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By Brett Manney

SportsPower Correspondent

 

 

“Kissing Your Sister”

 

Narbonne Gauchos (CA) vs. San Pedro Pirates (CA), December 13

 

The Los Angeles City Championship was one for the ages, but then again, that may depend on how one looks at it.

 

The top two teams in FootballPower’s Los Angeles section rankings fought to a 21-21 stalemate after four quarters of play. The two Marine league rivals were also tied at end of regulation earlier in the year, but Narbonne escaped with a triple overtime win, 27-24. 

 

This time, the Gauchos led 21-14 early in the fourth quarter behind a series of talented plays by RB Melvin Davis, but the Pirates fought back and forced a punt. Pirates QB Barry Heads had completions of 8, 11 and 21 yards with time running down to bring the Pirates to the 15-yard line of the Gauchos when history took place.

 

Heads found WR Benjamin Weischedel in the end zone with no time remaining. Head coach Mike Walsh decided to go for a field goal rather than a two-point conversion attempt, thus creating a tie.

 

City rules do not permit overtime in a city championship therefore creating co-champions in ‘08.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“One Chance”

 

Long Beach Poly Jackrabbits (CA) vs. Grant Union Pacers (CA), Dec. 20

 

Two of the best teams in FootballPower’s Western Region Mega Rankings clashed for supremacy in the Golden State.

 

Long Beach Poly was a heavy favorite to defeat Grant Union from Sacramento in the CIF Open Division bowl game. It was the inaugural open division game featuring arguably one of the best teams in the nation (Poly) against an unheralded, yet determined squad (Grant).

 

Melvin Richardson looked like the hero after scoring on a 60-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, giving Poly a 20-19 lead, but the Pacers answered right back.

 

Pacers QB Kipeli Koniseti found WR Darvin McCauley for a touchdown with one minute and 11 seconds left to give Grant the lead for good at 25-20. The powerful Jackrabbit defense gave up more than 20 points for the first time since 2005.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The Comeback”

 

Juneau Douglas Crimson Bears (AK) vs. South Wolverines (AK), Oct. 11

 

Alaska football does not get much attention, but this year’s state semifinal game between Juneau Douglas Crimson Bears and the South Wolverines was a barnburner.

 

South, which had a state power ranking of 91.00, was considered the favorite as Juneau entered the matchup with a state power ranking of just 66.34 and four losses already.

 

After trailing 27-14 at the end of three quarters, the Bears scored twice in the final stanza on scores by Alex and Eric Fagerstrom to pull out a 28-27 victory. Bears QB Dakotah Smith had a career day by passing for 292 yards while RB/WR Alex Fagerstrom had 180 yards on nine receptions with two touchdowns.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Clutch Kicking”

 

Alta Hawks (UT) vs. Jordan Beetdiggers (UT), Oct. 24

 

Utah fans know very well that when state powerhouses Alta and Jordan meet in a clash of 5A juggernauts, anything can happen.

 

This time around, Alta captured the league title with a thrilling 38-36 win and survived a huge scare by the Beetdiggers.

 

Jordan came back from 21 points in the first half to take a one point lead with 36 seconds left, 36-35. Jordan QB Alex Hart orchestrated two scoring drives with less than two minutes in the game to give what seemed like a victory for the Beetdiggers.

 

Yet 36 seconds was all Hawks QB Ammon Olsen needed as he marched his squad down the field 52 yards to the Jordan 26 yard line with 3.5 seconds left to set up a field goal try.

 

Kicker Vince “Moose” Bingham booted a 39-yard field goal as time expired to give the Hawks an emotional 38-36 victory.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“So Close”

 

Skyline Spartans (WA) vs. Bothell Cougars (WA), Oct. 30

 

When these two crossover league rivals met for supremacy of the Class 4A Kingco league, the game was bound to be an instant classic.

 

The Skyline Spartans were undefeated and clear favorite to win the state championship and faced off against a driven and scrappy Bothell squad. Both teams were ranked in the top 15 in the state according to the FootballPower rankings at the time.

 

After trailing most of the game, the Spartans connected on a crucial 4th and 1 on the Bothell 32 yard line, which set up the eventual game-winning pass from QB Jake Heaps to WR Kasen Williams for the 16-12 victory.

 

The Cougars almost pulled off an upset victory and Skyline finished the season undefeated and state champions.

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

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By Ryan Rohde

SportsPower Correspondent

 

 

1.) Monsignor Pace Spartans vs. Cocoa Tigers, December 12 (Florida Class 3A State Semifinal)

 

Who knew that a 5-7, 113-lb. sophomore would be the hero of this thrilling semifinal contest?

 

Cocoa kicker Cody Bell nailed a 52-yard field goal as time expired to send the Tigers to the championship game. Fueled by key defensive stands in the red zone, including an 85-yard interception return for a touchdown by Winfred Strickland, the Tigers defense held a potent Spartan passing attack to just 45 yards.

