We’re in the heart of district and regional schedules across the country. With Friday in the books, here are the big takeaways we’re holding on to with more Super 25 action in the books:
1) Security scares in Ohio mar big Homecoming game
President Obama spoke recently about the shocking normalcy of campus gun violence in America. While he was focused on more recent collegiate events in Oregon (and now in Arizona as well), the President just as easily could have been referring to high schools nationwide. The threat is so real that any verbal threat has to be taken extremely seriously, which is what led to panic earlier this week in Hilliard, Ohio, where a Hilliard Darby student was arrested for threats of gun violence. When similar threats emerged hours before the school’s Homecoming game on Friday, the town brought in a significantly increased police presence. While nothing came of the empty threats —”Rumors are just rumors,” a Hilliard junior told Columbus news network WBNS — that didn’t keep them from having a profound effect on the proceedings. Just take this quote from the mother of a Darby High senior:
“The group on homecoming court said a prayer before they had to walk out in front of everyone,” Michelle Estepp told WBNS.
Just another quiet victim of the threat of gun violence in America’s schools.
2) St. Thomas Aquinas’ loss is latest testament to importance of place kickers
Anyone who questions the importance of the kicking game need only consult with the University of Texas. It’s cost the Longhorns two very big games already this year, and now it appears to have cost Florida power St. Thomas Aquinas a shot at a national crown.
Aquinas kicker Marco Salani missed a 20-yard chip shot field goal in the final minute of the Raiders’ 6-3 loss to Deerfield Beach, sealing a huge upset loss that seemed unthinkable before Friday night. Yes, the conditions were awful. And yes, Salani somehow hit a 25-yarder moments before his miss, which was wiped out by a Deerfield Beach offsides penalty. Still, the loss, and on such a make-able field goal, underscores both the importance of a successful kicking game to a high school program and the stunning lack of proficiency in that role.
3) Can anyone make sense of Ohio?
Let’s just call it what it is: The Buckeye State is a bloodbath for high school football teams. This week’s victim was USA TODAY Super 25 No. 21 La Salle, which fell at the hands of traditional Cincinnati power St. Xavier. The Bombers (that’s St. X) could sympathize, because they fell in an upset when they were ranked in the Super 25. Same goes for St. Edward, the Cleveland-area squad that appeared to be a legitimate top-5 challenger before falling prey to an early season upset.
All of this means that the Ohio playoffs will be spectacular, but that the state may not get the credit for its true depth of talent. Just as it often doesn’t. That’s a shame, though also a blessing for football fans in Ohio. They’re the ones who get to watch some of the nation’s tightest match ups, week after week.
4) The end of a very long losing streak
Thirty straight games. That’s how many losses Des Moines North was staring at entering Friday night. More than three years of constant futility, before a surprising 21-17 upset of Roosevelt finally brought the pain to an end.
“We had a great week of practice, and we fought back when we were down,” said Joe Muldoon, North’s defensive coordinator, told the Des Moines Register. “We were definitely more focused.”
More focused, and more successful in the second half; the Polar Bears shut out Roosevelt while scoring two touchdowns themselves in the seven-point victory. Congratulations, Polar Bears. Now let’s see North build on a final spike of success.
5) Power problems in New Jersey
It was a power outage that had nothing to do with a running game.
With fewer than six minutes remaining in the third quarter of a match up between Rumson-Fair Haven and Long Branch, the transformers at Rumson’s Borden Stadium blew out, sending the entire facility into complete darkness. There were no emergency lights turned on, and the game was eventually called off, with the two teams still to decide if they will reconvene to finish it at a later date.
Rumson-Fair Haven led 28-0 in the non-divisional matchup at the time of the outage, so it’s entirely possible that the game will just be deemed an official result. And given a 90 minute delay due to lightning before the start, perhaps the early trip to the showers was a blessing in disguise.