September 8, 2013

RH100 primer: Change at the top

The one known result entering the showdown between previously ranked No. 1 Miami (Fla.) Central and No. 2 Booker T. Washington was that the winner would be atop the RivalsHigh100.

Following its 28-17 victory Friday night, it is Booker T. Washington that takes over No. 1 with a bullet.

The game was closer than the score. The Tornadoes returned an interception 75 yards with under a minute to play to clinch the victory as Washington downed Central for the first time in four tries.

Head coach Tim 'Ice' Harris said his team fighting back from a 14-7 deficit to earn the win impressed him.

"I'm so proud of those kids," he told FlaVarsity.com. "Their backs were against the wall, and they could have easily broken up, but they stayed together."

The victory over previously top-ranked Central was the second impressive outcome in the first two weeks of the season. Washington already held a stunning 55-0 victory over Norcross (Ga.) High.

Florida State quarterback commitment -- and coach's son - Treon Harris accounted for the three offensive touchdowns as he threw for two scores and rushed for another. He was 12-of-17 for 129 yards.

The Tornadoes trailed by three halfway through the fourth when Harris hit consecutive big passes. He moved the team in chunks of 26 and 34 yards before running in a 5-yard score to take the 21-17 lead.

Central used a steady dose of its two four-star running backs - Joseph Yearby and Dalvin Cook. Yearby led the way with 151 yards on 20 carries, while Cook accounted for 73 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries. But as the final drive played out, it was time to go to the air.

Terry Jefferson made the interception deep in Tornado territory and weaved through the Central offensive players for the score.

"He could have easily gone down and the game would have been in hand," Ice Harris said. "But he had something else in his heart -- to get in that end zone.

"I'm so proud of him. I was saying, 'Go down, go down,' but I love the effort."

In the first game between the two top-ranked teams in the six-year history of the RivalsHigh100, it will result in Washington taking the top spot. Central will remain in the top five.

Washington still has games with nationally relevant Miami (Fla.) Jackson and Miami (Fla.) Northwestern, as well a meeting with nationally ranked Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman on the road. There is the potential that it will also have to play nationally ranked Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) University in the playoffs.

Central has games with nationally ranked Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco and University scheduled, as well as a matchup with Northwestern.

INDIANA, ILLINOIS MAKE MAJOR MOVES

Entering the weekend, Chicago (Ill.) Mount Carmel was the only nationally ranked team from either Illinois or Indiana. It was the No. 37 team in the RivalsHigh100.

When the newly updated RivalsHigh100 is released on Monday, there will be four teams from the two states.

Mount Carmel will move up from No. 37 and into the top 25 on the strength of its defensive front and consistent offense. It will be joined by the No. 2 team in the Land of Lincoln. Lake Zurich (Ill.) High will enter in the bottom 10 of the rankings.

As for the Hoosier State, it adds two teams that jumped from just outside the rankings.

Indianapolis (Ind.) Lawrence Central was the No. 2 team from the state entering the season, and it has taken over the top line. The Bears' 17-13 victory over Louisville (Ky.) Trinity pulled the team into the top half of the national rankings.

Greenwood (Ind.) Center Grove also checked into the national rankings in the bottom 10 after it downed Carmel (Ind.) High, 35-26.

In Illinois, both programs are heavy favorites to win state titles, but each will be tested.

Mount Carmel looks like the class of 8A, but with Chicago (Ill.) St. Rita, Wilmette (Ill.) Loyola Academy, and New Lenox (Ill.) Providence Catholic before the playoffs, it could be interesting.

Lake Zurich has opened with consecutive shutouts but has yet to be tested. It may not see a program that can beat it until the Class 7A playoffs, and even that may not happen.

Lawrence Central may have the most upside of any of the four teams.

It will play nationally relevant Carmel (Ind.) High, Indianapolis (Ind.) Ben Davis and Indianapolis (Ind.) Warren Central, as well as nationally ranked Center Grove and Cleveland (Ohio) St. Ignatius before the playoffs.

