Skip navigation




Spotlight on: Mentor Cardinals

Location: Mentor, Ohio

Group: Ohio Division I


By Andre Coles

SportsPower Correspondent


When one thinks of Ohio Division I football powers in recent history, the Mentor Cardinals are usually at the top of everyone’s list.


The Cardinals are only the fourth team in history to have made back-to-back championship appearances, although they dropped both of those contests.


In both of those trips to Canton, the Cardinals faced very tough opponents.  In 2006, the Cardinals defeated Canton McKinley, 18-13, for the right to face undefeated Hilliard Davidson in the title contest.


Head coach Steve Trivisonno led the 13-1 Cardinals into the game with hopes of taking down Davidson, a powerhouse squad at the time. Although the Cardinals put forth their best effort, they fell short in double overtime, 36-35.


The Cardinals used the valuable knowledge and experience gained from the ‘06 season to climb their way back to the Div. I title game the following year.


This time, the Cardinals clawed their way through a brutal stretch in the Division playoffs for the right to face another undefeated state power, this time Saint Xavier.  But the Cardinals were no match for a stellar Bombers squad, and fell, 27-0.


Even though the Cardinals dropped both of these pinnacle contests, the Mentor program appears to be knocking on the door every year under the guidance of Trivisonno, and will likely so do for many more years to come.


Trivisonno is currently in his 11th season as head coach and has established a winning tradition at Mentor. Overall, he has compiled a record of 86-37, which includes the two playoff runs and title game appearances.


But to put in perspective just how special these 86 wins are, consider this.  At the end of the ‘08 season, the Cardinals will not have played one team with a losing record.  This is a tribute to how difficult it is to win in Div. I and also to just how formidable the Cardinal program is becoming.


Trivisonno, who is a former Cardinal himself, also competed at Bowling Green University and has been greatly recognized for his prowess as a head coach with numerous awards.


Trivisonno was named Lake County and Plain Dealer Coach of the Year in ‘98, ‘02 and ‘03. He was also named the Cleveland Browns’ Coach of the Year in ‘02 and ‘06, and the Northeast Ohio Div. I Coach of the Year in ‘02 and ‘03.


In addition to a talented group of student-athletes, it’s easy to see why the Cardinals are always at the doorstep of a championship. Trivisonno keeps his team focused and motivated, as evidenced by his three annual goals: Win the Lake Erie Division title outright (which he has done five times), win more than ten games (which has been done four times) and win a state championship (the last item to check off on the list).


And in ’08, the Cardinals are once again in supreme position to compete for the Div. I championship with a strong showing so far this season.  Although Mentor dropped early season contests to St. Ignatius and Strongsville, two state powers, expect these Cardinals, with Trivisonno at the helm, to be playing deep into the season once again.











Want to see your team spotlighted? E-mail editor Adam C. Warner with your picks at  




Check out these interviews from the 2007 season with Mentor head coach Steve Trivisonno and Mr. Ohio 2007, quarterback Bart Tanski.




564 Views 0 Comments Permalink


Spotlight on: Gilbert Tigers

Hometown: Gilbert Arizona

Group: 5A


By Brett Manney

SportsPower Correspondent


Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, the first moon landing, Woodstock and the Vietnam War were all prevalent when Jesse Parker won his first high school football game as a head coach.


The year was 1969 – an era far different from today, as the Internet, cell phones and DVDs are now the norm.


Meanwhile, the Gilbert head coach now has 309 wins to his resume.


Times certainly have changed.


Parker was 29 when he first coached Phoenix Campbell high school and now, at 68, he is officially the all-time winningest coach in Arizona history, surpassing Karl Kiefer, who last coached at Mountain Point High


For such a big accomplishment, one would figure that Parker is ecstatic about his milestone, but that’s not the case. According to Jason Skoda of the Arizona Republic, Parker said, “It’s hard to think of personal records when you are trying to prepare each week. I’m proud I have been in it this long and still have a connection with the kids.”


Extremely modest from a coach who has won so many games that his milestone is almost an afterthought compared to his game preparation and relationships formed throughout the years.


Indeed, Parker does have a connection that stems from coaching teenagers for 39 years and shows no signs of stopping. Moreover, he has five 5A state championships on his record, in addition to nine state championship game appearances.


Parker emphasizes that his players get the most out of their ability. While he might be critical at times, he still finds a way to win football games. With six wins this year and only two losses to powerhouses Hamilton (6-1, State PR: 77.78, Rank 6) and  Salpointe Catholic (7-1, State PR: 71.45, Rank 8), Parker has produced another winning season with two games remaining, plus the potential for postseason play.


Yet, believe it or not, but there is company at the top for Parker. Tucson Amphitheater’s (4-4, State PR: 55.71, Rank 27) Vern Friedli, 72, has 307 career wins and his remaining three opponents are a combined 7-9. 


It’s possible that there could be two active coaches who pass the career wins mark by the end of the regular season. Friedli, who has been coaching for 46 years, said to Casey Crowe of the Arizona Daily Star of his record, “It would be nice. But that’s not what we predicate everything on. And it never has been.”


This is just another perfect example of a class act putting a monumental milestone behind a simple league game.


The milestone win for Parker finally came to fruition last Friday when the Tigers defeated Fiesta League foe Highland (4-3, State PR: 52.60, Rank 25), 21-0.   


And so while the world around him has changed drastically, Parker’s winning ways have not. When he won his 309th game, Parker handled his business like he won his first game almost 40 years ago.


Of course, minus the congratulatory text messages and digital camera photos capturing a moment well deserved.


Next up: October 31 at Chandler (State PR: 63.62, Rank: 13).



Got any teams you want featured in the next spotlight? E-mail editor Adam C. Warner at



964 Views 0 Comments Permalink




Spotlight: Harrison Hawks

Hometown: Farmington Hills, Michigan

Group: MI Class A Oakland-White League


By Omar Muhammad

SportsPower Correspondent


The Harrison Hawks have been one of the top high school football programs in the state of Michigan since 1970, and it’s easy to see why.


The squad has been led by excellent coaching and leadership ever since the early 70s and continues to receive a steady influx of talent due to its suburban Detroit location. And that same leadership that helped the program along decades ago is still part of the team today.


Since ’70, the Hawks have been led by legendary head coach John Herrington. In his 38 years at the helm, Herrington has composed a brilliant record of 354-82-1, which includes a dozen Michigan High School Football State Championships.


