We’re in the midst of the playoff rush, so without further ado, here are the main takeaways we gained from Friday’s action:
1) Crowd violence overshadows action once again
Another week, another violent incident overshadowing everything that happens on the field. This time the gunshots came in Miami, where a playoff game between Miami Central and Carol City was ended prematurely by gunshots either in or near the stadium. Where they came wasn’t immediately clear. The good news is that none of the fans in the stands or players or coaches on the field were injured in the incident. The bad news is that the incident overshadowed a Florida playoff game featuring one of the great powers of recent years, Miami Central. The game was called as a Miami Central victory, and it’s not as if Carol City was on the comeback trail. That’s irrelevant to the larger message: Gun violence in schools and school events is awful. It’s inexcusable, intolerable and on Friday it ruined another football game.
2) A wild Wisconsin escape
It’s been 42 games since Kimberly lost a football game in Wisconsin. For much of Friday night, it seemed that clock would reset after 41. Chasing a third-straight Division I championship, Kimberly trailed by 21 late in the third quarter. The Papaermakers scored three times to knot the game at 42 in the final three minutes of regulation, then scored one final touchdown following a quick Arrowhead three-and-out to capture a stunning turnaround and stretch the win streak into a fourth season by a wild 49-42 final score. And the streak plays on.
3) No. 21 Lone Peak comes up just short
Perhaps it’s less that Lone Peak came up short than that its game went long? The Knights fell behind 10-0 in the first half before cobbling together a concerted rally that took up nearly the entire second half, pushing out to a 14-10 lead. Then, just as the Knights were preparing to celebrate a state title and surefire spot in the USA TODAY High School Sports Super 25, Herriman put together the game’s most efficient and effective drive, moving 57-yards and scoring the game-winning touchdown with just 22 seconds remaining on a 1-yard touchdown dubbed the “Mustang Miracle 2015.” It was a bittersweet ending for a team that had rocketed to national prominence and a Super 25 ranking with a memorable upset of Utah power Bingham just one week earlier. How things can change quickly in the playoffs.
4) American Heritage stopped short of three-peat
In the end, it just wasn’t to be.
After two straight state title campaigns, American Heritage was thwarted three games shy of a three-peat, with Hallandale knocking off the No. 16 Patriots, 27-20, just three weeks after American Heritage doubled up the Chargers. The key to the change in fortunes was four fumbles by the Patriots, with Hallandale using the four fumbles to comeback from a 20-7 second half deficit. The final result was a stunning exit for American Heritage and a premature end to the careers of defensive end Brian Burns and the rest of the American Heritage seniors. Good news for Patriots fans? The 2015 edition is a very young one, which is almost certain to learn and gain valuable experience from the setback. Small silver linings from a large cloud, but a silver lining nonetheless.
5) DeShawn Smith is putting up one of the great rushing seasons of all-time
Somehow, few colleges seem to have taken notice of DeShawn Smith. Now maybe that will finally change since the running back is close to producing the greatest rushing season of all-time. Smith ran for six more scores on Friday, moving up to No. 6 on the all-time national list with the Nos. 3-5 slots directly in sight. He’s run for more than 3,500 yards and 63 touchdowns, an almost comically insane total made all the more remarkable by the fact that Smith is clearly Nature Coast’s offensive option A, B, and C.
If he never scores another high school touchdown, Smith will already have a lasting legacy. And if Nature Coast keeps winning? He might just have a shot at catching T.A. McLendon.