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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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