Due largely to his success with Harrison, Herrington was inducted into the Michigan Coaching Hall of Fame in ‘86 for both football and baseball. Herrington not only coached at Harrison, but at North Farmington High as well.


Meawhile, the elite coaching ability and leadership skills exemplified by Herrington is a big reason why the team has had such great success. Herrington coaches to the strengths of his players and has found a unique way to reach his athletes.


Those attributes are clear, as evidenced by the team’s 12 state titles in ‘81, ‘82, ’88-‘89, ‘91, ’93-’94 and ’97-‘01. Harrison’s last championship witnessed one of the greatest offensive displays in team history, as the Hawks put up a team record of 438 points and 3,952 yards of total offense.


In addition to a top-notch coaching staff, Farmington’s location as an upscale suburb just outside of Detroit could also play a factor towards the success of the football team. With a city population of 82,111, and a school enrollment of more than 1,200 students, Harrison has had the ability to develop stellar student-athletes in football and all other sports.


This season, the Hawks have struggled, however, posting a record of 4-5. Three out of the team’s four loses have come against key conference opponents, including Southfield, Rochester Adams and a 20-19 defeat to rival Farmington. The Hawks haven’t had a down season like this since ’04, when they went 4-5 and missed the playoffs.





And while the team hasn’t been back to the pinnacle contest in some time, with Herrington at the helm and a wealth of talent streaming in, the Hawks will likely be competing for another title in the years to come.






Got any teams you want to be spotlighted? E-mail editor Adam C. Warner at 



1,020 Views 0 Comments Permalink

Public vs. Private School Debate

Posted by adam_sp Oct 27, 2008

By Ryan Rohde

SportsPower Correspondent


Saint Joseph’s Prep -- a longtime Philadelphia-area high school football powerhouse -- typically sees its season end with a Philadelphia Catholic league championship or a stout record of 10-0 or 9-1.


This season, however, there is even more to strive for than just a league title. The Philadelphia Catholic league has chosen to participate in the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association in 2008 with an opportunity for all of its teams to win a state championship.


This was a dream never even possible before the season.


So now that St. Joseph's can compete in the same postseason as the rest of its PIAA counterparts, especially with a roster that boasts a number of kids from southern New Jersey and from the surrounding Philadelphia area -- a priviledge that public school teams do not have --  it raises the question: Do private school football teams have an advantage over the public school teams that they compete against?


The question over whether public school and private schools should play in the same leagues or playoff classes intensifies with each passing year. The topic has been controversial and often times sparks emotion in parents, fans and administrators.


Each state association has different rules and regulations on the matter. For instance in some states, like California and Florida, it's considered normal to have private schools playing along side public schools during the regular season and postseason.


But there are also states like Mississippi and Alabama where most private schools play in a separate league not associated with the state.


But perhaps the bulk of the controversy stems from the ability of private schools to “recruit." Private schools, unlike public schools, are not regulated by school districts to designate where its students and athletes come from. Many coaches, players, and fans claim this gives the private schools an unfair advantage.


“Most public schools have a down year or two within a twenty year period," said Steven Hoard, head coach of the Bradford Tornadoes (Fla.) in an October 13th blog. "The advantages of a controlled enrollment, the ability to recruit players from other school zones through out the state, out of state recruitment, international recruitment and unlimited resources give many private schools a uneven advantage that is within the current rules of the FHSAA.”


Coach Hoard echoes many sentiments heard throughout many high school athletics communities. He agrees that the talent pool from which these private schools have to select from is much greater than that of a public school. This, in turn, leaves an uneven playing field and gives private schools a better chance of restocking talent for the following years. Over time, the players from this pool tend to gravitate towards the better football programs.


And recruiting problems are not just limited to football or private schools, there is also a recruiting issue in public schools as well.


The case of Martin Babovic, a foreign exchange student from Serbia, caused a major stir in the California Interscholastic Federation- Southern Section league very recently.



Babovic was a standout player on the Corona del Mar water polo team. CIF-SS officials deemed Babovic ineligible because of pre-enrollment contact. The contact took place between the host family and Babovic before he was enrolled in the foreign-exchange program through e-mails and phone calls. Officials saw this action as an “undue influence,” which broke CIR-SS regulations and ruled Babovic ineligible.


Some states have even taken measures to separate public and private schools. In Mississippi, for instance, private and public schools play under different state associations, and until the '07 season, were not allowed to even schedule or play one another. The only controversy at the end of the season was over who was the better team, the public champ or the private champ.


In order to find the facts, a study was done by the Ohio High School Athletic Association on public and private high school football teams. In Ohio, most of the private and public school teams play for the same state title.





The study showed that in '07, out of the 640 public school teams, 162 (25.3%) made the playoffs, 133-145 was the playoff record (47.8%) with only 17 (10.5%) schools that made it past round three of the playoffs. Meanwhile with private schools, out of 76 total schools, 30 (39.5%) reached the playoffs, 35-23 (60.3%) was the overall playoff record, and seven (23.5%) programs made it beyond round three.


The numbers indicate that there is a discernable difference in the success of the public and private school programs, but some state associations haven taken steps to reduce the potential for league or state dominance by a single school.


In one case, Concord De LaSalle, out of California, was kicked out of its league and forced to play a freelance schedule because the football team was too dominant. The CIF-SS had implemented rules for determining a team to be “too good." For example, the team had to make the CIF-SS five years consecutively, post a dominant win-loss record against league schools and have a vast majority of its wins be by an excessive margin during that five-year span.


But even with rules like these implemented, the debate over whether a team must leave a league will still be controversial.


The question of private vs. public will likely be talked about through the history of high school athletics. The fact remains that there is no right or wrong way to answer these questions. It seems like the only solution for coaches and players is to keep playing.





After all, high school football is more than just state titles and wins.











If you have any ideas for an upcoming spotlight story, e-mail editor Adam C. Warner at







1,429 Views 0 Comments Permalink



Spotlight on: Valhalla Norsemen

Hometown: El Cajon, Ca.

Group: San Diego Section


By Jimmy Oliver

SportsPower Correspondent


Norsemen were true warriors of the 9th and 10th centuries, capable of conquering regions of the globe through their vast naval armory. 


Meanwhile, the Valhalla Norsemen (State PR: 81.25, Rank: 7), though not trying to conquer via warfare, are certainly looking to take over the San Diego section of California high school football.


