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Who's Got the Power?

December 18, 2008

 

By Adam C. Warner

SportsPower Editor

 

There are seven championships still left for the taking in the Lone Star State. Will Allen follow through with a title after taking out previous No. 1 Trinity? Can Katy make it back-to-back titles after starting the season 0-2? Find out this weekend in what should be a fantastic conclusion to the year.

 

5A Division I – Dec. 20, 7 p.m. at Reliant Stadium

 

Allen Eagles (14-1) vs. Hightower Hurricanes (13-0): Two unexpected foes meet on Saturday for the state championship. Allen has defeated some elite rivals along the way, including defending state champs Trinity, despite being out-gained in total yardage in two of the last three playoff games, which includes 177 yards in a 23-21 win over Stony Point last week. Allen quarterback Tucker Carter is a dual threat and can run just as well as he can throw. Meanwhile, the Eagles rushing attack –buoyed by a powerful offensive line – might be the team’s strength. RB Jeremiah Williams typically accounts for 200 yards per game and will called upon often this weekend. Meanwhile, Hightower is riding high after a 28-7 semifinal win over Clark. The squad is playing well at the right time and will rely heavily on its dominating defense. The unit is giving up just 11 points per game this season, including just seven points last week to a tough Clark squad. RB London Hamilton is a safe bet to scamper for 100 yards or more for the Hurricanes, while QB A.J. Highsmith is a major weapon and averages almost 250 yards in the air per game. Expect this game to be a seesaw battle between two formidable teams.

 

5A Division II – Dec. 20, 2 p.m. at Reliant Stadium

 

Wylie Pirates (13-2) vs. Katy Tigers (12-3): It’s a battle of metropolitan Houston this weekend at Reliant Stadium. While Katy commenced the season at 0-2, which included a 47-0 loss to the Woodlands, they are now playing its best football of the year. If the Tigers can top a talented Wylie squad, they will earn their second championship in a row. And while Gary Joseph’s team may not be as strong as last season’s 16-0 squad, Katy is still formidable. Running back Vernon Jeffries leads the way for the Tigers in addition to playmaking quarterback Parker Ray. Both players played integral roles in last weekend’s 41-19 dismantling of Smithson Valley. On the other side, Wylie has been a 5A team for just three seasons and hasn’t been to a title game since 1978. But this Pirates team must not be overlooked. Last week, the Pirates came away with five turnovers en route to a 23-7 win over Copperas Cove. Look for RB Nick Knott and the Wylie rushing attack to play a big role in this one. Last week, Knott rushed for 142 of his team’s 267 total rushing yards. If Knott can be highly effective while QB Jerod Monk can get on track, Wylie can certainly earn its first 5A football title.

 

4A Division I – Dec. 20, 2 p.m. at Floyd Casey Stadium

 

Longview Lobos (13-2) vs. Lake Travis Cavaliers (15-0): It’s the clash of an old titan versus a current power in the Class 4A Division I championship at Floyd Casey Stadium this weekend. Longview will be looking for its first state title since 1937 when they hit the gridiron against defending champs Lake Travis. The Lobos won’t fool anyone with their overall offensive strategy. The unit runs the ball 70 percent of the time and does so with great success. RB Tyler McCray (1,674 yards and 26 TDs) heads the attack along with QB Aaron Johnson, who needs 82 more yards to top the 1,000-yard mark for the season. Defensively, the Lobos will be led by all-state DB Lamarcus Howard, who has accounted for more than 100 tackles this season. Meanwhile, Lake Travis has been downright lethal all season long. The Cavaliers average 50 points per game behind standout quarterback Garrett Gilbert, who was recently named the offensive player of the year on the Associated Press Sports Editors Class 4A all-state team. Gilbert threw for more than 3,000 yards and 38 TDs in the regular season and can dissect defenses with the best of them. Behind Gilbert, the Cavaliers crushed a talented Friendswood squad last week, 56-22, and have averaged 61 points in the last three games. Longview’s defense will need its best performance of the season, in addition to producing several turnovers, for the team to come out on top.

