2018 Football

Joe Kane…The Marked Prospect Is More Than Able

When I first received a heads up on a division one caliber defensive end playing out in North Carolina, I shrugged my shoulders. He was probably one in many prospects in that area.  So what? Another one, but okay lets take a look at him. And then he proved himself to be  “The Minister of Sinister.” In the game of football nicknames are given out like mouthpieces during equipment hand out, but Joe Kane happened to be the young man given this tag. It would be putting things lightly to say he’s earned it.

Kane attends Heritage High School in Wake Forest, North Carolina.  Besides being a national sack leader and garnering defensive mvp honors as an underclassman, the amount of hoopla surrounding Kane has spilled from his town to the entire east coast.  His measurables are that of a prototype defensive end.  At 6’3.5 and 258 pounds, Joe Kane adds 4.85 speed to the mix. While this would be considered comme il faut by the smoother talking experts, it is better than average for a prospect with at least two summers of training left before his first college football game.

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Besides his measurables what makes Joe Kane a marked defensive prospect for the class of 2018?  Try his alley-brawl style of intimidation or his high end energy that he brings for four quarters.  Bragging up ball players who have yet to play one down of college ball can be somewhat premature but Kane is a prospect that 95% of coaches and scouts would warrant success.  It would not surprise any of his high school coaches and peers to see Kane choose a regional division one school for his college football experience.  Four division one powerhouse programs are within a couple hours drive of Kane’s hometown.  Those programs include Wake Forest, North Carolina, Duke, and North Carolina State.  In Kane’s mindset decisions can wait until later. Right now he’s all about getting his team to the state championship while bringing home the national sack title.  Stay tuned.   www.besquadsport.com

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.

Hawaii…A New Pipeline For The Bigs

With recent news of dual threat quarterback Tua Tagovailoa committing to the Alabama Crimson Tide, the college football world is now openly recognizing the island of Hawaii as a great source for top prospects.

Tagovailoa is leading the pack for a host of top tier talent that many sports media outlets are saying will continue for the upcoming years.  Some other names that have made it to the top of recruiting lists are class of 2018’s Samson Reed of Kahuku High and Jacob Isaia.  Reed’s claim to high school football fame is that he is one of 10 defensive linemen in his class with the ability to play every position on the defensive line.  Jacob Isaia has transferred to powerhouse Bishop Gorman but it is fair to say that he started his climb into the top prospect list during his tenure at Iolani.  He takes a similar headline to the state of Nevada as being a versatile lineman, who is equally effective on both sides of the ball.  And now comes Stephen Barber Jr. whose being held as another insanely accurate quarterback coming out of the class of 2018. (photo courtesy of hawaiiprepworld.com)

 

 

 

In terms of accuracy, Barber Jr. has been compared to Tim Couch, the former University of Kentucky star.  Scouts will definitely keep the young prospect under a microscope with such a high caliber comparison.  In terms of star power, Barber may come out of Hawaii as the best offensive threat in the past decade.  Not to take away from what his athletic peers, mainly Tagovailoa, have accomplished, but the development of a young Barber will make for exciting prospect news for the months to come.  If the poised quarterback is anything near the talent of Tim Couch, he will undoubtedly be considered not only one of the top prospects to come out of Hawaii, but one of the top overall passers all states combined.  As more and more of the big time programs begin to make the trek for scouting (and some vacation time) in the beautiful island location, plan on more top prospects to continue to surface.  Stay tuned.

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Taylor Lacoste…Zero Discretion

Ball carriers who faced the defense of Louisiana’s St. Paul High School had two goals in mind this past season.  Their secondary goal was to get to the endzone.  Their primary goal was to avoid one of the most effective young defensive players in the class of 2018.  Taylor Lacoste understandably ranks in the upper echelon of defensive prospects for his respective class.IMG_20151210_131715

