Different states are on different schedules, so in North Carolina the regular season is winding down, with playoffs commencing next Friday night. Therefore, this week's results impacted conference championships and playoff seeding. In other states, the regular season marches on for another week or two.[private]
Defensive back Breon Borders and his Statesville (NC) teammates wrapped up the North Piedmont Conference Championship with a 56-6 rout of South Rowan. The Greyhounds finish the regular season at 10-1, and are the third overall seed in 3AA West. They host Enka (5-5) this coming Friday.
Charlotte Christian defeated Providence Day 24-16. Providence Day cornerback Bryon Fields is Duke's most recent verbal commit; Bryon recently won the Power 98 Athlete of the Week Award. Providence Day (7-4) will play at Charlotte Country Day (9-1) next Friday in the first round of the NCISAA playoffs.
Two-way player Quay Mann rushed for 44 yards on 10 carries in a losing effort as Northern Nash fell to Rocky Mount 26-9 to end their season with a disappointing 2-8 record.
Hidden Valley (VA) fell to 5-4 on the season after bowing to undefeated Salem (9-0) by the score of 24-14. Jake Kite caught six passes for 49 yards in the contest. The Titans play Cave Spring next Friday in their regular season finale.
Defensive Back Evrett Edwards caught seven passes for 69 yards, but Woodbridge (VA) was upset by Forest Park 21-19. Woodbridge must beat Stonewall Jackson next week in their regular season finale to qualify for the playoffs.
Dual threat quarterback Parker Boehme did not play as Jacksonville (FL) Sandalwood dropped a controversial 17-16 decision to Flagler Palm Coast. Boehme was in a walking boot this week and is most likely out for the season after re-injuring a toe in last week's win over DeLand.
Wide Receiver Darren Andrews caught a 68 yard touchdown pass in the 4th quarter as Bishop Amat (CA) defeated Loyola 30-20. In the 2nd Quarter, Andrews scored a touchdown on a screen pass that covered 60 yards. Overall, Andrews caught eight passes for 176 yards.
Northside defeated East Duplin 21 -14 to win the East Central Conference Championship and complete a perfect 11-0 regular season. The Monarchs are the #1 seed in the 2AA East and host Croatan (6-4) this coming Friday. Northside previously defeated Croatan 41-13 back on September 28. Northside wide receiver Josh Cabrera is a Duke recruiting target.
Southern Durham and quarterback Kendall Hinton host Wilmington Hoggard in the first round of the 4A East Play-offs.
Shai McKenzie rushed for 323 yards and six touchdowns as Washington (PA) defeated Waynesburg 69-6 to finish the regular season undefeated at 8-0.
That's all for this week. Be sure and follow Duke's verbal commits and recruiting targets as Blue Devil Nation brings you the latest news on all the high school playoff action.[/private]
Welcome back Blue Devil faithful for another edition of Friday Night Lights, where Blue Devil Nation takes you on a national tour covering all the high school action from North Carolina to California and back.
This week's action kicked off on Thursday night in Florida as Quarterback Parker Boehme and Jacksonville Sandalwood defeated DeLand, 28-14, in a nationally televised game on ESPNU. Sandalwood improved to 5-2 on the season.
Also in Florida, Quarterback T.J. Douglas threw a 60 yard touchdown pass and ran for two touchdowns of 90 and 11 yards as Fort Myers defeated North Fort Myers 41-7.
In North Carolina, Duke's most recent verbal commit, cornerback Bryon Fields, lamented Providence Day's tough loss. "We had a tough loss, 17-7 to rival Country Day. They really did a lot to keep the ball out of my hands on offense and special teams and stayed away from me on the pass, but I played decent run support and I still had four or five catches. I had eight touchdowns in the previous 3 games, so they really made an effort to limit my production."
In Virginia, Hidden Valley defeated Pulaski 14-10. Safety Jake Kite described his performance, "It went really well...I had an 89 yard kick return for a touchdown with 40 seconds left in the 1st half, and I had 15 tackles, three tackles for loss, I forced a fumble and had three catches for 40 yards."
