2017

Nation’s Top Units Series ’16…Offensive Backfields

Scary is the term often used by defensive coordinators when they face offenses that are deemed unstoppable.  “Look upon with caution” is a new phrase that defensive players should hold to when playing some of the best backfields in high school during the 2016 season.  Quarterbacks with cannon-fire arms and thoroughbred style backs make up the following top backfields that clearly rank the best for this year’s high school football season.

5) Cedar Hill Longhorns (Cedar Hill, TX)

cedar hillThe schedule is not easy for Cedar Hill but then again neither is the planning of a defensive strategy for their high powered offense.  Stopping Kaegun Williams and Avery Davis is more of a notion than an actual deed.  Slowing them down is more realistic and such is the case with the Cedar Hill entire offense.  The Longhorns are anything but shy or timid when it comes to lighting up the stat sheets.  It would be outright rude for any high school fan or media source to leave the elephant sitting in the room which is the matchup between Cedar Hill and Bishop Gorman in week one.  This could easily be a national championship caliber game but as for now it will be a hard example of what happens when an immovable object meets an unstoppable force.  While the Joker may have said this line a little better, it is a fact that there won’t be too many laughs when the Longhorns’ backfield starts familiarizing themselves with opponents’ endzones this fall.

4) St. Louis High Crusaders (Honolulu, HI)

stLouisHA.pngThe saying that great players make the guys around them better is a perfect fit for the St. Louis high backfield.  Not only is Tua Tagovailoa one  of the top duel threat quarterbacks to come out of high school football, he is also “highly unaverage” in his leadership abilities.  Those fellow backfield teammates that he leads are more system players than anything and will combine with Tua to devastate opponents. Jahred Silofau blazed back from injury and will share the back duties with Dylan-J Silva.  Both backs are keys to the Crusader’s midrange spread offense.  While most high school football fans think that 90% of St. Louis High’s offense will come from the arm and legs of Tagovailoa, they will not be so shell shocked when the entire backfield is to credit for the team’s offensive success.

3) IMG Academy Ascenders (Bradenton, FL)

imgLogoFullReminders of a single loss from the 2015 season is more devastating to the IMG team since that single loss kept them from a state title.  Saying that the offensive players will be playing with a chip on their shoulder would be putting it lightly.  With Kellen Mond at quarterback and Jordan Anthony handling the majority of running back duties, the IMG backfield will light up scoreboards during its coast to coast travels.  With so much talent at other areas of the team, the Ascenders offensive juggernaut may have an off the radar presentation but this will soon turn into a  “bullhorn” style announcement of respect.  Respect that will of course be given to this multi-talented bunch by the opponents they will soon face.

2) Bishop Gorman Gaels (Las Vegas, NV)

bishopGornman_logoThe universal thought amongst opposing defenses and defensive coordinators that face Bishop Gorman is that lack of offseason preparation sums up to insanity.  Why insanity?  Because the Gaels are known for throwing the kitchen sink at their opponents from the first snap.  With Tate Martel running and passing his way to offensive national player of the year, it’s hard to think that this talented squad will average under 21 points per game.  And Biaggio Walsh carrying the responsibilities  at running back heightens the burden on their opponents.  Bishop Gorman will stay aggressive by setting up the run with their quick strike pass attack. And their use of misdirection is coveted by at least half of the west coast.  Plenty of shoulder shrugs will be handed out between defensive coordinators that would otherwise try to figure out a way to stop the explosive offense that has spent a decade in the top 20 national rankings.

1) Archbishop Hoban Knights (Akron, OH)

hobanAnd now comes an offensive backfield that at best is frighteningly impressive and at worst regularly intimidating.  At quarterback Danny Clark is a heard man with imposing size.  Accuracy is what his craft is built on and Clark is arguably the best passer in his class with the ability to spread the ball around.  If Danny Clark is the composer of a finely orchestrated offense, Todd Sibley would hold first chair and hold the responsibility of carrying the ball.  A balanced attack is what opponents of the Knights can adjust to. What these same opponents will have a hard time with is the fact that once Clark and Sibley get hot defensive coordinators will be forced to pick their poison of stopping the run or pass.  Asking a defense to stop both would be a challenge that teams on Archbishop’s schedule are hesitant to accept.

