Like it has done 234 consecutive times, Concord (Calif.) De La Salle defeated a Northern California high school football team this past weekend, downing Pittsburg (Calif.) High 35-13. It was the fourth time in five seasons that De La Salle ended the year for Pittsburg.
While most years, this victory would be met with no movement in the RivalsHigh 100, De La Salle will move into the Top 10 nationally this week. The Spartans are the beneficiary of losses by Cleveland (Ohio) St. Ignatius, Cincinnati (Ohio) Colerain, and Marietta (Ga.) Lassiter, which helped push the top team from No. 13 to No. 10.
The game started as a test for De La Salle. Pittsburg ran the ball right at the Spartans defense, which is among the best in the nation. De La Salle had held its last 10 opponents to fewer than 100 yards, but Pittsburg eclipsed that number in the first quarter.
Four-star linebacker Michael Hutchings told the Contra Costa Times that Pittsburg came right after the nationally ranked team.
"They weren't intimidated," he told the paper. "Most teams are a little timid, and we were caught off guard a little bit. They attacked us; they came out running downhill plays."
A 14-7 lead for De La Salle was extended to 35-7 after the team scored the first 21 points of the second half. Pittsburg added a touchdown late in the fourth quarter while De La Salle had its bench players on the field.
Tiapepe Vitale led De La Salle with 141 rushing yards and four touchdowns. Chris Williams scored the fifth touchdown for De La Salle on a 39-yard quarterback keeper. He totaled 79 rushing yards and 109 passing yards on the night.
The Spartans' defense blocked a field goal and forced a turnover deep inside its territory to protect the lead in the first half. They played stifling defense in the second half as De La Salle extended the lead.
The Spartans will play Pleasanton (Calif.) Amador Valley in the semifinals of the North Coast Section Division I playoffs next week, with a potential rematch with San Ramon (Calif.) California to follow.
If De La Salle wins its section, the team is expected to be selected for the first California Regional Bowl game with an opportunity to represent the Northern California teams in the Open Division Bowl.
De La Salle's national ranking would be positively impacted if it defeats California and follows with a victory over Elk Grove (Calif.) Franklin. Franklin would own several nationally relevant victories if it were to finish the year an undefeated champion of the Sac-Joaquin Section, before playing in the Open Division game against one of several touted Southern California teams.
PRESEASON RANKINGS PROVING CORRECT IN OHIO: The Ohio state playoffs have reached the final four in Division I, and in three of the four regions, the preseason favorites have advanced.
Cincinnati (Ohio) Moeller, Mentor (Ohio) High, and Toledo (Ohio) Whitmer were preseason picks, and alongside Pickerington (Ohio) North, each will be playing next week for spots in the state finals.
Moeller was the top team in the preseason with an initial ranking of No. 44. The team has seen its share of ups and downs, including dropping three games in a row, but this group is proving to be peaking at the right time. Moeller will move up to No. 31 in the national rankings. It will play unranked Pickerington North for the right to advance to the state finals.
Mentor began the year as the No. 2 team in Ohio and No. 50 in the preseason rankings. It dropped as far as No. 83, but with back-to-back shootout victories over Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward and Cleveland (Ohio) St. Ignatius, the team will move up to No. 33 nationally.
Whitmer did not start the season ranked, but it was one of the first 10 to miss the national rankings. This team was always considered the favorite to win its region and has been climbing the RivalsHigh 100 rankings since its inclusion in mid-October. Whitmer will move up to No. 74 in the rankings with a game against Mentor on the horizon.
KEEP AN EYE ON...: the Florida Class 8A playoffs.
In a dramatically down year for nationally relevant depth in Florida, there are only two RivalsHigh100 teams in the Class 8A playoffs. The pair square off next weekend and the loser will likley be making an exit from the rankings.
No. 77 Orlando (Fla.) Dr. Phillips enters as a slight favorite over No. 89 Tampa (Fla.) Plant, but most any result will not be shocking because neither team appears to have the advantage.
The result could have a ripple effect that reaches the top of the poll. No. 1 River Ridge (La.) John Curtis is holding tight to the top spot largely based on its season-opening decimation of Plant. If that victory becomes less impactful with Plant making a second-round exit in one of the shallowest of all playoff brackets in Florida, it could force movement at the top of the poll.
The rest of the Class 8A playoffs are fairly wide open. Eight teams easily could make a logical argument as a favorite to win the title.
Every team battling to represent the South side of the bracket would feel good about its chances, except for Coral Gables (Fla.) High. Teams like Miami (Fla.) Columbus, Miami (Fla.) Killian, Miramar (Fla.) High, Weston (Fla.) Cypress Bay and even Homestead (Fla.) South Dade could charge to the finals from the South to meet a potentially weaker opponent from the North.
KING HENRY: Yulee (Fla.) High running back Derrick Henry is the new all-time leader for rushing yards in high school football history after he surpassed Sugar Land (Texas) High back Ken Hall. The record of 11,232 yards stood for 59 years before Friday night, when Henry rushed 58 times for 482 yards.
The new number is tentatively set at 11,610, but with Henry having the chance to play additional games in the Florida Class 4A playoffs, it could be pushed to a level that will never be touched.
"This is our team's record," he said. "We worked all summer long for this. We did. Not just me -- we."
Henry said he had the chance to talk with Hall as the record was set to fall and the two shared stories of their times on the field. Hall told him about rushing for 520 yards on just 11 carries, a stat that impressed Henry.
