned to 17-7 entering the fourth quarter, but short TD runs by Nyk McKissic and Baylor-bound Glasco Martin gave Stony Point a 21-17 lead with 2:33 remaining. Then Carter, starting in just his third game as a fill-in for injured star Matt Brown, drove the Eagles 66 yards for the winning score. Allen will once again face some daunting odds this weekend, playing at Houston's Reliant Stadium versus undefeated Houston-area and FAB 50 No. 15 Hightower. But with three straight wins over FAB 50 ranked teams, nothing should faze this team at this point.
4. Camden County (Kingsland, Ga.)
Points: 231 pts
Previous record: 5
The Wildcats captured their second state title and first since 2003 with a 21-14 win over previous FAB 50 No. 44 Peachtree Ridge on Saturday night at the Georgia Dome. Camden trailed 14-7 when QB Christian Milstead hooked up with DeAngelo Smith, a South Carolina pledge, for an 85-yard touchdown to tie the game in the third quarter. RB Darrell Williams scored the game-winner on a 1-yard run to give the Wildcats their only lead. Williams' run held up after the defense intercepted a late fourth-quarter pass to preserve the win. RB Ean Days led the Wildcats with 80 yards rushing on 16 carries. Coach Jeff Herron's club ended the season with a perfect 15-0 record in Class 5A. The Wildcats will be rooting for a few teams to stumble over the coming weekend for a chance to earn a shot at the mythical national championship.
5. Lake Travis (Austin, Texas)
Points: 230 pts
Previous record: 4
At some point, the games are supposed to get tougher for coach Chad Morris' Cavaliers, but it didn't happen Saturday in a Class 4A DI semifinal against Friendswood, as the anticipated showdown between Big 12-bound quarterbacks Garrett Gilbert (Texas) and Friendswood's Jacob Karam (Texas Tech) never materialized in a 56-22 rout. Gilbert completed 21 of 30 passes for 253 yards and three TDs while also rushing for 131 yards and three scores as Lake Travis jumped out to a 35-7 halftime lead. The Elite 11 QB also moved to within 363 yards of Graham Harrell's career state passing mark of 12,532 yards. Gilbert will shoot for that record and a second straight state title Saturday at Baylor's Floyd Casey Stadium versus FAB 50 No. 48 Longview. The Lobos and the Cavs should be a competitive matchup, especially when looking at common opponents -- Lake Travis topped Shreveport (La.) Evangel Christian 46-31, while Longview crushed Evangel 52-22.
6. Oscar Smith (Chesapeake, Va.)
Points: 227 pts
Previous record: 6
Oscar Smith claimed the Division 6 state crown for the first time in school history two weekends ago behind a talented quarterback-receiver combination. Junior Phillip Sims topped 3,000 yards passing, while Virginia-bound Tim Smith ended with 73 receptions for 1,681 yards. In addition, Perry Jones rushed for more than 1,700 yards. After slipping past Oakton 10-7 in the state semifinals, Oscar Smith made no doubt about it with a 54-24 victory over Osbourn in the final.
7. St. Ignatius (Cleveland)
Points: 220 pts
Previous record: 7
The Wildcats won their final 14 games, including a revenge playoff win three weeks ago over city rival Glenville, to record their 10th state Division I title since 1988.
8. Centennial (Corona, Calif.)
Points: 212 pts
Previous record: 9
Taylor Martinez threw for a pair of scores and came through with a 3-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter as the Huskies defeated Chaparral of Temecula 23-17 to win their second straight CIF Inland Division title. Chaparral lost its first game to Centennial, then won 12 in a row before losing to the Huskies again. On Sunday, head coach Matt Logan's team received a bid to play No. 19 De La Salle of Concord in the CIF Division I state bowl game.
9. Phoebus (Hampton, Va.)
Points: 210 pts
Previous record: 8
This might go down as not only Phoebus' best team ever, but one of the best teams in the history of the talent-rich Hampton area. The Phantoms outscored their opponents 720-53 en route to their second Division 5 state title in three seasons.
