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By Adam C. Warner

SportsPower Senior Editor

 

This week, millions will gather together in a celebration of family, friendship, food, and of course, football.

 

Over the past 120 years, football is one of many traditions formed around Thanksgiving. Today, the two go hand-in-hand as amateurs, high school athletes, collegiate athletes and professional athletes all participate or gather for action on the gridiron.

 

But some of the most historic and cherished Thanksgiving football rivalries revolve around the high school level, where some epic clashes have been occurring since the late 19th century. The tradition typically finds many Northeastern teams playing on the holiday, but as you will see throughout this feature, teams from California and Missouri are bucking that trend.

 

Meanwhile, Turkey Day matchups often pit two rivals together from the same conference or schools that are a few miles apart. Other times, championships are on the line or regional bragging rights can be earned with a win, making the games even more significant and noteworthy. And with Thanksgiving matchups occurring late in the fall season, weather can also play a key role in the outcome.

 

Add all of these factors together and one has the perfect recipe for exciting holiday football.

 

The FootballPower editorial staff has picked a series of notable Thanksgiving games from coast to coast that best embody the holiday tradition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Norwich Free Academy Wildcats (CT) vs. New London Whalers (CT)

 

This traditional Thanksgiving Day game is the oldest high school football rivalry in the country and commenced in 1875. Both teams are very familiar with each other, seeing that the programs are just 12 miles apart in Southeast Connecticut. Bragging rights are always on the line each and every season in this historic battle.

 

But this year’s matchup has an extra element of excitement added to it. New London just recently secured a Class SS playoff berth despite losing its first game of the year last week to Ledyard. While the playoffs are out of reach for Norwich, the squad realizes that this game can be theirs with New London entering on the heels of a loss and with starting Whalers quarterback Jordan Reed questionable to play. There would be nothing better for the Wildcats to beat their playoff-bound rival to conclude the season.

 

The series – which Norwich leads 75-59-11 -- has certainly seen some colossal matchups in years gone by. In 1891, the game was halted after the ball was lost during a punt when a strong wind and snowfall sent it sailing. Unfortunately, that was the only football any of the teams had.

 

Don’t expect anything like last year’s 62-14 trouncing by New London, but do expect a hard-fought battle between rivals that has the chance for an upset. Norwich enters the matchup at 6-3 and has lost two of three after winning five games in a row. 

 

All the while, the Whalers enter at 9-1 overall after winning their first nine games of the season. Starting end Tom Eschenfelder should be back in uniform for New London and will likely give his team a lift. Running back Richie Vitale is coming off a 153-yard performance last week and will need a similar performance for the Whalers to notch their tenth win.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Calvert Hall (MD) vs. Loyola Blakefield (MD)

 

 

 

 

These two Maryland private schools have been playing this annual football game for 88 years on Thanksgiving Day. The matchup -- more formerly known as the “Turkey Bowl” -- is one of the oldest ongoing Catholic prep school football rivalries in the country.

 

Thousands of high school fans in the Baltimore area pack into M&T Bank Stadium every year to see these storied programs do battle on the gridiron. The series has been relatively even, although Loyola has taken control in recent years and now enjoy a 47-33-8 all-time record. Loyola has won the last five meetings against its regional rival, and will look to make it six on Thursday.

 

In a series of streaks, Calvert Hall is hoping to stop Loyola’s run and begin its own. Looking back on the rivalry, Loyola won seven in a row from ’57-’63 before Calvert Hall took seven consecutive games from ’78-’84.

 

The ’08 matchup features two teams that have experienced vastly different campaigns. Calvert Hall enters the matchup at 3-6 overall and a 42.38 FootballPower State Power Rating. The Cardinals have endured a season of streaks, including two losses to start the year followed by two wins, then four losses and then one more victory. Quarterback Patrick Fitzgerald will likely need to mix in some passes downfield to a steady dose of a rushing attack for the Cardinals to come out on top.

 

On the other side, Loyola Blakefield comes into the matchup at 10-0 overall with a State PR of 92.24. The Dons won their third straight MIAA Class A conference title with a 35-7 victory over Georgetown Prep. With a win over their archrival on Thursday, the Dons will have the opportunity to surpass a school mark for victories in a season.

 

The Cardinals want nothing more than to stop the Dons from accomplishing the feat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fordham Prep (NY) vs. Xavier (NY)

 

 

 

 

While both of these teams first met in 1905, this New York City rivalry has been pulsing for 85 years, making it the city’s oldest high school football clash. The matchup has occurred on Thanksgiving Day ever since ’23.

 

 

This season, Fordham Prep enters the matchup at 3-6 overall and have lost three in a row, including a 63-39 defeat to Holy Trinity Diocesan on Nov. 1. Peter Gorynski’s team will need to put forth their best effort to date to stop Xavier. The Knights are 7-1 overall and have a State PR of 76.49.

 

Quite simply, the Knights’ offense has been downright explosive. Xavier has scored at least 37 points in all eight of its games. They have scored 397 points in eight games, good for 49.7 points per game.

 

Perhaps the biggest highlight of the year came against Cardinal Hayes on Oct. 11, as the Knights won 86-42. In that game, running back Seamus Kelly rushed for 291 yards and five touchdowns and had 448 all-purpose yards as well.