Nation’s Top Units Series ’16…Defensive Secondary

The defensive backfield is considered the last line of defense.  A great secondary is built around speed, coverage skill, and sure tackling.  Some of the best high school secondaries in the past have had the perfect mix of all of these components and this year’s group did not fall short in any of these categories. The following teams clearly have some of the best units in high school football for the 2016 season.

5) IMG Academy Ascenders (Bradenton, FL)

imgLogoFullThe talent pool continues at IMG Academy with a defensive backfield that features two all state picks and one pre-season All-American.  Isaiah Pryor is a stud and gets coverage help from Marcus Williamson.  And recently Houston Griffith, who is one of the best cover guys in the class of 2018, transferred in from Chicago’s Mt. Caramel.  Griffith has been slated the most versatile player in his class.  This leads to the exact reason for IMG’s dominance which stands on the fact that each member of its secondary can play both corner and safety at an all-star level.  Hard to imagine IMG’s pass defense not ranking in the top five nationally at season’s end. After meshing their skill sets, the Ascenders’ secondary will have a unit of the most advanced skilled ball hawks in the country.

 

 

4) American Heritage Patriots (Plantation, FL)

americanHeritage_LogoCovering top ranked receivers is nothing new to American Heritage’s secondary.  In the past five years they have faced a total of 18 receivers who went on to play division one college football.  Little will change in 2016 in terms of schedule difficulty nor will American Heritage’s secondary dominance decline.  Add the fact that you have NFL All-Pro Patrick Surtain leading the mighty Patriots, and you have a crew of defenders with pro-style discipline and budding knowledge.  The players.  Will Allen III, Patrick Surtain Jr., and Marco Wilson lead the group.  When these players walk onto the field this fall it will be to the dismay of opposing offensive coordinators.

3) Bishop Gorman Gaels (Las Vegas, NV)

bishopGornman_logoExpectations for the Bishop Gorman Gaels’ defense are always high.  Their defensive backs have had the luxury of facing one of the nation’s top quarterbacks in practice.  This has been to the advantage of the secondary for the past two years.  Alex Perry has some of the best cover skills in high school football and is one of several defensive backs in his class who is already considered college game day ready.  The reality of the Gaels’ national schedule can’t be ignored.  It would be extremely difficult to end the season as the number one team in the country.  But if they are able to get through the first four games unscathed you can credit a lot of it to awesome secondary play.

2) Cass Tech Technicians (Detroit, MI)

cassTech_logoCass Tech has been consistently competitive on defense for the past decade.  For two years the Technicians have had dominance up front but this year their secondary will receive the respect that it has earned.  It features two All-American types in Jaylen Kelly-Powell and Donovan Johnson.  They both have the skill level to shut down the fastest of aerial attacks.  Very physical and aggressive in press coverage, Cass Tech won’t have problems pushing opposing receivers around.  By year end it won’t be a surprise to see this crew of talented defensive backs with the number one pass defense in high school football.

1) Rancho Cucamonga Cougars (Rancho Cucamonga, CA)

rancho_logoThe top cornerback tandem comes out of Rancho Cucamonga with Jaylen Redd and Thomas Graham.  It’s never a bad thing to have shut down corners that are both sub 4.5 40 yard guys.  And with the come-uppance of Darren Hall you have arguably the best secondary in the nation.  Hall works as a sort of big brother to the shadow-like corners and as a unit they have zero tolerance for the deep ball.  Reliance on speed is not necessarily a bad thing but is indeed a necessity when it comes to Rancho Cucamonga’s overall pass defense.  It’s neither careful nor courteous to claim that the Cougars secondary can shutdown any receiving corps in the nation.

Next Up…Offensive Backfields.  Stay tuned.

Christian David…Representing More Than Self

Now attending Vermont academy, located in Saxtons River, Vermont,  Christian David began to capture headlines during his tenure in Canada while attending Bishop Reding Catholic as a sophmore.