10. Lakeland (Lakeland, Fla.)
Points: 204 pts
Previous record: 10
After dominating Tampa Chamberlain in the quarterfinals, the Dreadnaughts came from behind to beat FAB 50 Pensacola Pine Forest 22-21 on Friday night. The fans at Bryant Stadium got their money's worth as Lakeland earned its fifth comeback win of the season. Sophomore WR Javares McCoy continued his breakout season by totaling 223 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns. With less than six minutes left, McCoy took a screen pass and weaved through defenders for a 54-yard score, his second touchdown reception. DB T.J. Denton then picked off a Pine Forest pass to seal the win. Lakeland will look for its seventh state title next week against St. Thomas Aquinas in the Orlando Citrus Bowl.
11. Trinity (Euless, Texas)
Points: 203 pts
Previous record: 11
The Trojans, who fell 34-21 to No. 3 Allen two weeks ago, when they were No. 1 in the nation, continue to hold steady in the rankings as Allen marches toward a potential state title this weekend. An Allen loss to Hightower could send Trinity tumbling, while an Eagles win will likely keep the FAB 50 preseason No. 1 near the top 10.
12. Byrnes (Duncan, S.C.)
Points: 189* pts
Previous record: 12
Juniors Marcus Lattimore and Chas Dodd led the Rebels to a Class 4A state title. Lattimore, a running back, and Dodd, a quarterback, should be among the nation's top prospects at their positions next year.
13. Plant (Tampa, Fla.)
Points: 189* pts
Previous record: 13
Senior QB Aaron Murray returned to the sideline after breaking his leg earlier in the season to direct Plant to a 33-21 win over Dwyer in the 4A semifinals. Murray's first throw was a 33-yard touchdown strike to junior WR DeAndre Queen to tie the score 7-7. Plant trailed 14-13 at intermission when Murray came out in the third quarter and fired a 13-yard touchdown pass to WR Nathan Marvel to give the Panthers the lead. After Dwyer answered with a touchdown, senior RB Marco Cobb scored from 4 yards out to reclaim the lead, 26-21. Dwyer appeared to have scored the go-ahead touchdown, but the play was called back for holding. Coach Robert Weiner is looking for his second state title and first since 2006.
14. Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.)
Points: 181 pts
Previous record: 14
After losing their season opener on the road at St. Xavier (Cincinnati), the Ironmen rattled off 11 consecutive wins, including a victory on the road against nationally ranked De La Salle (Concord, Calif.) on national TV. The Ironmen also tallied a pair of convincing wins against rival Bergen Catholic, including once in the Non-Public, Group IV title for its third consecutive crown, and picked up a dominating win against St. Joseph Regional, which finished the year 11-1.
15. Hightower (Fort Bend, Texas)
Points: 179 pts
Previous record: 22
Miami-bound quarterback A.J. Highsmith completed 10 of 13 passes for 220 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for a third as Hightower cruised past San Antonio Clark 28-7 on Saturday and into the 5A DI state final. It was a team effort for the Hurricanes, who will make the school's first ever appearance in a football state title game, as the defense limited Clark's 2,000-yard rusher, Jock Tilghman, to just 50 yards on 18 carries while intercepting two passes and blocking a punt. Highsmith, who's now thrown for 1,968 yards and 27 TDs versus just three interceptions this season, will lead the Canes versus FAB 50 No. 3 Allen on Saturday at Houston's Reliant Stadium with a state title on the line.
16. Skyline (Sammamish, Wash.)
Points: 178 pts
Previous record: 15
The Spartans became the first team in Washington to win back-to-back state titles in different classifications with a 20-15 victory over Issaquah to claim the Class 4A title. The win extended the Spartans' win streak to 28 games and with the return of highly touted QB Jake Heaps next season, the Spartans could easily finish undefeated again.
17. John T. Curtis (River Ridge, La.)
Points: 162 pts
Previous record: 20
Up three spots from last week and eight from two weeks ago, the Patriots scored an impressive 35-14 win over Shreveport Evangel in the Superdome for the state 2A title. It was a Louisiana record 23rd state title for John T. Curtis, which used the timely rushes of game MVP Kenny Cain to score early and cruise. Cain, who finished with 78 yards on 15 carries for three touchdowns, opened the scoring in the first quarter with a 5-yard run after the Patriots recovered an Evangel fumble. His 1-yard TD with just under six minutes remaining put the game away, making it 28-7. The Patriots' defense stepped up big as JTC won its 14th straight after a season-opening loss to Trinity of Texas, limiting Evangel to 16 net yards rushing. Walker Ashburn had five tackles for loss, Matt Stansbury was credited with 11 tackles with teammate John White right behind with nine. QB Evan Ingram completed 5 of 6 passes for 91 yards.
