I love being surprised. It happens a lot when you cover high school football and it certainly happened to me Friday night. We were in Memphis for our CSS television broadcast as the Owls of Memphis University School played host to regional-power South Panola from Batesville, Miss. I certainly expected the game to be a good one, but I was pretty sure that before it was over, South Panola would prove to have a little too much firepower for MUS. If you saw the game on TV, you know that is not what happened. MUS won in impressive fashion 26-9. The Owls were led by fullback Colton Neel, who seemed to do a little bit of everything for his team.
Even in defeat, though, there was still a lot to like about South Panola. First of all, head coach Lance Pogue is clearly one of the sharpest minds around. He is running a great program. Also, fans of recruiting are going to want to remember the name of junior running back Darrell Henderson. We are all going to hear a lot more from him before next February. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see him end up at the same spot so many of his Tigers teammates have chosen to play their college ball, a few miles up the road at Ole Miss.
Elsewhere around the southeast, I had a chance this week to talk to some “insiders” and they were telling me how impressed they were with quarterback Treon Harris from Booker T. Washington (Miami). Harris is a commitment for Jimbo Fisher’s 2014 recruiting class at Florida State and he leads our top-ranked squad in the CSS High School Football Southeastern Top 25. It certainly sounds like he is special.
Also from the Sunshine State, we had what I would consider a huge upset on Friday night when Miramar took down St. Thomas Aquinas. Of course, I realize this was the third straight time Miramar has won in this matchup of Florida powers, but I did not expect that trend to continue this season. The reward for the victory is entry in our poll, as Miramar comes in at No. 11 this week. Kudos also go out to Miami Central for making a long road trip up to Don Bosco Prep School in New Jersey and coming back home with the W.
In the state of Alabama, just because Hoover is not on MTV anymore does not mean the Bucs are not still worthy of attention. They have played a tremendously tough schedule and have an undefeated record to show for it. Jack Hutcheson is a must-see quarterback. Also, how about Opelika’s victory over Carver (Montgomery)? This game is one of the underrated rivalries in the region and the victory serves as a real stamp of legitimacy for the Bulldogs.
A little farther west, I am starting to be pretty impressed by Petal (Miss.). They were not really on my radar at the beginning of the season, but quarterback Kyle Smith is making a fan of me. The same thing can also be said of the Tucker Tigers back in my home state of Georgia. Recruiting experts have known this program for years, and it would appear they are once again loaded with premium college talent.
Speaking of Georgia, we will be back in the Atlanta area for our high school game of the week this Friday night as Norcross welcomes in region-rival Mill Creek. This is a terrific match-up that truly represents what southeastern high school football is all about. I would defy anyone to show me a county anywhere in the country that has more good teams that Gwinnett County does, and we will see two of the best on TV Friday night. For Norcross, the contest will continue what has been an attempt to climb back to the top after winning the state championship in Georgia’s highest classification a year ago. The Blue Devils are trying to put a couple of early season losses behind them, and they know how tough an opponent coach Shannon Jarvis’ Mill Creek team is.
The game is going to feature an unbelievable one-on-one matchup between Norcross defensive end Lorenzo Carter, arguably the best pass rusher in the country, and Mill Creek offensive tackle Kaleb Kim, who did not give up a single sack a year ago. It is the kind of battle that we look forward to bringing you each and every week.
We will see you Friday night!