David is a 6’5 guard who is yet another budding star with a unique story.  After ending the 2015-16 season with a better than double-double average in points and assists, David proved to be a more than average team player.  Coaches from the B1G Ten and ACC conferences have concluded that David will be more valuable as a combo guard because of his ability to score, rebound, and handle the ball.  While Canada is not the hotbed for basketball talent, David’s Canadian as well as Filipino roots has caused a certain hoopla in both respective locations.

There are few to none Filipino basketball stars that are currently holding a meaningful place in the game.  Christian David possesses high caliber skill, but also walks around Canada knowing that thousands of Canadians as well as extended family in Philippines are holding him to high standards.  As David gains fanfare for his sharp shooting ability and higher than normal court IQ, the heroic buzz from two national locations has become a constant in his ear.  The fun part about being a sort of national hero is knowing that you have the opportunity to capture the approval of the masses with your skill.  The hard part about being a national hero is knowing that failure is not an option.  While all this is a small pocket of game fuel for the young prospect, playing as a young dual national hero may indeed be the role Christian David has taken on.  Stay tuned.

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Malik Davis…Rushing Rite Of Passage

A perfect phrase to usher in discussion on the all everything running back out of Tampa Bay’s Jesuit high school is to whom much is given, much is expected.  If you haven’t heard yet, Malik Davis is now considered one of the top running backs in high school football.  As a class of 2017 top prospect, Davis is considered by powerhouse conferences such as the SEC and ACC as a “legit college starter.”  Easy enough for football fans to see this, as Malik Davis earned his over 2000 all purpose yards through a mix of shifty, hard-nosed efforts.  Davis’s one cut and go style has lit up the eyes of college coaches and is steadily attracting more recruiting attention by the day.  Reminiscent of the great Ricky Watters, former Notre Dame and 49’er stud, Davis has yet to pick up any of his yards by discount.  In essence, this young talent has mastered the skill on the high school level of finding a lane in the defense and getting to and through it with split second decision making.

malik davis 2

 

At 5’11, 190 pounds, Davis has excellent size and can be expected to bulk up to that ideal running back weight of 210 to 220 pounds.  Lest we give him his total due, it would be incomplete if the great hands of Davis are not mentioned.  Only 3 recorded drops during his junior year campaign is as impressive as any rushing statistic that he posted.  Mainly because he was constantly in traffic when asked to run routes and had a constant target on his jersey number.  It will be interesting to watch this top five running back choose his final destination for his college experience.  Expect the B1G and PAC 12 conferences to join the others previously mentioned and make a strong effort at recruiting Malik Davis.  And in regards to a record breaking senior season campaign…stay tuned.

Bo Melton…Bigger Goals In Mind

Bo Melton doesn’t just want to play division one college football.  He wants to leave his name in the books as one of the best athletes to take the field.  A hefty goal considering the vast array of talented individuals including Heisman Trophy winners that have pulled off stunning performances on college football Saturdays.  With that said it will take those outside of Melton’s camp and team to doubt his dreams, because he stands as one of the best athletes in the nation.  A very confident Bo Melton comes out of Cedar Creek high school located in Egg Harbor City, New Jersey.

bo melton

At 6’1 180 pounds and running a 4.47 40 yard, Melton shows on film why he has become a highly valued prospect at receiver for the class of 2017.  While his quickness and open field running ability are some of the best in high school football, college coaches may be more intrigued with the fact that Melton has lined up in over 7 offensive positions mainly at the slot, wideout, and running back spots.  After racking in 27 touchdowns during his junior year, scoring at least twice from every position he lined up in, the Cedar Creek athlete is looking to provide even more highlights in the return game.  Melton’s overall ability has been described as “uncanny” and while we don’t want to make the mistake of over hyping an athlete too fast, let’s not place an unnecessary flaw on this young man’s game.  Vying to be one of the top college renown athletes is something all athletes with great potential  look to become.  Achieving it is something we can be sure to see Bo Melton accomplish.  Stay tuned.