 

4A Division II – Dec. 20, 2 p.m. at the Alamodome

Sulphur Springs Wildcats (13-2) vs. Dayton Broncos (13-1): Two high-powered offenses clash on the turf at the Alamodome this weekend. Sulphur Springs enters this pinnacle contest on the heels of a 47-34 win over Everman in the semifinals. The Wildcats’ offense averages 41 points per contest behind RB Ryan Young (140 yards per game) and QB Tyrik Rollison, who averages nearly 300 total yards per game as a passing and running threat. The Wildcats are also on a roll, having defeated three straight undefeated teams to get to the finals. Sulphur Springs will likely need a stronger performance by its defense, which has given up 28 points per game this year. Dayton and its potent offense will likely go right at the Wildcat defense and aim for some long, sustaining drives for scores in order to be successful. QB Cody Green is the catalyst for the Broncos and averages more than 200 yards passing and 110 yards rushing per game. The standout has accounted for 56 touchdowns this year and 4,300 total yards. It’s clear that Green holds the keys towards victory for the Broncos. AJ Dugat is Dayton’s top receiving threat and has 104 catches for 1,617 yards and 18 scores this year. Expect nothing other than a thrilling high-scoring affair this weekend.

 

3A Division II – Dec. 19, 8 p.m. at Texas Stadium

 

Celina Bobcats (13-2) vs. Carthage Bulldogs (13-2): Celina is on the verge of setting an unprecedented record this weekend when they take on an excellent Carthage program. Should the Bobcats prevail on Friday, the squad will earn a state record ninth overall championship. They can also become the second team from District 9-3A to win a state title after Proper won the Division 1 title last week. The Bobcats will likely look to RB Troy McCartney early and often. McCartney had 196 total yards last week and two touchdowns in last week’s 40-12 semifinal win over Liberty Hill. Celina scored touchdowns on all six of its possessions last week, so Carthage will certainly need to force them to punt or come up with some turnovers to win. The Bulldogs will count on RB Dwight Smith to carry the load offensively. The standout rushed 22 times last week for 298 yards and five scores en route to a 41-14 win over Giddings. The Bulldogs feature a rush-oriented attack that features a host of backs, which includes Jarvin Robinson and O’Bryan Washington. This state title berth is the team’s second all-time and first since 1991 and they would want nothing more than Celina to notch an all-time record against them.

 

 

2A Division II – Dec. 20, 3 p.m. at Waco ISD

Cisco Loboes (14-1) vs. Daingerfield Tigers (14-1): This game may just be the most evenly matched up contest of the weekend, so be prepared for a down-to-the-wire finish. Cisco enters after defeating Pottsboro 33-26 last week thanks in part to Cory Pippen’s interception return for a touchdown in the second quarter. Pippen will play a key role in stopping Daingerfield’s high-powered attack. Last week, the standout’s unit forced seven turnovers, three of which resulted in scores. Offensively, Josh Bridges leads the way at QB, while running backs Robert Medina and Vegas Hastings will split time in the backfield. On the other side, Daingerfield hopes to raise a championship trophy into the air and they very well may do so should the squad’s big three find frequent success. QB Tyler Boyd is a two-way threat, WR Juron Smith is a playmaker and is coming off a two-touchdown performance and RB KoKo Smith is a workhorse in the backfield (rushed for 172 yards last week). The team that can come up with defensive stops and some key turnovers will likely come out as victors at the end of the day.

 

1A Division II – Dec. 20, 3 p.m. at Shotwell Stadium

 

Stratford Elks (13-1) vs. Cayuga Wildcats (13-2): It’s a battle between two red-hot teams this weekend at Shotwell Stadium. Stratford is riding high after beating previously undefeated Albany last week, 28-0. The Elks are averaging nearly 40 points per game this year thanks in large part to running back Jessie Lopez. The standout ran 19 times for 124 yards and a score last week to fuel his team’s semifinal victory. The Elks will likely rely heavily on their potent rushing attack, so if Lopez and company can find open holes down the field and move the chains, they could very easily be state champions. Meanwhile, Cayuga is coming off a 42-7 dismantling of Ganado in the semifinals last weekend. Like the Elks, the Wildcats are putting up nearly 40 points per contest and giving up nearly 17 per game defensively. Cayuga running back Traylon Shead is a workhorse and will certainly see a heavy load on Saturday. Last week, Shead rushed for 253 yards and six touchdowns on 31 carries. So far this season, the standout has found pay dirt 51 times. Whichever defense can come up with some big plays and prevent their opponents from reaching the end zone will give their squad a great chance of winning the title.

 

 

 

To contact editor Adam C. Warner, send an e-mail to adam.warner@activenetwork.com.