Coming into this weekend, Valhalla sits comfortably at 6-1 overall after starting the season a perfect 5-0 before falling to a tough Helix team, 28-14. On the heels of that defeat, the Norsemen crushed Monte Vista, 31-7. By the looks of it, this is a team determined to find its winning ways again, and by the looks of it, may very well do so through the end of the campaign. 


The Norsemen are loaded with talent and football prowess and are equipped with the ability to dominate the field the rest of the way. The combined record for the squad’s remaining opponents currently stands at 10-12.


Leading the way through a stretch run that could very well see Valhalla at 9-1 when all said and done is junior quarterback Peter Thomas.  Thomas has thrown for nearly 1,600 yards this season while hitting receivers for a whopping 19 touchdowns.  And perhaps even more impressive is the fact that he has only two interceptions in 168 attempts so far this season. 


While dominant through the air, the Norsemen also find success on the ground. Junior running back Traivonne Brown has amassed 437 yards and four touchdowns to date, averaging a stellar seven yards per attempt. Brown’s success, merged with a dynamic passing attack, has made the play calling a rather easy task for coach Steve Sutton. It’s apparent that this diverse, speedy and athletic offense has caused opposing defenses to simply guess at what’s coming next.


Defensively, the Norsemen have been conquering opponents in a variety of ways. Valhalla’s unit is assembled of playmakers, as evidenced by the team’s 12 total sacks and eight interceptions. Defensive lineman Shane Pennix has been a standout for his squad, leading the way with five sacks and 27 tackles altogether.


Sutton knows that while “a great offense puts people in the seats, a great defense wins championships.” 


Just as the Norsemen of centuries ago, the Valhalla Norsemen are rolling through the San Diego section with a mission of dominating all foes that stand in their way.  And so far, Sutton’s team appears to have the tools and the players to be the team standing on top by season’s end.




Next up: 10/31 vs. Steele Canyon (State PR: 68.01, Rank: 20). 







If you have any suggestions for upcoming spotlight teams, send an e-mail to editor Adam Warner at







779 Views 0 Comments Permalink

Spotlight on: Texas High vs. Arkansas High Rivalry

Hometown: Texarkana, Texas

Group: TX Class 4A & AR 6A


By Omar Muhammad

SportsPower Correspondent


The Texas High vs. Arkansas High rivalry is not your average high school football clash.


Basic rivalries often feature longtime rivals that have bitter dislike for one another, usually because they are in the same conference, a close proximity, or have played each other quite frequently.


And while these two schools certainly have a feud, Texas vs. Arkansas is not your typical rivalry – it’s a little more complex than that.


Not only are the two schools just six miles away from each other in different states, but also they share the same city – Texarkana – which sits on the border of Texas and Arkansas.


Talk about unique.


Ever since 1912, these two border teams have been clashing helmets to find out who is really the No. 1 team in Texarkana. And to make it even more interesting, the victor each year goes home with the coveted Battleaxe rivalry trophy.


Arkansas has been fighting hard to take back the trophy but hasn’t been successful for much of the past decade. Texas has won the rivalry game each year since ’01.


Meanwhile, there are countless traditions and fan contributions that make this one of America’s top rivalries.


Every year, fanatics from both Texas and Arkansas come together to pump up this big game. For example, Texas boasts a peculiar pregame ritual where fans conduct a bacon fry with the team. You heard it right, Texas supporters will fry bacon to symbolize how they plan to “fry the hogs” in the game later in the day.  


Arkansas also has a similar pregame breakfast, but the Hogs serve “Tiger Tails” (also known as an orange donuts twist) and Orange Crush soda.


Both schools also share a common thread for elite football talent. Currently, Texas High features junior quarterback Nathan Sorenson (who threw for 1,638 yards and 13 scores as a sophomore). In the backfield, the squad boasts a 1,000-yard rusher in Leroy Jones and major Div. I wide receiver recruit Cibi Hamilton.


While Arkansas has been struggling this year because of a lineup filled with young players, the squad is a two-time defending Class 6A Arkansas state champion and featured six All-State players last year.


In this season’s battle for the Battleaxe, Texas, now averaging over 40 points per game, defeated the Hogs with ease, 49-24, on the “road.”


While Texas has dominated the matchup in recent years, both communities know very well that this matchup is more than just a final box score. It’s about the pride and traditions of a city and two high schools that will likely be honored for years to come.





Look for Omar’s High School Spotlight’s each week right here at If you have any schools that would make a great spotlight feature, send your school and a brief description to editor Adam C. Warner at

1,599 Views 0 Comments Permalink

Spotlight on: Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears

Location: Juneau, Alaska

Group: Rainbelt


By Brett Manney

SportsPower Correspondent


Typically when fall is in full swing, it signifies that hotly contested conference games are the norm in high school football.


But for Alaska high school football, the fall equates to temperatures in the 30s, snow on the ground and state playoffs.


This is a vast difference from the 48 continental states now, where a slight temperature change and abundant leaves on the ground are apparent and conference rivalry games are in full swing.


Meanwhile, Alaska starts their season the first week in August and ends this week because of the weather extremities.  


On Oct. 18, the Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears (6-4 overall, State PR: 71.81, Rank: 4) sought their second-straight 4A large school state championship against the Service Cougars (7-3 overall, State PR: 80.97, Rank; 3).


As the early season favorites to repeat as class 4A state champions, the Crimson Bears have endured many hardships to get back to the state championship game.


Said head coach Bill Chalmers; “There was a moment in time when we questioned if we would make it this far.”


The Bears started their season with limited activity from their best player Alex Fagerstrom. The team’s tough luck continued with starting running back Silver Ma’ala, who moved away in the middle of the season and forced Fagerstrom to move to the running back position. Soon after, the season continued sliding downhill for Juneau-Douglas as the squad lost four-straight games from August 23 to September 9.


“The four-game losing streak shocked people, said Kevin Klott, preps writer for the Anchorage Daily News. “I can’t remember the last time they had one -- if they ever did.”


In that time span, the Bears lost to Blackfoot from Idaho (6-1 overall, State PR: 72.92, Rank: 4), conference foes Palmer (5-4 overall, State PR: 64.01, Rank: 7) and North Pole, (9-1 overall, State PR: 90.44, Rank: 1) in addition to Oregon power Lake Oswego (6-0 overall, State PR: 95.08, Rank: 1).


