October 7, 2012

University School is pride of Ft. Lauderdale

MORE: New RivalsHigh 100 rankings

There is a private football powerhouse in Florida that is loaded with talent and moving into the Top 50 of the RivalsHigh 100.

The team is from Ft. Lauderdale, has double-digit seniors who could sign with FBS-level schools and has been showcased on national television.

It is not Ft. Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas - which coincidentally will be dropped out of the national rankings this week - but rather Ft. Lauderdale University School, which will go from No. 52 to No. 43 in the poll.

The Suns are moving up to the No. 4 position in the state of Florida and into the Top 50 nationally following their 47-20 victory over Hollywood (Fla.) Chaminade-Madonna.

The victory this week was sparked by three-star receiver Dionte Taylor, who had 162 yards receiving and three scores.

Taylor is joined in the receiving group by four-star Jordan Cunningham and two-star Massachusetts commit D.J. Woods, but he said that much of the success he found this week was due to his offensive line.

"It is a tribute to the core up front," he said. "Most of my yards came off screen passes they did really well with blocking."

The line also opened plenty of holes for class of 2015 standout running back Jordan Scarlett.

Scarlett was able to find his way to the end zone twice as he carried the ball for 131 yards on 15 attempts. It was his second score of the game that broke open a close 27-20 contest.

"I stumbled out in the beginning and I need to work on that," Scarlett said. "We faced adversity and had to pick it up."

The victory was good enough to move the team to the top spot in Class 3A and ahead of Delray Beach (Fla.) American Heritage, which had been ranked one spot ahead of University School entering the weekend.

The two schools are expected to meet in the playoffs and it could be a game with Top 25 implications.

MINIMAL MOVEMENT: For the first time in the six years of the RivalsHigh 100 there was no movement in the Top 25 and a record-low three teams leaving the national poll.

There were nine teams inside the Top 10 in action and the cumulative margin of victory was 483-33.

The highest-ranked team that lost this week was previous No. 47 Auburn (Ala.) High, which was in its first week being ranked and the No. 2 team in Alabama. It lost 46-20 to the previous No. 5 team in the state, Montgomery (Ala.) Carver, on national television. Carver took over the No. 2 spot in Alabama and will be ranked No. 62 this week.

The biggest upward mover of the week was a mere 13-spot gain by new No. 28 Wexford (Pa.) North Allegheny, which gained a 14-3 victory over then-No. 55 Monroeville (Pa.) Gateway. Gateway slid back to No. 61.

The most severe drop that was not a result of a loss was Seffner (Fla.) Armwood, which fell 23 spots from No. 60 to No. 83 following a 20-16 victory over Tampa (Fla.) Sickles. The Hawks' season has been marked by several transfers being declared ineligible and the resulting roster is lacking the normal depth that the program has showcased in recent years.

An Oct. 26 meeting with Tampa Plant could mark the exit from the national rankings for the loser as Plant has slid from a preseason Top 25 team down to No. 76 this week.

THREE TEAMS ENTER RANKINGS: Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei, Montgomery (Ala.) Carver and Cincinnati (Ohio) Elder will enter the rankings this week and all three are coming off solid outings.

Mater Dei rebounded nicely from a difficult 18-17 loss at the hands of No. 15 Harbor City (Calif.) Narbonne with an impressive 42-10 victory over San Juan Capistrano (Calif.) Serra Catholic. The Monarchs nearly entered the rankings off their quality loss last week but the extra week of evaluation proved to be a major springboard opportunity for the program. This week, as the No. 58 team, it will have to earn its place once again with a game against No. 39 Rancho Santa Margarita (Calif.) Santa Margarita.

Carver moved from No. 5 in Alabama to the No. 2 spot in the state and No. 62 in the national poll with an impressive victory over previously-ranked Auburn (Ala.) High. Carver is led by four-star quarterback Jeremy Johnson, who displayed nice touch on his passes and solid footwork in the 46-20 victory on national television.

Elder, the second three-loss team in the poll, moved into the RivalsHigh 100 at No. 90 with a 17-13 victory over then-No. 66 Cincinnati (Ohio) Archbishop Moeller. Elder had been previously defeated by No. 13 Louisville (Ky.) Trinity, No. 49 Cincinnati (Ohio) St. Xavier and No. 53 Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward. Its next three games are all against quality opponents - Cincinnati (Ohio) Winton Woods, Fort Thomas (Ky.) Highlands, and Cincinnati (Ohio) La Salle - before the playoffs begin.

A SECOND LOOK: For the second time this season, Ft. Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas will be exiting the RivalsHigh 100.

The Raiders first dropped following a 20-10 loss to Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco but re-entered the rankings only to fall 27-24 in overtime to Miramar (Fla.) High.