 

 

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By Ryan Rohde

FootballPower Correspondent

 

Class 6A Championship

 

 

 

Miami Northwestern Bulls (13-1) vs. Seminole Seminoles (12-2), Dec. 20: Northwestern will be trying to make it three straight class 6A titles and fourth overall this weekend. Wayne Times has been Mr. Everything for the Bulls. The senior has spent time at quarterback, wide receiver, running back and punt returner. Being the consummate team player, Times has thrown for 476 yards and four touchdowns, caught 33 balls for 482 yards and five more scores, also has two rushing scores and averages 18 yards per punt return. Meanwhile, Seminole comes in on the heels of a 10-game winning streak after starting the season 2-2. This is the first state finals appearance for the Seminoles in school history. Quarterback Ray Ray Armstrong is the leader of the ‘Noles offense. Armstrong accounted for all three touchdowns, including the game-winner with 44 seconds left in last week's 21-17 win over Boone. Both teams have a chip on their shoulder as they try to stake their claim in history.

 

 

 

Class 5A Championship

 

 

 

St. Thomas Aquinas Raiders (14-0) vs. Lakeland Dreadnaughts (14-0), Dec. 19: In the most anticipated game of the weekend, Florida’s No. 1 and No. 2 meet for the state title. It doesn't get any better than this. Aquinas comes in after passing every test this season with flying colors and is expected to win this game by double digits, but Raider fans know all too well of what Lakeland is capable of. The Dreadnaughts have won six state titles in school history, four of them coming against Aquinas, including three straight from ’04-’06. There is a lot of history between these two programs and they are both led by two of the state's all-time greats. Lakeland coach Bill Castle took over at Lakeland in '79 and now the rest is history. 325 wins into his career, the ‘Naughts have captured 18 district titles, six state championships, and two “national” championships. Lakeland also holds the state record for 53 consecutive wins. This resume was impressive enough to earn Castle the FHSAA Coach of the Century award. Roaming the opposing sideline will be George Smith. Since '75, Smith has compiled a 332-65 overall record. He has taken the Raiders to 12 state title games while winning four. Smith was  also named a Coach of the Century Coaching Staff honoree. If you are a fan of high school football, this game is a can't be missed.

 

 

 

Class 4A Championship

 

 

 

Plant Panthers (13-1) vs. Lincoln Trojans (11-3), Dec. 20: There was a lot of speculation over whether Aaron Murray’s return last week would disrupt the team chemistry after being sidelined with a broken leg for eight weeks. After all, backup QB Phillip Ely has played great and led the Panthers to a win over nationally-ranked and bitter rival Armwood in the region championship. Murray silenced all doubters with a touchdown on his first throw of the game. Murray is touted as the best in Florida, and he will be facing one of the best defensive backfield's in the state this weekend. DB Deandre Byrd leads the team with six interceptions and DB Jawanza Starling has 86 tackles. The Trojan offense has been the difference maker though. By switching from the spread offense to the I-formation, Lincoln has posted gaudy rushing numbers with more emphasis on running the option. Javaris Allen, Tony Moore and Ryan White have combined for 2,334 yards and 27 touchdowns. There's a lot of talent on the field and this game shouldn’t disappoint.

 

 

 

Class 3A Championship

 

 

 

Cocoa Tigers (13-1) vs. Godby Cougars (12-2), Dec. 19: The Tigers were just one play away from making this game a year ago, and they have picked up right where they left off. RB Chevelle Buie is one of the more underrated backs in the state. He has rushed for almost 1,700 yards and 16 touchdowns while QB Matt Younger is a dynamic dual threat. While Cocoa dominates the ground, Godby dominates the air. QB A.J. Graham has posted 3,632 yards and 37 touchdowns this season. All the while, Florida St. commit WR Willie Downs has been his favorite target, hauling in 61 passes for 952 yards and 13 touchdowns. Kessey Graham and Chris St. Hilaire

have really stepped up as the second and third receivers as well. A pair of great offenses will be on display this weekend, so look for the scoreboard to light up.

 

 

 

To contact correspondent Ryan Rohde, send an e-mail to ryan.rohde@activenetwork.com.

 

 

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By Brett Manney

FootballPower Correspondent

 

The state of California typically produces some of the nation’s best high school football teams and this weekend will be the ultimate showcase for many of them. The California Interscholastic Federation championship features ten teams battling for state championships, with each matchup pitting a northern team against a southern one as determined by the CIF. With future NFL players and Hall of Fame coaches on the field, the games slated for this weekend will certainly be entertaining. The summer of 2009 is months away, but memories can be etched forever at the Home Depot Center in Carson this weekend.