Also in Virginia, Woodbridge lost to Hylton 20-15. Woodbridge kicked a 20 yard field goal to take a 15-14 fourth quarter lead before Hylton return the ensuing kickoff 67 yards for the winning touchdown. Cornerback Evrett Edwards of Woodbridge commented on his performance, "I did well with two catches for 62 yards, a kickoff return for 48 yards, a pass break-up and a fumble recovery."
Walker (Marietta, GA) defeated Kings Ridge Christian 24-6. "I blocked a punt and had two sacks," said Defensive Tackle Mike Ramsay, "The game went great and we are 7-0."
In Texas, Mansfield Offensive Lineman Austin Davis described his team's 37-16 victory over Duncanville: "Our defense came up huge and our offense wore down their defense. We pulled together as a team!"
In California, running back Joseph Ajeigbe rushed 19 times for 117 yards and two touchdowns as Norco shut out Roosevelt 37-0. Ajeigbe scored on runs of 18 and 2 yards.
Finishing up the 2013 coverage in North Carolina, Cornerback Breon Bordersintercepted a pass in the second half as his Statesville squad defeated East Rowan 59-39.
Wilson Fike doubled up Northern Nash 42-21. "We lost again," commented cornerback Quay Mann, "I rushed for one touchdown, but didn't do much on defense. It's stressful when the opposing QB doesn't even look my way. I've only been thrown at three times this season!"
Quarterback Kendall Hinton tossed a 46 yard touchdown pass with 30 seconds remaining in the game to rally Southern Durham to a 27-23 victory over Northern Durham.
Josh Cabrera caught a 10 yard touchdown pass in Northside's 34-0 shutout of Clinton. Northside improves to 10-0 on the year and hosts 9-1 East Duplin on Friday night to determine the ECC Champion.
Finally, the second section of this article describes Pennsylvania running back Shai McKenzie's statistics. McKenzie has averaged 36.2 yards per carry on his 24 rushing touchdowns this season.
That is all for this week. Be sure and check back next week for another edition of Friday Night Lights here at Blue Devil Nation, the number one site for Duke football coverage. [/private]
Welcome back for another tour around our great country as Blue Devil Nation brings you up to speed on all the high school action from North Carolina to California and back.
"Big Plays" is the theme for this week's edition of Friday Night Lights. Duke 2013 verbal commits combined to return a punt for a touchdown, recover an onsides kick, and score a number of touchdowns on receptions and runs. A couple of 2014 targets had big performances as well.
Safety Jake Kite returned a punt 59 yards for a touchdown as Hidden Valley (VA) shut out Christiansburg 28-0. Hidden Valley's record stands at 4-3 on the season. Kite commented after the game, "It went well. We played very good defensively. I had a 50 yard punt return for a touchdown."
Breon Borders recovered an onside kick to help Statesville (NC) secure a 37-27 victory over Alexander Central, and improve its record to 8-1. The Greyhounds rallied from a 27-20 deficit by scoring the game's final 17 points.
Ft. Myers (FL) Dunbar defeated Clewiston 40-30 to move to 6-1 on the season. After being named homecoming king before the game, Dunbar wide receiver Johnell Barnes caught a 13 yard touchdown pass in the 1st quarter . Blue Devil Nation congratulates Barnes on both successes. Barnes stated afterwards, "I had one catch for a touchdown. We mainly ran the ball."
Quarterback T.J. Douglas had a tough night as Fort Myers lost to South Fort Myers 14-3. Douglas completed only 3 of 13 passes for 35 yards, and threw two interceptions, while gaining just 40 yards rushing on 20 carries. With back-to-back district losses, to Island Coast and South Fort Myers, Fort Myers' (5-2) playoff hopes are in jeopardy.
In California, wide receiver Darren Andrews caught 10 passes for 130 yards and ran for two touchdowns, but Bishop Amat suffered its first loss of the season, falling to Alemany Mission Hills 56-35. Bishop Amat is now 5-1-1 on the year.
