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SportsPower Picks

Posted by Trish18 Mar 3, 2009

March Madness is just around the corner. Follow along with us as we track the teams and reveal who will make the field of 65 in Men’s Div. I hoops on the March Madness predictor. Here’s how our favorite bloggers see things shaping up as we head into the NCAA tournament: on why Duke Could Win the National Championship:'s Gary Parrish continues to rank Duke as a Top 10 team. Gary's readers continue to send him hate mail for not hating on the Blue Devils.


Who is right? Parrish, without a doubt. Not only are the Blue Devils one of the nation's best clubs, but Duke also deserves significantly more national championship consideration than the Blue Devils have received to date.


Gary is right to praise Duke's body of work. The Blue Devils are 12-5 against the RPI Top 75 and haven't lost to a team outside the RPI Top 50. More importantly, the Blue Devils are also the only team in the country that ranks in the Top 12 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. Duke is the country's sixth most prolific team on offense, averaging 1.17 points per possession, and seventh most stingy team on defense, allowing opponents only 0.88 points per possession.


Who besides Duke may cut down the nets in April? Connecticut, North Carolina, Missouri, Kansas, and BYU. (Ok, maybe not BYU). All five clubs (the Cougars included) are among America's 20 most efficient clubs on both offense and defense. with a look into the ACC:


The ACC has had a ton of upsets this year and there are two schools of thought about the strength of the ACC this year. Either you think this conference is so good that anyone can win on any given day or it is a conference that is overrated and not nearly as strong as the rankings.


North Carolina has been the favorite in all future books to win it all since the end of last season. If its possible for a team to be a little disappointing with only 3 losses this would be the case. Only one of there losses is to another top ranked team. Consistent defensive lock down play has been the problem in all of there losses this year. Definite #1 seed and will get to play pretty close to home first four games. Don't think they have enough depth in the back court to win 6 in a row. Final four for this team but no further.


Duke has had a very nice year and even though they still lack the inside presence they only have 5 losses and if they win out would split the conference title with UNC. Coach K has this team trying to avenge early losses the last two years in the NCAA tournament. This team looks like a #3 seed for this year’s big dance. Another 2nd round loss is a high probability. 2nd round games verse a #6 seed from a power conference like the Big East Syracuse or Pac 10 team like Stanford would give this team fits. No sweet 16 for Duke for third year in a row.


Wake Forest has been a welcome surprise for the ACC this year. Teague has been unbelievable and will be up for conference player of the year. This team is extremely hard to play against with there length and athleticism at all positions. This team is going to finish strong and end up with #2 seed come March Madness time. Love there chances to win it all will need Teague to keep up his scoring and play making. Definitely think they could beat any team out there and will be a force to at least the Final Four.


Boston College has beat both Duke and UNC this year but have also lost to Harvard. Very inconsistent team that can struggle to score when PG Rice is not hot from the field. Will get in due to there huge wins against the top two teams in the league but not a fan of a team that plays in spurts. Most likely will be a #9 seed that gets pounded first game.


Six ACC teams are for sure in for Craig but have three teams on the bubble with a chance to earn there berth: Virginia Tech, Maryland, and Miami Fl.


YahooSports blog, The Dagger, on Georgetown’s chances this year:


This year, way, way before any basketball was played, we anointed the Big East the Best Conference Ever™. That included Georgetown and Notre Dame, two teams that were supposed to be as good as any in their conference. They were supposed to challenge for the Big East, to push the conference over the top, to help get some insane number of bids so we all could say, yep, look at that Big East. Best Conference Ever™. After the bad loss to Louisville at home, it's official now: Georgetown is not that team. The Big East is not that conference.


Georgetown isn't improving. They're not regressing, either. They're just playing ... OK. And even if the Big East isn't as good as we said, even if our expectations for the now top-heavy conference were way too high, even if the only people who still think that way are named "Bob Huggins" -- OK basketball doesn't cut it in that conference. You have to be good. The Hoyas, conclusively, are not.


Andy Katz on why Oklahoma could be considered the best team in the country:


1. The Sooners have the best overall player and inside player in Blake Griffin;

2. Opposing defenses have trouble deciding who to lock down on the perimeter with the capability of three 20-plus point scorers in Willie Warren, Tony Crocker and Austin Johnson;

3. The Sooners added a sixth starter-quality player in Juan Pattillo in midseason, a wing who can defend multiple positions and can be a double-digit scorer off the bench.


The Final Word with an inside look into what the March Madness selection is all about:


The selection exercise was the most eye-opening, incredible experiences I've had in my relatively short career as a member of the sportserati. It was a glance into the overwhelming responsibility that these 10 people have every March, with millions of dollars and the interest of an entire nation on the line. But be sure of this: there was very little basketball in that room, and even less poetry. For a game that features the pure simplicity of propelled ball up into a raised goal, followed by the placid swish, that's plenty ironic.

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There are few states that can match passion for a sport like Indiana has for basketball. ESPN is currently hosting a debate regarding which state is the best basketball state—they are down to the final four and Indiana is still in the running. Growing up in the Midwest, Indiana is the first state that comes to my mind when I think of passionate basketball fans and players. 


Our friends over at took some time out from delivering quality high school basketball coverage on their site to answer a few questions for us about basketball in their state and what being a Hoosier is all about.  


1. Which of these players do you think will be the 2009 Indiana Mr. Basketball and why? Patrick Bade - Franklin Central, DJ Byrd - North Montgomery, Derek Elston – Tipton, Jordan Hulls - Bloomington South, Colt Ryan – Batesville, Stephan Van Treese - Lawrence North, Scott Wood – Marion


We would love to see each of these guys get Mr. Basketball, although we both know that isn't realistic. They all have worked their tails off these last four years, and we would hate to single any one kid out.


Some of our favorites, respectively, include Jordan Hulls from Bloomington High School South, Colt Ryan from Batesville High School and Stephan Van Treese from Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis, Indiana.


Hulls is the best player on his team on arguable the best team in the state, which is now ranked 4th nationally according to USA Today. He is headed to IU next year and can shoot the rock- something like 50% from deep.


Colt Ryan is a true leader and knows how to carry his team, if you haven't been keeping up with his season this year. Colt is headed to Evansville University next year and I can only imagine him fitting seamlessly into their program.


Stephan Van Treese, the kid has been under the radar since we can remember. He played varsity with teammates Greg Oden and Mike Conley.


There are numerous other D1 players on his Lawrence North team, so you can imagine why his numbers are blowing anyone out of the water. This kid is the real deal—both Louisville fans and Rick Patino realize it.


2. If you had to pick one Indiana high school basketball team that impresses you the most—which would you choose and why?


Bloomington South, hands down. We have been following them for the last few years pretty hard. Their atmosphere is true Indiana High School Basketball hysteria, their student section is prime and did I mention they are ranked 4th in the country? Hulls, Davis, Fromm and new comer Spencer Turner have been a blast to watch, this year especially. These guys are lethal. Let's see if they can manage to grab the title this year.


3. What piece of advice would you give athletes who are going through the recruiting process?


Don't let it get to you, no matter how many letters are in the mailbox. Keep a level head and go out and do your thing everyday. Work hard to play hard. Your hard work will pay off, believe! Parent's, don't push your kids too hard. Now-a-days a lot of kids are getting burnt out so early because of year around practice and crazy parents. Push them, encouragingly, reward for the good things they do and make it fun for them.


I once knew a kid who would shoot free throws outside right after school, in the dead of winter, as a fifth grader, until he would make 50 in a row. Then he'd come inside and log his hours on a calendar then head to Greene County, Indiana to watch players like A.J. Graves and Brody Boyd.