 

For the Rams to have a prayer in this year’s matchup, they will certainly need to prevent Kelly and company from putting up points. While the Knights have scored 37 points in every game thus far, the Rams have scored 37 points or more in just one game.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Brett Manney

SportsPower Correspondent

 

 

 

 

“Big Bone”

 

One of the few games to be played on Thanksgiving on the West Coast is San Jose High Academy versus Lincoln High of San Jose. These two teams meet every year in the “Big Bone” game which features the winner receiving a cow femur. The game is the longest continuing Thanksgiving Day rivalry in California.

 

Rumor has it that the first Big Bone game was played in 1943 and the winner received the femur. Supposedly a San Jose High student found a large femur in his father’s butcher shop and claimed it as the trophy. Now the 18-inch femur sits upon a three-tiered base and is painted in the colors of both schools. 

 

Lincoln High is more comfortable with the femur considering they have won the last 10 years and 38 of the 62 years that the game has been recorded. Both teams would rather play this game than a section playoff game because of the history and pride they have for their respective school and the rivalry. With over 5,000 attending each year, the game has become a must-see rivalry in California.

 

 

 

 

“English vs. Latin”

 

When it is time for football in the Boston area, there is one rivalry that tops all others. Boston English versus Boston Latin is one of the oldest rivalries in the country. The two schools have played every Thanksgiving since 1887, and is the fourth longest rivalry of all time. Boston Latin is considered the oldest public high school in the country and was founded in 1635.

 

The first game was played November 25, 1887, with Latin winning 16-0. Latin has dominated the series since the late 60s partly because English has 700 fewer students than Latin. Since 1967, English has only won three games, but the team’s intensity and compassion for the game has never ceased.

 

In the 123rd meeting of the two schools, both squads look for vengeance. Latin won last year’s game, 33-6, and English hopes they can stop the winning streak in ‘08. Both teams have struggled this year and a win for one of the programs could be a bright spot in their losing season. With such rich traditions the rivalry lives on for bragging rights in Boston.

 

“State Liner”

 

The Delaware River is all that separates the Easton Area Rovers from the Phillipsburg Stateliners, but this Thanksgiving rivalry is widely recognized as one of the best in the nation.

 

Since 1905, these two teams have met almost every year for bragging rights. The city of Easton, which is also home to Lafayette College, sits on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware, while Phillipsburg is directly across the river on the New Jersey side.

 

Easton holds the all-time lead 56-40-5, which includes a 17-6 win last year. Neither team has won more than five games in a row.  The rivalry was recognized by Sport Illustrated as one of the best rivalries in the country and ESPN covered the game nationally in 1988 and 2006, which was the 100-year anniversary.

 

Phillipsburg dominated the series in the 1980s, winning eight games, while Easton dominated the 1990s by winning nine games. The turn of the century has seen the two teams battle back and forth. Phillipsburg comes into the game with a 9-1 record, while Easton is 6-6. The battle across state lines is certainly a can’t-miss clash on Thanksgiving.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Ryan Rohde

SportsPower Correspondent

 

 

 

 

 

 

Webster Grove Statesman (MO) vs. Kirkwood Pioneers (MO)

 

 

 

 

The first game took place on thanksgiving morning of 1907. Dubbed as the annual “Turkey Day Game”, Webster Grove-Kirkwood is the oldest Thanksgiving rivalry west of the Mississippi river. Kirkwood leads the series 49-37-5.

 

The winner receives the Frisco bell, a giant 400 lb. bell donated by the Frisco Railroad Company in 1952. To the loser goes the Little Brown Jug, modeled after the jug given to the winner of the Michigan-Minnesota college game.

 

The festivities are not just reserved for game day; the celebration takes place all week. Each class from both schools decorates the halls of the high school and a winner is voted on. Pep rallies take place all week and bonfires are set ablaze the night before the game. There is also the “friendship dance”, which is co-produced by both schools and sees a friendship king and queen be selected. There is even a video game tournament held between the two schools during this week.

 

The 101st edition is sure to not disappoint. Games in the past have been played as “sub-varsity games” due to teams being in the state playoffs, but that is not the case this year. Kirkwood lost on Nov. 10 in the state sectionals, so both squads will be fielding their varsity rosters.

 

Webster Grove comes into the game at 5-4 and failed to make the state playoffs. The Statesman might be without QB Derrick Dilworth, who suffered a knee injury during the last game of the season. His status is unknown. Dilworth has thrown for 1,300 yards and 10 touchdowns to go along with 339 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. The defensive front seven is the strength of this team. Defensive end Darion Mcmiller leads the team with 10 sacks, and linebacker Jason Meehan has a team-high 78 tackles.

 

Kirkwood is 6-5 overall and features a duo of senior running backs that hope to combat that tenacious Webster defense. Deandre Buckner leads the team with 1,461 yards and seven touchdowns, while Kimuel Keller has 348 yards rushing and 427 yards receiving with 11 totoal touchdowns.

 

The community waits for this all year. Even when the NFL Cardinals were based in St. Louis, members from both communities protested the team from playing on Thanksgiving because Webster-Kirkwood had already established itself. Both teams will dawn throwback jerseys dating to the ‘50s as well. A game of this importance is destined to be a classic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wellesley Raiders (MA) and Needham Rockets (MA)

 

 

 

 

It all started when Wellesley student Arthur Judson Oldham challenged his Needham counterparts to a friendly game of football 126 years ago. The game was played on Thanksgiving morning with Wellesley winning 4-0.