Also in Southern California, Norco fell to Centennial 38-37 on a field goal with three seconds remaining in the game. The final margin was due to a missed extra point. Norco running back JosephAjeigbe explained the end of game sequence: "We led the whole game. We were on the four yard line with 1:57 to go when an illegal motion set us back 10 yards. Coach decided to go for it on 4th down and we didn't get it. They drove down and kicked the field goal to win as time expired." Norco's record fell to 3-4.
Northern Nash (Rocky Mount, NC) fell to Southern Nash 33-7. Quay Mannreturned a kickoff 58 yards to the 24 yard line, but the ensuing drive sputtered due to penalties, and produced no points. Mann commented after the game, "We had a tough loss. I finished the night with 200+ all purpose yards and five tackles."
Defensive Tackle Mike Ramsay led a Walker School (Marietta, GA) defense that completely shutdown Fellowship Christian's offense in a 54-7 shellacking. Discussing the game, Ramsay stated, "It went well. We are still undefeated and I had a nice quarterback sack." Walker improved to 6-0 on the season.
Evrett Edwards ran for a 26 yard touchdown as Woodbridge (VA) upped its record to 5-2 by defeating Freedom 41-0. Edwards commented, "I had a pass broken up, three tackles, three catches for 38 yards, and four rushes for 47 yards."
Mansfield (TX) defeated previously unbeaten Midlothian 49-35. Mansfield offensive lineman Austin Davis commented, "We rushed for 375 yards and had 31 first downs. We dominated their defensive line and our defense stepped up big." Mansfield evened their record at 3-3.
In San Antonio, Texas, Reagan HIgh dropped a 24-21 decision to Madison. Reagan offensive lineman Sterling Korona explained, "We came back late...if we had two more minutes, we would have won. We were definitely the more physical team."
Welcome back Blue Devil faithful to another edition of Friday Night Lights, where Blue Devil Nation takes fans on a national tour from Georgia to California with stops in South Carolina, Alabama, Virginia and North Carolina as we cover high school action of Duke verbal commits and recruiting targets, complete with quotes from the players describing their gridiron performances.
Marietta, GA defensive tackle Mike Ramsay helped The Walker School to a 35-6 win over Mount Pisgah on Friday night. Ramsay described the game this way: "We played great. I had three sacks, three or four tackles for a loss, and a couple of other tackles. It was a good game." Walker improved to 5-0 for the first time in school history.
Wide Receiver Johnell Barnes caught a 23 yard touchdown pass as Ft. Myers (FL) Dunbar defeated North Fort Myers 34-9. Barnes stated after the game, "We were spreading the ball around a lot and I played quarterback a bit."
Defensive Back Breon Borders returned an interception 99 yards for a touchdown as Charlotte Statesville defeated North Iredell 48-0. Borders commented, "I had about four tackles and took a 99 yard interception to the house."
Defensive Back Evrett Edwards of Woodbridge (VA) caught four passes for 56 yards, including a 34 yard touchdown reception, but Woodbridge fell to Potomac 18-6. Edwards stated, "I had a touchdown and too many tackles to keep track of."
Southern Nash defeated Northern Nash 35-14. Quay Mann of Northern Nash was limited to action on the defense, "I don't have many stats other than a couple of tackles. They mainly ran the ball against us."
In Columbia, SC, Heathwood Hall defeated Pinewood Prep 34-19 to improve to 3-4 on the season. Heathwood Hall offensive lineman Gabe Brandner commented, "A lot of missed extra points! But it was a good win and I am proud of how we played."
In Roanoke, VA, Hidden Valley defeated Blacksburg 13-10. Safety Jake Kite of Hidden Valley stated, "It was a lot of turnovers for both teams."
Ft. Myers (FL) Quarterback T.J. Douglas was named Player-of-the-Week last week. Here is a video interview. Fort Myers matched up against Island Coast on Friday night in a game with playoff implications. The News-Press published a game preview which focused upon Douglas and Island Coast Quarterback Kurt Benkert.
That's a wrap for the first week in October. Blue Devil Nation invites everyone back next week for another national tour of Friday night gridiron action. Until then, Rip 'em up, tear'em up! Give 'em hell, Duke!
