“Mr. High School Sports” – Spanning the States
A lot of high school football history has been revised in 2010 throughout Pennsylvania, not just in the WPIAL. But how do our own record-breakers measure up with some of the others who recently made headlines elsewhere in America? Mr. High School Sports was dying to find out.
Scholastic football may never be the same in the Show-Me State, where two kids recently showed us quite a lot. There’s a kid out west you might see in a Major League Baseball park someday, let alone an NFL uniform, and while I try to wrap my head around the latest national high school football rankings, I’ll clue you in on some of the teams to watch in the PIAA Playoffs. With help from our friends at MaxPreps.com, here are the latest headlines from all over the greatest (sports) country in the world:
MISSOULA, MT – As western Pennsylvania players like Rushel Shell, Austin Miele, and Derek Buganza break and pursue records, to say nothing of what Ryan Brumfield did out east, I look for ways to put their accomplishments into perspective. How dominant are these dominant players? None of them have done what senior receiver Ben Roberts of the Sentinel (Missoula, Montana) Spartans has. Sentinel’s season ended in October, but not before Roberts became a four-time state record holder. Roberts owns the Montana high school football records for most single-season receptions (108), career receptions (235), career receiving yards (3,373), and career touchdown receptions (31). Oh, yeah, I forgot…he’s an even better baseball player too. Prior to the start of his senior year he set several single-season marks for Missoula’s American Legion baseball team, including most triples and homeruns, and he is being scouted by the world champion San Francisco Giants, among many other MLB teams.
BLUE SPRINGS, MO – If only Rushel Shell had been born in Missouri, he wouldn’t need roughly 2,500 more yards to become the state’s all-time rushing leader. That record fell last Friday when Blue Springs (Blue Springs, Missouri), a Class 6A team, won its playoff opener. Blue Springs tailback Darrian Miller carried the mail 25 times for 188 yards to become the Missouri high school football career rushing king with 6,427 and counting, breaking the record set by Dalton Krysa of Fort Osage (Independence, Missouri) just last season. Miller has committed to the Kansas Jayhawks.
SPRINGFIELD, MO – Hillcrest (Springfield, Missouri) wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham won the 2009-10 MaxPreps Male Athlete of the Year award as only a sophomore, and it’s fairly clear why. Although Hillcrest’s campaign ended Monday in a Class AAAA postseason defeat, the damage had already been done to the record books. Last Friday his 77 receiving yards in a first round victory already made him Missouri high school football’s all-time receiving yards leader with 4,079; his three TD catches that night gave him 51 all-time, which is a state record as well. With still one more year of high school to go, Green-Beckham now also holds Missouri’s single-season receiving yards record with 1,622.
COLERAIN, OH – A glimpse at the latest national high school football rankings according to MaxPreps reveals an interesting discrepancy between their two polls. The computer-based Freeman Rankings say the Colerain (Cincinnati, OH) Cardinals are the top team in America, and it has the Trinity (Euless, Texas) Trojans in the No. 13 spot. The human-based Xcellent 25 has an almost exact opposite take on things, however. That poll has Trinity as the number one team in the land and Colerain at No. 12. Which is more accurate? It’s tough to tell. Colerain has outscored opponents 470-111, while Trinity has outscored opponents by an even greater margin of 513-93.
Last week marked the beginning of the high school football playoffs for teams throughout the Commonwealth, not just those in the WPIAL. It’s not too early to start looking ahead to the PIAA Football Playoffs, and which teams might stand between District 7’s best and gold medals in Hershey. It looks like the wheels are in motion for another big year at states by the local winners, but before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s look at some of the other teams in western PA you should be keeping an eye on:
PIAA DISTRICT 6: Tyrone, playing out of Class AA, is the only unbeaten team in the district and has a terrific athlete in receiver/defensive back/return specialist Derrick Emigh. Johnstown, a one-loss team, appears to be the top Class AAA squad, led by 1,900-yard passer Gervon Simon. Penns Manor (Clymer, PA) looks like the team to beat in Class A featuring dual-threat QB Danny Ferens, who led the Comets to their first-ever Heritage Conference title.
PIAA DISTRICT 9: Can “Air Buganza” navigate the Brockway Rovers toward Hershey Park Stadium? Quarterback Derek Buganza, the state’s all-time leading passer, will be arguably the best player in the Class AA tournament. Curwensville is the favorite in the Class A bracket and features one of the more dangerous two-way players in western PA in Alex Holland, who has averaged 200 rushing yards a game. Punxsutawney and Clearfield will duke it out for the District 9 Class AAA title, and judging by their respective offenses, it seems whichever one can make more big plays in the air will get the farthest.
PIAA DISTRICT 10: Be on the lookout for Grove City in Class AAA, as Wesley Phipps, one of the top defensive players this side of the Commonwealth, also leads an offense that is just as brutal. The only loss for Class AA General McLane (Edinboro, PA) came to a Quad-A team, Erie Strong Vincent, and the Lancers have a solid group of linemen to complement a balanced running attack led by Kyle Shinn. Former WPIAL member Farrell was one of the teams that bowed to Clairton in the Class A tournament last year, and with Brodie Kevin, who ran for 1,000 yards and has six INT’s, they should be the cream of the crop again.
For all the latest news and views on and off the gridiron, be sure to check out The Post-Gazette High School Football Show Presented by First Commonwealth Bank Saturday morning 8:00-10:00 on SportsRadio 93.7 The Fan and 937thefan.com!