 

 

 

 

The two towns were originally one before Wellesley defected in 1881. Since then, both towns let the football game decide town superiority. In early years, winning this game was so important that many of the teams played ringers, sometimes even semi-pro and professional athletes that were hired by each respective town. Finally in 1904, the decision was made to play with strictly high school students.

 

 

 

 

The rivalry has since turned friendly. Both towns hold a rotary dinner the Tuesday before each game for coaches, parents and alumni. School representatives also have a chance to trade stories and poke fun at one another.

 

 

 

 

Wellesley leads the oldest public school rivalry in the nation 58-53-9. The Raiders come into the rivalry losing their last five games while the Rockets have posted a .500 record sitting at 5-5.

 

 

 

 

The beauty of rivalry games like this is that the records do not matter. Both teams can make their seasons with a win and cement their place in town history.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Malvern Prep Friars (PA) vs. St. Joseph’s Prep Hawks (PA)

 

 

 

 

The history of this game is not like any other Thanksgiving Day rivalries, but there is no shortage of bad blood. There were questions over whether or not the game would even be played with St. Joe’s participating in the PIAA playoffs.

 

 

 

 

The two schools are longtime Philadelphia private school powers. St. Joseph's has captured 15 Philadelphia Catholic League championships, while Malvern has won 27 Inter-Academic league titles. This game will only be the fourth meeting ever between the two schools, but that does not make this game any less important.

 

 

 

 

There are no trophies handed out when the final whistle blows, just bragging rights. Thse two all-boys schools even compete for the same girls who attend the local all-girls academies. Often times, students will attend their rivals' dances, showing up in force to try and prove their dominance.

 

 

 

 

The Hawks dominated last season’s game and ended Malvern’s bid at a perfect season. But this season, the Hawks are 8-3 and fell in the Catholic league semifinals to league rival LaSalle. St. Joe’s is no short on talent though. RB Mike Yeager has been steady all year, providing 1,151 yards and 12 touchdowns. The Hawks defense is always big and fast. Senior captain Mike Arciadono leads a defense that has held seven opponents to 14 points or less, including two shutouts.

 

 

 

 

Malvern comes in at 9-0 with revenge on their minds. The Friars have dominated the Inter-Ac this season by winning their games by an average of 43 to 9. QB Billy Conners has been impressive this season, throwing for 1,241 yards and 15 touchdowns. His main target has been WR Joe Price, who has hauled in 29 passes for 767 yards and 10 touchdowns. Running backs Neil Willis and James Connelly have combined for 1,432 yards and 29 touchdowns.

 

 

 

 

The game is held at Villanova stadium and you can be sure that both teams will try to prove which prep is better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can reach senior editor Adam C. Warner at adam.warner@activenetwork.com. To reach correspondent Brett Manney, you can e-mail him at brett.manney@activenetwork.com. And to contact correspondent Ryan Rohde, send an e-mail to ryan.rohde@activenetwork.com.

 

 

 

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Team: Saint Anthony Friars

Location: Jersey City, New Jersey

Group: North Non-Public B

 

By Jimmy Oliver

SportsPower Correspondent

 

The Friars of St. Anthony High School are no strangers to being on top and in the national spotlight. Year after year, fans and prognosticators alike often talk about this talented team from Jersey City as not just the region’s best, but one of the nation’s most dynamic squads.

 

Well, in 2008-2009, they very well may be at the summit once again.

 

Most recently, the Friars did the unthinkable in high school basketball and went 32-0 during the ’07-’08 season, and they did so with authority. The Friars averaged 78 points per game while allowing fewer than 40 per game.  All the while, 16 of those wins came at neutral site events. It’s evident that the Friars can win wherever the road takes them.  And perhaps even more importantly, St. Anthony can pull off victories when it’s needed the most.

 

Judging by the team’s track record, winning certainly seems to be contagious. The Friars possess a remarkable 25 New Jersey Parochial championships and nine Tournament of Champions titles. The tournament has been in existence since ‘89 and some even say that the event was put in place just to showcase the mighty Friars.

 

The Friars first made national headlines with that ’89 team littered with talent as three different players made it to the NBA (Terry Dehere, Bobby Hurley and Rodrick Rhodes).  Two other players made a splash, all-Big East selection Jerry Walker and future Seton Hall Pirate Dan Hurley

 

This year’s Friars team returns eight players for the new campaign, and all but one is less than six feet.  Dominic Cheeck can be considered as the the most vital piece towards the team returning to the championship this year.  Last season, the standout forward posted 12 points per game and 7 rebounds per outing. 

 

Meanwhile, the Friars will also benefit from two transfers in Devon Collier and Ashton Pankey. There is no doubt that infamous head coach Bob Hurley will have the newest version of the Friars ready to hustle and defend, two core ingredients of success for the squad.

 

And who would know better than a man that has over 900 wins in his 35 years at St. Anthony. By all accounts, Hurley is certainly demanding, but the longtime coach is also a figure that can motivate his players every night and get the most out of each personality. And he asks for a level of play that would be considered state championship style.  It’s no wonder that Hurley is a candidate for the Hall of Fame this year.

