Blue Devil Nation welcomes back its loyal readers to another edition of Friday Night Lights. With the last Friday night of September in the books, gridiron action has kicked into high gear across the United States. This week, in addition to checking in on many of Duke's 2013 verbal commits, BDN expands its coverage to include reports on several prospects in the high school class of 2014.
Starting with the 2013 commits:
Over in Charlotte, NC, Statesville routed Carson 56-13 as the Greyhounds improved to 6-1 on the season. Cornerback Breon Borders commented afterwards, "It went okay! We crushed them by 40. I always can play better though. Overall, it was an easy win." Borders was credited with six solo tackles in the win.
Ft. Myers (FL) quarterback T.J. Douglas summed up his performance in his team's victory over Charlotte High, "I had 218 yards rushing, two TDs rushing, two TDs passing, and 270 all purpose yards." Fort Myers defeated Charlotte 36-31 to stay undefeated at 5-0.
Staying in Ft. Myers, FL, Johnell Barnes caught a 5 yard touchdown pass in the 1st quarter as Dunbar defeated LaBelle 39-6. After the game, Barnes commented, "It went well. I had seven catches for about 100 yards and two touchdowns." Dunbar improves to 4-2 for the season.
Parker Boehme and Jacksonville (FL) Sandalwood defeated Parker 7-6. Boehme passed for 128 yards including a 36 yard touchdown, while rushing 14 times for 70 yards in the victory. Sandalwood's record is now 3-2.
In Texas, Mansfield faced crosstown rival Timberview and ended up on the short end of a 36-20 score. Offensive lineman Austin Davis commented, "It was a tough game. I did really good and shoved my guy around."
Jake Kite and Hidden Valley High School of Roanoke, VA ran to a 35-12 victory over Bassett to run their record to 2-3.
Going into this week's game, Kite's statistics included 12 receptions for 198 yards and four touchdowns, but Hidden Valley only attempted two passes in this game. On defense, coming into the Bassett game, Kite had recorded 36.5 tackles, including 28 solo takedowns.
Also in Virginia, Evrett Edwards and Woodbridge defeated Osbourne 27-7 to improve to 4-1.
Welcome back to another edition of Friday Night Lights as Blue Devil Nation takes you on a tour around the United States, checking on gridiron performances of future Blue Devils. This edition starts in Northern Virginia as we check in with Defensive Back Evrett Edwards.
Edwards had three receptions for 63 yards and a touchdown as Woodbridge defeated Gar-Field 48-20. After the game, Edwards stated, "It went well. We had almost 500 yards rushing, a great rivalry game." On the defensive side of the ball, Edwards was credited with four tackles.
In North Carolina, after Statesville defeated North Iredell 42-0, cornerback Breon Borders exclaimed, "We dominated the whole game...but me individually, there isn't really much to say. I didn't let my receiver off the line the whole game. They didn't pass to my side one time!" Borders recorded four solo tackles in the win.
In California, running back Joseph Ajeigbe rushed for 127 yards in Norco's 39-16 victory over previously undefeated La Serna. La Serna built a 16-6 lead in the first quarter, but Norco responded by reeling off 33 straight points. Discussing his role in the victory, Ajeigbe declared, "I was more a decoy this game. They were loading eight in the box in preparation for the run."
Looking toward next week, Ajeigbe stated, "This week we have a big game coming up. We're playing nationally ranked Mission Hills Alemany. It should be a good test for us as a team as we prepare to go into league play."
In Georgia, defensive tackle Mike Ramsay described The Walker School's victory, "We won a tough one 21-14 over Mt. Zion. We are now 4-0 for the first time in Walker School history."
Heading to Texas, offensive lineman Austin Davis commented on Mansfield's loss to South Grand Prairie, "We lost on a game-winning field goal 21-23. We rushed for 200 yards and had an average game. I did a good job and handled my opponent."
This week's edition closes out by checking in with three prospects in Florida.
T.J. Douglas ran for 94 yards on 12 carries, including a 69-yard touchdown and tossed a 31-yard touchdown pass as Fort Myers defeated Riverdale 15-0 to improve to 4-0 on the season. Douglas is number 10 in green in the video clip.
Blue Devil Nation starts this week's review of high school gridiron action in Columbia, South Carolina, where Heathwood Hall Episcopal defeated Laurence Manning Academy 12-9 in overtime. Lineman Gabe Brandner spoke to Blue Devil Nation about the game and stated, "It went into overtime at 6 to 6. We held them to a field goal then we scored a touchdown - the final was 12-9. We rushed for over 200 yards again and I had 10 tackles."