18. Elder (Cincinnati)
Points: 161 pts
Previous record: 17
The Panthers finished as state Division I runner-up to FAB 50 No. 7 St. Ignatius (Cleveland) in a 28-20 title game finale. Elder's only other loss was to FAB 50 No. 1 St. Thomas Aquinas.
19. De La Salle (Concord, Calif.)
Points: 158 pts
Previous record: 18
Blake Wayne connected on two first-half touchdown passes, one on a 10-yard slant to Noah Perio with just two seconds before halftime, as the Spartans downed Pittsburg 34-10 in the CIF North Coast Section Division I title game. Arizona-bound running back Kylan Butler also shined with 186 yards on just nine carries and one score. De La Salle, which won its 17th straight section title, will end its season Friday at The Home Depot Center in Carson with a CIF state bowl game against FAB 50-ranked Centennial of Corona. A year ago, DLS edged Centennial 38-31 in the feature game of the CIF state bowls.
20. Prattville (Prattville, Ala.)
Points: 151 pts
Previous record: 19
One of the highlights of the season for players from Alabama and Mississippi is the postseason All-Star Classic, now in its 22nd year. Prattville defensive end Alex Page helped Alabama's defense dominate in a 28-3 win as he was credited with four tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery. He and Lions teammate DB Zack Brownell also helped limit Mississippi to just 18 yards rushing. It put the capper on the season after the 16-13 win over Hoover for Prattville's third straight 6A title.
21. Maine South (Park Ridge, Ill.)
Points: 150 pts
Previous record: 21
The Hawks captured their third state title with a Class 8A crown two weeks ago. Quarterback Charlie Goro, a Vanderbilt recruit and Chicago-area Player of the Year, accounted for 50 touchdowns (38 pass, 12 run) with 3,836 total offense yards.
22. South Pointe (Rock Hill, S.C.)
Points: 148 pts
Previous record: 23
In an all-Rock Hill Class 5A state final two weekends ago, quarterback Stephon Gilmore led South Pointe to a 35-14 victory over Northwestern. There are some in the state who believe this team and not Byrnes was the best overall.
23. Armwood (Seffner, Fla.)
Points: 135 pts
Previous record: 24
The Hawks ended the season at 12-1 and were District 11 champions. Armwood was defeated by Plant in the region finals at Dad's Stadium two weeks ago.
24. Liberty (Bethlehem, Pa.)
Points: 133 pts
Previous record: 32
In a Class AAAA title game that brought together two FAB 50-ranked teams, Liberty had to go into overtime to edge previously unbeaten Bethel Park with a 28-21 triumph. Anthony Gonzalez, a junior quarterback-defensive back, had more than 300 yards in total offense and scored on a 1-yard sneak to give Liberty the lead in overtime. Bethel Park tried to answer, but Liberty clinched it when Gonzalez (who else?) ended it with an interception.
25. Trinity (Louisville, Ky.)
Points: 132* pts
Previous record: 28
The Shamrocks captured their fourth straight state title (seventh in eight years) and a state record 19th crown with a 48-0 rout of Simon Kenton in the Class 6A finals. It is the seventh title in nine years for coach Bob Beatty at the school. Quarterback Cameron Smyth was perfect in the air with 12-of-12 passing for 232 yards and three touchdowns plus a rushing TD as Trinity led by 42-0 at halftime before a running clock was instituted in the third period. Tailback Tim Phillips carried 11 times for 131 yards and three TDs and landed a touchdown pass.
26. Glenville (Cleveland)
Points: 127 pts
Previous record: 25
The Tarblooders handed sta te champions from Ohio and Pennsylvania their lone setbacks this season. Glenville opened the season with a last-second win over FAB 50 No. 7 St. Ignatius but was ousted in the state Division I playoffs by the Wildcats, 8-7. In the second game of the season, Glenville handed Thomas Jefferson of Pittsburgh its lone loss; the Jaguars went on to a 15-1 record and repeat Class AAA championship.