 

With Hurley at the helm and another capable roster back ready to reclaim the championship, the Friars will certainly be making waves from Jersey City and all the way to the shores of the Pacific. By the looks of it, this is a talent-laden team poised to make a splash in ’09.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can reach SportsPower correspondent Jimmy Oliver at jimmy.oliver@activenetwork.com.

 

 

 

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Hometown: Santa Ana, California

Group: Class Southern Section

 

By Brett Manney

SportsPower Correspondent

 

Mater Dei Monarchs head coach Gary McKnight has a lot to be

excited about for the 2008-2009 basketball season. The Monarchs return

four starters from an electrifying CIF state championship team, which

is a huge reason why BasketballPower has ranked them as the No. 1 team

in the nation in its preseason rankings.

 

Many former and current Mater Dei athletes are now household names and

hold impressive resumes and, coincidently, have turned the program into

a national powerhouse for sports. In ‘08, Sports Illustrated

ranked Mater Dei second for “Best High School Athletic Program,” and

the institution has the athletes and championships to prove it.

 

For football, the illustrious program has produced the likes of Matt Leinert, John Huarte, and Colt Brennan. They currently have the nation’s number one recruit in QB Matt Barkley, who is following Leinert’s footsteps to USC.

 

And although it's still football season, everyone around the Santa Ana

community is already talking about the highly anticipated start to the

basketball campaign.

 

It’s easy to see why. McKnight’s squad went 35-1 a year ago and returns

four starters after winning back-to-back CIF state championships.

 

Meanwhile, McKnight’s resume could be thicker than a phonebook and is

right up there with the nation’s best high school coaches. Furthermore,

since he started coaching the Monarchs in ‘81, he has tallied a record

of 797-74 along with 24 league championships, 19 Southern Section

championships and seven CIF state championships (‘87, ‘90, ‘95, ‘01,

‘03, ’07-‘08). He is also the winningest coach in Orange County boy's

basketball history. Some of his most notable alumni include Leron Ellis ‘87, Reggie Geary ‘92, Miles Simon ‘94, D.J. Strawberry ‘03 and Taylor King ‘07.

 

The Monarchs will certainly have a target on their back considering

they are two-time defending state champions and a perennial powerhouse.

But the cupboard at Mater Dei is still full with Div. I recruits.

Spearheading the attack this season are twins David (6-10, 220 lbs.) and Travis Wear (6-10, 220), forward Andy Brown (6-8, 215 and a Stanford recruit), junior transfer guard Tyler Lamb (6-5, 190, UCLA) and junior point guard Gary Franklin (6-3, 180, USC).

 

The Wear twins, whose father David is an assistant coach with the team,

are the center of attention and for a good reason. Behind big frames,

both players provide almost identical production. Last season, David

averaged 16.8 ppg and 8.9 rebounds and was a member of the USA Men’s

Under-18 team, in addition to league MVP, all-county and all state. All

the while, Travis averaged 16.1 ppg, 8.3 rpg and was also selected to

the USA under-18 team in addition to all-league, all county and

all-state.

 

Additionally, Brown averaged 14.6 ppg and 5.9 rpg in addition to

providing a solid inside game to compliment the Wear twins. Running the

show is Franklin (12.9 ppg and 4.9 apg), a true sparkplug for the team,

and he often pushes the ball in transition and distributes well to his

big men.

 

Lamb will fill the missing piece of the puzzle after transferring from Ontario High,

where he averaged 27 points and over five steals a game. Lamb can be a

streaky shooter, but has great anticipation on defense and is another

scorer in the already potent Monarch attack.

 

Said Eric Sondheimer of the Los Angeles Times about Lamb, “His arrival at Mater Dei would give the Monarchs the best starting five in California."

 

When football season eventually ends, Mater Dei fans will not miss a

beat. With a solid core of seniors and two big-time juniors, the

Monarchs will continue to dominate California from the valleys to the

mountains. Much like the signature warm weather and sunny skies in the

state, the Monarch program will hopefully be looking for their

signature success to continue '09.

 

 

To contact correspondent Brett Manney, send an e-mail to brett.manney@activenetwork.com.

 

 

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Spotlight on: Garnet Valley Jaguars

Hometown: Glen Mills, Pennsylvania

Group: District 1 -- AAAA Central League

 

By Jimmy Oliver

SportsPower Correspondent

 

The Pennsylvania Central League has a long-standing tradition of being one of the most competitive leagues in the entire state with perennially formidable squads like Strath Haven, Ridley and Upper Darby included.

 

But this year, there is a new kid on the block who hopes to rank among the elite teams for years to come.

 

The Garnet Valley Jaguars initiated the 2008 season by joining a new, more talented league (previously they were a part of the Southern Chester County League) and have not changed their style one bit, as evidenced by the team taking the Central League crown this year.

 

Not only did they win the league title in their first season, but they also went undefeated with a regular season record of 10-0.  And they now have their sights set on repeating as District 1 champions returning to the state championship game. 

 

Last season, the Jags went 13-2 with losses to Unionville (which they made up for in the playoffs with a win) and a championship loss against Thomas Jefferson.  The goal now is to get back to the finals and finish what they started last year.

 

Offensively, this team is at its best when grinding it out on the ground.  The Jags have two running backs with over 800 yards apiece this season.  Tim Keyser and Jared Bonacquisti make up the sure-handed tandem that frequently controls the time of possession.

