<
>
Insider

What to watch this weekend

11/17/2011

Major test for elite cornerbacks

All season long, DeSoto (Texas) has been excited about its play in the secondary, primarily at cornerback. Four-star Texas commit Bryson Echols and two-star LSU commit Jalen Mills have been a part of a defensive unit that has allowed 15.3 points per game this season, less than half of what the team allowed in 2010.

The cornerbacks will get their toughest test of the year Saturday, as DeSoto faces Dallas Skyline in a huge Texas Class 5A Division I second-round playoff. Skyline is averaging roughly 450 yards per game and has one of the state’s top receiving tandems in ESPNU Watch List junior Ra’Shaad Samples, three-star Kansas State commit Tray Rabon and four-star Under Armour All-American and Texas commit Thomas Johnson.

“We’ve been waiting for this matchup since Week 1, and we’re excited about it,” Echols said. “People have been saying we haven’t been going against good receivers, so we’ve got a chance to do that. We’re going to show up and show out.”

Skyline is No. 19 in the latest Fab 50. DeSoto was ranked as high as No. 25 before losing its only game of the season to Longview, a team now ranked No. 43 in the Fab 50.

Top-10 Fab 50 powers collide

Allen and Trinity will compete in a Texas Class 5A Division I second-round playoff at Cowboys Stadium on Saturday. The game, expected to have more than 40,000 in attendance, will feature two top-10 teams in the latest Fab 50.

Trinity beat Allen, 37-35, last year in the postseason. The winner of this year’s game will be a favorite to not only win a regional title but also make it at least to the round of the state semifinals.

“It’s going to be a dog fight,” said Allen four-star running back Jonathan Williams, who recently decommitted from Missouri and committed to Arkansas. “It’s two good teams playing, and it’s probably going to come down to turnovers and time of possession. We’re just going to play our game.”

Allen features Williams, three-star quarterback and Alabama commit Alec Morris and two-star safety/outside linebacker and Baylor commit Thaddeus LaGrone. Trinity has BCS-bound players in four-star defensive end and Oklahoma commit Polo Manukainiu and three-star offensive lineman Hiva Lutui and two-star safety Ilaiu Moeakiola, who both have committed to UCLA.

Trinity, however, may find its leadership from its highly touted, uncommitted players in four-star linebacker Brian Nance and rising running back Joel Kimpela.

“We’ll be ready just like it’s another game,” Nance said. “We’ll be well-prepared and ready for a four-quarter game.”

Kansas team led by 2014 duo

Life without all-everything football standout Bubba Starling was supposed to be a struggle for Gardner-Edgerton (Kan.). The Trailblazers, however, find themselves in the Kansas Class 5A state semifinals Friday night with the help of two sophomores.

Running back Traevohn Wrench and quarterback Jared Hobby have been major contributors all season, and coach Marvin Diener considers both players among the state’s elite, regardless of classification. Wrench and Hobby are expected to lead Gardner-Edgerton Friday against Stillwell (Kan.) Blue Valley.

“I’m very proud of our boys,” Diener said. “We lost a very talented senior class the year before, and there were a lot of people who didn’t expect us to go as far as we did. It has said a lot about how resilient they’ve been in regards to the success we’ve had.”

Starling, 6-foot-5 and 200 pounds with 4.3 speed in the 40-yard dash as a senior at Gardner-Edgerton, was the kind of athlete who was extremely difficult to replace. However, Wrench and Hobby have fans thinking the Trailblazers can win state with a young group. Wrench has rushed for 2,317 yards and 33 touchdowns, while Hobby has thrown 1,024 yards and nine touchdowns and also rushed for 116 yards and five scores.

Sophomore QB leading Oklahoma team

Back in August, the Oklahoma football world was turned on its ear when Edmond (Okla.) Santa Fe, a team that had won only one game in 2010, defeated traditional state power Jenks (Okla.) in a scrimmage.

Friday night, Santa Fe will see if the scrimmage was a prelude to something bigger or simply described as what it was – a game 11 weeks ago that didn’t count on the records. Santa Fe and Jenks square off in an Oklahoma Class 6A state quarterfinal.

In order for Santa Fe to get the job done, it will rely on the play of sophomore quarterback Justice Hansen, who has been beyond impressive all season. Hansen, a 6-3, 185-pound gunslinger, threw for 374 yards and four touchdowns and also rushed for another in a 41-10 rout against Lawton (Okla.) Eisenhower last week.

“I sometimes forget that he’s a sophomore,” Santa Fe coach Lance Manning said. “He’s really a tough, gritty kid who’s got the total respect of his teammates and coaches. Everybody knows he’s the guy.”

Hansen already is getting looks from Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Alabama, Tulsa and Missouri. Hansen, if he can lead his team to the state-championship game, will be on pace to throw for more than 2,500 yards and 25 touchdowns in his first year starting.

Big weekend for Iowa State

As Iowa State prepares for its clash Friday with national No. 2 Oklahoma State, the Cyclones also will look to put on a show for Clifford Stokes (Athens, Texas/Trinity Valley CC), as the junior college cornerback continues to narrow his college list.

Stokes, a 6-foot, 175-pound cover corner with 4.5 speed in the 40, has offers from Iowa State, Houston, Kansas, Minnesota and Western Kentucky. He also has received interest from Arkansas, TCU, Baylor, Texas Tech, Washington and Kansas State, among others.

Stokes will be one of seven players scheduled to visit Iowa State this weekend. Also expected to be in Ames, Iowa, are three-star offensive tackle Mike Shoff (Cambridge, Neb.) and current Cyclones commit and three-star tight end Pierre Aka (Indianapolis, Ind./Pike).