 

The game winning drive began at the Tigers’ own eight yard line with 7 minutes and 34 seconds left on the clock. Cocoa controlled the ball and the clock with key first downs and eventually set up Bell’s game-winner.

 

The following week, Bell gave his Tigers the state title over Godby when he booted the extra point in overtime to give Cocoa a 7-6 victory.

 

 

 

 

2.) South Panola Tigers vs. Meridian Wildcats, Dec. 6 (Mississippi Class 5A State Championship)

 

Heading into this most anticipated contest, South Panola was riding an 89-game winning streak, the third-longest winning streak in high school history, but the Tigers failed to capture No. 90.

 

Meridian ended South Panola’s bid for a sixth straight state title thanks to its thrilling 26-20 overtime victory. Led by “Mr. Football 2008”, quarterback Tyler Russell, Meridian was in position to break a 20-20 tie with 14 seconds left to play. However, the team’s 29-yard field goal sailed wide and sent the game into overtime.

 

Next, the Wildcats scored on their first possession but failed on the extra point, leaving them with just a six-point lead. After an incomplete pass and a short run, the Tigers were then faced with a 3rd and 8. On the ensuing play, QB David Renfroe was sacked by Jacoby Eason, which left South Panola with a 4th and 20 and its season and streak on the line. Once again, Eason made his way into the backfield, tripping up Renfroe for his second straight sack and enabling his team to capture the state title and bring South Panola’s feat to an end.

 

South Panola’s last loss came in the ‘02 state championship against Wayne County.

 

 

 

 

3.) St. Xavier Tigers vs. Trinity Shamrocks, Dec. 5 (Kentucky Class 4A Semifinal)

 

In this sensational semifinal matchup, St. Xavier and Trinity continued to prove why they share one of the greatest rivalries in the nation.

 

After a tough defeat to St. Xavier on Oct. 3, Trinity avenged its only regular season loss by beating St. Xavier, 28-21, in the state semifinals.

 

Trinity opened a 21-0 lead with 10 minutes left in the first half, but St. X closed the gap to 21-7 with 1:09 left in the second quarter. That’s when Shamrocks RB Tim Phillips (182 yards and 3 touchdowns overall) took it to another level. On the ensuing possession after the Tiger touchdown, Phillips took the first down handoff 79 yards to paydirt to stretch the lead to 28-7 going into the half.

 

But the Tigers clawed back and made the score 28-21 midway through the third. Trinity’s Ben Brislen then made an interception with 1:48 to go to seal the win for the Shamrocks.

 

Trinity would go on to win its fourth consecutive state title the following week over Simon Kenton, 48-0.

 

 

 

 

4.) Grayson Rams vs. Peachtree Ridge Lions, Dec. 5 (Georgia Class AAAAA State Semifinal)

 

Two of the best defenses in the Peach State proved their worth in a classic overtime grudge match.

 

Both teams had their opportunity to win the game before Lions RB Ronnie Smith sprung Peachtree Ridge into its second state final in three years. The Lions had the chance to win in regulation by driving the ball down to the Grayson 28 yard line with 23 seconds left. But Grayson DB Ches Whitesides intercepted a first down pass that sent the game into overtime.

 

Again, the Lions failed to put points on the board in the first overtime by missing a field goal attempt on the first possession. Grayson looked poised to win the game until a bad snap on a field goal try forced double overtime. The Rams managed a successful field goal on the first possession in the second overtime, which gave them a 10-7 lead.

 

That’s where Smith stepped up his game. Smith took the ball down to the Grayson one-yard line on the opening play. He scored two plays later to send Peachtree Ridge to the title game thanks to the 13-10 victory.

 

 

 

 

5.) Osbourn Eagles vs. Battlefield Bobcats, Nov. 14 (Virginia Div. 6 Northwest Region Semifinal)

 

Osbourn entered as a perennial Virginia power, and most recently captured the state title in ‘06, but this year was different. The Eagles were 6-4 and barely made the playoffs, but this is the game that started their improbable run to the state title game. Battlefield was 10-0 at the time and the top seed in the region.

 

To put it simply, and there was no way that Osbourn was supposed to win this game.

 

With 2 minutes left, Osbourn found themselves trailing 20-16 with the ball on the Battlefield 45. But 51 seconds later came the play of the game, and perhaps the entire playoffs.

 

The Eagles needed a 4th and 13 conversion to save their season and QB Thomas Keith came through. The signal-caller took the snap, looked down field and saw nothing, so he began to scramble. Keith eluded defenders for more than 20 seconds before throwing a pass that was tipped until RB Jerrell McFadden came down with the 17-yard completion on the Bobcats eight-yard line.

 

McFadden scored two plays later on a two-yard run with 20 seconds left, which eventually gave the Eagles a 22-20 win in dramatic fashion.

 

Osbourn went on to defeat three undefeated teams to reach the state finals before falling to Oscar Smith in the championship.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

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