 

Although they do not strike through the air as often as some others, when they do, Mark McHugh is capable of rising to the occasion.  The talented signal-caller has only three interceptions on the season while throwing for 806 yards and eight touchdowns.   

 

With a ball control offense, the opposition has little chance to score on Garnet Valley.  The Jags are letting up an average of 11 points per game – good for just 113 total points allowed on the season.  It’s evident that this team is primed for a deep run through the playoffs.

 

And while they are new to the Central league this season, they are not foreign to being at the top of the District 1 standings.  In both ‘06 and ‘07, they were the district representative for AAAA and this year should be no different. Garnet Valley is no longer the unknown in the Central League. 

 

In fact, they are already the elite of the pack and the new kid has the ball.

 

 

Next up. November 14 vs. Pennsbury (State PR: 76.50, Rank: 24).

 

 

 

 

 

Look for Jimmy's spotlights each week right here at FootballPower.tv. Got any ideas for future spotlight teams? E-mail editor Adam C. Warner at adam.warner@activenetwork.com.

 

 

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Spotlight on: Dick Dullaghan – Head coach at Ben Davis High and Carmel High (Indiana)

 

By Omar Muhammad

SportsPower Correspondent

 

Dick Dullaghan is widely regarded as a living legend in the state of Indiana.

 

Thanks to his unmatched knowledge, wisdom and authority in the game of football, he has been a mentor to high school athletes for the past 31 years, all while racking up state championships and tremendous accolades along the way.

 

His resume speaks for itself. He captured his first state title as a head coach in 1978 with Carmel, is the only coach in Indiana history to lead a team to a national championship, was the only coach in the state to win a state title at two different schools and was one of only two Indiana coaches to have won the state championship eight times.

 

The longtime coach commenced his career at Carmel, where he first taught exactly what it took to be a champion. Dullaghan instilled his football wisdom there and immediately took this 3A team to the state championship. Surely, it was a sign of things to come.

 

After ten years at Carmel, Dullaghan then took the head coaching reigns at Ben Davis.

 

It took Dullaghan only three years to achieve another state title (in ’87) and Ben Davis’ first 5A championship.  With this achievement, Dullaghan put himself at the top of the list of elite coaches in Indiana history by becoming the only coach to win the state championship at two different schools.

 

Dullaghan first enjoyed the national spotlight when he won the first AP national championship in Indiana history in ’91 with Ben Davis. Dullaghan’s Giants defeated the Penn Kingsmen, 38-14, at the Hoosier Dome for the 5A title game. Dullaghan was also named the national coach of the year.

 

With Dullaghan at the helm, the Giants program was a force to be reckoned with, capturing six more state titles before his departure in ’03. Altogether, Dullaghan posted a 313-58 overall record in his tenure as a head coach --- good for a winning percentage of 84.1.

 

Today, Dullaghan is retired, but has still found a way to reach out to countless players about the important values of sportsmanship and competitiveness in the community.

 

Dullaghan and J.R. Bishop (formerly of Wheaton College) created the Bishop Dullaghan Football Camps, established in ’74.

 

The program started with 22 campers and now employs over 160 coaches.  Last year, the camp registered athletes from 15 states across the country, with an attendance of well over 2,200 athletes. With two great football minds leading the way, the camp became nationally renowned for its excellent skilled position results at the high school level. The skills camp has graduated All-State players in all skilled positions and dozens of All-Americans, including former camper Jay Cutler, now of the Denver Broncos. Rex Grossman of the Chicago Bears was also a three-year camper.

 

In his 40 years of football, not only has Dullaghan been a mentor and wealth of football knowledge, but also the legend has forever left his mark through the Ben Davis and Carmel football programs, his many high school student-athletes and the thousands of lives he has deeply touched.

 

 

 

 

 

Check for Omar's spotlights each week right here at FootballPower. Got any spotlight teams that you want to see featured? E-mail editor Adam C. Warner at adam.warner@activenetwork.com.

 

 

 

 

 

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Spotlight On: Maryville Red Rebels

Hometown: Maryville, TN

Group: TSSAA Class 4A

 

By Ryan Rohde

SportsPower Correspondent

 

The Tennessee Titans are the talk of the state right now thanks to the team’s surprise record of 9-0. But there is another talented team within the Volunteer State that typically steals the headlines due to a pattern of undefeated records, winning streaks and championships.

 

While the Titans may have the attention today, the Maryville Rebels (11-0, State PR: 95.50, Rank: 2) have earned the reputation over time as one of the most dominant football teams in the state.

 

The Red Rebels continue their quest for a fifth straight state championship this week. They have swept through each of the past four seasons while posting 70-straight wins in the process, including a 10-0 regular season this year, good for the second best winning streak in the country at the moment behind South Panola’s (Miss.) 83 straight victories.

 

And the architect behind this unprecedented run is none other than George Quarles, who took over as head coach in 1999. Quarles knew what he was getting into when he took the job, too. The Red Rebels had been the defending state champs after a perfect 15-0 season and had captured the program’s first state title in 20 years.

 

Since then, Quarles has taken Maryville to a whole different level. Over the past 10 years, Quarles and the Red Rebels are 135-9 overall, while capturing seven state championships over that span. Meanwhile, the team’s last loss was in November of ‘03 by three points in the state semifinals. 

 

Coach Quarles knows the key to a winning program is pride and tradition, and it all starts at the bottom with the feeder programs.