But the Bears never lost their competitive spirit thanks in part to assistant coaches Rich Sjoroos and Ed Briggs. Chalmers believes that both were very competitive and upbeat during the tough stretch and made a significant impact on the team. In addition, Chalmers praised the team’s captains, which includes junior LB Jack Perkins.


Said Chalmers, “They are exceptional young men.”


After losing to North Pole 25-0, the Bears then went on a four-game winning streak, which included a thriller in the state semifinal.


Led by Fagerstrom, AKA “Mr. Everything,” the Bears scratched back to defeat Juneau South 28-27. Fagerstrom, the two-time Railbelt Conference Player of the Year, had nine receptions for 180 yards after being unsuccessful from the tailback position early in the game. Two weeks ago in a quarterfinal game, Fagerstrom had five touchdowns, most definitely living up to his player of the year billing.


And certainly last weekend’s game against Service proved to be a frozen tundra battle. Led by highly touted QB Kevin Reilly of Service and a dominant performance by the team’s wide receivers, the Cougars captured the Large School Football State Championship, 22-14, and signaled the end of a hard-fought campaign by Juneau-Douglas.


But despite the tough ending for the Bears, the squad finished further than they ever expected in a season of the unexpected. And while the rest of the country prepares for their final playoff pushes this fall, they can all look up to the Bears and remember that no matter what happened in the past, the future is yours for the taking.








Check for Brett’s High School Spotlights each week right here at If you know of a great school to feature for our next High School Spotlight, tell us why and send an e-mail to editor Adam C. Warner at




622 Views 0 Comments Permalink


Spotlight on: Staples Wreckers

Location: Westport, Connecticut

Group: LL


By Andre Coles

SportsPower Correspondent


The 2008 football season will represent a transformation for the Staples Wreckers in more ways than one.


In addition to moving up to a tougher division this year, Staples debuted new and improved uniforms earlier this season.


Said head coach Marce Petroccio; “I felt it was time for a fresh start, not a change to the Staples look, but a modification to the class we’ve always represented.”


The Wreckers’ new uniforms were designed by One World USA, which has also designed uniforms for many NFL teams.


Meanwhile, along with the team’s wardrobe change, the Wreckers have also moved up to a new division in order to play tougher and more competitive opponents. Previously, Staples competed in Class L, whereas today, the squad will represent Class LL.


But have no fear Staples fans, the Wreckers are looking forward to the competition and a new schedule that the move brings.


“We’ve had a lot of success in Class L by beating many Class LL teams,” Petroccio said. “For us moving up to Class LL offers a great opportunity and challenge.  The No. 1 team in the state is usually in Class LL. But to be the best, you have to beat the best.”


And with Petroccio at the helm, the Wreckers have arguably been one of the best teams in Connecticut.


Entering his 16th season as the head coach of Staples, Coach “P” -- as he is known to most in the community -- has compiled an overall record of 131-44 to date. The long-tenured coach has also led Staples to five championship appearances in the last six years, while bringing three of those titles back to his home team.


The Wreckers were crowned state champions in ‘02, ‘04 and ‘05 under the tutelage of Petroccio.


The efforts and success of Petroccio have not gone unrecognized by his peers. The Connecticut High School Coaches Association has named him coach of the year numerous times, most recently in ‘07. The New York Giants also honored Petroccio in ‘04 as the Lou Rettino High School Football Coach of the Year for his service and dedication.


Petroccio, who has not had a single losing season since his first as head coach, plays a key role in mentoring and helping his players in life.


Since ‘97, the Staples football program has sent over 50 players to compete at the collegiate level.


And keeping up the tradition of Wrecker past, this year’s squad is off to a 4-1 start with its only loss coming at the hands of Ridgefield on Oct. 3rd.  But the Wreckers bounced back the following week with a 21-14 win over Danbury.


The ‘08 season is still fairly young for the Wreckers, and have six games left to show off their new uniforms, all while following Petroccio’s lead towards making their mark in Class LL.


Next Up: 10/25/2008 vs. New Canaan (6-1, State PR: 91.00, Class Rank: 1).









Check for Andre's High School Spotlights each week here at



647 Views 0 Comments Permalink

Spotlight on: Jackson Prep Patriots

Hometown: Jackson, Mississippi



By Ryan Rohde

SportsPower Correspondent


On September 7, 2007, Ricky Black and his entire Jackson Prep football team knew that their 24-0 victory over Newton County wasn’t just another win.


It was historic.


Up until last season, the Mississippi Private School Association and the Mississippi High School Athletic Association did not permit teams to play against each other due to long-standing rules.


But, after years of tradition, the MHSAA finally approved the scheduling of MPSA teams.


Then on that Friday night last September, Newton County and Jackson Prep opened a new chapter in the Mississippi high school football history books.


It didn’t matter which team won the game, although Jackson Prep’s shutout certainly opened some eyes to the quality of play in the MPSA. Rather, it just mattered that they played.


And as many schools in the rival athletic association have noticed quite quickly, Jackson Prep happens to be an elite football team.


Located just off I-55, Jackson is the largest private school in the state, housing more than 500 students in the high school.


Athletic championships have been a staple of the Patriots athletic program, and not just for football.


The swim team has won 34-straight state championships, girls’ soccer has 10 state titles of their own, and just last year alone, softball, golf, boys’ and girls’ tennis, and the baseball team all captured state titles.


The football team has carried their weight, too. Since 1970, the football team has won 11 MPSA state titles, including the past two seasons. But there was still something missing from the record books of the Patriots and all other MPSA schools -- a win over an MHSAA team.


Jackson Prep rode the momentum of that historic win all the way to an undefeated season and the team’s second-straight MPSA title over archrival Jackson Academy. The rivalry has grown with each passing season and will likely only become stronger after the 17-10 overtime thriller in the championship game.


“I cannot imagine a football season without Jackson Prep on our schedule; I absolutely cannot,” said Peter Jernberg, president of Jackson Academy, in a recent feature article. “There would be a void in life and a void in our school year.”


It is evident that this rivalry will never fade, and perhaps it shouldn’t, as the chance for Jackson and similar schools to play against the MHSAA schools offers an opportunity for newer rivalries to evolve.


This season, Newton County exacted revenge on the Patriots with a 31-26 win.


