- Blair Angulo, Reporter, WeAreSC.com
With the final stretch of the high school football season in sight, nearly every USC commit is in contention for a title of some sort, whether it be in a league or in the playoffs. Three future Trojans and their teams are included in the latest ESPN 25 power rankings: Michael Hutchings and Concord (Calif.) De La Salle at No. 4, Su’a Cravens and Murrieta (Calif.) Vista Murrieta at No. 8, and Max Redfield at No. 22 Mission Viejo (Calif.).
Furthermore, teams of USC commits in the current recruiting class are a combined 117-30 this season -- that’s a .796 winning percentage. Five teams have posted perfect 9-0 records through the end of October and five others have managed at least seven victories. Coaches often like to say they recruit winners and, apparently, the Trojans’ staff has done so in this class.
As the regular season winds down and postseason play kicks off across the country, here’s a look at how each of the Trojans’ 18 verbal commitments have fared:
DT Kenny Bigelow and OL Khaliel Rodgers (Elkton, Md./Eastern Christian Academy) -- Eastern Christian Academy, a new “online” school, won its first three games before seeing the rest of its opponents cancel due to concern over the school not gaining accreditation from the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA). Bigelow and Rodgers might have played their final high school game. Next: Unknown.
QB Max Browne (Sammamish, Wash./Skyline) -- Browne and Skyline roll into the postseason with a perfect 9-0 mark, having earned the No. 1 seed in the Class 4A bracket. Browne has completed 73 percent of his pass attempts for 2,693 yards and 29 touchdowns with only three interceptions. Next: First round vs. Puyallup (Wash.), Nov. 3.
SS Su’a Cravens (Murrieta Calif./Vista Murrieta) -- The No. 8 team in the ESPN 25 power rankings hasn’t needed much offensive output from its star player, but Cravens, who has 14 total touchdowns, figures to get more touches in the playoffs. Vista Murrieta (9-0), which can wrap up the Southwestern League title Friday, hasn’t been beaten since 2010. Next: Regular-season finale vs. Temecula (Calif.) Chaparral, Nov. 2.
RB Justin Davis (Stockton, Calif./Lincoln) -- After losing three of its first five games, Lincoln (6-3) has bounced back in league play and can take the crown outright with a victory this week. The rough start was due in large part to difficult scheduling, but the strategy might very well pay off for Davis and Co. in the postseason. Next: Regular-season finale vs. Lodi (Calif.), Nov. 2.
OL Nico Falah (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) -- The use of an ineligible player to start the campaign forced Bosco (5-4) to forfeit four victories, but it has done little to slow down since. Falah spearheads an offensive line that has paved the way for 211 rushing yards per game and 23 scores. A coveted Trinity League title is on the line this week against the preseason favorite: Next: Regular-season finale vs. Rancho Santa Margarita (Calif.) Catholic, Nov. 2.
DE Kylie Fitts (Redlands, Calif./Redlands East Valley) -- Fitts suffered a broken wrist on Oct. 12, sidelining him for the remainder of the high school season. His doctors are hopeful he’ll be able to return in early January, in time for the U.S. Army All-American Game. Redlands East Valley (4-4), which stumbled against powerhouses Vista Murrieta, Mission Viejo (Calif.) and Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure, still has a chance to win the Citrus Belt League, but needs some help this week. Next: Regular-season finale at San Bernardino (Calif.) Cajon, Nov. 2.
DE Jason Hatcher (Louisville, Ky./Trinity) -- The bigger they are, the harder they fall; that was certainly true last week when Hatcher and Trinity (8-1) lost by three points at Cincinnati Moeller. Trinity, the former No. 2 team in the nation, fell entirely out of the ESPN 25 power rankings. A state title is still expected, but perfection is no longer possible. Next: First round vs. Winchester (Ky.) Clark, Nov. 2.
