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Who's Got the Power?

September 17, 2008

FootballPower Regional Team Spotlights


Every Wednesday, FootballPower will highlight one team from each region

in the country and provide insight into the school’s background,

history, current season and other interesting stories regarding the

program. Stay tuned each week and follow along with us. Who knows –

your team may be selected at any given time!


Southeast Region 




Spotlight On:     St. Thomas Aquinas

Hometown:           Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Group:                     Florida Class 5A





By Ryan Rohde and Matt Forman










He owns 31 years of experience at the same school, more than 300 wins as head coach, four championships and one perfect season.


If one guessed the previous resume as belonging to Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden, they would be wrong.


Rather, St. Thomas Aquinas

head coach George Smith has compiled a 321-65 record while leading the

Raiders to 23 district titles, 18 region championships and posting nine

undefeated regular seasons. Not to mention being named to the Florida

High School Athletic Association All-Century coaching staff.


What may be even more impressive than his bio is Smith’s ability to

produce top-flight talent. Throughout his tenure at St. Thomas Aquinas,

the 60-year old has produced 36 NFL players, including Hall of Fame

wide receiver Michael Irvin, and over 20 current Div. I players.


This years’ team is no different. There are least 15 Div. I prospects

on the current roster. The ‘08 Raiders (ranked #3 in our Mega Top Ten

Poll) are led by Ohio State-bound wideout Duron Carter, son of NFL Hall

of Fame wideout Cris Carter, who coincidently signed on to be a wide

receivers coach at Aquinas.


"He makes defenders miss in the open field and gets the important yards

after the catch,” Smith said to Jim Halley of USA Today on his senior

receiver. “He has a knack for making the big play and moving the



Carter has developed a solid report with his quarterback Ryan Decker, a

dual-threat playmaker. The 6-foot 175-pound signal-caller is

considering offers from Wake Forest, NC State, Vanderbilt and South



The other two pass catchers for Aquinas are Dwayne Difton and tight end Gabe Holmes.


Although the Aquinas passing attack scorched defenses for nearly 2,000

yards last season, it also features a stout, dual-headed rushing

attack. The Raiders backfield is spearheaded by two junior running

backs, Giovanni Bernard and James White.


Surprisingly, Aquinas grew increasingly familiar with being number two.

The Raiders lost five straight championship games since 2000 before

winning the elusive crown last season. With a stockpile of talent,

Aquinas becomes the hunted instead of the hunter. And so come the

pre-season rankings and accolades, even if Aquinas returns only six

starters from last year’s squad.


"This is our most inexperienced team we've had in four years,” Smith

said to Halley earlier this month. “I can't understand how we can be

rated as high as we are. It's ridiculous. You return two starters on

offense and four or five on defense. I don't know. That's the way it



Despite the new influx of talent, a program like Aquinas doesn’t

rebuild, it reloads. The Raiders, 2-0, have started the 2008 campaign

with wins over Cincinnati Elder (OH), 35-24, and Cardinal Gibbons (NC),



And while Bowden, 78, has named his predecessor in Jimbo Fisher, Smith

has no intentions of stepping aside. Smith is just 19 wins away from

topping Florida's all-time wins record at 340.


Next up: Thursday, September 18 vs. Everglades (State PR: 75.00, Rank: 24).










Northeast Region





























Spotlight on:         Jeannette

Hometown:           Jeannette, Pennsylvania

Group:                    PA Class AA


By Andre Coles










Any doubts concerning a fall from grace by Jeannette this year were fully erased this past weekend as the Jayhawks (State PR: 91.00, Rank: 4) continued their dominance with a convincing 45-0 win against South Allegheny

(State PR: 55.00, Rank: 72). The Jayhawks have cruised through the

first third of their 2008 slate, posting an impressive 129 points on

the scoreboard.


All the while, the Pennsylvania power has seen a new star emerge from

the pack in Ohio State commit Jordan Hall. With the speedster lining up

in the backfield and making opponents miss left and right, the Jayhawks

look to be well on their way to their third straight WPIAL AA

championship game.