If Center Grove wins the heads-up battle with Lawrence Central, it should enter the playoffs as the favorite because it will have defeated Warren Central and Carmel with games to come against Ben Davis and Cincinnati (Ohio) La Salle.

NASTY NEW JERSEY

New Jersey was among the last to start its season, but with impressive wins by Montvale (N.J.) St. Joseph Regional, Paramus (N.J.) Catholic, and Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco it was worth the extra week.

St. Joseph entered the week as the top-ranked team in the state at No. 27 in the RivalsHigh100. On the back of its 42-14 demolition of previous-No. 12 Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha, the team will be launching into the top 10 nationally.

Paramus Catholic met expectations in its 28-0 victory over nationally ranked Baltimore (Md.) Gilman. The Paladins entered the week at No. 30 and stayed in proximity while they pushed Gilman down from No. 78 to almost exiting the poll.

Don Bosco is not in the same national championship form that it had in 2009, but the IronMen were impressive in the 42-0 blasting over Philadelphia (Pa.) Saint Joe's. The final score pushed Don Bosco nearly 20 spots from its No. 80 ranking entering the contest and sent the lone representative from Pennsylvania packing. Saint Joe's dropped from No. 100 to well outside the poll.

The lone loser from the top four teams in the state was Oradell (N.J.) Bergen Catholic, which suffered a 24-13 setback at the hands of River Ridge (La.) John Curtis.

Bergen Catholic is clinging to one of the final spots in the poll, but its performance called into question the Curtis program, which fell out of the top 10 and behind Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas, which it hosts next week.

POWER POLL

The debate between power states and non-power states for high school football has escalated in recent years.

The crowning of Ramsey (N.J) Don Bosco, Batesville (Miss.) South Panola and Louisville (Ky.) Trinity as national champions in three of the last four football seasons has fueled much of the fire. None of those states is considered to be among the top seven nationally.

This week, the RivalsHigh100 will have only one non-power-state team -- Montvale (N.J.) St. Joseph Regional - inside its top 14 and just eight in the top 25.

Leading the way will be four teams from Florida and California, three from Texas, two each from Louisiana and South Carolina, and lone representatives from Ohio and Georgia.

The top five states will make up 53 of the RivalsHigh 100. Texas will lead all states with 14 teams in the national poll, followed by Florida with 13. There will be nine each from Georgia and Ohio, as well as eight from California.

LEAVING THE LIST

There is a 12-team turnover in the rankings for this week, and while it is not unusual two of those teams will exit coming off of a victory.

Leaving will be previously ranked No. 24 Gainesville (Ga.) High, No. 32 Long Beach (Calif.) Poly, No. 34 Louisville (Ky.) St. Xavier, No. 66 Tallahassee (Fla.) Lincoln, No. 71 Waco (Texas) Midway, No. 75 Cleveland (Ohio) Glenville, No. 83 Olive Branch (Miss.) High, No. 85 Lufkin (Texas) High, No. 88 West Monroe (La.) High, No. 93 Sammamish (Wash.) Skyline, No. 97 Cedar Park (Texas) High, and No. 100 Philadelphia (Pa.) Saint Joe's.

Glenville and Olive Branch won their games with Solon (Ohio) High and Charleston (Miss.) High, respectively.

The Tar Blooders have a decisive 40-24 loss to Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward's on the resume and only defeated a quality Solon team, 15-14.

Olive Branch looked like it was destined to make a major run in Mississippi, but this week its quarterback -- Ross Trail -- was ruled ineligible by the state association. While the Conquistadors defeated Charleston, 24-13, it is unlikely that without Trail the team will beat Longview (Texas) High this week. Like many teams that go without their quarterbacks, Olive Branch suffered the drop. Starting at No. 83, it didn't have a soft enough landing spot.

Dallas Jackson is the national columnist for Rivals.com. You can click here to follow him on Twitter.




 

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