This week's Blue Devil Nation review of high school gridiron action starts with in-state verbal commit Quay Mann, who scored two touchdowns, on runs of 10 and 15 yards. Mann rushed nine times for 65 yards overall. Unfortunately, Tarboro defeated Mann's Northern Nash team 47-35. When asked for his thoughts on the game, Mann told Blue Devil Nation, "It was a good game. We kept trading leads until the very end."
Evrett Edwards' Woodbridge (Va.) Vikings defeated the Franklin County Eagles 27-7. After the game, Edwards told Blue Devil Nation, "We played extremely well. I had a 46 yard kick return, four catches for 51 yards and three tackles."
Also in Virginia, Jake Kite caught two passes for 41 yards as Hidden Valley shut out William Byrd 10-0.
Moving on to action from Florida, quarterback T.J. Douglas of Ft. Myers High racked up some impressive statistics in a 29-12 victory over Lehigh. Douglas completed eight of 14 passes for 135 yards, while scoring twice on one-yard runs. Douglas's eight completions went to seven different receivers.
Also in the Ft. Myers area, Dunbar defeated East Lee County 45-0. Cornerback Johnell Barnes commented, "We started off a little slow, but in the second half we came out and dominated."
In Jacksonville, quarterback Parker Boehme and Sandalwood defeated Baldwin 48-20. Boehme is #12 in these video highlights. This season preview states there are great expectations for Sandalwood this season.
Two weeks of Football Friday in a row? For what do we deserve such fortune, you ask? I guess it just seemed like the right thing to do. Or maybe because it's New Beer's Eve, one of America's terrific obscure holidays. In all seriousness, though, thanks for reading and please spread the word that Blue Devil Nation is home of the best Duke Football coverage around.
Spring Game Recap
One - okay, three - important points to remember about last Saturday's scrimmage.
1. It's a spring game. The team is a work in progress; September 1st is still nearly five months away.
2. It's a spring game. Several starters did not play; players with injuries have plenty of time to heal.
3. It's a spring game. Duke played against Duke; who knows how they'll look against another opponent.
All that being said, there was plenty to be excited about and a number of things to be concerned about based on Saturday's performances. If you haven't checked them out already, be sure to watch our video interviews with Coach Cutcliffe, Sean Renfree, Ross Cockrell, and David Reeves to get their thoughts on Duke's spring.
Honestly, I don't think it was a fluke that the starting defense outplayed the starting offense. Even without Kelby Brown, August Campbell, Kenny Anunike, and Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo, the white team defense took it to the blue team offense. And it was a balanced effort. The secondary, crucial to Duke's 4-2-5 scheme, was particularly encouraging. Brandon Braxton looked comfortable at safety and led the way with 5 tackles, a number that was matched by his replacement, redshirt-freshman Chris Tavarez, who also forced and recovered a fumble late in the game. Jordon Byas and Walt Canty, two veterans at safety, also had strong efforts, each adding 3 tacklesincluding a tackle for a loss by Byas. Cornerbacks Ross Cockrell, Lee Butler, Anthony Young-Wiseman and Tony Foster held the blue team's top receivers, Blair Holliday and Jamison Crowder, without a touchdown and to just 4 total catches on the day. Of course, it was Cockrell's forced fumble on Josh Snead that was the play of the day and earned him defensive MVP honors. Kyler Brown and David Helton added strong performances from the linebacker position, and the Blue Devils will need them to continue to matuer ahead of schedule this fall. Duke was able to pressure the blue QBs from a number of positions, as DE Jamal Wallace registered a sack, while Braxton, Cockrell, and LB David Helton all were credited with a QB pressure. As with all things, it's far from perfect, but the overall defensive effort appeared to be a big step in the right direction heading to the fall.