Many prognosticators and football fans alike falsely accused the ‘07

Jayhawks of being a one-man team with standout Terrelle Pryor making

national headlines and racking up state records left and right. Indeed,

the current Buckeye

was the nation’s top recruit last season and is the only player in PIAA

history to pass and run for over 4,000 yards in a career.


But despite the void left in his absence this year, the Jayhawks have

remained on top in Pennsylvania AA football thanks to a well-rounded

team filled with playmakers and a coaching staff that plays to players’



The Jayhawks, led by third year head coach Ray Reitz, are 57-3 since

the ‘03 season, and are an astounding 38-4 since ‘05 when Reitz took

over the program. Reitz also boasts an impressive .904 winning

percentage and is one of only eight coaches in the state to have an

undefeated season.


And while the ‘07 Jayhawks set a state record with 860 points scored,

it has been evident that this year’s squad has had no problems putting

points on the board despite a shift in focus as team.


Said Reitz in a recent interview with, “We

returned most of our offensive line from last year, and our defense

might be quicker than last year’s group.”


Reitz couldn’t be more on target. The Jayhawk defense has yet to even

surrender a touchdown this season in three blowout victories.


It has become increasingly clear that Jeannette may be currently one of

the best small school teams in the nation, let alone Pennsylvania. But

it’s also evident that this is one program that is built on more than

its star players -- as evidenced by the team’s overall success this



The ‘08 squad is poised to make this year just as memorable as the last

few in Jeannette. Said Reitz to, “We have the

potential to be a very good team.”


If the first three games are any indication, Reitz has hit the nail right on the head.


Next Up: Friday, September 19 @ Waynesburg Central(State PR: 27.00, Rank 114)


Talk about dedicated fans. Check out how Jayhawks fans follow and support their hometown squad! See Jeannette’s fans and followers.














Midwest Region



Spotlight on:    Deshler

Hometown:     Tuscumbia, Alabama

Group:              4 A Region 8














By Jimmy Oliver










Visions of a championship are 20/20 for the Deshler Tigers in 2008.


The Alabama Class 4A squad is already off to a 2-1 start following a

convincing victory over region foe Lawrence County this past Friday

night (Sept. 12). The 56-7 pouncing proved that nothing has changed for

the #1 ranked team in the preseason according to the Alabama Sports

Writers Association.


Despite an early season loss to 5A power Russellville (State PR: 93.00,

Rank: 7), 26-14, the Tigers (State PR: 64.00, Rank: 25) are back on

track towards another run at the Super Six – Alabama’s state

championship for each six classes in the state. And this is nothing new

for a program that has become accustomed to being on top.


“Everybody says, ‘well, the bull’s eye is on your back’, but it’s on

our backs every year,” said head coach John Mothershed in a recent

interview with the Times Daily. Mothershed is the 14th coach in program



And it’s easy to see why this is one marked team. Since the squad’s

inaugural season in 1923, Deshler has amassed an astounding record of

569-304-33, good for fourth all-time in Alabama history. Meanwhile, the

Tigers have amassed 21 regional titles and three state championships

(1990, 1998, 1999) along the way while producing 64 winning seasons. In

his 14 years at Deshler, Coach Mothershed has compiled a record of



Ever since that first season 85 years ago, Deshler has repeatedly

proved that when its defense is on track, the team simply wins. That

first group of Tigers had an amazing seven shutouts in their nine

victories. Flash forward to ’07 and Deshler held opponents to 14 points

or less five times and seven points or fewer a total of four occasions.

It’s pretty clear that not much has changed since 1923. Defense wins

for Deshler.


Now, the Tigers are looking to avenge their loss in the 2007 title game

to Central Tuscaloosa by a score of 34-7. But with a lethal offense

featuring running back J. Gardner and quarterback Chase Blackburn and a

potent defense that gets after the quarterback and regularly forces

turnovers, the Tigers may very well be back in the pinnacle contest.


But for the time being, Deshler has its eyes cast for its next opponent in Region 8 foe Rogers (2-1 overall) on Friday.


Next up: Friday, September 19 vs. Rogers (State PR: 62.00, Rank: 29).














Southern Region































Spotlight on:         Lowndes

Hometown:           Valdosta, Georgia

Group:                   GA Class AAAAA


By Adam C. Warner










After a sound 22-7 victory over Georgia power Peachtree Ridge (State PR: 41.00, Rank: 43) on September 5, the Lowndes Vikings

passed their first major test of the season and appear poised to

capture their fourth state championship in five years in 2008.