"It took me 45 (carries) to get 502," Henry said. "He said in the second quarter he was done, and I was like, 'wow.' "
RANKINGS REDO FOR LAST 10 TEAMS: The exit of eight teams from the RivalsHigh 100 will create the largest turnover in eight weeks. Of the teams joining the rankings, six will be from No. 92 to No. 100.
Coincidentally, the two teams to start deeper into the rankings are both from Virginia. Virginia Beach (Va.)Ocean Lakes and Ashburn (Va.) Stone Bridge will join the RivalsHigh 100 at No. 67 and No. 75, respectively.
Three of the six other teams will be re-entries to the rankings.
Phoenix (Ariz.) Mountain Pointe avenged its lone loss to Phoenix (Ariz.) Brophy Prep this past weekend in an impressive 30-0 shutout. The win pushes the program back into the rankings at No. 92 after an exit in Week 6. The spot will have to be earned immediately because the state finals will pit Mountain Pointe against Chandler (Ariz.) Hamilton, which it edged for the position in the rankings.
Auburn (Ala.) High eliminated Mobile (Ala.) McGill-Toolen, knocking the preseason Top 25 team out of the playoffs, as well as the rankings. Auburn was nationally ranked until Week 7, when it fell to Montgomery (Ala.) Carver. This week, Auburn re-enters at No. 93, while Carver rises to No. 53.
The favorite to win the Hawaii state title also rejoins the RivalsHigh 100 this week as Kahuku (Hawaii) High moves back in at No. 94 after beating Honolulu (Hawaii) Farrington, 47-14. This is the third time that Kahuku has bounced back into the rankings. The team was last ranked in Week 10 and will be placed at No. 94.
The three other new teams in the rankings are Lovejoy (Ga.) High, Hartland (Wis.) Arrowhead and Highlands Ranch (Colo.) ThunderRidge, which come in at No. 95, No. 97 and No. 100.
Leaving the poll will be previously ranked No. 12 Marietta (Ga.) Lassiter; No. 39 Mission Viejo (Calif.) High; No. 44 Mobile (Ala.) McGill-Toolen; No. 49 Jacksonville (Fla.) First Coast; No. 60 Richmond (Va.) Hermitage; No. 90 Picayune (Miss.) High; No. 92 Valdosta (Ga.) Lowndes; and No. 95 Broken Arrow (Okla.) High.
Formerly ranked teams Batesville (Miss.) South Panola and Gaffney (S.C.) High just missed this week and could climb into the rankings with wins.
COMING THIS WEEK: This could be the busiest week for nationally ranked teams to be taking on other nationally ranked teams in the history of the RivalsHigh 100. There are 17 games that feature two teams in the poll.
There are another eight games with nationally ranked teams taking on nationally relevant programs.
The largest collection is from the Atlantic Region, with eight games of significance: No. 9 Matthews (N.C.) Butler will play No. 52 Charlotte (N.C.) Mallard Creek; No. 21 Goose Creek (S.C.) High battles No. 50 Rock Hill (S.C.) Northwestern; No. 48 Greenwood (S.C.) High takes on No. 49 Rock Hill (S.C.) South Pointe; No. 51 Chesapeake (Va.) Oscar Smith will play No. 67 Virginia Beach (Va.) Ocean Lakes; No. 60 Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco takes on No. 82 Montvale (N.J.) St. Joseph Regional; No. 81 Paramus (N.J.) Catholic will battle No. 83 Oradell (N.J.) Bergen Catholic; No. 27 Wexford (Pa.) North Allegheny takes on unranked Pittsburgh (Pa.) Woodland Hills; and No. 39 Duncan (S.C.) Byrnes looks to avenge its loss against unranked Gaffney (S.C.) High.
In the South Region, there will be six games that will impact final rankings: No. 5 Loganville (Ga.) Grayson squares off with No. 88 Suwannee (Ga.) North Gwinnett; No. 7 Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) University will play No. 34 Delray Beach (Fla.) American Heritage; No. 42 Murfreesboro (Tenn.) Siegel takes on No. 70 Maryville (Tenn.) High; No. 77 Orlando (Fla.) Dr. Phillips plays No. 89 Tampa (Fla.) Plant; No. 12 Miami (Fla.) Central will play its rival, unranked Miami (Fla.) Northwestern; and No. 45 Norcross (Ga.) High will play a rematch against Snellville (Ga.) South Gwinnett.
In the West Region, five games make the watch list: No. 44 Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei will take on No. 63 Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure; No. 64 Corona (Calif.) Centennial squares off against No. 65 Upland (Calif.) High; No. 30 Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco tangles with back-on-the-map Long Beach (Calif.) Poly; No. 92 Phoenix (Ariz.) Mountain Pointe is in a state final with Chandler (Ariz.) Hamilton; and No. 100 Highlands Ranch (Colo.) ThunderRidge looks for a state title and to secure its place in the rankings against Highlands Ranch (Colo.) Valor Christian.
The Heartland Region has three Texas playoff games and a rankings eliminator in Oklahoma: No. 3 DeSoto (Texas) High plays No. 28 Coppell (Texas) High; No. 18 Mesquite (Texas) High takes on No. 29 Allen (Texas) High; No. 86 Tulsa (Okla.) Union faces No. 87 Jenks (Okla.) High; and No. 85 Waco (Texas) Midway will go at it with previously ranked Colleyville (Texas) Heritage.
The lightest region this week is the Lakes Region, which features two ranked-vs.-ranked games: No. 32 Mentor (Ohio) High vs. No. 74 Toledo (Ohio) Whitmer and No. 71 Glen Ellyn (Ill.) Glenbard West vs. No. 72 Frankfort (Ill.) Lincoln-Way East.