He still logs his hours to this day, even as he practices at Butler University, where he plays now. Yea, all Pistol Pete style...but if basketball is truly in your heart, I'm sure you understand exactly what we're saying.


4. A member of our community points out that implementing class basketball might be responsible for detracting from “Hoosier Hysteria”. As someone who shares a passion for Indiana high school basketball and is immersed in the scene, I’d love to get your thoughts on the matter. He says:


For about 30 years, starting out as child, I had the privilege of attending the HS boys basketball Final Four. 15,000 at Hinkle, 17,000 at Market Square and even 30,000 at the dome. That was before "class basketball." This year, I attended the class finals at the downtown field house. There were no more 6,000 fans there for any one of the four games. Has class basketball damaged the passion of Indiana high school basketball?


Well, I'm not sure you really need to have 15K screaming fans to make Indiana High School Basketball have that Indiana HS Basketball feel, know what we're saying? We've been in gyms that only hold 2K people and are packed, standing room only, dripping in sweat, cheering, and it's been a BLAST!


We will have to admit though, that because of class basketball, conference championships, respectively, seem meaningless. It seems, since single class basketball was before my time, that for smaller schools, the state championships were the sectional championships, and if you were lucky enough to win those- good for you!


Bobby Plump (the man who hit the most famous shot in the history of Hoosier Hysteria. It was the shot that gave little Milan High its miracle state title in 1954 over powerhouse Muncie Central and spawned a Cinderella story told a million times over, most notably in the movie "Hoosiers.") said, "Since they went to class basketball, Milan has been to the semi-state twice, and nobody knows it," Plump said. "That gives you the idea that people don't care. The sectional winners in the old days will be remembered a long time after the four state champions are remembered…When you can play, you want to play against the big boys. You might get your brains beat out, but it won't be the last time that happens in life."


5. On a related note, I was following ESPN Rise’s Great State Debate on which state has the most passionate basketball fans. They nominated New York, Illinois and several other states as belonging in the bracket that fans would ultimately vote on. But they selected Indiana as on the bubble for even being included in this discussion and made the fans vote it in over a couple other bubble states. I couldn’t believe Indiana didn’t make the initial cut. The fan support from the Hoosier state ended up being overwhelming and Indiana made it in the group of states to be considered as the best. Could you talk a little bit about what it’s like coaching basketball in one of the most passionate, storied states in the country and what it means to you?


High school basketball is something that will always be instilled in Indiana culture; it's a way of life here. If anyone has, or maybe even hasn't, traveled up to New Castle, Indiana and seen the Indiana High School Basketball Hall of Fame, I'm sure you are familiar with they saying, ""In 49 states, it's just basketball … This is Indiana."


The movie, "Hoosiers," seems to really hold true as to how basketball is here. It still seems kind of funny when I'm out in Florida or somewhere and see the movie on the Blockbuster shelf. Yes, it still brings a big goofy, involuntary, smile to my face...I mean, how could it not.


6. has Bloomington South ranked the best in the state. Do you think they have what it takes to continue the momentum through the post-season and win a state title?


Bloomington South seems SOLID. After their win against Detroit Country Day, it's hard telling what all the Panthers are capable of. We would love to see them finally grab a title, but you can never be too sure. If everyone stays health, keeps on the same track they are on now...they should have little trouble.


Check out for in-depth, up-to-date high school basketball coverage.

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By Ryan Rohde

SportsPower Correspondent



1.) Seminole Seminoles (Sanford, Florida)




Led by the “Big Three”, the ‘Noles made an improbable run that ended with the Class 6A state championship. Ray Ray Armstrong, Andre Dubose and Dyron Dye used their versatility on both offense and defense to upset Miami Northwestern in the title game, 28-21. The ‘Noles amassed a 13-2 record after going 4-5 in ’07 and failing to make the playoffs. Dye and Armstrong will play at Miami together while Dubose will be a Florida Gator.








2.) Osbourn Eagles (Manassas, Virginia)




They weren’t expected to win their first playoff game, or the second, or the third for that matter, but that is exactly what the Eagles did on their way to the Class AAA Div. 6 title game. After a 3-4 start, the Eagles won their final three games and rode that momentum into the playoffs. The 6-4 regular season gave the Eagles the fourth and final playoff berth in the Northwestern regional playoffs. When the dust settled, Osbourn found themselves in the title game, posting playoff wins over three undefeated teams before falling in the finals to national power Oscar Smith, 54-24.








3.) Phillip Ely, QB, Plant Panthers (Tampa, Florida)




The Plant faithful might have believed that their season was about to go down the tubes when star quarterback Aaron Murray went down with a broken leg at midseason. But that is where backup Phillip Ely stepped in.




The sophomore stands only 5-10 and 150 lbs. and had big shoes to fill, but the emerging star came through for his team. Ely led Plant to a 7-0 record and a playoff berth. Perhaps Ely’s shining moment was the victory over local rival and national power Armwood for the region title, something Murray was never able to accomplish in his career. Ely threw for 143 yards and two scores in the 17-14 win. Murray returned to action the following week and led Plant to the Class 4A state title. Ely finished his short stint at quarterback completing 60% of his passes and throwing for 1,726 yards and 19 touchdowns.








4.) Woodstock Wolverines (Woodstock, Georgia)




After starting the season 2-4, no one gave the Wolverines much of a shot at the playoffs, let alone a playoff run. But Woodstock made history by posting the program's first playoff win in only its second playoff appearance. Woodstock handed Walton its first home loss since the '06 season and knocked out a talented Norcross team. The dream ended as the Wolverines almost upset eventual state champion Camden County in the region championship, falling 18-17.





5.) Buford Wolves (Buford, Georgia)




It's tough to say that a Buford team could be a surprise, but the Wolves won their second straight Class AA state title in impressive fashion. Buford is a title contender year in and year out, but the ’08 team was not expected to steamroll to the championship like they did. The Wolves graduated five all-state players from the 15-0 squad of last year and returned just four starters in ’08.




But Buford doesn’t rebuild, they reload. Boosted by a dominating offensive and defensive lines, the team's average margin of victory this year was 31 points, and the defense posted five shutouts, all in consecutive games. The closest Buford came to defeat was against Blessed Trinity, a solid league rival who took Buford to the wire, 14-10. The Wolves defeated Calhoun, 45-21, for the state crown and extended their win streak to 30 games.








To contact correspondent Ryan Rohde, send an e-mail to



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By Brett Manney

SportsPower Correspondent



1.) Kasen Williams, Soph., WR, Skyline Spartans




The Skyline Spartans finished the season undefeated at 14-0 and were crowned Class 4A State champions in the state of Washington. And on a team filled with stars, Kasen Williams emerged this season and proved he was worthy to start on the Spartans squad. The 6-2, 190-lbs. sophomore led the team in receptions (56) and receiving yards (936) after playing sparingly last season. The highly touted sophomore earned all-conference and All-Seattle Times accolades in helping the Spartans to their second straight state championship.




2.) Grant Union High School, Sacramento, California




Grant Union flew under the radar all season despite its unblemished record (14-0), mostly because the team's name isn’t De La Salle and that they don't play in the very talented Southern Section. The Pacers defeated heavily favored Long Beach Poly, 25-20, in the California Interscholastic Federation Open Division Bowl game. With the win, the Pacers became the first team from the Sacramento area to win a state football championship and put the school on the football map. Under head coach Mike Alberghini, the Pacers have 18 consecutive playoff berths, 15 league titles and six Sac-Joaquin section championships.