 

"There's a lot of pride involved, said Quarles in a WATE.com interview by Mark Nagi. “These kids grow up wanting to play for Maryville High School. They grow up playing for the middle school, and they can't wait to get that opportunity on Friday night.  Because of that, they play with more pride and emotion than a lot of other schools do."

 

 

Everyone in the program, including the kids in middle school and even younger, is fully aware of the winning streak, but Quarles won’t let his team get caught up in the hoopla.

 

 

"We don't mention it," Quarles said. "I will mention it in jest to try to get their attention. I'll talk about their 1000 game win streak, just joking around.  It isn't anything we talk about as a staff or as a team.”

 

 

That one game at a time mentality is a major reason for Maryville’s success. Although Coach Quarles doesn’t like to talk about it, he certainly knows what five more wins will pave the way for: a fifth straight state title.

 

 

 

 

 

Look for Ryan's spotlight each week right here at FootballPower. You can reach him at ryan.rohde@activenetwork.com. 

 

 

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Spotlight on: McQueen Lancers

Hometown: Reno, Nevada

Group: 4A

 

By Brett Manney

SportsPower Correspondent

 

The famous proverb “revenge is a meal best served cold” might be hanging up in the locker room at McQueen high school.    

 

After losing in last year’s 4A Nevada state championship game, the Lancers (10-0, State PR: 95.74, Rank 2) have been dominant this season and are taking out their anger on everyone who gets in their way.

 

Losing isn’t something the Lancers are accustomed to as of late. The program has been a force in high school football ever since 1990. From ‘90 to ’08, they have been a powerhouse amongst Nevada’s elite football programs, as evidenced by state titles earned in ‘90, ‘92, ‘97, ‘00 and ’02.

 

This season, should one ask any of the nine opponents McQueen has defeated so far and it’s likely that they do not want to play them again, and for good reason.

 

McQueen has scored 383 points this year while giving up only 53, and 23 of those came in the team’s first game. Since then, their stifling defense hasn’t allowed more than seven points in any game and have four shutouts along the way. They average 42.5 points per game while yielding just 5.8 points.

 

With a squad that features four all-state performers from last year, it’s no wonder that the Lancers are cruising through their competition. All-State running back Tyler York is an explosive back and averages eight yards a carry, 113 yards rushing per game and has accumulated 13 touchdowns. Backup Anthony Martinez is a playmaker as well, averaging 74 yards rushing per game and making it tough for any defense to slow down the Lancers’ running attack. Quarterback Anthony Stolo has been very accurate by completing 65% of his passes for 13 touchdowns and only one interception.

 

McQueen has already locked up the No. 1 seed in the playoffs and looks to continue its perfect season late into November. The No. 2 seeded Hug Hawks were supposed to give McQueen its toughest game of the regular season but were demolished by the Lancers, 30-0, on Oct. 24. The dominance displayed so far by the Lancers has been nothing short of astonishing.

 

After losing in the state final last season, McQueen still carries a bitter taste in its mouth and has nothing other than redemption on its mind. And the indication so far is that this team won’t stop until it raises another championship trophy up into the Nevada night sky.

 

 

 

 

Check for Brett's high school spotlight each week right here at FootballPower. You can reach him at brett.manney@activenetwork.com.

 

 

 

 

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Spotlight: Southlake Carroll Dragons

Hometown: Southlake, Texas

Group: TX District 6-5A

 

By Omar Muhammad

SportsPower Correspondent

 

Southlake Carroll football is widely considered one of the nation’s premier high school programs and it’s easy to see why.

 

The Dragons have risen into a national powerhouse thanks to a winning pedigree imported by past coaches, coast-to-coast exposure, great community support and notable alumni members now making waves in college or the pro ranks.

 

With some stellar talent at his disposal, Bob Ledbetter was the first coach to set the bar high for the Dragons program as he led the team to Texas 3A state titles in 1988, 1992 and 1993.  Ledbetter also posted a state record of 72-straight regular season wins from ‘86 to ‘93. Tom Rapp took the reigns in ’96 and put together a 29-17-1 mark from ‘96 to ‘99. Rapp is the only Southlake coach not to make a state finals appearance. 

 

In ‘00, Carroll replaced Rapp with Todd Dodge, a former Texas quarterback and Fossil Ridge head coach. Dodge then steered the Dragons back on the winning track by recording a superb 98-11 regular season record and four state championships since moving up to the 5A Class.  Dodge left Carroll in ‘07 to take the reins as the head coach at North Texas. 

 

Hal Wasson, who coached at Fossil Ridge in Keller, became the next head coach of the Dragon’s program. With Wasson in charge, the Dragons won their third consecutive 5A state title in ’06, becoming just the second school to three-peat in the Texas class 5A state playoffs.

 

With steady coaching always present and statewide and national accolades being claimed nearly every season, Southlake Carroll is now receiving considerable coverage from national sources.

 

During the ’07 campaign, the Dragons played in their first nationally televised game against Florida powerhouse Miami Northwestern on ESPNU. It was also the first time that the top two nationally ranked teams met on the gridiron in the same season. The Dragons were more than just a name to fans across the country now, people were starting to put a face with the program.

 

Fan support has also played a key role into the team’s success, especially when it comes to home field advantage.

 

Today, the Dragons sell out of tickets within hours of them being on sale for purchase. To Dragon fans, the games are more than just football, they are about friends and families coming together year after year and the traditions that are carried through.