St. Thomas Aquinas had a chance to win the game in the first overtime period but its 30-yard field goal attempt was no good. St. Thomas Aquinas was defeated by Don Bosco largely because of its special teams and the problem cost the prestigious program again in this loss.

After connecting on a 37-yard field goal in the second overtime, Aquinas had a chance to secure the victory but allowed a touchdown on a fourth down to seal its fate.

Following the game it looks as though Miramar running back Alex Lee was down about a half yard short of the goal line, but was ruled to be in for the game-winning score.

ON THE SLIDE: This is a broad brush but the slide this week goes to the state of Florida.

With the exception of Bradenton Manatee, which held its spot, and Ft. Lauderdale University School, the rest of the state held steady or took a bit of a dip this week and has continued to underwhelm as a whole much of the season.

Manatee, which is currently No. 2 and in a major debate for a national title, is the only Florida school in the Top 25 marking the first time in the history of the RivalsHigh 100 that has been the case.

The state still has double-digit teams being represented. But the battle for which is the true state power has been silenced this season with the apparent dominance of Manatee at the top and the overall drop in quality in several of the other classes around the state.

Miami Central moved back into the No. 2 spot in the state but checks in nationally at No. 40, also marking the largest gap between the top two Florida teams in the history of the poll.

Miami Booker T. Washington, University School, Palm Beach Dwyer and American Heritage all ranked inside of the Top 50 but hold low hopes for Top 25 representation.

KEEP AN EYE ON… … how DeSoto (Texas) comes back off its bye week.

Last season, DeSoto moved into the Top 10 nationally at the end of September and then had its bye week. It returned to the field uninspired and had to storm back to defeat Mesquite (Texas) North Mesquite, 28-17. It followed that game two weeks later with a 56-50 shootout victory over Mesquite (Texas) Horn and started to show signs that it may not have been the focused group that is needed to make a run through the Texas playoff gauntlet.

This season, DeSoto has moved into the Top 10 nationally before the end of September and then had its bye week.

The team returns to action this week on the road against Arlington (Texas) Mansfield Timberview.

ON HIS SHOULDERS: Not usually a state that gets looks for national polls but the performance by Anchorage (Alaska) Service athlete Viliamu Aukusitino turned in was worthy of this spot.

The quarterback accounted for 454 all-purpose yards and seven touchdowns in the first half of a 58-10 victory.

Of his 454 yards, just more than half of them came on the offensive side of the ball.

Aukusitino completed 10 of 15 passed for 155 yards and three scores while running for 86 more on nine carries.

The more impressive chunk of his yardage total came on defense where he returned three inceptions for touchdowns, scoring on returns of 46, 45, and 32 yards, as well as blocking and scoring on a 90-yard field goal attempt by Juneau (Alaska) Juneau-Douglas.

ON DECK THIS WEEK: For the second consecutive week the list of nationally ranked teams playing against nationally ranked teams is limited to just two games.

No. 39 Rancho Santa Margarita (Calif.) Santa Margarita will play host to No. 58 Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei in a Trinity League clash and No. 49 Cincinnati (Ohio) St. Xavier will welcome No. 53 Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward in a cross-state battle.

While two of those teams are the only ones guaranteed to suffer a setback this week there are plenty of other nationally relevant games on deck.

Bradenton (Fla.) Manatee and Duncan (S.C.) Byrnes will be playing two teams with solid name recognition but may not be strength of schedule makers this year in Weston (Fla.) CyBay and Gaffney (S.C) High.

Bellevue (Wash.) High hopes to get a test from Mount Si (Wash.) High as one of the better teams in its class could help the Pacific Northwest power hold its Top 10 ranking.

The trio of New Jersey representatives will be playing teams with interesting storylines.

Montvale (N.J.) St. Joe's will be playing Jersey City (N.J.) St. Peter's Prep as both look to prove their places nationally. Oradell (N.J.) Bergen Catholic will play host to Cocoa (Fla.) High in a game that gained plenty of attention but has lost some luster with how Cocoa has opened the season. Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco will take on Paramus (N.J.) Catholic.

The Steel City will again be in focus as Wexford (Pa.) North Allegheny will take on Pittsburgh (Pa.) Central Catholic a week after defeating Monroeville (Pa.) Gateway.

Indiana will have a say in the bottom half of the rankings with two key games. Indianapolis Cathedral will take on a Cincinnati (Ohio) Moeller program that is looking just to hold onto its place in the rankings. Indianapolis Ben Davis will square off with Carmel (Ind.) High for the top spot in the highest classification and one of the final places in the RivalsHigh 100.




 

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