In the annual two-game battle in Florida's Class 6A, the Miami Central Rockets held on for the 25-22 victory Friday night against Miami (Fla.) Northwestern.
The two are inevitably going to meet in the second round of the Class 6A playoffs for a winner-take-all battle on the path to a state title. But for the middle of October clash, Central has pushed its way back to the front of the pack.
It was just a few weeks ago that Central had positioned itself as the No. 1 team in Florida before a difficult 45-42 loss to Kingsland (Ga.) Camden County slid the team back towards the pack.
The Rockets have the talent and the schedule to end the season in the Top 10 nationally; this was a major step in that direction.
The team is now going to move up from No. 4 in the state to No. 2 on the strength of this win.
Miami (Fla.) Central: A lot of talk was spent knocking coaching and discipline following the loss to Camden County. The team did not lose its focus - a credit to the coaches - and prevailed in a mettle-testing game against Northwestern. If it can end the season with just that one loss, a Top 10 finish may be in the cards.
Monroe (La.) West Monroe: Often bashed for its weak schedule, West Monroe responded with a 38-13 trouncing of Monroe (La.) Ouachita Parish this weekend. The Rebels road to the playoffs remains clear. The seeding process in Louisiana is based on points, so even with an undefeated season, West Monroe may not get the top seed in a relatively down Class 5A.
The Woodlands (Texas) High: Welcome back, Daniel Lasco. The Highlanders' star player couldn't have come back at a better time for the team's 49-33 win over Lufkin (Texas) High. The district battle saw The Woodlands jump out early, Lufkin battle back, and then the Highlanders close the door. This was a Top 5 preseason team in Texas but had slid back to the bottom of the Top 10. It will inch closer to its original casting with this win.
East Grand Rapids (Mich.) High: The Pioneers were the preseason No. 1 in the state of Michigan. With a few narrow escapes and by not playing its best football, the team slid back to No. 3 in the state. This week, East pulled of a rare back-to-back win over Lowell (Mich.) High, 44-40. It is the first time in head coach Peter Stuursma's time at the school that it has downed its rival in consecutive years. A feat made more impressive when you consider that East is going for its fifth-consecutive state title.
The state of Arkansas: The big three teams in Arkansas did not disappoint this weekend. Springdale (Ark.) Har-Ber, Bentonville (Ark.) High and Conway (Ark.) High all rolled. Class 7A is always a battle of good teams. This year. it may be a battle of great ones.
The state of Maryland: There has been no bigger disappointment than the state of Maryland this season. After opening the year with three teams ranked in the RivalsHigh 100 - two of which were in the Top 30 nationally - the state will only have one team ranked in the national poll. This weekend saw Baltimore (Md.) Gilman and Olney (Md.) Good Counsel fall to unranked opponents. What was to be a banner year will be remembered as a major failure.
The GCL South: A district rich in tradition and history, the Cincinnati Catholic League is not home to a Top 5 team in Ohio this season for the first time in many years. St. Xavier, Archbishop Moeller, Elder and LaSalle comprise the usually talent-rich league, but this season none appears to be ready to handle the Ohio Division I playoffs, let alone a national ranking.
Hoover (Ala.) High: For all of the good things written about Hoover, it is time to lay some bad news at the doorstep. The Bucs may be reading their own headlines a little, as the past two weeks have been less than stellar performances. The team has had to deal with injuries and has been rather liberal in resting its starters (especially with the rivalry game against Vestavia on the docket), but the Bucs need to get back to the fire they had earlier in the season to maintain their Top 5 national ranking.
Katy (Texas) Cinco Ranch: The high ranking for Cinco Ranch has been a very loud debate on message boards and internal pollster discussion. This week, the masses should be silenced as Cinco Ranch will be sliding back. We believe the team is still amongst the 10 best in Texas, but it will slide from its perch as the No. 5 team in the state to a more manageable position.