 

Meanwhile, Carroll has also produced elite talent that has been sent on to the college and professional level, giving the program some added exposure and credibility.

 

Perhaps the most well-known Dragon right now is Missouri QB Chase Daniels. Daniels has risen to become one of the nation's top players, and likely will be a Heisman candidate and All-American favorite after producing a record-setting ‘07 season. Additionally, NFL veteran Kris Brown is in his tenth professional season and owes it all to the Dragons program where he initiated his football career.

 

 

So far in '08, the Dragons are right on track for another title run. To date,  Carroll has posted a 6-2 overall record and will be looking to sure up a playoff spot with a victory over Lewisville on Thursday.

 

 

All in all, the Southlake Carroll football program has quickly risen into one of the nation’s most prolific. Whether it’s been the top-notch coaches, national press, fans support or elite alumnus, the Dragons are a national power here to stay.

 

 

 

Next up: November 6 vs. Lewisville

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Got ideas for a future high school spotlight? E-mail editor Adam C. Warner at adam.warner@activenetwork.com.

 

 

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Spotlight on: South Panola Tigers

Hometown: Batesville, Mississippi

Group: Mississippi 5A

 

By Ryan Rohde

SportsPower Correspondent

 

It has been a long time since the South Panola Tigers last tasted defeat.

 

It was December 4, 2002 to be exact, when the Tigers fell to Wayne County in the state championship game.

 

Since that loss nearly six years ago, the Tigers have reeled off 84 straight wins. The streak includes five consecutive state championships and is good for the third longest high school football win streak of all time.

 

South Panola is commonly referred to as “University of” throughout the state. This is a fitting nickname seeing how the Tigers have an uncanny ability to reload talent year after year.

 

Take running back Nicholas Parker for example. Parker has taken Mississippi high school football by storm this season. The dynamic running back nearly single-handedly defeated Florida powerhouse Apopka by rushing for four touchdowns in a 28-18 win on Sept. 20. The 6-2, 210 lbs. junior is a prized recruit with Auburn, Ole Miss, and Texas topping his college list.

 

Although Parker may be an impressive player, the athlete that he replaced might even be more spectacular.

 

Darius “Tig” Barksdale was named Mississippi’s Mr. Football for ‘07 and was named a Parade All-American. Barksdale broke the class 5A state rushing record with 2,900 yards and 38 touchdowns, which included a 333-yard, four-touchdown performance in the state championship. Barksdale might be the greatest ever in a long list of spectacular players that have attended South Panola.

 

Of course, it’s near impossible to replace a Tig Barksdale, but at this rate, Parker is leaving his own mark on South Panola football history.

 

Meanwhile, great players also go hand-in-hand with great coaches, and South Panola has been blessed with some elite ones.

 

Ricky Woods was at the helm when the Tigers began the streak. He led the South Panola to four state titles in five seasons before taking a different job in Georgia.

 

 

Current coach Lance Pogue has continued the winning tradition. In just his first season at the helm, Pogue led the Tigers to their fifth consecutive state title.

 

"What's going on here won't be done again," said Pogue of the streak in an ESPN.com article on Oct. 3, 2007.

 

Indeed, Pogue might be right that a streak like this might not happen again, but the run is not over yet.

 

South Panola nearly saw its streak come to a close this season against a tough Tupelo foe on Oct. 17. The Tigers held on for a 14-13 win after Tupelo failed on a two-point conversion late in the game in an attempt to bring the remarkable run to a close.

 

It clear to all of the coaches and players, however, that continuing the streak is not the main goal for the Tigers, rather, it’s a state title.

 

But if one would ask Pogue where win No. 91 would leave them, he would say another state championship.

 

 

 

Up Next: Nov. 7 vs. Desoto Central

 

 

 

 

 

This list excludes South Panola’s current winning streak of 84, good for third all-time.

 

According to the record book, the top five high school football win streaks are:

1. De La Salle of Concord, Calif., 151 games (1992-2003)

2. Independence of Charlotte, N.C., 109, (2000-2007)

3. Hudson, Mich., 72, (1968-1975)

4. Jefferson City, Mo., 71, (1958-1966)

5. Animas, N.M., 69, (1984-1990)

 

 

Got any ideas for our next team spotlight? Contact editor Adam C. Warner at adam.warner@activenetwork.com.

 

 

 

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Spotlight on: West Albany Bulldogs

Hometown: Albany, Oregon

Group: Oregon 5A

 

By Brett Manney

SportsPower Correspondent

 

On September 26, the West Albany Bulldogs (9-0, State PR: 96.50, Rank 1) defeated Mid-Williamette Conference foe Silverton (5-4, State PR: 59.44, Rank 17), 44-0.

 

After the game Silverton head coach Scott Gregg told Rob Holderness of the Oregon Statesman, “West Albany is a terribly talented football team. I’ve told my group the last couple of weeks that they are the program I aspire to be.”

 

Who could disagree with Gregg?

 

The Bulldogs are a rising powerhouse in Oregon football.  They have not lost since the ’06 5A state championship game, when they witnessed a 14-point fourth quarter lead evaporate into a 17-14 triple overtime loss. Moreover, the Bulldogs have been to the last two state championships and look to be on the same path this year.