3.) Southridge Skyhawks, Beaverton, Oregon




After a 6-4 campaign last year, the No. 7 seed entering the state tournament went 12-2 and captured the Clas 6A state championship in Oregon. The Skyhawks upset Lake Oswego, 35-21, and shut down the squad's Oregon State bound QB Jack Lomax in the title game. With a powerful offense that scored under 20 points just twice (their only losses), the Skyhawks finished third in their league. Led by state defensive player of the year Paul Tuma, the Skyhawks held opponents to just 12.4 points per game and their two losses were by a combined six points.




4.) John Hughes, RB, Centennial Coyotes, Peoria, Arizona




After losing his brother and leading rusher (1,338 yards) Jeff Hughes to graduation, John Hughes came back as the third-leading rusher on the team behind his brother Anthony. Yet, John emerged from both of his brothers’ shadows to help the Coyotes repeat as Arizona 5A state champions. The Coyotes finished the season 14-0 largely due to John Hughes’s 1,600 yards rushing and 31 touchdowns. Despite being just 5-6, Hughes played a big part in the Coyotes repeating as state champions.




5.) Mullen Mustangs, Denver, Colorado




The Mullen Mustangs overcame all odds to win the Colorado Class 5A state championship. The Mustangs entered the tournament as the No. 7 seed and left as the state champions of Colorado. After losing four Div. I players and five all-state selections last year, the Mustangs appeared to be in a rebuilding phase. Instead, the Mustangs reloaded rather than rebuilt and continued their storied success in football. The program was headed by all-state and Stanford recruit TE Ryan Hewitt, who proved to be an outstanding blocker and led the team with 476 yards receiving.








To contact correspondent Brett Manney, send an e-mail to



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By Adam C. Warner

SportsPower Editor


Jan. 16


1.) Chester Clippers (State PR: 87.97, Rank: 5) vs. Cathedral Prep Ramblers (State PR: 80.02, Rank: 19), McDonald’s Classic


This matchup should serve as a good gauge as to where these two teams are at within Class AAAA in the Keystone State. Both teams are currently ranked within the top five in AAAA by BasketballPower. Prep is seeking its fourth state title and first under rookie coach Mark Majewski. The Ramblers are coming off a District 10 Class AAAA title game appearance last season and have won three D-10 titles overall. Expect Rasean Thrower, Andrew Sweny, Bob Spoden and Adam Blazek to make frequent contributions for the Ramblers and cause some matchups problems for Chester.


Meanwhile, Chester has six state titles to its resume and two in the last four years. 6-7 standout Rahlir Jefferson, a Temple recruit, is coming off of a 27-point performance against Chichester and will be poised for another dominant output. Laquan Robinson and Maurice Nelson will also provide key support for the Clippers, who are riding a six-game winning streak since losing to Reading, 76-72, in two overtimes on Dec. 17. 


2.) Fowler Falcons (State PR: 68.97, Rank: 20) vs. Jamesville-Dewitt Red Rams (State PR: 91.12, Rank: 1)


Two Onondaga League Freedom Conference powers clash on Friday night in Central New York. Jamesville-Dewitt is currently at the top of the Freedom National Division standouts and are riding a 30-game winning streak, which is tops in the state. Look for Syracuse recruit Brandon Triche to have a strong performance after his 26-point output against Christian Brothers Academy. Senior guard Alshwan Hymes and 6-8 freshman center Dajuan Coleman are also formidable players and should complement Triche well.


On the other side, Fowler is headed by the dynamic quartet of Ron Monroe, Malcolm Jones, Chris Gilkes and Tysheim Barfield – four players capable of putting up double digits every night. The Falcons showed their potential in a 99-point effort against East Syracuse-Minoa on Dec. 11.





Jan. 17


3.) Rice Raiders (State PR: N/A, Rank: N/A) vs. Pine Crest Panthers (State PR: 84.89, Rank: 1), Big Apple Classic at Baruch College


The Raiders (NY) have jumped out to a 6-1 record so far this season thanks to the sensational play by standouts James Stukes and Durand Scott. Rice has already shown the ability to win from behind last week after beating Christ the King despite trailing after three periods.


Meanwhile, the Panthers (FL), who are the reigning class 3A state champs, are looking like championship contenders once again behind the steady play of elite guard Brandon Knight, who recently scored 41 points against Dillard. 6-5 forward Ed Waite, Traveon Henry and Billy Thompson, Jr. also round out a talented cast. This should be a terrific matchup of two teams that love to push the basketball down the floor and score points on transition.


4.) St. Patrick Celtics (National PR: 84.91, National Rank: 14) vs. Christian Brothers Academy Colts (State PR: N/A, Rank: N/A), Battle at the Boardwalk in Asbury Park














Fans can expect a close game between these two Garden State powers. St. Patrick is playing extremely well as of late and is coming off an undefeated performance at the Myrtle Beach Ball Classic, which saw them knock off national power Wheeler (GA) to win the tournament. Derrick Gordon, Dexter Strickland and Paris Bennett makeup one of the most formidable trios in the nation and they excel at both ends of the floor. Each player has the ability to take over a game at any given time.


Christian Brothers Academy also sports a balanced scoring attack that is known to be aggressive and unrelenting. Junior guard Roy Mabrey, sophomore forward Matt McMullen, senior forward Pat Light and senior guard Brian Neller head his talented unit, which is coming off a 17-8 campaign in ’08. A win against the Celtics will prove that the Colts belong in the same conversation of the best teams in the region.


5.) Northland Vikings (State PR: N/A, Rank: N/A) vs. San Diego Cavers (National PR: 67.59, Section Rank: 13)










Two talented squads from different ends of the country will battle for supremacy in the Flyin’ to the Hoop Tournament in Dayton on Saturday. This showdown will feature two of the most talented players in the nation in Jared Sullinger and Jeremy Tyler.


Sullinger, an Ohio State recruit, is the top playmaker for the Vikings and has been carrying the load for his side thus far. The frontcourt force routinely posts double-doubles and will be hard-pressed not to do so this weekend.


Meanwhile, at 6-9 and 240 lbs., Tyler is a special player and will command extra attention by Sullinger and the Vikings. The junior averaged 18 points, 15 rebounds and 8 blocks per game last season in leading the Cavers to the California Interscholastic Federation San Diego Section Division I crown for the first time in over 30 years.


This will be a fun game to watch as both teams hope to lean on their










Jan. 18










6.) DeMatha Stags (National PR: 97.47, National Rank: 3) vs. Neumann-Goretti Pirates (National PR: 80.03, Class Rank: 9)










Two of the region’s premier teams battle in a nonconference matchup over the weekend. – a showcase of multiple future NCAA recruits. Josh Selby and Naji Hibbert lead an impressive cast for DeMatha. The Stags are arguably one of the deepest teams in the nation, which has been evident in wins against Whitney Young and Paul VI.


While the Stags have been dominating most of their competition, they will likely be facing one of their toughest tests of the season in Neumann-Goretti. The Pirates are led by Wake Forest recruit Tony Chennault, Lamin Fulton, Mustaffa Jones and Dan Stewart. This poses as a great matchup of inside/outside talents. Stewart is monster on the boards, as evidenced by his 22 point, 17 rebound performance vs. St. Vincent-St. Mary (OH). Meanwhile, Chennault is an explosive force on both ends and especially on transition.























Jan. 19










7.) St. Anthony Friars (State PR: N/A, Rank: N/A) vs. Putnam City Pirates (National PR: 81.87, Class Rank: 4)










Two unlikely powers go head-to-head in the eighth annual Spalding Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Mass. at Blake Arena. More than 40 squads will be participating in the annual event, which will represent 16 states and Washington D.C.


