December 18, 2011

Saturday roundup: Five champions crowned on final day

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Dallas Jackson is the Senior Analyst for RivalsHigh. Email him your question, comment or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.

Did the 2011 high school football season start with the first game, the first summer get together, the first spring practice or the first off-season workout?

This much is certain, the final five champions of 2011 - No. 8 Armwood, No. 18 De La Salle, No. 42 Dekaney, No. 60 Plant and unranked Helix - were crowned Saturday on the final day of the high school football season.

Some were expected, some weren't, all deserved to be recognized.

And for those wondering the answer to our question, it's none of the above.

Next season starts now.

With that, a look at the final title games:

No. 60 Plant 31, No. 5 Miramar 20

It was hard to figure that No. 60 Tampa (Fla.) Plant was the underdog in this one.

The school won its fourth state title since 2006 in dominating No. 5 Miramar (Fla.) High in all facets of the game to take their Class 8A final.

Plant scored on its first possession, raced out to a 17-point lead, then used its defense - which limited Miramar to 145 yards - to clinch it, scoring on a late touchdown.

Plant improves to 14-1 on the season and figures to make a big jump in the RivalsHigh 100.

  • RivalsHigh take: Plant is a program that has proven year after year that it gets stronger as it goes - and that comes down to coaching. This Panther staff is perhaps the best in Florida with head coaches and head coach types littering the staff. This was not the most talented Plant team in the last five years but it played to its strengths and eliminated mistakes as the season went on and took home another state title. Miramar had a very solid season as well but it just never felt like the team got into a rhythm from the kick in this contest. It made a couple of big plays to make the game close in the third quarter but the tide never fully turned.

    For more, check out this report on FlaVarsity.com , the leading source for Florida high school sports.

    No. 8 Armwood 40, No. 9 Miami Central 31

    The only state final that featured two Top-Ten teams lived up to the billing as Seffner (Fla.) Armwood held off Miami Central.

    Armwood raced out to an early 16-0 lead, then hold off a determined Miami Central team.

    Versatile quarterback Alvin Bailey threw two scores - and caught a third - to lift Armwood to a victory that helped the school make up for its stunning defeat in last year's state final.

    Of course, whether it will stand, remains to be seen.

    Both schools are under investigation for rules violation. If found guilty, one or both could be forced to vacate their appearance in the game.

  • RivalsHigh take: Two teams that had had yo-yo evaluations played one of the more entertaining games of the weekend with explosive plays on offense and defense shining a positive light on Florida football. Armwood is a supremely talented team that bonded in the face of much adversity throughout the playoffs and took home a state title. Central rode fundamentals and a strong defense to this point but against Armwood you need to have a quarterback that can make the Hawks pay and the Rockets did not have that on Saturday. The defense for Armwood set the tone early with a pair of interceptions that jumped them out to a 16-0 lead.

    For more, check out this report on FlaVarsity.com , the leading source for Florida high school sports.

    No. 42 Dekaney 34, No. 10 Steele 14

    Call it a statement game.

    Houston (Texas) Dekaney made its case for being the best team in Texas.

    Running back Trey Williams showed why he might be the state's best back.

    A school - whose team and stars have been overshadowed by the record-setting efforts of others - captured its first state title with a surprisingly convincing 34-14 over Cibolo (Texas) Steele.

    Williams, overshadowed by Aledo (Texas) High's Johnathan Gray, ran for 203 yards and three TDs and finished the season with 3,890 yards and 48 TDs.

    Dekaney, unranked just a few weeks ago, improved to 14-2 on the season - one in which much has been made about Lake Travis (Texas) High's run to a record fifth consecutive state title.

  • RivalsHigh take: Trey Williams ended the season just seven yards shy of the national rushing title to fellow Texas Johnathan Gray and with all due respect to the stellar season Gray had, Williams competition level gave a much more impressive feel to this run of success. The diminutive back - often compared to a Warrick Dunn style runner, compact, explosive, but powerful - paced the Dekaney team and ran it to a state title. The defense harassed Steele all game and game up big in the biggest situations.

    For more, check out this report in theHouston Chronicle .

    No. 18 De La Salle 35, No. 20 Westlake 0

    Concord (Calif.) De La Salle proved it's the best team in California in emphatic fashion for the second year in a row by winning the CIF Open Bowl convincingly.

    De La Salle scored on its fourth play from scrimmage (Tiapepe Vitale's 37-yard run), twice in the first quarter and three times by halftime - all while keeping Westlake Village (Calif.) Westlake off the board with two key first-half interceptions.

    Quarterback Bart Houston led the way, going 7-for-12 for 180 yards. De La Salle had 449 total yards while improving to 13-1.

    The victory is De La Salle's fourth in the six-year history of the event. Last season, it raced out to a 35-0 halftime lead in a surprisingly easy 48-8 victory over Anaheim (Calif.) Servite.

    Southern California won the first four bowl games this year - and holds a 17-9 edge in the event since it began. But when it comes to the big game, Northern California and De La Salle clearly have the advantage.

  • RivalsHigh take: Anyone watching this game knew it was over three minutes in. Westlake had a terrible time stopping the dive play and when you can not do that against De La Salle it opens the entire field up. The Spartans were able to open the playbook and include plenty of passes to go with its option offense. Two Westlake interceptions in the endzone during the first half were moments that took any chance for Westlake to get back into the game and cast them aside. De La Salle cruised to another CIF Bowl title and will end the season where it started it - the top spot in California.

    For more, check out this report in NorCalPreps. com , the leading source for Northern California high school sports.

    Helix 35, No. 37 Del Oro 24

    It's not how you start the season - but how you end it.

    La Mesa (Calif.) Helix lost its opener, then rolled off 13 consecutive victories, capping the season with a 35-24 victory over No. 37 Del Oro in the CIF Division II bowl.

    Quarterback Brandon Lewis led the way, going 11-for-16 for 254 yards and three TDs.

    Del Oro, which took a 10-7 lead early in the second quarter, finished the season at 13-2.

  • RivalsHigh take: We are very late to the Helix party this season as the team was lumped into a down evaluation of Southern California. The team played very well in the game Saturday night and the win was more convincing than the final score. A mixture of run and pass as well as a solid defense helped the team cruise to a Division II Bowl title. It will end the year inside the national rankings and its showing was more impressive than any of the larger schools on the weekend and it may take home the No. 1 spot in SoCal for the season.

    For more, check out this report in the Los Angeles Times.



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