In California, [private] wide receiver Darren Andrews demonstrated big play skills as Bishop Amat defeated Charter Oak 30-14. Andrews returned the opening kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown, but the play was negated by a personal foul penalty. After Charter Oak scored to go up 7-0, Andrews returned the ensuing kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown. This time the play counted.
Andrews also caught two passes on 3rd down as Bishop Amat built a 30-7 halftime lead. Unfortunately, Andrews was ejected from the game toward the end of the first half due to a scuffle in the end zone with a Charter Oak player.
Moving over to Norco, running back Joseph Ajeigbe rushed for 231 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries in a 54-33 victory over Rancho Cucamonga Los Osos.
In Florida, quarterback T.J. Douglas completed 10 of 20 passes, but for only 55 yards as Ft. Myers struggled to mount sustained drives in a 27-0 victory over Cypress Lake. Video clip and a game recap is located here.
Also in Ft. Myers, Dunbar lost to Riverdale 24-10 as wide receiver Johnell Barnes was limited to two catches for 36 yards. Riverdale's sophomore cornerback Ryan Pulley played an excellent game in a one-on-one matchup against Barnes.
Up in Jacksonville, quarterback Parker Boehme and Sandalwood dropped a 13-7 decision to Trinity Christian. Boehme had a tough night against Trinity's aggressive blitz package, completing only 3 of 16 passes for 24 yards with one interception.
In Marietta, GA, The Walker School and defensive tackle Mike Ramsay remained undefeated with a 56-6 pounding of Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy. [/private]
Welcome back to another edition of Friday Night Lights. This week Blue Devil Nation starts its roundup in Florida:
Parker Boehme threw four touchdown passes and rushed for a fifth as Sandalwood defeated Wolfson 41-12. Boehme completed 27 of 44 for 275 yards. This video clip includes one of Boehme's touchdown passes. The Sandalwood highlights start at the 3:00 mark.
Fort Myers High School took to the road on Friday night, traveling to Naples to defeat Golden Gate High 37-23. Quarterback T.J. Douglas ran for 77 yards and three touchdowns.
Next up is the action which took place out on the West Coast:
In La Puenta, California, Darren Andrewsrushed for 78 yards including a 40-yard run on Bishop Amat's first play from scrimmage in a 34-24 victory over La Mirada.
Joseph Ajeigbe rushed nine times for 148 yards and two touchdowns as Norco routed Rancho Cucamonga Etiwanda 42-13. Ajeigbe scored on a 25-yard sweep in the 1st quarter and a 33-yard run in the 4th quarter.
After the game, Ajeigbe commented, "We are doing a good job of spreading the ball out more and utilizing all our weapons. Coach Gerhart scheduled good competition in pre-season so we can prepare for league play. The defense is doing a good job as well."
Moving down to Georgia, Walker defeated North Cobb Christian 54-14. Walker defensive lineman Mike Ramsay told Blue Devil Nation, "Our game went great! We won 54-14. I recovered a fumble early in the game. We picked off a pass late in the 1st quarter and ran it back to go up 14-0. Our RB ran for 277 yards and 4 touchdowns."
In Texas, Mansfield High beat Keller 35-0. Mansfield offensive lineman Austin Davis stated, " We won 35 to 0! We dominated and rushed for 400 yards! Our defense did great. We did really good all around. I played a good game and muscled my man around! Go Duke!"
Finally, we finish this week's edition with a look at action in Virginia:
Duke Head Coach David Cutcliffe has built a reputation of producing NFL quarterbacks throughout his career. In truth, his offenses have produced nearly as many NFL running backs, including players like Jamal Lewis, Deuce McAllister and Arian Foster. This fall, the Blue Devils should feature one of their deepest backfields in recent years, headlined by senior Desmond Scott along with last year's leading rusher Juwan Thompson and speedy redshirt-sophomore Josh Snead. They will be joined by two outstanding freshmen in Jela Duncan and Shaquille Powell. Duke's running backs are utilized in all areas of their offense - rushing, receiving, and blocking.