St. Anthony (NJ) -- headed by great talents Jamee Jackson and Dominic Cheek – is currently off to a great start thanks in part to team defense. The Friars have been holding many teams so far in the 30s and 40s.


Meanwhile, the Pirates (OK) are headed by Oklahoma signee Kyle Hardrick and Memphis recruit Xavier Henry, who has already scored 40 points in a game this season. With the addition of Hardrick this year, who transferred from Norman, the Pirates are title favorites in Oklahoma and now recognized as one of the midwest’s top teams.














Jan. 20







8.) Detroit Country Day Yellowjackets (State PR: 95.69, Rank: 1) vs. Belleville Tigers (State PR: 92.11, Class Rank: 1)










A pair of Michigan heavyweights take to the hardwood in one of the premier matchups of the year in the state. The Yellowjackets face several talented Ohio squads before they face the Tigers, so to come out on top, the unit will likely need a top performance. Detroit is led by Ray McCallum, Jr. and sharpshooter Jordan Dumars, who is lights-out from beyond the arc. Bennie Fowler is also a key contributor and has double-digit scoring ability.


On the other side, the Tigers have been flying under the radar this year in Michigan and hope to have a breaking out party against DCD. The Tigers are headed by sharp-shooter DeShon Dobbins, Booker Stoudmire, Mohamed Conte and Kourea Hayes, who all form a talented lineup that can hit you in a variety of ways.


9.) Kiski Area Cavaliers (State PR: 69.17, Class Rank: 60) vs. Latrobe Wildcats (State PR: 90.69, Class Rank: 2)










The last time these two conference rivals met back on Dec. 16, Latrobe pulled out a thrilling 62-61 victory on the road. This time, Kiski is looking to pull of a road win against the top team in the conference. Kiski was once a pushover, but not anymore as evidenced by the first battle between these two. The Cavaliers are led by 6-2 senior guard Brady Pacific, who averaged 18 points per game last season, and Zack Barker, who is a major three-point threat.


Jeff Yunetz leads Latrobe and can put up 30 points on any given night. The Wildcats are currently in the drivers seat in the conference at 6-0, but Kiski has a major opportunity here to gain ground. Latrobe will need to be at the top of its game. The squad has impressive wins over Penn-Trafford and Hempfield, in addition to Penn Hills earlier in the year.







Jan. 22










10.) St. Frances Academy Panthers (National PR: 85.25, Region Rank: 10) vs. Mount St. Joseph Gaels (National PR: 85.25, Regional Rank: 9)










This should be a great matchup of Mid-Atlantic powers. St. Frances is in the drivers seat of the Baltimore Catholic League and MIAA Class A conference thanks in part to the play of top scorer Terrell Vinson and 6-9 forward Greg Lewis.


Mount St. Joseph is led by the trio of senior Gerald Hill and juniors Eric Atkins and Ryler Beaumont, all tremendous scoring threats that can also back it up defensively. St. Frances is 7-1 in the conference and MSJ is 9-2.


This is the second of two regular season matchups between these conference rivals. Back on Jan 2, St. Frances pulled out a 49-40 win which saw Vinson score a game-high 19 points. Mount St. Joseph needs one of its best performances of the year to come out on top this time around.                                                                               

To contact editor Adam C. Warner, send an e-mail to



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By Ryan Rohde,



SportsPower Correspondent







Scott County Cardinals (State PR: 91.72, Natl. Rank: 21) vs. Bryan Station Defenders (State PR: 90.09, Regional Rank: 23):

Scott County comes in off of a big win over defending state champ Mason County. The game featured six ties and seven lead changes as the Cardinals scored the game’s final nine points to secure a 71-64 win. Rickie Phares led the way for the Cards with 22 points and 10 boards. 6-3 freshman guard Tamron Manning has shown that he’s one of the best young players in the state.


Bryan Station is coming off a big win of its own over Dunbar (KY), 80-61. Senior Charles Ashford has emerged as a big-time scoring threat for the defenders. Against Dunbar, he dropped 25 points to go along with 13 rebounds, five assists and four steals. Fellow senior Jeremiah Mabson has added a nice scoring threat from beyond the arc. The winner of this one is the frontrunner for the District 42 crown.




Oak Hill Warriors (Natl. PR: 76.66, Regional Rank: 23) vs. South Atlanta Hornets (Natl. PR: 85.26, Class Rank: 1)




Oak Hill Warriors (Natl. PR: 76.66, Regional Rank: 23) vs. Christ School Greenies (Natl. PR: 96.00, Rank: 2):

Oak Hill (VA) has been a longtime national powerhouse and plays probably the hardest schedule in the nation. This weekend might be the squad’s toughest stretch of the year. The Warriors begin on Saturday against South Atlanta (GA) and star forward Derrick Favors in the Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Mass. Favors has been dominant all season and is the frontrunner for National Player of the Year honors. He leads a Hornet offense that averages 94 points per game.


Oak Hill then takes on North Carolina private school power Christ School in the Greensboro Coliseum. The Greenies feature Duke recruit Mason Plumlee. The senior center has averaged 20 points in his last two contests. Look for a great inside battle all game as Plumlee goes up against Oak Hill’s Keith Gallon. The 6-9, 300 lbs. athlete is an Oklahoma commit and possesses raw strength and size. Warrior point guard Lamont Jones is the quarterback of the club and look for him to control the tempo in both games. The rest of Oak Hill’s schedule is very hard, but if they get through this weekend unscathed, they have a good shot of finishing undefeated.


Leflore Rattlers (Natl. PR: 94.50, Rank: 8) vs. Lincoln Railsplitters (Natl. PR: 72.07, Group Rank: 13):

Here’s another top matchup in the heralded Hoophall Classic. Leflore (AL) has rebounded nicely after dropping two midseason games to Oak Hill (VA) and Fairfax (CA) by a combined six points. Senior forward DeMarcus Cousins is one the top prospects in the nation. He is the backbone of a team that averages 80 points per game while holding opponents to just 50. This contest should be high-scoring as Lincoln (NY) is a fast-moving team. SG Lance Stephenson is one of the most prolific scorers in the nation and has the ability to pull up from anywhere. This is going to be a great inside vs. outside high-scoring affair.


DeMatha Stags (Natl. PR: 97.47, Rank: 3) vs. Gonzaga Eagles (Natl. PR: 85.76, Region Rank: 24):

There are a lot of great rivalries in the DC area, and this is one of the tops on the list. Gonzaga is coming off a big statement win over league rival Bishop McNamara. 6-7 senior Ian Hummer (Princeton) led the charge for the Eagles by dropping 17 points and grabbing nine boards. The Eagles have a deep bench, which will likely play a key role if they want to upend the Stags. DeMatha is arguably the most talented team in DC, if not the region. The squad’s lone loss came to Leflore in the Iolani Classic in Hawaii. The Stags have dominated league play thus far, most recently handing Bishop Ireton a 32-point beating. SG Naji Hibbert is one of the city’s best and will take his talents to Texas A&M next fall. Expect a huge crowd for this one, as the winner will be in good position in the ever-crowded WCAC.

Gonzaga Eagles



Boyd Anderson Cobras (State PR: 99.50, Rank: 1) vs. Winter Park Wildcats (State PR: 78.88, Rank: 15):

Two of the top teams in Florida square off in this big Class 6A match up. Anderson has steamrolled through the first part of the schedule, posting wins against Montverde Academy (FL) and Miller Grove (GA). Brian Bynes leads the undefeated Cobras and is regarded as one of the top guards in the state. Winter Park’s Adam Jones is a versatile forward who can score from anywhere. The 6-7 junior is one of the top prospects in the state in the class of 2010. This is the toughest game for either team all year and the winner should be the frontrunner heading into the playoffs.


