That’s another big-time football Friday in the books. This was the week of narrow upsets in the Super 25, as well as plenty of other terrific contests of the tight variety worth mentioning. Here’s what we’re taking stock of now that everything has shaken out:
1) Stop moralizing about high school football
Pardon us while we briefly step up on the soapbox that has been trodden raw this week, but we feel the need, if only for a second. First things first: Everyone take a deep breath. In the days since a pair of Texas high school football players targeted a referee and another died of a tragic injury, the media has depicted high school football as a moral cesspool. It has also resorted to analogies with the tragic events of Sep. 11, 2001 to try and put the sport in perspective. Both of these views are apocryphal and, to be frank, loads of bull(editor’s snip!!). High school football is simply not that important. It’s a small window of an individual’s formative teenage years. At it’s best, it can teach valuable lessons like the importance of teamwork and fair play. At it’s worst it can teach valuable lessons … like the importance of teamwork and fair play. The point is that even at it’s worst, high school football is an educational process for America’s youth. It also happens to serve as a connective tissue within a community, serving as a Friday night pivot around which a high school’s cultural life revolves in many parts of the country.
And that is the full extent of what high school football actually is. Or at least what it should be. It’s not a metaphor for all that is good in America. It’s not a breeding ground of amoral, win-first hedonism. It’s just football, for all of its faults and wonderful cultural contributions and sinews. Let’s all just shut up and let the kids play, shall we?
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2) Tight upsets continue to jostle Super 25 rankings
It’s one thing for six Super 25 squads to be involved in very tight games. It’s anther thing entirely for most of them to lose those tight matchups. Yet that’s precisely what unfolded on Friday, as demonstrated by the scores you see below:
Those are five big upsets in the Super 25, including two Top 1o teams going down and two bona fide blowouts of perennial challengers. Some of this may be typical early season adjustments as true contenders continue to shake themselves free of the proverbial pretenders.
Still, for teams as highly ranked as Colerain, Archer and Cocoa to go down on the same night is a statement in itself. Are other strong local programs suddenly on par with national powers? Perhaps. Is pressure from early season rankings and their subsequent attention trickling down to otherwise steady-Eddie prep players? That’s possible, too.
Whatever is going on, it’s causing havoc for the Super 25, and so many of the teams that thought they had many more weeks in the national rankings ahead.
3) Some Journey for Pennsylvania RB
Ponder for a moment the Friday night of Journey Brown: Your team scores more than 100 points, and barely wins. You rack up the second-most individual yards in a game in high school history. Oh, and you score 10 touchdowns — and 68 total points — for good measure.
Let’s put Brown’s Pennsylvania record 720 yards on the ground in perspective. The running back physically ran more than half a mile, and that’s only on the official distance he covered. Add in all the cuts, feints and jinks, and Brown almost certainly traveled more than a physical mile while accumulating some of the most amazing stats in football history. As of now, Brown is not being heavily recruited by any major Division I programs. He doesn’t have a profile on any of the major recruiting services, and the Meadville star generally falls below the radar entirely; he has just one highlight video on YouTube.
Perhaps that will change now. If anything can be a catalyst for loads of attention, one would think 725 yards and 10 touchdowns might do it.
4) No. 1 Bishop Gorman routs another power, and the race to repeat is on
Regardless of talent, winning a national championship always requires an element of luck. In the case of Bishop Gorman’s 2014 title, the Gaels required a couple of lucky bounces against Utah power Bingham and then some timely big plays in other games. The 2015 Bishop Gorman team is apparently trying to minimize that “luck” factor. So far, so good.
The Gaels rolled to another cakewalk victory against a fellow national power on Friday, steamrolling past Washington’s most decorated program, Bellevue, by a final score of 35-7. With preseason national title competitors such as IMG Academy and De La Salle already suffering key losses and Gorman showing no signs of slowing, the race is well and truly on for the Gaels to earn a second straight national title. The team may have lost a few major star names — Cordell Broaddus and Alize Jones are making movies and touchdowns at UCLA and Notre Dame, respectively — but what they lack in big bluster they may have gained in experience for some critical players, none more important than quarterback Tate Martell.
In his second year on campus, Martell has added an additional layer of sure-handedness to his moxie and knack for making a big play. The result is a field general who makes the Gaels a legitimate touchdown threat on every down, and who possesses the individual speed and elusiveness to turn a potentially very bad play into a big gain whenever he needs to.
Yes, Gorman’s schedule is difficult enough that it’s far too early for the school to start sizing up space in the gym to hang another banner, but at the very least Kenny Sanchez might want to start researching whether he and brother Tony could form the first ever brotherly duo to win a national title in back-to-back seasons.
5) Wild finish to a huge game in Indiana
If Pennsylvania was host to the craziest game of the night, Indiana was home to the wildest finish. As chronicled by our friend Kyle Neddenriep of Gannett partner The Indianapolis Star, Hamilton Southeastern somehow rallied from a 28-point deficit to emerge with a 39-33 victory against rival and previously undefeated state power Fishers.
While the comeback was impressive, it was the final 2:30 that were true bedlam. Here’s how Neddenriep chronicled the entire scene as it unfolded:
Following a crucial fourth-down conversion, HSE’s Aaron Matio scored on a 47-yard run to put the Royals ahead 39-31 with 2:23 left. Fishers stayed alive as Zach Eaton completed a 21-yard pass to Angelo Howze on fourth-and-long. Another long pass to Kade Orris and two pass interference calls moved Fishers to the HSE 5.
With the clock ticking inside of 20 seconds and the Tigers, out of timeouts, Eaton was stuffed on a quarterback sneak at the 1-yard line. Fishers attempted to reset and spike the ball to kill the clock, but the ball squirted free and HSE recovered with 1.5 seconds left.
“(The official) said the HSE kid shot the gap and wasn’t offside and knocked the ball out of (Eaton’s) hand before he could spike it,” Wimmer said. “That was their explanation. I’ve never, ever seen that. But that was the explanation. I thought we got in on the play before (the Eaton sneak). But I guess not.”
Rather than take any chances with the final 1.5 seconds, HSE took the snap and willingness accepted a safety, cutting the final edge to 6 but ending the game as time expired.