By Matt Popchock
A wise man once told “Mr. High School Sports,” play the hits. Therefore, we’re going to look at some of the best players in the country at delivering hits. Meanwhile, even as news of Rushel Shell closing in on a WPIAL record gives our website a few extra hits, there’s another nationally-renown running back who looks like he’s going to be a hit with the University of Texas.
Plus, there’s news of a hit that, unfortunately, has changed the life of one high school football player for the worse, and the story of how the credibility of a successful Bible Belt program has taken a huge hit.
With the help of our friends at MaxPreps.com, among others, we bring you this look at the most intriguing prep football headlines from all over this great nation of ours…
*We begin with a local item that slipped under my radar, but because this is about high school football outside Pennsylvania, I want to try and put a national perspective on it.
Mike White mentioned in Wednesday’s “Varsity Blog” on the Post-Gazette site that Chartiers-Houston junior Garrett Vulcano, the son of Chartiers Valley A.D. Frank Vulcano, recorded an incredible 26 tackles in a Saturday night win at Shenango. Unfortunately, the PIAA record for total tackles in a single game is not something we have on file.
However, I did look at the national tackling leaders in an effort to weigh the significance of what Garrett Vulcano did in Week 2. Keep in mind, not every school makes stats public, but according to MaxPreps, Jared Thaut, a senior linebacker for Evergreen High School (Evergreen, Colorado) leads the nation with 81 total tackles through three games…though only six of those were solo. The current national leader in solo tackles is believed to be KaDarius Goode, a sophomore linebacker at KIPP Pride High School (Gaston, North Carolina), with 65 through three games.
Of the national top ten in total tackles, only three are confirmed to have had at least 26 in one game: Seth Jowers of Scotts Hill High School (Reagan, Tennessee); Jamiel Shawrieh of Living Stones Christian (Alvin, Texas); and Ray Parmer of Tahoka (Tahoka, Texas). Shawrieh actually posted 41 in his team’s victory last Friday.
*How messed up is scholastic football in Florida? Following the Nevin Shapiro/University of Miami scandal, Lakeland High School, traditionally one of the top teams in that state, has admitted to violations, including the use of players outside the school district, and giving benefits to such players allowing them to move within the district and maintain eligibility. Right now the program is looking at the strong possibility of stiff fines and forfeiture of its entire 2011 season, not to mention lawsuits from the families of certain players whose reputations have been tarnished.
*Another piece of sobering news…this time, a recruiting tidbit from Virginia. Jacob Rainey of Woodbury Forest High School entered his junior season as a highly-touted dual-threat quarterback who had received serious looks from several ACC and SEC programs, but went down due to a lower-body injury suffered in a preseason scrimmage. The injury resulted from what appeared to be a routine tackle, but ultimately, it forced an amputation of the lower portion of Rainey’s leg last weekend. He is reportedly doing fine otherwise following the surgery.
Similar to what West Allegheny did when Mike Caputo’s season ended prematurely last fall, a different player on Rainey’s team will wear his uniform each week the rest of the season.
*Matt Humbert took over Ringgold’s program when he was 25, and Aaron Krepps has also done some nice things as the 27-year-old head coach of Belle Vernon, but we think we’ve got them beat. Anselm College (NH) graduate Jim Lauzon is still in search of his first win as head football coach of the varsity squad at Manchester West High School (Manchester, New Hampshire)…at the age of 23.
Next thing we know, some of these teams will have player-coaches…
*While Rushel Shell chases history, another of the nation’s top tailbacks has already set a record of his own.
Texas recruit Johnathan Gray, a senior at Aledo High School (Aledo, Texas), is now the proud owner of the state record for career touchdowns with 148, having scored twice last Friday. Last year he set the state record for most touchdowns in a single season with 59.
The winner of several All-American awards, Gray is the best high school running back in the country and the No. 8 overall recruit, according to CBS Sports’ Tom Lemming.
(Follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/mpopchock)