By Matt Popchock
The fall sports season in school districts around the country is essentially over, but for many the state football playoffs rage on, and stories continue to be written, some great, some…not so great. As the weather turns cold (here in western Pennsylvania, anyway), the action heats up, and so do emotions, sometimes a bit too much for the players’ own good.
In two of the biggest states in the union, big performances matched or set records, and elsewhere, just in time for the start of high school basketball season, there was a basketball-type score on a gridiron not far from here. Also not far from here a game was marred by something you absolutely hate to see at any school-sponsored activity. A lot has indeed happened outside PA the last couple weeks, so thanks to our friends at MaxPreps.com, here are, from that time period, some scholastic headlines from throughout the greatest (sports) country in the world:
THOUSAND OAKS, CA – One good thing to come from Thousand Oaks’ (Thousand Oaks, California) season-ending 57-34 loss to Oaks Christian (Westlake Village, California) in the second round of the CIF Southern Section Playoffs last Friday was a career night from senior wide receiver Richard Mullaney. He caught an amazing 19 passes for 303 yards and three scores, giving him 120 receptions on the year, which ties the California single-season record. The 19 catches did give him the single-game school record in that category, however, as did his final yardage that night. Mullaney, who has committed to Oregon State, ends the year ranked as the nation’s No. 4 high school receiver by MaxPreps, and in just two years of varsity ball, also set school records for career catches, career TD’s, and single-season yards. As a defensive back his 14 all-time interceptions tied another school record.
PORT LAVACA, TX – You might not hear the name John Free on Sundays, but in Texas, where scholastic football is taken arguably as seriously as the pro grame, you’ll probably hear his name for years to come. Free, a senior quarterback for Boerne-Champion High School (Boerne, Texas), threw eight touchdown passes in a 66-42 slugfest over Calhoun (Port Lavaca, Texas) in the Class 4A Division II Regional Semifinals to tie the Texas single-game record. He finished 25-of-30 for 565 yards in the process, and became the eighth Texas high school QB to throw for eight scores in one game, according to The Dallas Morning News.
HURRICANE, WV – No matter what prompts it, it’s always a disgrace whenever a high school sporting event of any kind is reduced to this. Check out this video of a brawl in the closing moments of a Nov. 19 playoff game between South Charleston (South Charleston, West Viriginia), the No. 2 team in the state according to MaxPreps, and Hurricane (Hurricane, West Virginia). A police presence was required to end it, and pepper spray was used at one point. Five star players for South Charleston were originally suspended but later ruled eligible for the ensuing playoff game, and now the Class AAA state title game, which features South Charleston has been delayed because a suit has been filed over their eligibility, according to CBS affiliate WOWK-TV in Charleston. Click here for the full story.
OLD TAPPAN, NJ – A New Jersey Group 3 semifinal game on Nov. 19 between Northern Valley (Old Tappan, New Jersey) and Paramus (Paramus, New Jersey) saw several records shattered in Northern Valley’s 63-56 victory. After an already action-packed first half Paramus led 30-29 thanks to quarterback John Robertson, who ultimately set a New Jersey single-game playoff mark by accounting for 44 of those 56 points (seven TD runs, one two-point reception). In fact, Paramus’ 56 points were the most in New Jersey playoff history by a losing team, and the 119 aggregate points were also an all-time playoff high. But Northern Valley QB Devin Fuller (pictured carrying the ball) scrambled just a little better and set an unofficial school record with 406 rush yards and seven total TD’s, including six on the ground, adding a game-clinching interception. The INT guaranteed Northern Valley’s spot in the Group 3 state championship game at New Meadowlands Stadium this weekend.
TAMPA, FLORIDA – On Nov. 19 Jefferson (Tampa, Florida) senior quarterback Quentin Williams tied a state record with career touchdown pass number 100 in a 54-19 rout of Land O’Lakes (Land O’Lakes, Florida) in Class 3A First Round action. Originally the record was set just two years ago by Will Indianos of Oak Hill. Williams is currently rated by MaxPreps as the top signal-caller in Florida and the No. 11 high school QB in the nation, and his team is ranked second in the state and 12th nationally in the site’s Freeman (computer) Rankings as it prepares to face Vanguard in the state quarterfinals.
(Special thanks to Deadspin for their contributions to this post.)
For more of the latest news and views on and off the gridiron, be sure to catch the season finale of The Post-Gazette High School Football Show Presented by First Commonwealth Bank, Saturday morning 7:00-9:00 on SportsRadio 93.7 The Fan and 937thefan.com!