Florida's finest HS running backs face off

Glades Day's Kelvin Taylor and Yulee's Derrick Henry shine on national TV

The Takeaway: Sept. 28-29

Inspiring, unusual or otherwise noteworthy stories from the world of high school football.

The marquee matchup proved surprisingly lopsided.

On Friday, the No. 1 and No. 2 rushers in Florida state history — Glades Day's Kelvin Taylor and Yulee's Derrick Henry — went head-to-head in a much-hyped, nationally televised game on ESPNU.

Apart from the ridiculous stats of the teams' respective stars (both are within striking distance of the national rushing record), there were a lot of angles to like about this one. Taylor, a Florida commit, was playing in the Jacksonville area, where his father, Fred, starred for the Jaguars. (Fred was in the crowd Friday, as was Kelvin's future coach, Will Muschamp.) Henry committed to Alabama prior to the game, all but ensuring he and Taylor would meet again — and soon — in an SEC matchup.

In terms of competitiveness, it was hard to know what to expect. Glades Day, while a very small school, has seven state titles to its name, including two during the Taylor reign, while Yulee's emergence has been fueled almost entirely by Henry. In the end, however, it wasn't even a contest: Taylor had an impressive 222 yards and touchdown, but Henry went for 350 yards and six scores. (It was the second week in a row he ran for six touchdowns.)

As good as Henry was, the difference may have been the Yulee defense, which stopped four Glades Day fourth-down attempts (including a goal line stand on the Gators' opening drive) and picked off a Glades Day pass in the red zone.

Roll Tide, tape

It was a heck of a week for Henry. Last week he went for a state single-game record 502 rushing yards. On Friday, he committed to Alabama and laid claim to being the state's best back — maybe of all time. But arguably the most riveting piece of tape from or about Henry this week came even before the opening kickoff on Friday, in the form of a pre-game pump-up speech by Henry.

Doesn't pass the sniff test

Friday night really stunk for New Albany (Ind.) mayor Jeff Gahan. It's bad enough that his city's high school football team was clobbered by Jeffersonville (Ind.), 49-12. But now, as a result of the "friendly" wager he made with Jeffersonville mayor Mike Moore before the game, Gahan will be forced to clean the rival city's sewer system holding tank.

It's not going to be pretty:

"We've been letting things fester down there at the waste water facility for the past couple months, anxiously awaiting Friday night's big game,"Moore said in a press release. "The smart money is on the Red Devils. We've got a stronger team both mentally and physically."

Just another case of adding olfactory insult to injured pride.  

Can't get enough

As noted last week, offenses seems to be carrying the day more than ever, at least going by some of the scores and numbers being put up around the country this season. What's particularly noteworthy is that these aren't high-scoring blowouts, which have always been commonplace: they're highly contested shootouts. Fitting then that three of the best examples this week come from Texas (via Greg Tepper's The Point After):

  • Friendswood quarterback — yes, quarterback — Jordan Wood ran for 401 yards and threw for 122 as his team downed Galena Park 79-63. Wood's counterpart for Galena Park, Darrow Adams, had 295 yards and five touchdowns passing and another 109 yards and two TDs rushing.
  • Cy Ranch got 268 rushing yards and two touchdowns (one rushing, one a 99-yard kick return) from running back Keith Ford and another seven touchdowns (five rushing, two passing) quarterback Cole Martin. They needed every bit of that production in edging Langham Creek, 64-63, in overtime on Friday. Ford punched in the winning 2-point conversion. Creek QB Connor Feist threw for 537 yards and five touchdowns, completing 28 of 42 passes.
  • Last but not least, Lufkin downed A&M Consolidated 71-68 in quadruple overtime. Lufkin QB Tyler Stubblefield threw for 562 yards (!) and eight touchdowns (!!) as the teams combined for more than 1,400 yards of offense.

Amazingly, the Lufkin-A&M thriller wasn't even the longest game in Texas on Friday. That distinction belonged to Fabens and Cathedral, who went five OTs before Fabens emerged with a 13-7 victory. In Massachusetts, Coyle-Cassidy needed six overtimes to knock off Bristol-Plymouth.
Florida's finest HS running backs face off
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