The Vikings have come a long way since their first year as a program in

1966 when the squad finished 1-8-1 (Lowndes would go 26-66-3 during its

first 10 seasons).


But in 1976, head coach Joe Wilson ushered in a new era in Vikings

football and guided the team to a 95-49 overall mark in his 13 years at

the helm – all while steering the team to two regional titles and one

state championship.


And ever since, the Vikings (currently ranked No. 2 in our latest Mega

Division Top Ten Poll) have earned the distinction by media and coaches

alike as a state and national juggernaut.


Most recently, with head coach Randy McPherson at the reigns, the

Vikings have never enjoyed more success. The squad is 68-12 over the

last six plus seasons with four regional titles and three state

championships. Meanwhile, with an assembly line of talent coming

through – including Randall Godfrey, Vincent Burns and Jay Ratliff in

recent seasons -- Lowndes hasn’t even endured a losing campaign since



Lately, the team has garnered national attention when ESPN named

Lowndes’ hometown of Valdosta, Georgia as TitleTown USA (beating out

Boston, New York and Columbus in the process). During the spring, fans

across the nation nominated towns and cities across the country based

on their championship pedigree and a panel reviewed the nominees,

culminating in a fan vote to determine the winner.


Meanwhile this season, Lowndes continues to make headlines as

ESPNRise’s No. 2 team in the nation and PrepNation’s No. 4 squad.

Already at 3-0 this year after impressive wins with playmakers Greg

Reid and Gerald Demps leading the way, one can be sure that the Vikings

will make another run at a state title – all while turning heads along

the way.


Next up: Friday, September 19 vs. Colquitt County (State PR: 90.00, Ranking: 16).












Spotlight on: Trinity

Hometown: Euless, Texas

Group: Texas 5A


By Omar Muhammad



The Trinity High football program has risen to the national spotlight

thanks to a winning tradition and a little help from the team’s

intimidating dance called the Haka.


Long before the ceremonial war dance started at Trinity, football

commenced in Euless in 1976 under head coach John Reddell and the team

quickly gained respect across the state. Flash-forward through nine

district titles and 13 playoff appearances, Reddell is now among the

winningest coaches in Texas high school football history after piling

up a record of 260-131-12 and 17 coach of the year honors by the Texas

Football Coaches Association.


The head coach and Hurst-Euless-Bedford Independent School District

Hall of Fame inductee brought a winner’s attitude to Trinity and it has

stuck due to a knowledgable coaching staff and a steady stream of

athletic, dynamic and coachable football players. Since the program was

initiated 31 years ago, Trinity has produced five players to the

National Football League – most recently Ryan McBean, who was drafted

in 2007 by the Pittsburgh Steelers.


Head coach Steve Lineweaver, who came aboard in 2000, heads today’s

Trojans. Lineweaver has kept the Trojans on the winning course by

chalking up 89 wins while losing just 16 in his eight-year career.


Meanwhile, the Trojans have become one of the most recognizable teams

around the nation, but it isn’t necessarily because of their success.


In their championship year of ’05, the team initiated a war dance from

New Zealand called the Haka. Trinity first performed the dance three

years after one of the team’s Tongan players saw a video on the

Internet of New Zealand's All Blacks rugby team doing the war dance

before one of their games.


The ritual is more than 200 years old and originated with New Zealand's

Maori people. Since then, it has been adopted by a number of Polynesian

cultures, including Tonga.


Today, the Haka is performed by the Trojans before each game and has

even fueled nationwide coverage by YOUTUBE, Gatorade, and the CBS

Evening news.


While the Haka can be intimidating for opposing teams before a contest,

it’s quite clear that with top-notch coaching and a steady stream of

athletic talent coming into the program, Trinity will likely stay high

in the Texas and national rankings for years to come.


So far this season, the Trojans are ranked #1 by FootballPower in its

latest Mega Division Top Ten Football Poll and will look to stay there

through season’s end.


Next up: Thursday, September 18 at Allen (State PR: 96.00, Rank: 6).


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