Looking ahead to the class of 2013, the Blue Devils are looking to add to their running back stable, and were among the first to offer a scholarship to Joseph Ajeigbe. Ajeigbe is a 5'9" 195 pound prospect from Norco High School in California, the same program that has produced incoming Duke safety Corbin McCarthy. In addition to McCarthy, the Norco program is known for producing hard-nosed running backs, including former Stanford star Toby Gerhart and current Stanford sophomore Kelsey Young. As a junior, Ajeigbe took over the starting running back job and flourished, finishing with 20 touchdowns and 1,673 yards rushing.
The powerful rising senior spoke with BDN about his recruitment and his interest in Duke. [private]
BDN: How would you describe your strengths as a player?
Some of my strengths are probably my speed through the hole, and my strength, and I run with a lot of power. Maybe some areas that I need to improve on would be my break-away speed, but other than that, I have pretty good vision and pretty good balance.
BDN: What are you working on this offseason as you prepare for your senior year?
I just want to be able to pull away from defenders in the secondary, just have that speed to be able to make big plays. I have good speed now, but I just want to get to that next level so I can be ready for college football, because everybody’s fast in college football so I just want to try and get to that next level. My senior year, just break a lot of records down here that are set by Toby Gerhart. I’ve been running on those overspeed treadmills, we have those incline treadmills and everything, so I’ve been running those and working with the running back coach running hills and stuff, just trying to get to that next level of speed to get ready for college.
BDN: As you approach your college decision, what are the most important things you are looking for in a school?
First and foremost for me is probably education, looking at what the school can offer me other than athletics. In case football doesn’t work out and I don’t end up in the NFL, I need something that I Can fall back on. Education is really important to me. Then I’ll be looking at the football program, how good the football program is, what I can contribute to the football program, if I can go in there and help them out, if I can fit in the offense, the coaching staff, if I feel comfortable with the coaching staff, that’s a lot of the things to take into consideration when considering a school.
BDN: Where do you stand with offers and interest from schools now?
I got offered by Arizona, that was my first offer, University of Arizona, and then a couple days after that, Duke offered me. Now, yesterday, or two days ago, I was talking to Coach Jerry Brown from Northwestern, We had like an hour-long conversation on the phone, they sound pretty interested, I think they’re going to offer me pretty soon. Around here, I’ve been talking to UCLA a lot, earlier I was hearing a lot from USC, I’m hearing from Boise State, Tennessee has been sending me a lot of letters and everything, talking to my coach. And then Cal – I’ve heard a lot from Berkeley, I’m pretty interested in Berkeley.
BDN: Which schools have you had a chance to visit or do you have plans to take any visits later this spring or summer?
UCLA and USC, they’ve been in contact with me a lot, so I went out to USC’s Junior Day, I think it was in February. I went out there and got to meet all the coaches and everything, and I like USC. A couple weeks ago, I went over to UCLA’s Junior Day, got to check that out, got to meet running backs coach Steve Broussard, we went over the offense and everything, he said he was interested in me as a player and said the next couple weeks they’d be in contact about maybe an offer or something. Other than that, I haven’t really been out to check out any other schools. I plan, probably in the summer, get on the East Coast and check out the schools that have been recruiting me like Duke, maybe get over to Tennessee, and then check out Northwestern.
BDN: You’ve obviously got schools all over the country that are recruiting you. How much of a factor will location be when you make your decision?
You know, I kind of want to keep all my options open, but I guess I would say location does play a pretty big part in it, UCLA and USC do catch my interest a lot, but I’m kind of open to anything at this point, so I’d be willing to go almost anywhere, but the closest schools, UCLA and USC, kind of do have my preference.
BDN: I know you have a teammate that will be heading to North Carolina to play at Duke this fall. How familiar are you with the program and what are your thoughts on Duke?
Yeah, Corbin [McCarthy]’s committed to Duke, so a couple months after that Duke started showing me some interest. I started looking into Duke as a football program, because I already know, well everybody knows that Duke is a good educational school, so I started looking at their football program. They’re doing some good thing in their conference and they’re trying to build a new program. I think it’s really cool to be a part of a growing program. The coaches, I’ve talked to Coach Lubick and Coach Loebner, they both seem pretty cool, they seem really interested to me as a player, and academics seem really big to them. Duke seems like a good program and I’ll have to look into that.
BDN: Do you have a timeline in mind for when you plan to narrow things down or make your final decision?
I kind of want to keep my options as open as possible, see how many scholarships I can get and keep considering and looking into schools that offer me. I might want to make a decision by sometime close to the beginning or the middle of my senior season just so I can know where I will be going by the end of my season. But for now I just want to kind of keep my options open.