CB Chris Hawkins (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Rancho Cucamonga) -- Rancho Cucamonga (7-2) has made great use of its abundance of defensive talent this season. The Cougars have only once allowed more than 19 points in a game. They might not leapfrog Upland (Calif.) for the Baseline League championship, but Hawkins is optimistic regarding the playoffs. Next: Regular-season finale vs. Alta Loma (Calif.), Nov. 1.
LB Michael Hutchings (Concord, Calif./De La Salle) -- As a perennial state bowl game contender, perfection is usually the benchmark for De La Salle (9-0). With Hutchings guiding an experienced defense, it’s no different this year. The Spartans keep winning, and winning big. Next: Regular-season finale at San Ramon (Calif.) California, Nov. 2.
RB Ty Isaac (Joliet, Ill./Joliet Catholic Academy) -- Isaac, who intends to enroll early at USC, has gone through ups and downs this season. He’s been somewhat plagued by a shoulder injury that occurred in the season opener, but has played through the discomfort. With its star running back hindered, Joliet Catholic (7-4) has been inconsistent. Next: Second round vs. Tinley Park (Ill.), Nov. 3.
WR Sebastian LaRue (Santa Monica, Calif./Santa Monica) -- LaRue helped Santa Monica (6-3) to its second consecutive Ocean League championship last week with a comfortable victory against Inglewood (Calif.). He has nine total touchdowns this year and will look to continue his hot streak in the CIF Southern Section Western Division playoffs. Next: Regular-season finale vs. Hawthorne (Calif.), Nov. 2.
WR Eldridge Massington (Mesquite, Texas/West Mesquite) -- Massington missed his entire senior season after suffering a knee injury during the summer. He has been taking night classes to assure that he’ll enroll at USC early. West Mesquite (6-2) has been doing well without its star receiver, but will surely be left wondering what could have been. Next: at Forney (Texas), Nov. 2.
WR Steven Mitchell (Mission Hills, Calif./Alemany) -- There are still some scenarios in which Alemany (7-2) ekes out yet another Serra League title, though last week’s two-point road loss to Encino (Calif.) Crespi didn’t help matters. Mitchell has been an absolute force on offense and is a candidate for area player of the year honors. Next: Regular-season finale at Los Angeles Loyola, Nov. 2.
DE Torrodney Prevot (Houston, Texas/Alief Taylor) -- Prevot and Alief Taylor (5-3) can be downright scary for opposing offenses. It’s a facet that might make a difference down the stretch as they seek momentum heading into the postseason. Next: at Houston McArthur, Nov. 3.
CB Jalen Ramsey (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood Academy) -- The two losses Brentwood Academy (8-2) has taken so far this year are nothing to be ashamed of. The Eagles dropped their opener at Louisville (Ky.) Trinity, the former No. 2 team in the land, and lost to Nashville (Tenn.) Ensworth, the best team in the state. With that experience, Ramsey and B.A. figure to be a force. Next: First round vs. TBA, Nov. 9.
FS Max Redfield (Mission Viejo, Calif./Mission Viejo) -- While much of the preseason hype centered around defending state bowl game winner Rancho Santa Margarita (Calif.) Catholic and Nebraska-bound quarterback Johnny Stanton, Mission Viejo (9-0) has stated its case for best team in Orange County. With Redfield making a difference on both sides of the ball, the Diablos appear headed for a state bid. They need to win league first, though. Next: Regular-season finale vs. Lake Forest (Calif.) El Toro, Nov. 2.
DT Eddie Vanderdoes (Auburn, Calif./Placer) -- Coach Joey Montoya has the pleasure of scheming his defense around the 6-foot-3, 300-pound Vanderdoes in the middle. Opponents hardly have a chance to run the ball through the middle and the four-star defensive tackle’s presence is a luxury for Placer (9-0), which battles for the league crown this week. Next: Regular-season finale vs. Antelope (Calif.) Center, Nov. 2.
With the final stretch of the high school football season in sight, nearly every USC commit is in contention for a title of some sort, whether it be in a league or in the playoffs.