 

Division I

De La Salle Spartans (12-1) vs. Centennial Huskies (14-0), Dec. 19: This rematch of last year’s Division I bowl pins two powerhouses for supremacy in the state. De La Salle won 37-31 last year in which they saw a huge lead disappear in the fourth quarter. Spartans head coach Bob Ladouceur could become the state’s winningest coach with a victory. He tied the record last week with his 344th win when the Spartans defeated Pittsburg, 34-10, in the North Coast Section championship game. QB Blake Wayne heads the Spartans and has compiled 1,520 passing yards, 619 yards rushing and 29 total touchdowns. He hands the ball off to RB Kylan Butler, who has 1,286 yards rushing with 15 touchdowns and is extremely tough to bring down. The Huskies have been waiting a year for a rematch with the Spartans. With an undefeated record and a year of waiting, the Huskies are prepared to win this time. UCLA recruit WR Ricky Maryray is their top playmaker. The athletic receiver has 65 catches for 1,135 yards and 13 touchdowns. This big-time matchup will surely have everyone in California watching as two powerhouses collide.

 

Division II

St. Marys Rams (10-2) vs. Cathedral Catholic Dons (13-0), Dec. 20: Fireworks will most likely be on display in the Division II championship game. Cathedral Catholic has the unblemished mark and will represent San Diego Section Division III. The Dons rely heavily on RB Tyler Gaffney, who has been the focus of the offense all season. With great speed and elusive moves, Gaffney set section records for points scored (306) and touchdowns (51) this season. Meanwhile, the Rams are looking for some recognition after becoming the first Stockton area team to compete for a state bowl game. The Rams captured the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 1 championship with a 36-14 victory over Pleasant Grove. Oregon State recruit QB Cody Vaz has a rocket arm and passed for 244 yards to captain the Rams last week. This game will decide who goes home with a championship trophy or eight months of agony.

 

Division III

Cardinal Newman Cardinals (13-0) vs. St. Bonaventure Seraphs (13-1), Dec. 20: This is a much-anticipated matchup of one high-powered offense against an athletic defense that’s one of the state’s best. Cardinal Newman, the North Coast Section champions, are averaging over 40 points a game. The team’s talented offense averages 426 yards a game and is led by QB Randy Wright, who has completed 71 percent of his passes for 2,266 yards and 29 touchdowns. In the backfield, RB Jeff Badger has rushed for 1,342 yards and 13 touchdowns but will not find many holes in the Seraph defense. The Seraphs have only one loss this season and that was to national power Long Beach Poly. The fundamental Seraphs captured their tenth section title last week and eighth in the past ten years. The squad’s stellar defense has allowed only 79 points in their last nine games and 22 in its three playoff games. Cardinal Newman looks to take down the imposing Seraphs in this great matchup of contrasting styles of football.

 

Open Division

Grant Pacers (13-0) vs. Long Beach Poly Jackrabbits (14-0), Dec. 20: The Open Division championship is between two undefeated thoroughbreds competing to be king of California. Grant, the surprise pick from California, has been punishing opponents all season, but Poly is no slouch by any means. Grant is the first school from the Sacramento area to play for a state football championship. Under head coach Mike Alberghini, Grant has been a powerhouse in the Sacramento area by winning 15 league championships and six section championships. This year they have defeated state champions from both Idaho and Utah and are led by stud RB Devontae Butler. With explosive moves and speed, Butler has 1,850 yards rushing and 36 touchdowns. Butler will look for any holes that he can find, however small they may be, due to the dominance of the Poly defense. The Jackrabbit defense is considered one of the best in the state because of their ferocious and fast defenders. With multiple Div. I recruits, LB Iuta Tepa stands out for the Jackrabbits and leads the team in tackles (149) and sacks (14). The high-powered offense features a dynamic one-two running attack. RB Melvin Richardson has been the savior in many games and has rushed for 1,439 yards with 23 touchdowns.  RB Daveon Barner has 1,131 yards rushing with seven touchdowns to complement Richardson well. Grant can become a household name with a win, but the road to the state championship runs through powerful Poly.

 

Small School Division

Hamilton Union Braves (10-2) vs. St. Margarets Titans (14-0), Dec. 19: Two schools representing opposite sides of California will clash in Los Angeles for supremacy. St. Margaret’s represents the Southern Section Northeast Division. Lead by head coach Harry Welch, the Tartans are riding the coattails of a 42-game winning streak, which is the longest active streak in the state and currently the fifth-longest in the country. The squad has flat-out destroyed their opponents this season, outscoring them 683 to 62 altogether. The Braves repeated as the Northern Section Division III champions last week to advance to the small school state football championship. The Braves are a tough and physical team with just two losses on their resume. Much like the Tartans, the Braves outscored their opponents by a great margin, 375 to 95.  One small team can bring home a big-time trophy and end their season as a state champion.    

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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