Meanwhile, Jackson Prep is already off to a great start in ‘08. The Patriots are 8-1 overall and ranked No. 1 in the MPSA polls.


But while the MPSA and MHSAA games are still few are far between, one can only hope that the recent changes will stay alive and give life to new rivalries in the generations to come.









Check for Ryan's High School Spotlight each week at

1,369 Views 0 Comments Permalink

Spotlight on: Farragut Admirals

Hometown: Knoxville, Tennessee

Group: Class 5A


By Jimmy Oliver

SportsPower Correspondent


A first glance at Reese Browning and the Farragut Admirals and one might mistake the squad for the Dallas Cowboys.


The comparisons start with the blue star on the silver helmet and similar color patterns, but due to the team’s elite skill level this season, the Admirals have made fans double take nearly every Friday night, and often fueling questions over whether Farragut truly is “America’s Team” in disguise. 


Meanwhile, Browning has done his best Tony Romo impersonation this season in leading the way for the Admirals.  The junior quarterback has lifted his squad to a 7-0 overall record so far this season thanks to his strong, accurate passing ability and elite game management skills. In seven starts, he has thrown for a total of 1,627 yards while tossing 17 touchdowns; quite impressive for a junior signal-caller.


But while the ball flies long and high for the Admirals, it just might be the stable of game-changing running backs that ignites this squad. Junior D’Andre Purdy is the leader of the group and has already rushed for 749 yards this season with nine touchdowns.  Likewise, Chris Bass, Trevoris Bogan and Monte Hudson, among others, have seen frequent action and have made major contributions.  


And with four different running backs that can go the distance on any given down, as well as a capable tight end in Derek Harper, it’s no secret that Farragut’s offense is humming. Through seven games so far, the Admirals have averaged 39 points per contest, while holding opponents to just 11.4 total – good for a difference of nearly four touchdowns every game. 


Defensively, the Admirals are putting up impressive numbers to date. With a lofty 12 interceptions and six fumble recoveries, it’s apparent that this squad is made up of ball hawks. Seniors Jonathan Moskal and Bogan lead the way with three picks apiece. 


While the Admirals have been outstanding in all phases of the game thus far, the team’s next two games pose as major hurdles. Rival schools Ooltewah and Soddy Daisy still loom, and both have lost just once to date.


But with Farragut’s chameleon-like style of offense and nose for the ball on defense, the squad should look to enter as favorites in both of those games. 


It’s apparent so far -- just like the big boys down in “Big D,” -- that Farragut’s star is shining bright and will likely do so for the rest of the season.


Next: October 17, 2008 at Ooltewah (5-1 overall, State PR: 82.37, Rank: 9).

863 Views 0 Comments Permalink

Spotlight on: Smith Center

Hometown: Smith Center, KS

Group: 2-1A



By Jimmy Oliver

SportsPower Correspondent


It’s hard to believe that a school so small could produce such a constant, dominant force.


Set in a tiny town with just one stoplight, Smith Center is an institution with an enrollment of roughly 150 students (and just 116 between the 10th and 12th grades). There are 57 boys on the football roster this season -- which makes Smith Center’s (State PR: 82.44, Rank: 1) story all the more impressive. 


Not only is there a limited pool to form a team from, but head coach Roger Barta is doing more with less, and it’s paying giant dividends.


So far in 2008, the Redmen have outscored opponents 203 to 57 in just five games, including a shutout of Ellis this past weekend by a 40-0 margin.


Pretty astounding, indeed, but this is nothing different than what Smith Center has been posting – and raising eyebrows with -- for decades.


Just last season, the Redmen tallied 72 points in the first quarter against Plainville en route to a national record for the most points in a single period. Even more astonishing, Smith Center allowed just 20 points all season in 13 games while producing 844 on the scoreboard en route to a state title.


Meanwhile, the program owns seven state championships, starting in ’82 and then following up in ’86, ’99, ’04, ’05, ’06, and ’07.


And the team is not just about winning games and championships, either. Barta sees the program as a tool to help his players further down the road in life. 


“I don’t know if winning or losing is what our program is about,” said Barta in a recent interview during his squad's impressive '07 title run. “Maybe something we did will help them (the players) five, 10, 20 years from now and help them be successful in life.”


And this is where the philosophy of the program comes into play, as well. The high school athletes are taught that Smith Center is “Where tradition starts” and “Where tradition never graduates.” Indeed, it's important to strive for as many victories as you can, but it's the intangibles learned along the way that make the biggest difference in one's life.


Last week, the Redmen played a then 4-1 Colby team that came in very capable of putting up points. The Eagles had been averaging 23 points per game while holding opponents to just over 10 per outing. At the time, it appeared that this midseason matchup could have shaped up to be one of the biggest challenges of the regular season for Smith Center, but the Redmen made quick work of their counterparts en route to a 40-0 romp.


Up Next: October 17 at Washington (State PR: 38.38, Rank: 33).

1,209 Views 0 Comments Permalink


Spotlight On: Bessemer Academy

Hometown: Bessemer, Alabama



By Ryan Rohde

SportsPower Correspondent


After opening its doors in 1970, Bessemer Academy was just one of the many new private schools across Alabama designed for white students who wanted to segregate from black students.


After all, the town of Bessemer hails just 10 miles southwest of Birmingham, where racism was ever-present during that period.


Fast-forward almost thirty years to 1997 and the town of Bessemer had changed. The steel industry was gone, the formerly majority caucasian town was now 70 percent black, and Bessemer Academy was struggling to keep its head above water.


With more and more whites leaving Bessemer, and enrollment plummeting at the school, academy officials needed to make a change in order for the school to get back in good standing with the community.



Ultimately, they decided the best way to make a difference was to build a football powerhouse.


“A great debate team is not going to bring in students. But a great football team will," said Ben Allison, a former member of Bessemer's board of directors, in a 2005 New Orleans Times-Picayune article by Josh Peter.    


The plan the school followed was simple. First, the initial step in building a formidable, respectable program was to hire a new coach.


Bessemer was not known for its football prowess, so there weren’t any established coach knocking on the door. Soon, however, the school decided to hire Mark Freeman, a car salesman and local Pee-Wee football coach.


Next, Freeman and the school understood that in order to build a quality team, they would need the best athletes, black or white. And this was going to be no easy task at a school with an openly racist past and inclusion in the Alabama Independent School Association, a league formed for teams that wouldn’t play against teams with black players. 