27. St. Bonaventure (Ventura, Calif.)
Points: 126 pts
Previous record: 26
Make it eight section titles in 10 years for the Seraphs after they rolled over Moorpark 42-7 to win the CIF Southern Section Northern Division crown. Logan Meyer passed for 204 yards and four touchdowns, completing 14 of 18 attempts with three of the four going to Isaiah Burton. Head coach Todd Therrian's team was selected to represent Southern California in the CIF Division III bowl game where it will face Cardinal Newman (Santa Rosa, Calif.).
28. Union (Tulsa, Okla.)
Points: 122 pts
Previous record: 27
A loss in the first game of the season to Broken Arrow was the only thing that kept Union from enjoying a perfect season. Nevertheless, the Redskins had a pretty good year, especially since they earned two victories against archrival Jenks, including a 34-20 win over the Trojans in the Class 6A state finals. It was Union's fourth state title since 2002. While Union loses star senior running back Jeremy Smith and standout senior receiver Tracy Moore, it does return an excellent passing game keyed by junior Chase Boyce and junior Thomas Roberson.
29. Muskegon (Mich.)
Points: 109 pts
Previous record: 30
Two weeks ago, the Big Reds captured their third state Division 2 title in five years with a finals win over previously unbeaten Warren De La Salle. The only regular-season loss suffered by Division I champion Rockford was to Muskegon.
30. Centennial (Peoria, Ariz.)
Points: 108 pts
Previous record: 29
Win No. 26 in a row certainly wasn't easy, but state championship games aren't supposed to be easy. The Coyotes won their third straight Arizona 5A-II title at the University of Phoenix Stadium with a 20-7 victory over Avondale Westview. Centennial found itself down 7-0 with less than two minutes to play before intermission. But that was enough time for John Hughes to pull in a 29-yard scoring pass from Dain McFarland and for Justin Callahan to score on another McFarland pass, this one from 21 yards out after pulling in passes of 15 and 13 yards to set up the score. Up 13-7, the Coyotes put the game away when Hughes raced 80 yards for a touchdown after Westview missed a third-quarter field goal. The 26 straight wins are an Arizona 5A record.
31. Bethel Park (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
Points: 93 pts
Previous record: 16
Bethel Park's phenomenal run came to a close in the PIAA Class AAAA state finals, where the Black Hawks fell to fellow FAB 50 member Liberty 28-21 in overtime. After standout Liberty junior quarterback Anthony Gonzalez scored on a 1-yard run in the extra session, Bethel Park had a chance to answer but senior quarterback Erik Olson's third-down pass was intercepted by Gonzalez to end the game. Despite losing in heart-breaking fashion in the final, Bethel Park has nothing to be ashamed of this year, especially after it knocked off FAB 50 member Gateway, which was No. 4 in the FAB 50 at the time, in the WPIAL Class AAAA finals.
32. Center Grove (Greenwood, Ind.)
Points: 92 pts
Previous record: 31
The Trojans claimed their first state Class 5A championship by avenging their lone regular-season defeat to Carmel in the finals two weeks ago. The Trojans were led by five first team all-state honorees in running back Luke Swift, offensive lineman Trey Thompson, place-kicker Mike Wood, linebacker Anthony Ellis and defensive back Kevin Jones.
33. Bellevue (Bellevue, Wash.)
Points: 88 pts
Previous record: 33
Two weeks ago, the Wolverines captured their record seventh state title with a 35-6 victory over Union of Vancouver in the Class 3A final. The Wolverines also are now a perfect 7-for-7 in title games.
34. Dorman (Roebuck, S.C.)
Points: 72 pts
Previous record: 35
For posting a regular-season win over No. 12 Byrnes, the Cavaliers keep creeping up the rankings as other teams fall. Their only loss also was to Byrnes in a state playoff rematch.
35. St. Xavier (Louisville, Ky.)
Points: 72 pts
Previous record: 35
The Tigers were dominant in the regular season, including a 30-6 win over FAB 50 No. 25 Louisville Trinity, which avenged the loss in the Class 6A semifinals, 28-21. The Tigers were led by running back Deuce Finch, already named the Gatorade State Player of the Year.