Bass Pro Shops Tournament of Champions – Springfield, MO

The eight-team field features some great individual and team talent in the 25th annual Tournament of Champions. Word of God (NC) and No. 1 recruit John Wall is paired with local power Glendale (MO). White Station is a traditional Tennessee powerhouse and will face St. Raymond out of New York. Junior guard Joe Jackson runs the offense for White Station and his tremendous quickness will impress a lot of onlookers. The game to keep an eye on might be McEachern (GA) vs. Central (MO). McEachern ranks second in the AAAAA Georgia rankings and now has a chance to prove themselves against some quality out-of-state competition. This is a must-see for Springfield-area high school hoops fans.


Martin Luther King Hardwood Classic - Centennial High, GA

There will be a great slate of action in the Atlanta area as local powers get after it. Miller Grove (GA) takes on Wheeler (GA) in what is probably the headline game. Wheeler’s staring five might be the best in the state and features four major Div. I prospects in Ari Stewart, Phil Taylor, Dequan Jones and Richard Howell. Mfon Mdofia will be heavily relied on if Miller Grove wants to upend Wheeler. McEachern comes back from the Bass Pro Shops Tournament of Champions to take on Columbia, a team that possesses one of the top seniors in the nation in Travis Leslie. Other games on the docket are Tucker vs. Wesleyan and Marietta vs. host school Centennial. The Hardwood Classic is a great chance to showcase the talent-rich Atlanta area.


Flyin’ to the Hoop Tournament – Dayton, Ohio

It’s considered one of the top high school tournaments of the year. The ’09 tourney features some of the most talented schools in the state of Ohio and from around the nation. Las Vegas-area powerhouse Findley Prep will flex its muscles as they get to play three of Ohio’s best squads in Bedford, Garfield Heights and Wayne. Maryland power Montrose Christian is making an appearance as well. Montrose head coach Stu Vetter leads the Mustangs. In his 33rd year at the helm, Vetter has posted an astounding 783-98 record. 6-8 forward Isaiah Armwood and 6-10 center Mouphtaou Yarou are both seniors and have signed with Villanova. This is a great opportunity for some Ohio schools to test their mettle against some top national talent.






To contact correspondent Ryan Rohde, send an e-mail to



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By Brett Manney

SportsPower Correspondent



Westchester Comets (State PR: 91.66, Rank: 30) vs. Fairfax Lions (State PR: 93.36, Rank: 14), January 16th:




This is a huge league game for two national powers and will decide which will be head honcho in California. Fairfax features two BasketballPower players to watch in USC recruit Solomon Hill and big time recruit Renaldo Sidney. Westchester will look to take down the talented and tall Lions on their home court behind its up-tempo style.  This big-time matchup features two of the best teams not just in the city of Los Angeles, but in the nation. It should be a gem to watch.

Fairfax Lions





McClymonds Warriors (State PR: 92.38, Regional Rank: 2) vs. De La Salle Spartans (State PR: 84.53, Section Rank: 3), Martin Luther King Classic, Jan. 16:




The defending state champions and super athletic Warriors meet the fundamental Spartans in a matchup of two contrasting styles. The Spartans tend to be patient and run a Princeton-style of offense. Look for the Warriors to push the ball at every chance in this matchup of Bay Area powers. McClymonds' 47-game winning streak is on the line with forward Damon Powell leading the way. The Spartans have been led all season by their catalyst Brandon Smith in the backcourt.


De La Salle Spartans



Provo Bulldogs (State PR: 95.00, Regional Rank: 12) vs. Orem Tigers (State PR: 87.62, Regional Rank: 48), Jan. 16:




Provo brings a perfect record into the game and might meet its toughest opponent yet. Orem also is undefeated and looks to make its mark on high school basketball in Utah. Both teams need a win which would look good on their resume when tournament seeding comes out. The loser goes home with a sour taste in its mouth as the winner advances still unscratched.





Westview Wildcats (State PR: 74.33, Class Rank: 11) vs. Jesuit Crusaders (State PR: 93.72, Regional Rank: 4), Jan. 16:




This one poses as a huge Metro Conference game between Oregon Class 6A foes. Jesuit has stormed out of the gates but Westview has already played a tough schedule featuring Fairfax (CA) and Mt. Vernon (NY). The Crusaders' lone loss was to Dominguez (CA) and they look like the early favorite to capture the 6A state crown in March.  A win would make either team the frontrunner in a very competitive league. Reliable Hayes Garrity and the Wildcats hope the home court advantage will help against Stephen Holt and an athletic Crusader group.





Federal Way Eagles (State PR: 83.28, Class Rank: 3) vs. Kentwood Conquerors (State PR: 72.34, Class Rank: 9), Jan. 17:    




The No. 2 and No. 3 ranked Class 4A teams by the Seattle Times square off for supremacy in Washington. Federal Way is loaded with talent and has only lost once, a one-point decision, 67-66, to Kentridge. Kentwood is led by big man Josh Smith, who is regarded as one of the top juniors in the country. Are Smith’s shoulders broad enough to carry the Conks to a win over the talented Eagles?





Highland Hawks (State PR: 92.05, Class Rank: 2) vs. North Mustangs (State PR: 79.03, Class Rank: 7), MLK Classic, Jan. 19:




Highland has been a pleasant surprise this season in Arizona and will take on North in the Martin Luther King Classic. North has suffered some tough losses but looks to rebound against arguably the best team in the state. Highland brings plenty of offense and multiple scoring options. Look for a full house to watch these two teams slug it out at the Classic.


Rainier Beach Vikings (National PR: 94.00, Rank: N/A) vs. Dominguez Dons (National PR: 63.68, Section Rank: 95), Holiday HoopFest, Jan. 19:




A clash of two state powers from different states meet at the Holiday HoopFest. Dominguez struggled early in the season without star Jordan Hamilton but have regrouped. Most recently, the unit took down Fairfax. As the No. 2-ranked team in Class 3A, according to the Seattle Times, Rainer Beach is always one of the best teams in Washington and features a high-flying squad equipped with plenty of athletes. D'Vonne Pickett is a major scoring threat for the Vikings and Dominguez will have to shut him down if they want to come out on top. If you like defense, this is not your game, but fans will certainly be entertained in a likely high-scoring affair.


Mater Dei Monarchs (National PR: 99.80, Rank: 1) vs. Young Dolphins (National PR: 78.86, Rank 332), Hoophall Classic, Springfield , Mass., Jan. 19:




Mater Dei will look to keep its winning streak alive as they travel across the country to play in the Hoophall Classic. Young is a very talented team with fearless shooters. All of the team's losses have come against some talented teams, but they can certainly make a statement by taking down the nation's top squad, according to BasketballPower. Mater Dei's starting five is comprised of all Div. I recruits who all have the ability to score at ease. Will a cross country trek have an impact on the Monarchs against a tough and talented Young squad?


Bellevue Wolverines (State PR: 79.50, Class Rank: 3) vs. Bellarmine Prep Lions (State PR: 52.58, Class Rank: 34), Jan. 19:




Two of the best teams in the state of Washington battle for bragging rights at the King Hoopfest. Bellarmine Prep guard Abdul Gaddy will play on his future home court at the University of Washington as he tries to lead his squad with a victory over a very talented Wolverines squad. The Wolverines have three players scoring in double figures and are a tough matchup for any team. Will Gaddy put on a showing on his future home floor and give his squad a needed win?