Meanwhile, Freeman’s first year at Bessemer resulted in a 4-7 campaign, while the second season showed marked improvement by going 6-4. Clearly, the team was improving, but there was still something missing.


Then, LaRon Yow enrolled at Bessemer during the ’00-‘01 school year. His mother sent him to Bessemer because she was worried about the learning environment at Jess Lanier, the town’s only public high school.


Yow was the team’s only black player that season. He started out playing receiver, but Freeman moved him to defensive line and watched the talented athlete finish his senior year with 19 sacks.


Additionally, Freeman also raised eyebrows when he hired a black assistant coach without the school board’s approval. Roderick Foster was a standout player at Alabama-Birmingham and the school’s first black employee outside of the maintenance or janitorial staff.


In the Times-Picayune article by Peter, Foster said he took the job to “open the doors to the community of Bessemer and to whoever thought it was a white school.”


Other black players followed in Yow’s footsteps. By 2001, the Rebels went 9-2 and made reached the AISA state championship before falling to Monroe Academy. The following season, Bessemer went undefeated while winning the school’s first championship.


Today, Bessemer’s enrollment today stands at almost 500 students, 43 of them being black and 12 of them members of the football team. After clearing that hurdle in ’02, the Rebels also won state championships in ‘04, ‘06 and ‘07.


And so while Freeman no longer coaches at Bessemer, the former head coach was certainly a vital part of the school’s success and has clearly left his mark on Alabama high school football history.


Indeed, Bessemer succeeded where other Alabama private schools did not over the years. 


They learned acceptance and inclusion, and it has made all the difference in the world.


Next up: October 10 vs. Morgan Academy (State PR: 55.39, Rank: 37).




1,250 Views 0 Comments Permalink

Spotlight on: Saint John Bosco

Hometown: Bellflower, California

Group: California Southern Section




By Brett Manney

SportsPower Correspondent


The school motto at Saint John Bosco comes from the Latin phrase, “Ad Deum Qui Laetificat Juventutem Meam," which stands for, “To God, who gives joy to my youth.”


The Saint John Bosco (5-0 overall, State PR: 95.35, Rank: 5) football team has plenty to be joyful about so far in the 2008 season after a disappointing ’07 campaign in which they finished with a 3-6 record. Already this season, the Braves have eclipsed those three wins en route to a perfect campaign so far.


For a squad that plays in one of the toughest football conferences in the country (California Southern Section), the Braves have not advanced to the Southern Section playoffs since ‘04, when they fell to[ Long Beach Poly|] in the Div. 1 second round.


Head coach Kiki Mendoza’s team is on a mission to avenge last season’s losing record, and so far, his squad is heading down the right path.


And there has been plenty of joy so far on a Braves team that's laden with veterans. The senior-heavy Braves are led by star quarterback Keith Price and wide receiver Will Shamburger.


Price, a three-sport star and dynamic signal-caller, is a University of Washington recruit while his favorite target, Shamburger, is a Boise State recruit. The duo provides John Bosco a dynamic one-two punch and has given defenses headaches all season.


Meanwhile, the Braves are ranked fifth in FootballPower’s California state rankings by putting up huge wins. Bosco has scored 202 points through five games and has allowed only 58 points. For a team which such dominating victories, it finally appears – along with their unblemished record -- that the squad is gaining respect in ‘08.


Says Frank Bullison of the Long Beach Press Telegram, “They dominated two pretty good teams (Loyola and St. Paul) the past couple of Friday nights, and were more impressive on the nights I watched them play - against Cabrillo and St. Paul - than were Mater Dei (vs. Carson) and Los Alamitos (against Mayfair) when I saw those teams play up close.”


The next matchup for the Braves comes not until October 17th in their league opener at home against Santa Margarita Catholic (2-3, State PR: 56.41, Rank: 143).


The best has yet to come for Bosco as they anxiously await the arrival of dynamic running back Alex Fletcher. The Lakewood transfer could play very soon if he meets the necessary academic requirements.


As told to the Los Angeles Times by Mendoza, “He’s as good as any football player we have.”


Indeed, adding Fletcher to an already explosive offense should continue the Braves’ dominance in 2008.


And for a team that has suffered misery in the recent past, it’s apparent that they been resurrected with youthful joy.


Next up: October 17 vs. Santa Margarita Catholic.

1,232 Views 0 Comments Permalink

Spotlight on: Gateway Gators

Hometown: Monroeville, Pennsylvania

Group: PA AAAA




By Andre Coles

SportsPower Correspondent


The Gateway Gators refuse to settle for anything less than a state championship in 2008. After coming within one point of the title game last season, this year’s squad is poised to finish the task.


The Gators continue to use last year’s second place finish against state champ Pittsburgh Central Catholic as motivation in every game this campaign.


Meanwhile, in a recent interview with Michael Love of, head coach Terry Smith echoed those sentiments and explained his team’s passion for a championship this season.


“The kids are focused on it right now. This is an experienced group who is working hard. Having that bad taste in their mouth makes them work even harder.”


As a result, the ‘08 squad has been leaving a bad taste in the mouths of every opponent so far this season. The Gators are already off to a 6-0 start and have outscored opponents 278-38.


The Gators' success this season has been no fluke either, as the squad has a more than capable leader in Smith, along with a talented cast of players that carry out his philosophies and passion on the field.


Smith, who is a former Gator and Penn State University receiver himself, has never endured a losing season at Gateway. Overall, in his seven years at the helm, Smith is 59-18.


And leading with his experience as a coach and a player, Smith feels like this season’s squad might be his best in some time.


In an interview with Dave Mackall of the Tribune-Review, Smith said, “Potentially, this is the best team. There’s a lot of talent and a lot of valuable experience here. And we work hard.”


Smith’s message is certainly saying a lot for a program that has sent over 45 student-athletes to compete collegiately since he took over in ‘02, including this year’s group of impressive seniors of which four have already made Div. I commitments.


Big name seniors Dorian Bell and Corey Brown have already committed to Ohio State University, while Colin Rodkey and B.J. Stevens have chosen Indiana University and Miami of Ohio, respectively.


These players provide the experience and leadership Smith speaks of. 


“The returning starters are leading by example and leading verbally. They’re doing everything we’ve asked of them.”


