By Matt Popchock
Whenever a famous athlete has a son or daughter, Mr. High School Sports is always morbidly curious to see how the young ones fare. Last year we followed the exploits of Trevor Gretzky, son of The Great One, who ended up getting drafted by the Chicago Cubs after excelling at multiple sports in high school.
This year there are a couple of high school football players who have built great cases for Division I recruiters and seem to have bright futures ahead, partially because they have the DNA of NFL greats. You’ll read about them here.
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…
*Let this be a lesson to all you kids out there: drink your milk and eat all your vegetables, and good things will happen.
Heck, I want whatever Garrett Owens had before last Friday’s game. Check out this amateur video of the senior kicker for Arroyo Grande High School (Arroyo Grande, California) booting a 57-yard field goal:
The national record is 68 yards by Dirk Borgognone of Reno High School (Reno, Nevada), set in 1985, and the California record, set just three years earlier, is a 64-yarder by Eric Aftholter of Oak Park High School. Still, that’s pretty impressive.
By the way, he also had 123 yards receiving, scoring one touchdown on ten catches in Arroyo Grande’s victory.
Owens has committed to–and, most appropriately, I might add–Air Force.
*Two NFL superstars a generation apart have effectively passed the torch on to the next generation of gridiron greats.
Barry Sanders Jr., a senior tailback at Heritage Hall High School (Oklahoma City, OK), is the son of “the” Barry Sanders, who retired from the Detroit Lions as the second-leading rusher in NFL history. Sanders only has 176 yards through three games, so he seems to be just now rounding back into form after his junior year ended prematurely with a leg injury, but CBS Sports recruiting expert Tom Lemming lists him as the No. 2 tailback in America, and the No. 10 overall prospect…just ahead of Rushel Shell.
Sanders has been offered by Oklahoma State (where the old man won his Heisman Trophy), Alabama, Florida State, and Stanford.
Meanwhile, the linebacker Steeler fans love to hate also has a son expected to excel at the next level.
Ray Lewis III, a junior at Lake Mary Prep (Lake Mary, Florida) who plays multiple skill positions, is the offspring of the Baltimore Ravens’ Ray Lewis. He ran for 384 yards and five TD’s on 27 attempts in Lake Mary Prep’s last game, one of the top rushing performances in the nation this past weekend. As a freshman he ran for over 1,000 yards.
Through three games this season Lewis III has posted 12 tackles (8 solo). Not surprisingly, his first hint of Division I interest, with more likely on the way, has come from Miami (FL), where Ray Sr. played.
Check out this interview with father and son from a while back, courtesy of Media Fire Productions:
*When you think of Thomas Jefferson football here in western Pennsylvania, you think dominance. So what would be the opposite of Thomas Jefferson High School?
Well, oddly enough, it would be Thomas Jefferson High School…Thomas Jefferson High School in Dallas, Texas, that is. The Patriots finally snapped a 36-game losing streak that spanned four seasons with last week’s 19-16 win over Diamond-Hill Jarvis (Fort Worth, TX).
*Pittsburgh Central Catholic continues to draw national attention; as I pointed out earlier this week, the Vikings have cracked the MaxPreps Freeman (computerized) top 25, and as Mike White pointed out earlier this week, they’re No. 25 in the RivalsHigh 100 entering Week 4 of the WPIAL season. Their game against an under-rated Woodland Hills squad, heard here on 93-7 The Fan, ought to be worth a listen, and then some.
But looking at the entire national landscape, the best game this weekend might be right next door. Moeller (4-0) takes on St. Xavier (3-1) Friday night at 7:30 in a familiar setting–familiar to yours truly, anyway–the University of Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium. These Greater Catholic League-South powerhouses are thought to be two of the best teams in Ohio, if not 1-A and 1-B. MaxPreps and RivalsHigh each have both teams in their national top 40.
On a personal note, speaking not just as someone who attended games at Pitt Stadium, but also as a proud UC alumnus, there’s a lot to be said for having an on-campus facility (I could go to a game and be back at my dorm in practically two or three minutes). There’s even more to be said for a stadium you can use as a shortcut to get to class, as you’ll see kids randomly walking through the concourses of Nippert on a regular basis during the school year. I can’t imagine there are too many NCAA stadiums at big state schools that offer that luxury.
*Remember when I said in this blog that I was okay with mixing genders, under certain circumstances, in high school sports? Fort Vancouver (Vancouver, Washington) sophomore Lisa Spangler is making my point for me.
She played Pop Warner football for six years and, through three games, is Fort Vancouver’s leading tackler.
To reiterate my argument once again, this young lady has clearly shown that she and her family understand the risk associated with the sport, and that she can play it safely and astutely. If those things remain true, why not let a girl play a boys’ sport, and/or vice versa? As I said a while back, I’ve heard of coaches of girls’ teams forfeiting games simply because they would be playing against boys. But why should coaches feel obligated to “protect” their players any more than they normally would?
You go, Lisa.
*Boy, if you said “happy birthday” to Marion High School (Marion, Iowa) senior tailback Colton Storla last Friday, you weren’t kidding. Storla celebrated the big 1-8 by running for seven touchdowns in his team’s win, breaking a 15-year-old school record.
*Five-star Pitt recruit Chad Voytik (Cleveland High School; Cleveland, TN) went 8-of-14 for 140 yards with a rushing touchdown in a 31-24 win over Walker Valley (Cleveland, TN) last Friday. In the passing department he is currently 56-of-105 for 747 yards, two touchdowns and six interceptions through five games.
(Follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/mpopchock)