Decatur Golden Gators (State PR: 77.85, Class Rank: 6) vs. Federal Way Eagles (State PR: 83.28, Class Rank: 3), King Hoopfest, Jan. 19:




Here's another top-notch game at the King Hoopfest featuring two experienced teams. Federal Way will have a tough weekend as they first have to get through Josh Smith and Kentwood a few days earlier before matching up against the Gators, ranked No. 6 in Class 4A by BasketballPower. The Gators have tremendous all-around talent headed by Marcus Tibbs, who is Mr. Everything. Meanwhile, the Eagles' duo of Andre Barrington and Michael Hall III are a dangerous 1-2 scoring punch. Decatur could pull off the upset with tough defense against the powerful Eagles.








To contact correspondent Brett Manney, send an e-mail to



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By Jimmy Oliver

SportsPower Correspondent



Katy (TX) wins back-to-back state titles:








The Tigers started the season 0-2, which included a 42-0 blowout loss to The Woodlands.  From there, it was back to business as head coach Gary Joseph led his team to a 12-1 record the rest of the way. 





This was the sixth overall title for the Tigers and the program's fifth in the last 11 years. Will Jeffery was a workhorse at running back for Katy and racked up 142 yards on 22 carries in the state title game. Meanwhile, linebacker Sebi Carbajal led one of the state's best defenses which only got stronger as the season continued.








Prosper (TX) graduates 17 players only to win Class 3A state crown:





Prosper experienced a solid year in '07 and finished at 8-4 overall. But heading into the '08 season, the Eagles lost 17 players to graduation. It was safe to say that expectations weren't calling for a championship. 





However, thanks to a dominating defense and a highly-touted rushing attack, the Eagles embarked on a 12-game winning streak en route to the Class 3A Div. I state title.  The streak included an impressive win over Wylie, 39-38, in double overtime in the state semifinals.





Quarterback Hunter Nix and running back Bryan Monroe combined to form one of the top offensive duos in the state and were a huge factor down the stretch for the Eagles.











Garrett Gilbert, Sr., QB, Lake Travis Cavaliers (TX):




As one of the nation's most heralded prospects, Gilbert capped his brilliant high school career in outstanding fashion.  Gilbert threw for 4,827 yards and 55 touchdowns in leading Lake Travis (16-0 overall) to the Class 4A Division I state title.  




Gilbert threw for five scores in the championship game vs. Longview and set a Texas passing record by finishing his high school career with 12,534 yards, surpassing current Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell by just two yards.







The standout -- who will take his game to the University of Texas in the fall -- also broke his own single-season passing record with 4,852 yards this year.



There is little doubt that Gilbert will go down as one of the best football players from the Lone State State. 




Russell Shepherd, Sr., QB, Cypress Ridge Rams (TX):




As one of the most athletic, fast, competitive players in the region, Shepherd impressed from the very first week of the season. And based on his most recent performances, the standout has all the tools to make life difficult for defenders at the next level, too. 




The LSU prospect had a monster season for Cypress Ridge (7-3 overall) through the air and on the ground.  As the Texas Class 5A offensive player of the year, Shepherd threw for 1,843 yards and 20 touchdowns while running for another 1,946 yards and 28 touchdowns.











To contact correspondent Jimmy Oliver, send an e-mail to



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Northern Region


By Adam C. Warner

SportsPower Editor



1.) Jeremiah Young, RB, Steelton-Highspire Steamrollers (PA)



Led by the standout running back, the Steamrollers won the PIAA Class A title while averaging 35 points per game.


Thanks to another phenomenal season, Young is the Keystone State’s all-time leading rusher and this year racked up 2,930 yards and 32 touchdowns, making it the third straight year he has gone over the 2,000-yard rushing mark.


With 8,529 total rushing yards and 148 touchdowns for his career, Young will certainly go down as one of the greatest running backs to come out of the Keystone State.







2.) Don Bosco travels cross-country and pulls off a 23-21 win over De La Salle (Calif.), Sept. 27



This game had been on everyone’s radar since it was announced on the schedule, and it surely did not disappoint as two of the nation’s premier teams battled to the very last seconds.


Despite traveling cross-country to face a daunting challenge in De La Salle, Don Bosco Prep put forth arguably its best performance of the season in week three. Remember, this is the same De La Salle program that went unbeaten for 151 straight games and was undefeated over 12 seasons (1992-2004).


Back in September, Patrick Murray booted a 19-yard field goal with just 10 ticks remaining to give the Ironmen a sensational 23-21 win over the Spartans at Owens Field in Concord in front of nearly 7,000 raucous fans.


Earlier in the half, Murray missed an extra point attempt after a Don Bosco score that left his team trailing 21-20 with just a few minutes remaining.


Talk about redemption.






3.) Joe McMurry, RB, Hudson Falls Tigers (NY)



McMurry concluded a sensational three-year varsity career by rushing for 2,563 yards and 34 touchdowns to send his squad to the state Class B Final Four.


McMurry, who averaged 7.28 yards per carry and amassed a total of 352 carries, accumulated eight games in which he rushed for 230 yards or more. The senior also had five games in which he accounted for four touchdowns or more. The only two games that McMurry didn’t get over the 100-yard mark were both Hudson Falls losses.


The tailback finished with career totals of more than 5,200 rush yards and 65 touchdowns, good for third in Section II history for both categories.







4.) Curtis Drake, QB, West Catholic Burrs (PA)



Drake proved to be the catalyst for one of the most impressive offensive units in the entire region in '08. The signal-caller became the first quarterback in Philadelphia history to rush for more than 1,000 yards and pass for more than 1,000 yards in the same season.


Drake rushed 115 times for 1,639 yards and 21 touchdowns, good for a whopping average of 14.3 yards per carry. Meanwhile, the standout passed for 1,354 yards and 15 touchdowns. Altogether, Drake was responsible for 36 total scores and led the Burrs to the PIAA Class AAAA championship game.


Altogether, Drake passed for 3,287 yards and 41 touchdowns while running 252 times for 2,500 yards and 36 scores.


Next up for the senior: Penn State University.







Tie-5.) Wayne Hills Patriots (NJ)



Despite no major players returning this season, the Patriots (12-0 overall) steamrolled through their competition en route to the North Bergen Interscholastic League Division 1 championship and the North Jersey Section 1 Group 3 title.


Impressive, sure, but even more astonishing is that Wayne Hills accomplished this feat for the fifth consecutive year.


All the while, the Patriots pushed its state-leading winning streak to 52 games.


Despite a tough schedule featuring Ramapo, Pascack Valley and Lakeland Regional, the Patriots racked up 474 total points, good for 40 points per game behind quarterback Mike Quinn and tailback Ronnie Driesse. The state champs allowed just 9 points per game as well.





Tie-5.) Brian Baldrige, RB, Thomas Jefferson Jaguars (PA)



Baldrige was named the PIAA Class AAA Player of the Year after rushing for 2,312 yards and 34 touchdowns for the state champs. The standout also had 120 yards in the state title game vs. Archbishop Wood, leading the Jaguars to a 34-7 victory.


Meanwhile, Baldrige missed all of the 2007 season due to injury, but two years ago ran for 1,400 yards and 19 touchdowns. As a sophomore, Baldrige rushed for 140 rushing yards and a score in the WPIAL finals vs. Blackhawk.


Baldrige has proven to be one of the most consistent and big-game players in the entire region.






To contact editor Adam C. Warner, send an e-mail to



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Southern Region


By Ryan Rohde

SportsPower Correspondent



1.) Washaun Ealey, Sr., RB, Emanuel County Institute Bulldogs (GA): Ealey led ECI to the Class A state title game this season with 41 touchdowns and 2,825 yards. The two-time Class A player of the year finished his high school career with a state-record 133 touchdowns. Ealey possesses an uncanny ability to see the field and has the speed to explode through the holes. He left his mark on the record books and will be a Georgia Bulldog next fall.