With that being said, as the second-ranked team in Pennsylvania according to FootballPower’s most recent poll, the Gators will face their toughest challenge of the season this upcoming week. 


For the first time in its history, Gateway will face a formidable Trojans squad of Erie McDowell High (State PR: 69.90, Rank: 37).


As long as the Gators continue to use last year’s loss in the WPIAL championship as motivation, while continuing to follow Smith’s lead and ride their experienced and big name seniors, this squad should be wearing medals around their necks when the season comes to a close.


Next up: October 10 at Erie McDowell.








Check out the Gateway Gators own team Website here!



1,296 Views 0 Comments Permalink

Spotlight on: William Floyd Colonials

Hometown: Mastic Beach, New York

Group: Section 11, Division






By Jimmy Oliver Correspondent


Like the Atlantic Ocean waves that continually batter the nearby shores of Mastic Beach, N.Y., William Floyd (State PR: 75.38, Rank: 15) has been pounding opponents into the turf time and time again.


Just in the past decade alone, the Colonials have quickly proven themselves to be one of the top teams on Long Island – and perhaps the state – and the proof is there for all to see. 


Since 2004, the Colonials have produced a whopping 44-1 overall record, which includes three consecutive Long Island Championships. The mark is one of the most impressive stretches by any football team in Long Island history.


Currently, William Floyd is in the midst of a 34-game winning streak, 38-straight home victories and 41 consecutive Suffolk Div. I regular season wins.


The streaks truly are unprecedented in Long Island high school football history.


And it’s apparent that the Colonials are already a dynasty still looking to change the record books. And so far this season, Floyd has shown no signs of a regime change.


Thus far in ‘08, the squad is off to a 3-0 start after giant wins over Lindenhurst, Longwood and Sachem East -- by a combined score of 80-34.


Meanwhile, the reigning champions are keeping the streak alive this season thanks to a multi-faceted attack. The Colonials are winning games both in the air and on the ground, despite a relatively inexperienced core due to heavy losses from graduation and injuries.


Steven Murphy leads the way as a first-year starter at quarterback and is proving to be capable of leading the team into the endzone.  Helping to unload the burden on Murphy is highly touted running back Vaughn Magee. The senior has been dynamic early on and has put up consistent, superior play, including a 100-yard performance last week against Sachem East and a 100-yard second half effort versus Longwood.


And while the ’08 version of the Colonials may not be as dominating as the ’07 squad (which produced an average margin of victory of 35 points per game), the team is still finding a way to earn victories, even in a tough and balanced division. 


It’s also evident that head coach Paul Longo is not afraid to go with what works and play to the strengths of his players. 


The Colonials are currently one of many teams that have instilled the spread offense, and have done so to great success. But Floyd and company have shown the ability to adapt when adversity strikes.


During the squad’s recent 24-15 win over Longwood, many of the team’s passes were contained early and not gaining much offensively. So, instead, the squad implemented a power running game and quickly rattled off 154 yards on the ground in the second half en route to the win.


Meanwhile, the Colonials were up to their old tricks this past weekend against Sachem East, as the squad put up 42 points in convincing fashion, with 20 of those points coming in the second quarter to put the game out of reach. Magee accounted for three touchdowns in the game to help the Colonials clinch their 34th victory in a row.


And so while this may be a different Colonial team compared to the last three undefeated squads, one thing remains certain. The Colonials continue to put up wins, add to their unprecedented total and then plan on being part of the Long Island championship game for the fourth time in four years.


Next up: Friday, October 3 at Patchogue-Medford (State PR: 49.00, Rank: 62).





1,963 Views 0 Comments Permalink

Spotlight on: Summerville Green Wave

Hometown: Summerville, South Carolina

Group: SC Class 4A





By Ryan Rohde

FootballPower Correspondent




His name is legendary around the Palmetto state. South Carolina named a day after him in 1977 and Harry Truman was even president when he began his current profession.


One might wonder who might warrant such an impressive resume: perhaps a politician, an actor or humanitarian? Actually, it's Summerville (State PR: 65.88, Rank: 21) head football coach John McKissick.


558 wins, 10 state titles, and 30 regional championships later, McKissick still patrols the sidelines for the Summerville Green Wave. Now embarking in his 57th season at Summerville, McKissick is the winningest football coach at any level.


McKissick’s coaching career actually commenced in Clarkton, North Carolina, where he was hired as the head football coach not knowing it was a 6-man program. In reality, he knew very little about 6-man football, so he read a book about it and soon lead his team to a 7-2 record – all while coaching the boys and girls basketball teams and the baseball squad.


Understandably, he only stayed at Clarkton for one year.


Then in the summer of 1952, McKissick applied for head coaching position at Summerville. The job was open after the Green Wave won two state titles and the previous coach moved up to the college ranks. McKissick won the job over some highly qualified coaching candidates and clearly, the decision paid off, and not just on the football field.


The 82-year-old is known as a father and even grandfather figure around the South Carolina city of around 30,000.


"I think the most important element of coaching is teaching the kids how to be successful; that it takes hard work; that it takes perseverance; to keep trying,” said McKissick in a recent article by Alan Ross of “In football, you get knocked down a lot; in life, you get knocked down, but you’ve got to get back up."


The Summerville athletic program has honored the long-time coach by naming a college scholarship after him. This scholarship is awarded to the football player who does not receive an athletic scholarship, but exemplifies what John McKissick preaches in the classroom and on the field.


Meanwhile, more than 3,000 players have heard his message during his 56 years of coaching.


"John McKissick is a life-lesson coach," said Billy G. Baker, who has known the Summerville coach for 35 years and is the co-author of two books with McKissick, Called to Coach and Called to Coach II.


What may be even more amazing than his records or accomplishments is that all 3,000 plus athletes that came out for the Green Wave earned a jersey. The living legend has never cut a player that has come out for the team in all of his years of coaching.


And he has kept that mentality since day one.


Perhaps the reason the athletes keep coming out is that he keeps the game as easy as possible.


“The game is so simple - all it is tackling, running and blocking,” said McKissick in a recent article by David Krider.


And that is exactly what McKissick does these days; he keeps everything simple.


After the Friday night games, he and his wife head straight to their beach house for the weekend, travel back home on Sunday and then starts preparing for the next week’s game. That is the legend’s routine.


If you ask any regional experts or coaches, they too would say that his routine works just fine.


Next up: October 3, 2008 vs. West Ashley (State PR: 53.02, Rank: 30). 