36. Bolles (Jacksonville, Fla.)
Points: 70 pts
Previous record: 48
It was all Bulldogs in the Class 2A state championship as Bolles pummeled Miami Gulliver Prep 49-20. Coach Corky Rogers won his eighth state title in 20 years at the school. Bolles also has a total of nine state championships, a Florida record. The Bulldogs jumped out to a 49-7 lead going into the fourth quarter and Gulliver only managed 295 yards of offense. Senior RB Stephen Barnett ran for 133 yards on 17 carries and two touchdowns to pace the offense. WR Jay Herndon hauled in four passes for 103 yards and tied a state finals record with three touchdown receptions.
37. Grant (Sacramento, Calif.)
Points: 66 pts
Previous record: NR
Nine days after winning the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Div. II title with a 55-6 win over Burbank of Sacramento, the Pacers' fears about being overlooked in the CIF state bowl game selections were more than squashed when they not only were chosen but were chosen to play No. 2 Poly when most expected the Jackrabbits would play No. 19 De La Salle. Grant's claim to be given such an honor by the CIF selection committee was strengthened by having wins over two state champions. That the state champions are from Utah and Idaho did not seem to matter. Head coach Mike Alberghini's team will face Poly on Saturday night at The Home Depot Center in Carson.
38. Wayzata (Plymouth, Minn.)
Points: 62 pts
Previous record: 38
The Trojans captured the state Class 5A Prep Bowl championship with a 27-7 finals victory two weeks ago over Blaine. The Trojans' first team defense allowed only five touchdowns all season. Quarterback John Reis ran the offense.
39. Destrehan (Destrehan, La.)
Points: 61 pts
Previous record: NR
Often it's difficult to pinpoint the play that helps deliver a victory. Not this time. Rufus Porter's 98-yard interception return with 4:25 remaining in the game capped a 14-3 win over West Monroe last weekend in the state 5A title game played in the Superdome. It was Destrehan's second straight state title. Prior to the electric return, it was anyone's game and it looked like West Monroe might ruin Destrehan's perfect season, trailing 7-3 but going in for a score with the clock ticking down. West Monroe held the Wildcats scoreless for the first three quarters but Kyron King put Destrehan ahead when he pulled in a Wynrick Smothers pass for a 35-yard score. Still, West Monroe, which was ranked No. 49 in the FAB 50 coming in, was marching when Porter picked off the pass and danced down the sideline, avoiding the line by inches, for the clincher.
40. Permian (Odessa, Texas)
Points: 60 pts
Previous record: 39
The Panthers are another powerful one-loss Lone Star State program whose season was ended by current No. 3 Allen. Mojo featured a balanced offensive attack this year, with District 2-5A MVP Sherard Ray running the ball and Trevor Adams, who set a Permian single-season passing record with 2,682 yards through the air.
41. Gateway (Monroeville, Pa.)
Points: 52 pts
Previous record: 40
After losing to eventual state champion Pittsburgh Central Catholic in last year's WPIAL Class AAAA finals in what was arguably the most exciting high school football game of the year, Gateway had all the makings to get over the hump this season and even make a run at a mythical national title. Behind the play of Ohio State-bound seniors Dorian Bell and Corey Brown, the Gators were ranked as high as No. 4 in the FAB 50. But once again, Gateway couldn't get past the WPIAL finals, this time losing to then-unranked Bethel Park, 10-6. The loss dropped the Gators considerably in the FAB 50, but they didn't fall completely out thanks in large part to Bethel Park's state runner-up finish.
42. East St. Louis (Ill.)
Points: 40 pts
Previous record: 42
The Flyers captured their seventh state championship by winning their final 13 games after a loss to Ohio's Huber Heights Wayne. East St. Louis defeated previously unbeaten Geneva in the Class 7A title game two weeks ago.
43. Homestead (Mequon, Wis.)
Points: 38* pts
Previous record: 43
The Highlanders won their second state Division I title on Nov. 21 in their third straight finals berth opposite Hartland Arrowhead. All-State defensive lineman Shelby Harris was a runner-up for state Player of the Year honors.
44. Meridian (Miss.)
Points: 38* pts
Previous record: 41
Although the team's season ended when the Cats stunned Top 10 South Panola last week 26-20 in overtime, quarterback Tyler Russell led the Mississippi All-Stars in the 22nd annual Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic in Mobile. He was 19-of-33 for 161 yards, but after getting picked off just five times in 15 games, he suffered two against the defensive-minded Alabamans in a 28-3 loss.