2.) Tim Simon, Sr., RB, Cordova Blue Devils (AL): The senior carried the Blue Devils all the way to the 3A finals in '08. The 6-2, 216-lbs. bruiser rushed for 2,958 yards and 42 touchdowns, good for fifth and third all-time for a single season in Alabama. He ended his career third all-time in touchdowns (129) and rushing yards (8,536), just 126 yards shy of a state record. He was named the Birmingham News player of the year. Simon also proved to be a veracious linebacker and will take his talents to Ole Miss next season.



3.) Tyler Caldwell, Sr., QB, Cullman Bearcats (AL): The signal-caller forever left his mark at Cullman and in the state of Alabama. The 6-2, 210-lbs. quarterback finished his senior campaign with a single-season state record of 4,132 yards passing and 37 touchdowns. Caldwell also set a new state record for completions and attempts when he went 42 for 61 in a game against Mountain Brook. The Auburn commit was named the Class 5A running back of the year and was named 5A first team all-state by the Alabama Sports Writers Association.



4.) South Panola Tigers and Meridian Wildcats (MS): Both of these teams deserve recognition for achievements of the year. The first goes to South Panola for extending the nation's longest active winning streak all the way to 89 games. It's simply an amazing stat that may not been seen again for a very long time. The feat stands as the third longest winning streak in the history of high school football and had been ongoing since '03 campaign. The second goes to the Meridian Wildcats for ending South Panola’s winning streak in the Class 5A state title game. It took the Wildcats overtime to upend the Tigers, 26-20, and end South Panola’s bid for a sixth straight state championship.



5.) Maryville Rebels and Hillsboro Burros (TN): The day after South Panola’s streak ended, so did the second longest active streak in the country as Maryville was grounded by Hillsboro in the Class 4A state title. The Rebels, winners of 74 straight, held the honor as nation’s longest active streak for less than 24 hours. Maryville’s win streak is good for fourth all-time. Meanwhile, Hillsboro started the season 2-2, before reeling off 11 straight wins. The Burros' defense carried the team in the title game. A field goal with 8:52 left to play gave the Burros a lead they would not relinquish. The defense closed the door, stopping the vaunted Maryville offense on 10 of 11 drives, leading to the 10-7 victory. The championship is the first in Hillsboro football history and ended the Rebels bid for a fifth straight crown.




To contact correspondent Ryan Rohde, send an e-mail to

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Western Region


By Brett Manney

SportsPower Correspondent


1. Jake Heaps, Jr., QB, Skyline Spartans (WA): Heaps was the catalyst for the two-time defending Class 4A state champions. The 6-2 195-pound junior signal-caller piled up the hardware this season, including Gatorade state player of the year and a commitment to the 2010 U.S. Army All-American game. In 2008, the strong-armed Heaps threw for 2,888 yards and 38 touchdowns with only four interceptions. Perhaps the most impressive stat on his resume is his 28-0 record and two state championships as quarterback. Regarded as one of the best quarterbacks in his class, Heaps will have a long list of colleges to choose from when he makes his decision sometime before the '09 season.








2.    Jesse Parker, Head Coach, Gilbert Tigers (AZ): Parker made history on Oct. 24 when Gilbert defeated Gilbert Highland 21-0. The game gave Parker his 309th overall win, which made him the winningest coach in Arizona state history. However, because the Tigers failed to win another game after that, Parker is now tied with current Tucson Amphitheater head coach Vern Friedli at 309 victories each. Parker resigned as football coach in early December and hopes to still coach but his future is still up in the air.







3. James Boyd, Sr., QB/DE, Jordan Bulldogs (Calif.):

The ultra-athletic Boyd was a nightmare for opposing coaches all season long. The 6-5, 225-pound dual threat was virtually unstoppable at times. The USC recruit led the state with 4,266 yards passing and 44 touchdowns. Yet he is recruited to play defensive end where he had 104 tackles and eight sacks for Jordan. The Los Angeles City Section player of the year hopes to continue his success next year as a Trojan.







4. Adam Hall, Sr., WR/RB, Tucson Palo Verde Titans (AZ): The Arizona Republic state player of the year was a jack of all trades this  season. The natural 6-5, 205-pound wide receiver converted tailback rushed for 25 touchdowns and caught five on offense. On defense -- where he played four different positions -- he returned three interceptions for touchdowns and one fumble for a touchdown. And on special teams, he returned three kickoffs for touchdowns and one punt for a touchdown. His 38 total touchdowns make his achievements even more special. Still undecided on college, the stud athlete should have his pick of the litter when he makes his mind up.







5. Timpville Thunderbirds (Utah): They completed their second undefeated season and their third straight state championship in '08. The Thunderbirds' last two games were won by a combined eight points, but the squad still found a way to win the Class 4A championship. The dominant Thunderbirds scored fewer than 30 points just once back in week one and continued their reign in Utah while establishing a dynasty. With a 36-game winning streak, the Thunderbirds head into '09 with a target on their backs.







To contact correspondent Brett Manney, send an e-mail to



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By Jimmy Oliver

SportsPower Correspondent





1.) North Shore Mustangs (TX) vs. Lufkin Panthers (TX), Oct. 3: Despite playing on the coattails of a 28-day layoff due to the devastation of Hurricane Ike, North Shore won its state record 73rd straight regular-season game in thrilling fashion.


Despite trailing for most of the game, North Shore earned the victory thanks to quarterback Alex Tillman finding DeAndrew White in the end zone with 26 seconds left, enabling the team to come away with a 28-21 win in hostile territory. Southlake Carroll had previously held the state record from 1986 to 1994.


It was simply inspriring and unthinkable to see North Shore not only win the game in thrilling, come-from-behind fashion, but for the squad to set a state record on 28 days rest that -- a time that witnessed complete destruction of the communities around them.




2.) Jenks Trojans (OK) vs. Union Redskins (OK), Sept. 12: These two bitter rivals proved yet again why they share one of the best rivalries in the nation.



In the latest version of the “Backyard Bowl,” the two Oklahoma juggernauts – who have shared the last 12 large-school titles – battled to overtime before Jeremy Smith’s 1-yard touchdown run proved to be the difference.



Union had been leading 17-3 early in the fourth quarter before Beau Marsaln made back-to-back touchdown throws to tie the game at 17-17. Union had a final chance to win in regulation, but the squad’s 40-yard field goal attempt hit off the upright.



In the extra session, Union’s defense held strong while the squad’s offense found pay dirt on Smith’s 1-yard scamper.


These two teams met again for the 6A title, a game that saw Jenks come away with a 34-20 victory. Talk about redemption.



3.) Baton Rouge Central Wildcats (LA) vs. Destrehan Wildcats (LA), Dec. 5: Although this Class 5A semifinal contest featured six fumbles, there were even more storylines that vaulted this one into the top five.



For instance, Ed Cutno took over at quarterback for Central after four plays because starter Will Briscoe couldn’t go anymore due to a torn ACL suffered earlier in the week. Cutno filled in admirably and went 13-27 for 191 yards and completed passes to eight different receivers, sparking his side to a 7-6 halftime edge.



But Cutno also made a costly mistake with this team in the red zone, throwing an interception to Antonio Parker, which was returned 106 yards for a touchdown, an early score which proved to be the different in the game.



Meanwhile, Wyndrick Smothers of Destrehan put his team on his shoulders and led them on two second half scoring drives. Smothers threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Armstrong to help his team knot the game and then threw a 67-yard pass that set up Marshall Charles’ 14-yard touchdown run.