 

“We don’t sneak up on anybody,” said Randy Nyquist, head coach of the Bulldogs. “We have to rise to the challenge. It makes us more consistent in our performance and our kids take a lot of pride in that.”

 

Nyquist has been enjoying the recent success of West Albany football considering he was once a Bulldog himself. Nyquist was a tailback for team back in the 80s and has always had a passion for West Albany athletics.

 

“It’s a lot of fun to coach,” Nyquist said. “A lot of coaches who coached me come back and show their support. We (West Albany) have a lot of pride. It means a lot.”

 

Simply put, the Bulldogs have been dominant in ‘08. They have trailed only one time all season and up until a few weeks ago, hadn’t been scored on since September 12. Their lowest point total was 14 back in week one, which also was the team’s closest game, a 14-7 win against Sherwood (8-1, State PR: 86.36, Rank 3).

 

The Bulldog defense produced five straight shutouts from Sept. 9 through Oct. 24 and came into last week’s game giving up just 7.1 points per game. But perhaps what makes this even more astounding is that the Bulldogs’ stellar defense lost nine starters from last year’s championship team.

 

Coach Nyquist credits his coaches and the past success of defenses, all of which have helped mold this season’s squad. Meanwhile, the offense has been punishing opposing defenses by averaging 46 points per game. In conference play, the Bulldogs have punted only once and opposing teams usually start at their own 20-yard line because kicker Tyler George routinely boots touchbacks.

 

And the talent at West Albany is coming out of the woodwork. Furthermore, the Bulldogs have five 5A all-state selections from last year. Oregon State recruit John Braun is 6-6, 245 lbs. and is an all-state OT/DT. He opens up holes for dynamic, all-state RB Anthony Lacoste. George and DL Matt McHenry are the other first team all-state selections. QB Reese Miller was selected to the second team.

 

The Bulldogs rely heavily on their run game, averaging over 300 yards per contest. Lacoste, set the school record in long jump was part of state champion 4x100 relay team as a sophomore. The big and physical offense line has allowed Lacoste to gain 1,725 yards rushing this season -- an average of over 172 yards a game. Though in most of those contests, his night is done by halftime. If opponents are looking to stop the Bulldogs, they surely must focus on the junior running back and his 23 touchdowns.

 

With a 56-7 victory over Crescent Valley last weekend, the Bulldogs ended the regular season at 10-0 and look to keep their momentum flowing into the postseason.

 

So far, the ‘08 Bulldogs are on the same path as the ‘07 state champions. The statistics are eerie similar. The undefeated ‘07 squad averaged 42.9 points per game and only allowed 5.4. This year’s team averages 47.3 points per game and allows only 7.1.

 

“The loss in ‘06 motivated us to not let that happen again,” Nyquist said.

 

24 games later there is still motivation on this Bulldog squad. And if all things go as planned, the Bulldogs could be wearing more gold medals than losses in the past two years.

 

 

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Spotlight on: St. Paul Flyers

Hometown: Norwalk, Ohio

Group: Ohio Division VI

 

By Jimmy Oliver

SportsPower Correspondent

 

Perfection is defined as the highest degree of proficiency, skill or excellence, as in some art. 

 

And that's exactly what the St. Paul Flyers football program is striving for in 2008.

 

Currently, the Flyers (State PR: 92.00, Division Rank: 1) stand at 11-0 in the campaign.  And it’s not one of those unblemished records compiled by squeaking by a few teams here and there.  Rather, this team has demonstrated just how close to perfect they really are. 

 

So far in ’08, the Flyers have posted a total of 566 points and just 81 against for an average score of 51-7 each game.  It also includes a three-game span of zero points allowed, and in the next contest, just six points were scored against them.  The Flyers have been so dominant this season that their closest game was in week three -- a 21-14 victory over Huron.

 

Leading the way for the Flyers has been a group of players capable of striking at any time. Eric Schwieterman has thrown pinpoint passes all season long en route to 1,542 yards and 19 touchdowns through the air and 12 on the ground.

 

All the while, Matt Wilde has 21 touchdowns on the ground and over 1,100 yards rushing.  His counterparts -- Brian Griffin, Rob Kunisch and Adam Pugh -- have all seen significant carries and between them, have amassed another 900 yards and 13 touchdowns.  Put simply, it appears that there are just too many weapons for an opposing team to stop.

 

With Schwieterman often targeting wideouts Dan Tracht and Justin Wilde, who have combined for 888 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns, what’s an opposing defense to do? 

 

Meanwhile, the sack-happy Flyers can take care of things on the other side of the ball as well.  They have an astounding 42 sacks on the season, with Geoff Hanline and Joel Boose out in front with eight apiece.  Thanks to constant pressure from St. Paul’s defensive line, it seems that very few opposing teams can move the move through the air, making them one-dimensional.

 

But when passes do find their way into the game, it’s typical to find the Flyers’ defensive backfield there ready to make the play, as proven by the team’s nine interceptions and only four touchdowns allowed through the air.

 

After a 56-7 victory over East Canton (7-4) on Friday (Oct. 31) to open up postseason play, the Flyers will still be striving to reach the ultimate athletic goal of perfection.  To claim the feat is something that many teams have never had the opportunity to do, but judging by the evidence presented so far this season, St. Paul appears to be set for the challenge.

 

Next: Friday, November 7 vs. McDonald (10-0, PR: 81.95, Rank: 5).

 

 

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