Corte Tapia…Recruiting Made Simple

It’s pretty simple. Corte Tapia does what a division one linebacker should do. He tackles, hustles, and interrupts offensive game plans. Tapia gladly accepts the role of defensive leader for the Windsor High School football team.  Looking at Tapia’s game film it’s hard not to notice his “stick-tuitiveness.” His overall skill set has helped him break the state of Colorado’s sack record, and what is building up in the mountain west region is the earned hype of one of the nation’s most effective inside linebackers.  The most careful scouts could say that Tapia will have to develop his lateral movement.  But what this class of 2017 prospect lacks in lateral movement, he by far makes up for in hitting ability.

corte tapia 1
At 6’2, 227 pounds Corte Tapia has the size that college coaches adore and with a 4.7 40 yd it would seem the main focus of his off season workouts will be to develop his sideward quickness.  The bottom line on Tapia is that the 150 plus tackles he garnered during his junior campaign should add an additional plus in his prospect rating category. The best part about this young talent is that the game of hype is not his thing at all, he plays the game of football.  Anyone who feels that Tapia lacks anything at the middle linebacker would be met with a short question.  Would you like to put a football in your hands and try to get past him?  A lighthearted but simple articulation on a football position where actions truly speak louder than any playbook, statistic, or scouting report ever can.  Expect the recruiting traffic to become very active in the town of Windsor as the major college programs begin to recognize that Tapia can assist in the daunting task of filling the position of middle linebacker.  Stay tuned.

BeSquadcast…Trae Young co’17

Trae Young has mesmerized the high school basketball scene in this current season and looks to take Norman North to a memorable playoff run.  Already putting up a 60 point game, Young is one of the nation’s top three scoring point guards.  Fans should not mistake and look past the other parts of his skill set as he is averaging 3 steals and 11 assists per contest.  Young will be one of the main highlights during this summer travel circuit as he squares off against some of the other top names such as Duval, Trent, and Diallo.  Stay tuned.

BESQUADCAST…Jeff Thomas CO’17

One of the nation’s top receivers is faced with a tough decision on his college decision.  Jeff Thomas is a five star prospect out of East St. Louis High school located in East St. Louis, Illinois.  Thomas has been slated as one of several receivers in his class that can fit any system regardless of school, coach, or conference.  As the SEC bears down on Thomas’s skills, the question remains on whether he will choose warmer southern climates and compete with the speedy competition of the southern conferences.  As his highlights and game film will profess, this young prospect is as set for high caliber competition as any bluechip player.  Stay tuned. (Hudl highlights)

 

 

Jayvon Graves…St. Vincent-St. Mary Revisited

A venture out to St. Vincent-St. Mary high school will introduce basketball fans to a another great recruiting report. There are great basketball stories to be found here and legendary status is connected to this location because one of the most successful athletes to come out of Akron, Ohio: Lebron James.  Lebron James not only put the city on the map but made the school, St. Vincent-St. Mary, a mainstay in the premise of high school basketball greatness. Can someone come along and seriously make a name for himself in an area already known for presenting the sports world with a historical athlete such as James?  If you pose this question to Jayvon Graves he will give you a fair yet bold answer.  The 6’2 point guard in the class of 2017 is an up and coming prospect. He takes every opportunity to create his own storyline while he courses through his high school basketball recruiting experience.

At present Graves is averaging 20 plus points and 8 assists per game. While he sits at a two star rating from some several recruiting outlets, the talented outside shooter knows it’s just a matter of time before he has his breakout moment.  To even the most detailed of pundits, the mention of any prospect name in the same sentence with Lebron James causes an immediate accusation of basketball blasphemy against such a famed name.  But instead of trying to fill shoes or even follow the path of such a high rated player, Graves takes a different road to the same destination.  Constant development and appreciation of each and every detail of the game is his forte.  In the mind of this prospect, it is as important to learn from the greats as it is to be bold enough to blaze your own trail.

As the regular season comes to an end for high school basketball, Jayvon Graves takes on the challenge of being considered a top five guard prospect for his class.  One could say that the hard part is already figured out and that is knowing that there are more naysayers than believers.  A familiar subject in the experience of nearly all aspiring athletes and all great stories.  Stay tuned.