Josh John’s 24-yard touchdown catch from Cutno put Central within one score late, but the Wildcat defense held strong and came away with a 21-14 win. 



4.) Longview Lobos (TX) vs. Midway Panthers (TX), Dec. 6: This one-point Lone Star State playoff game makes the list as the No. 4 matchup in the top five games of the year as Longview prevailed in overtime, 43-42, on an Aaron Johnson touchdown run.



But that touchdown was anything but ordinary. As Johnson was being tackled near the goal line, the tailback still managed to extend the ball across the plain. After review, the officials ruled that it had indeed crossed the goal line for a score and a Longview victory.



The win sent the Lobos to the state championship contest.



This one featured a postseason matchup that was decided in overtime, was a high-scoring affair, had some controversy and also had an exciting play that proved the difference. It doesn’t get much better that that.





5.) Allen Eagles (TX) vs. Hightower Hurricanes (TX), Dec. 18: The Texas 5A Division 1 final had all the makings to be a classic, and it surely did not disappoint.  Both teams were loaded with speed and athletic ability and it showed.



Allen proved they were a team of destiny by coming from behind to beat Hightower, 21-14, in the season’s pinnacle contest despite playing with backup quarterback Tucker Carter since the second round of the playoffs.


After the squads traded turnovers in the first quarter, the game settled down with Hightower up 7-0.  Perhaps the play of the game came in the second quarter when the Allen defense broke up a potential touchdown on a fourth and goal attempt by Hightower.



Late in the third quarter, Allen’s Jeremiah Williams caught a pass out of the backfield for a nifty 3-yard touchdown to tie the score at 7-7. The Eagles scored two more touchdowns to go ahead 21-7 with 5:17 to play, but Hightower wasn’t finished. Darius Johnson took the ensuring kickoff 77 yards to set up the Hurricanes’ next score, making it 21-14 with 5:00 to play.


Allen would hold on for the victory and signal the conclusion to one of the more unprecedented state championships for some time in Texas. 



To contact correspondent Jimmy Oliver, send an e-mail to




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By Adam C. Warner

Senior Editor




St. Ignatius Wildcats (OH) vs. Glenville Tarblooders (OH), November 8


It doesn’t get much better than this for Ohio football fans as two of the state’s most storied and talented teams battled for the right to advance in the Division I regional football playoffs.


However, this postseason game between state powers and crosstown rivals was decided in a most unorthodox fashion.


Instead of a high-scoring affair or late scoring drive that decided the game, the Wildcats beat the Tarblooders without scoring one touchdown. St. Ignatius advanced by scoring on two field goals and a blocked kick that went for a safety.


St. Ignatius trailed Glenville, 7-5, midway through the fourth quarter before quarterback Andrew Holland found wideout Connor Ryan for a 40-yard pass play that would set up Seamus Hennessey’s game-winning 37-yard field goal with 6:11 left.


Once the offense got the job done, the St. Ignatius defense followed suit. The Wildcats put forth two giant defensive stands in the final five minutes of the game to prevail 8-7 and move on in the playoffs. The Wildcats would eventually go on to win the Div. I state championship with a 28-20 win over Elder on Nov. 29.




Muskegon Big Reds (MI) vs. Davison Cardinals (MI), Nov. 22


This epic postseason matchup between state juggernauts was one for the ages.


Davison seeimingly had a trip to the finals wrapped up before Muskegon pulled off one of the greatest comebacks in state history.


The Cardinals led by 22 points late in the third quarter and even 16 with less than five minutes left before the Big Reds made their move.


Muskegon recovered two onside kick attempts and scored 19 points in the last four and a half minutes to take the lead for good. Greg Wicklieffe scored on a 20-yard run with just 42 seconds left to give his side the decisive edge.


Davison had one last chance for redemption but Muskegon’s Elan Banks made an interception in the end zone to secure his team’s victory and mark one of the most thrilling and unimaginable wins in Michigan high school football history.




Bethel Park Black Hawks (PA) vs. Wilson Bulldogs (PA), Dec. 6


This Keystone State semifinal matchup featured it all: two teams with power ratings over 90, high-octane offenses, tremendous individual efforts and one fantastic finish.


Kicked Patrick Lydon booted the game-winning 25-yard field goal in triple overtime to lift Bethel Park to a 38-35 win over Wilson and earn his team a trip to the PIAA title game.


Entering the contest, Bethel Park had a reputation for its power running attack, but it was actually the squad’s aerial attack that cashed in. Quarterback Erik Olson was 17-27 for 288 yards and five touchdowns and brought his team back from a seven-point deficit late in the third quarter and tied the score.


Both teams couldn’t come up with any more points in the fourth quarter, but traded touchdowns in each of the first and second overtime sessions.


Then in the third overtime, Wilson had the ball from inside the 5-yard line, but turned it over when Matthew Bliss intercepted Alex Fegley’s throw.


Lydon attempted a 23-yard field goal to win the game for Bethel Park, but his try sailed wide. But due to a running into the kicker penalty on Wilson, Lydon and his teammates had one more chance.


For Lydon – who had never stepped foot on a football field as a player before the season -- and Bethel Park, the rest is history.





Don Bosco Prep Ironmen (NJ) vs. De La Salle Spartans (CA), Sept. 27


This game had been on everyone’s radar since it was announced on the schedule, and it surely did not disappoint as two of the nation’s premier teams battled to the very last seconds.


Despite traveling cross-country to face a daunting challenge in De La Salle, Don Bosco Prep put forth arguably its best performance of the season in week three.


Patrick Murray booted a 19-yard field goal with just 10 ticks remaining to give the Ironmen a sensational 23-21 win over the Spartans at Owens Field in Concord in front of nearly 7,000 raucous fans.


Earlier in the half, Murray missed an extra point attempt after a Don Bosco score that left his team trailing 21-20 with just a few minutes remaining.


Talk about redemption.


The Don Bosco community will remember Murray’s final field goal for decades, and not just for the thrilling conclusion and redemption factor in the game, but because East Coast football proved that it can not only play with the nation’s best, but beat them, too.





West Catholic Burrs (PA) vs. Wilmington Area Greyhounds (PA), Dec. 12


Many prognosticators pegged West Catholic for an easy victory over Wilmington in the PIAA Class AA championship back in December.


It’s easy to see why as West Catholic entered averaging 50 points per game and nearly 400 yards of offense per contest.


However, thanks to a second half surge and a late-game stop, Wilmington Area proved the state wrong and came away with one of the most unprecedented wins in Keystone State history.


Wilmington stopped West Catholic quarterback Curtis Drake just inches from the end zone in double overtime to earn its first state championship in school history and claim one of the biggest upsets in state finals history, 35-34.


From the outset, all of the predictions seemed right on. The Burrs racked up 260 yards rushing behind running back Raymond Maples and a 14-0 lead in the first half. It seemed that everything was going right for West Catholic.


But thanks to second half scores by Shane Wagner and Derrick Burns, the Greyhounds came right back and tied the score at 14-14. The teams would play to a 21-21 tie at the end of regulation before heading into overtime.


After trading touchdowns in the first overtime, Burns scored on a 1-yard run in the second extra session to give Wilmington a 35-28 lead. West Catholic marched right down and answered the call when Maples scampered in from two yards out to make the score 35-34 Wilmington.


But instead of going for the extra point attempt and third overtime, West Catholic head coach Brian Fluck decided to go for two points and the win.


On the ensuing play, Drake was tackled just inches shy of the goal line thanks to a swarming Greyhound defense.




To contact editor Adam C. Warner, send an e-mail to




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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



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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



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