45. Noxubee County (Macon, Miss.)
Points: 28* pts
Previous record: 46
Still basking in the glow of its 12-10 win over D'Iberville for the 4A title, longtime coach M.C. Miller was pleased when his club edged out Meridian in the final state rankings by the Clarion-Ledger. Wide receiver Pat Patterson played in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic in Mobile.
46. Hamilton (Chandler, Ariz.)
Points: 28* pts
Previous record: 47
University of Arizona recruit Ryan Milus' 96-yard kickoff return to start the second half gave the Huskies a 17-0 lead, and they needed all of the points in 17-10 win over Phoenix's Brophy College Prep in the 5A-I title game at the University of Phoenix Stadium. After building the lead, Hamilton turned to its defense, which had delivered a 10-0 win over Brophy during the regular season and it came through again. This time with time running out, Devon Carrington recorded an 11-yard sack on a safely blitz and Arizona State commit Anthony Jones tackled a Brophy receiver for a 2-yard loss on a screen pass, as the Huskies held on for the victory. Hamilton's lone loss was to unbeaten Peoria Centennial, winners of 26 straight.
47. Tesoro (Las Flores, Calif.)
Points: 21 pts
Previous record: 34
Head coach Brian Barnes' team seemed to be in control of No. 2 Poly with a 17-7 lead until the last seven minutes of the CIF Southern Section Pac-Five Division final. The Jackrabbits rallied for a 20-17 win. The Titans got themselves into that game with two earlier playoff wins over Mater Dei of Santa Ana and Lutheran of Orange.
48. Longview (Texas)
Points: 17 pts
Previous record: NR
The Lobos advanced to the third state title game in school history and the first in 11 years thanks to a virtuoso performance from quarterback Aaron Johnson in a 41-30 win over Denton Guyer in a 4A DI state semifinal win Saturday at Texas Stadium. Johnson was near-perfect, hitting 10 of his 11 pass attempts for 278 yards and four scores, and if that wasn't enough, the 6-foot-1, 175-pound junior put the final nail in the coffin with a 35-yard scoring run late in the fourth quarter to clinch the win. Junior Carey Fortson was on the receiving end of three of Johnson's scoring passes, catching four for 140 yards on the day. Longview's only loss on the field (it has another via forfeit for using an ineligible player) was to Allen way back in August, so don't be deceived by the 13-2 record on paper. The Lobos, however, did have some trouble containing Denton Guyer sophomore J.W. Walsh, who passed for 273 yards and ran for another 139, and will have to be much better Saturday against Lake Travis' Garrett Gilbert if they hope to pull the upset and end the Cavaliers' 29-game winning streak in the 4A DI state title game at Baylor.
49. Pine Forest (Pensacola, Fla.)
Points: 16 pts
Previous record: 37
Pine Forest gave up a late fourth-quarter touchdown and fell to Lakeland 22-21. RB Jamarius Green scored two touchdowns in the loss. RB Shawn Morris ran for an 11-yard fourth-quarter touchdown with seven minutes left to give the Eagles a 21-16 lead.
50. Oakton (Vienna, Va.)
Points: 11 pts
Previous record: NR
Moving back into the FAB 50, Oakton gave No. 6 Oscar Smith all it could handle in the state semifinals before losing 10-7. The contest marked the fewest points Oscar Smith scored en route to a state title season and the closest that team came to a loss. Oakton was led by senior linebacker Jack Tyler.
Also receiving votes: Miami Northwestern (Miami) 13-2, North Penn (Lansdale, Pa.) 14-1*, River Hill (Clarksville, Md.) 14-0*, South Panola (Batesville, Miss.) 14-1*, Timpview (Provo, Utah) 14-0*, Valley (West Des Moines, Iowa) 14-0*, Tucker (Ga.) 14-1*.
Dropped out: Previous No. 44 Peachtree Ridge (Suwanee, Ga.); No. 45 Grayson (Loganville, Ga.); No. 49 West Monroe (Monroe, La.); No. 50 South Panola (Batesville, Miss.).
* Ties in points are broken according to which team was ranked higher by a majority of panelists.
* Asterisk listed by record indicates season is complete.