Label the tactics of this young prospect as “tip of the spear” like.  Watch Lacoste on film and you see zero discretion on his aggressive approaches to the opponent.  Disregard any pundit talk about technique and overblown  statistics when it comes to this type of athlete.  Lacoste is a playmaker in the broadest sense of the term.  The type of player that college coaches and scouts list as difference makers who can consistently interrupt any offensive scheme.  With two years remaining in his high school career, this bona fide bluechipper will only get faster and stronger.  He already has an aggressive style that will definitely solidify his division one recruiting.  His knowledge of the game and position will be an often asked question amongst recruiting personnel.  With the Alabama Crimson Tide being one of his favorite college teams, watching the Saban disciplined defense will teach the four star player a lot about basic linebacker responsibility. He will be well versed in backer standards such as the elimination of false steps and the importance of gap responsibility.  Offensive coordinators won’t be fooled by the sitcom-like smile of Taylor Lacoste.  Instead they will game plan for this talented athlete, knowing that he is indeed a sort of “smiling assassin” and always ready to wreak havoc on the opposing team.  Expect this prospect to be at the top of linebacker ratings by the end of his junior season and one of the more coveted recruits for the class of 2018. Stay tuned.

Jacob Isaia…Versatility For ’18

The Hawaiian Islands have produced the first prospect from the class of 2018 that can play all five spots on the offensive line.  Jacob Isaia has put Honolulu on the high school football map by earning a four star rating as an offensive tackle.  It’s Isaia’s ability to play at each spot at a division one level that has college recruiters chasing him down and placing him high on their lists of lineman prospects..
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This season, the strength of Iolani High school football has been a balanced offensive attack.  Jacob Isaia has a lot to do with this but won’t hesitate to tell anyone who asks that the team’s success is the result of great coaching.  We can only agree with that statement as Isaia’s line coaches have been able to make him a highly effective blocker at each guard, tackle and the center position.  Although the young man loves it in Hawaii, it may be close to  impossible to keep Isaia from taking the long trek to the local states for his college football experience.  It would be a hefty jump when considering the broader range of talent but Jacob Isaia has affirmed in his mind to be the most valuable lineman prospect of his class regardless of location.  It must be mentioned that there is a big difference between being the most valuable lineman and the best lineman.  As any football fan knows, injuries are as much a part of the game as is turf and fan.  Being able to fill in at any spot on the line whenever asked is as important as it gets.  Moreover when an offense does not lose a beat because of the effectiveness of that athlete who does the filling, coaches can be more efficient with player substitutions.  Not to mention the number of other positions coaches can fill on their rosters with scholarships, knowing that a young talent with Isaia’s ability can measure up with any high rated player.  The offseason plan for the athletically gifted islander? Physically there will be a lot of focus on footwork and strength training.  Mentally speaking, Isaia plans on training himself on how to expertly adjust to a position change without any fall off.  Stay tuned.

Samson Reed…Meeting And Greeting In The Opponent’s Backfield

The message from the Hawaiian islands is very simple.  Samson Reed is good and he is coming to a backfield near you.  Reed is one of those defenders who is as equally entertaining as a high caliber offensive threat.  Those Jevon Kearse and Warren Sapp types if you will.  He is the type of athlete that can capture the crowd and keep their attention because of the way he interrupts an offense.samson reed  The coaches at Kahuku High School are more than excited to see how far Reed can go.  Coaches and scouts at the college level are getting their recruiting approaches ready for this skilled athlete.  The buzz among PAC 12 conference schools may be the reason why Reed has gained national attention as a class of 2018 student-athlete.  The hushed tone on Samson Reed is that no one has been able to cap or even scale his potential.  What does that mean? It simply says that his skill set, while being in a class of former greats is capable of going to a level which usually converts into immediate action as a college freshman.  At nearly 6’3 and closer to 230 pounds, the agile and hasty footed Reed can star at all defensive line positions.  Let’s not put his strength on a backburner either.  Most offensive lines can and will be impeded as he takes on most double teams with a juggernaut style.  Again, it’s important not to put the young man into the college football hall of fame yet, but it is very important to recognize the potential star athlete’s trek to the elite group labeled great.  With the Mountain West conference catching the word from PAC 12 schools about Reed, fans can expect this young man’s recruitment to expand as far as the SEC.  While Reed and his Kahuku teammates prepare to make a run at the state title, college scouts are padding and penciling up for much anticipated note taking on the multi-star athlete.  Stay tuned.