1,021 Views 0 Comments Permalink

Spotlight on: John Curtis Patriots

Hometown: River Ridge, Louisiana

Group: LA Class 2A



By Omar Muhammad

FootballPower Correspondent



There are thousands of high school football programs across the nation that likely dream about having one legendary coach during their tenure.


But for the John Curtis Patriots, they’ve actually had two, and believe it or not, they’re father and son. 


John T. Curtis, Sr. started his own dream in 1962 when he erected John Curtis Christian School from the ground floor in tiny River Ridge, Louisiana. 


With five children and a loving and devoted wife, he soon became the “father” of many students that walked through his doors of his school.  After Curtis Sr. stepped down as head coach of the Patriots in 1969, his oldest son John T. Curtis II took the reins and kept the winning tradition alive and moving forward. 


Since he commenced coaching several decades ago, Curtis II has earned extraordinary honors by winning 424 games. He trails only Summerville (S.C.) head coach John McKissick, who has tallied 529 victories in his brilliant football career.


Perhaps even more amazing is that Curtis has accumulated those numbers with just a student body total of 305.


Meanwhile, the achievements attained have been nothing short of incredible. Curtis has won nearly 90 percent of his games, coached 21 state championship teams, sent 160 players to college on scholarships and 11 have entered into professional football.  


Today, Patriots football is still a family affair.


Curtis’ brother Leon is currently the defensive coordinator has been a key assistant since 1971. The staff also includes two of John’s sons (John III and Jeff) and three of Leon’s sons (Steve, Preston and Matt).


The only non-relative is Mike Robertson, who has been offensive coordinator since 1976.


Altogether, the Curtis family coaching timeline has extended over 40 years, and looks to extend into the fourth generation with John III’s six-year-old son John T. Curtis IV.


During the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, as Curtis’ coaching career began to take off along with his state and national powerhouse, many parents in the region even started sending their children to play for Curtis due to his resume and his terrific rapport with his athletes.


Now, Curtis is just the second coach in high school football history to reach over 400 wins.


But not only has Curtis been a tremendous coach and teacher, but in some cases, a one-of-a-kind mentor off the field. 


Recently, Curtis came to the aid of one of his players Joe McKnight and his entire family when Hurricane Katrina forced him along with his mother and his brother from their home.


Curtis invited McKnight and his family – in addition to two other displaced players in Darryl Brister and Jonathan English -- to live with him and his wife. 


And in the Curtis household, everyone carried responsibilities.  As reported in the 2006 November issue of Sports Illustrated, Curtis gave the players chores, including garbage duty, dishwashing and laundry.


"It's been an adjustment for the guys," Curtis said. "They don't want to make it look like they're the teacher's pet."  McKnight, who has a nonexistent relationship with his father, said Curtis "put me in a stable household; he's made a really big difference in my life." 


Since the program’s inception, it’s clear that the main ingredient towards success is that family comes first.


There is no doubt that without a family affair being present at John Curtis, this storied program would look vastly different than it does today.


Next Up: Saturday, October 4 against North Miami Beach (State PR: 68.82, Rank: 25).




1,142 Views 0 Comments Permalink


Spotlight On: St. Xavier Bombers

Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio

Group: Ohio Division I






By Andre Coles Correspondent



Saint Xavier Athletic Director John Sullivan believes that Bombers Football is more than just accolades and achievements. 


“At St. Xavier, we believe the goal of games is to win, while the goal of athletics is to grow," says Sullivan.



Clearly, Sullivan understands the true meaning of athletics for the young adults at St. Xavier.


“Our program’s mission is very simple: Strive for the magis (for the greater glory of God) in everything we do,” Sullivan said. “Our goal is to produce championship caliber young men that understand that winning is more than who scored the most points at the end of the 4th quarter. Ultimately, we want our young men to be better people when they leave the St. Xavier football program than when they arrived.”


With those ideals in place, the Bombers football program, headed by a superior head coach in Steve Specht, has undoubtedly produced productive members of society, and at the same time, top-notch athletes who have risen to the elite ranks in sports.


Currently there are 38 former Bombers on college football rosters with 14 of those individuals being from Specht's undefeated state championship squad of 2007.


Meanwhile, Rocky Boiman and Lamar Marshall also represent the Bombers in the National Football League.


And with a coaching staff that believes in the school mission and preaches it every day, it’s no wonder that the Bombers have been at the top of an elite list in Ohio football.


The program also has a very capable leader in Specht. The former Bomber is in his 14th season with the team and his 5th as the head coach.


In an interview with Danny Hotochin of, Specht outlined his passion for coaching and the mentors who helped teach him valuable lessons along the way. That passion merged with the positive influences in his life, and the mantra of the athletics department, has a direct effect on the program today. 


“I know I wanted to coach when I was in high school,” Specht said. “I had the good fortune of playing under some great coaches. My coaches had a direct impact on my passion for the game.”


Among those coaches is current Florida head coach Urban Meyer, who was once Specht’s secondary coach.


All the while, Specht is quick to point out that perhaps his biggest influence came from former Bomber head Steve Rasso, who is a current member of the Ohio High School Football Hall of Fame. 


Says Specht, “I learned an awful lot from him about football and an awful lot about life. When I talk about my football philosophy as far as teaching, these kids about football and life -- that’s what Rasso did for me.”


Specht appears to have taken what he has learned and kept the tradition of Bombers football in full stride.  Overall, Specht owns a 43-5 overall record and boasts two undefeated state championship teams and back-to-back appearances in the highly competitive Ohio vs. USA Challenge.


Meanwhile, this year’s squad is off to a tough start in comparison to seasons past.  The ‘08 Bombers are currently 3-3 with losses to three of the toughest teams in the country: Colerain (OH), Trinity (KY) and Elder (OH). 


It should be noted that the Bombers play one of the nation’s toughest schedules, with opponents spanning across five states and wins already against three very difficult opponents in Prattville (AL), Indianapolis Cathedral (IN) and Don Bosco Prep (NJ).


Indeed, St. Xavier is still among the Greater Catholic League's elite. There is no doubt that Specht and the Bombers – with four games left in the regular season to earn a playoff berth – will seek to do their best, all while striving for magis along the way.


Next up: October 3, 2008 at La Salle (State PR: 50.92, Rank: 70).



1,150 Views 0 Comments Permalink