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Five things I learned this weekend

10/10/2011

Cincinnati could be in trouble

The Big 12's gain -- TCU likely joining the conference – comes at the expense of the Big East. Last fall, TCU agreed to join the Big East for the 2012 season, but this week the Big 12 came calling and TCU is expected to officially accept tonight. That isn’t good news for the Big East and more specifically Cincinnati. The Bearcats joined the Big East to enter a conference with an automatic bid into the BCS, but the likelihood that the Big East retains that right after 2014 is in doubt. The Big East is talking about adding up to six football schools, but there is also talk of some other Big East teams joining the Big 12 and Cincinnati would not be among the Big 12’s top choices. The Bearcats have been able to sell their status as a BCS program and that has helped with recruiting, especially when it comes to the second-tier in-state players Ohio State doesn’t offer. A move back to a non-AQ conference would put a serious damper on the Bearcats’ ability to recruit.

Shell could be most important player in Western Pa.

With a healthy Rushel Shell, Aliqioppa (Pa.) Hopewell was 4-0 and had the look of a team that would be hard to beat in the state’s AAA playoff bracket. Hopewell even beat the then-No. 1 team in the area with Shell’s fourth-down heroics. Last week, though, Shell suffered a slight concussion and Hopewell lost that game. On Friday, Shell sat out and once again Hopewell was handed a loss. Shell will be back next week, and he will make his college announcement during that game, which ESPNU will air. It will likely be the game Hopewell gets back on the winning track, too.

Cincinnati Taft will go as far as two stars take it

Historically, Taft is not known for producing elite Division I players, but Taft has two of them this year in Adolphus Washington, an ESPNU 150 member, and Dwayne Stanford II. Both are four-star prospects with offers from all over the country, including SEC schools. The two helped Taft reach the playoffs for the first time in school history last year, and it’s clear once again that Taft’s chances of making a deep run in the playoffs lays squarely on their shoulders. Stanford had two long touchdowns on Friday, and Washington had a sack, strip, scoop and score for a touchdown. So far, there might not be a more impressive player this season in Ohio than Washington, who has been absolutely dominant as an edge rusher.

Despite lopsided loss to Bosco, St. Edward will be fine

Many considered this high school football’s de facto national championship game. Ranked No. 6 in the ESPN Fab 50, Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward traveled to New York City for its highly anticipated game against No. 1 Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco. It didn’t take long for Bosco to show why it is considered the best team in the country. St. Edward couldn’t do much of anything offensively or defensively against the Ironmen. Don’t let the 38-7 final score fool you, though. That score is an indication of just how good Bosco is, not how overrated St. Ed’s might have been. The Eagles still have a dominant offensive line and are still the heavy favorites to win another state championship in Ohio.

Duke commit Martin has elite leg, accuracy

Maybe it’s because I’ve become scarred watching high school kickers growing up, but I’m always amazed when I see some of the distances on field goals made by high school kickers. Where I grew up, a PAT might as well have been a 50-yard field goal; if it’s good, great, but if not, well, it wasn’t expected to go in anyway. Cuyahoga Falls (Ohio) Walsh Jesuit kicker Ross Martin said he has made 60-yard field goals in the past but never in a game. His in-game career long was 46 yards, though, and a practice kick isn’t quite the same as a kick with 11 guys all rushing at you at once. However, Martin put any doubts about his leg strength to rest Friday when he drilled a 45- and 50-yard field goal for Jesuit. An Under Armour All-American , Martin showed he doesn’t just have a strong leg but that he is accurate with it, too. The expectation is for him to be Duke’s starting kicker next year as a freshman.