On the opposite side of the ball, there were plenty of flashes from individual players, but the blue team offense never seemed to be clicking on all cylinders - yet. Brandon Connette, the offensive MVP, certainly had a strong performance, highlighted by two powerful runs through the teeth of the defense to put the blue team on the scoreboard for the first time all afternoon, halfway through the 2nd quarter. Of note, he was also an efficient 4/7 through the air for 83 yards, including a 27-yard TD strike to Josh Snead. Speaking of Josh Snead, it was great to see him healthy and focused. His burst and speed was something that was lacking in Duke's running game a year ago. All indications are that with the return of Snead alongside last year's leading rusher Juwan Thompson and senior Desmond Scott, this should be Duke's strongest running game under Coach Cutcliffe. We certainly saw flashes from some other players, such as David Reeves and Will Monday, all of which were encouraging. Perhaps most encouraging, however, was a glimpse at the increased tempo and diverse schemes utilized by the blue offense. It's all still a work in progress, with much more to be added in terms of personnel and plays, but opposing defenses should have a lot to prepare for against this year's Duke offense.
And finally, a look at the future. With the way the teams were divided, it was hard to take much of anything away from the matchup of the white offense against the blue defense, as both units were comprised primarily of walk-ons. Several walk-ons did have strong efforts, and it wouldn't be surprising to see guys like Chris Hoover, Brandon Watkins and Eric Adams eventually play a few snaps in limited situations. Their blue-collar efforts are to be commended, and it was great for them to receive recognition. The scholarship players on those units, however, provide a nice glimpse into the future of the Blue Devil program. Obviously, freshman Thomas Sirk is the most notable, and he played well on Saturday. But before we crown him the starting QB, remember that most of his snaps came against an inexperienced defense and he still only played one year of quarterback in high school. All that being said, Sirk has the tools to compete for snaps in 2013, and given the depth issues at wide receiver, it's too early to rule out lining him up out wide at some point this fall. Another strong performance was put in by redshirt-freshman WR Nick Hill, who has an excellent opportunity with the recent loss of senior WR Tyree Watkins. Defensively, Tim Burton, Britton Grier, and Sam Marshall all piled up tackles; they will push the starters on the depth chart for sure this fall, but realistically may be a year away from significantly contributing.
Ok, let's get it out of the way. Sean Renfree had a forgettable spring game. He finished 10/23 for 104 yards with 2 interceptions. His first interception was a poor throw that shouldn't be made by a redshirt-senior QB; the second was slightly more forgivable, as the ball appeared to be tipped into the waiting arms of Kyler Brown. Most concerning, however, was the apparent lack of rhythm with the new offense, and the lack of chemistry with some of the younger wide receivers. Fortunately, Renfree is his own biggest critic, and one of the hardest workers on this team; fully expect for him to put in the work to be ready for a strong senior campaign. After a big spring, WR Blair Holliday didn't have the breakout performance many expected, and he and Jamison Crowder will have to emerge as consistent threats if Duke is to have any success moving the ball this fall.
The other biggest concern of the day was the play along the line of scrimmage. Neither the offensive nor defensive line was able to control the game, and I think there's still a lot of work to be done along both units. The offensive line needs to get Brian Moore back at center, and the hope is that this group will be able to stay healthy and consistent this fall. They will have to be a stabilizing force for a potentially dynamic and at times unconventional offense. The defensive line remains the big weakness of this team, overall. Brandon Connette exposed the weakness up the middle on two big runs in the 2nd quarter. Hopefully, the return of Kenny Anunike and Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo, along with another year under Coach Petri, will allow this group to take a big step forward this fall.
Come on, you didn't really think I was going to end on a down note, did you? I thought it might be more fun to discuss recruiting than to argue over whether or not to renew your season tickets, debate the temperature of the leather chair in Coach Cutcliffe's office, or complain about play-calling. Just my opinion. I'm sure you can find a place to discuss those things.
As for recruiting, Duke locked up two more verbal commitments over the weekend, solidifying the defensive backfield in the class of 2013. Safety prospect Jake Kite is receiving rave reviews for a highlight video that has basically gone viral throughout the Duke Football fanbase. At 6'1," the junior from Roanoke packs a heavy punch, and Duke fans should be very excited to watch this young man bring down opponents in Wallace Wade Stadium. About a month ago, BDN spoke with a little-known sleeper prospect from Nash County in Dequavais Mann. At 5'9" and playing multiple positions for a Northern Nash team that finished 2-8 last year, Mann's recruitment got off to a slow start. That changed quickly when the junior athlete posted a 4.42 second 40-yard dash at a recent combine, and showcased his abilities as a lockdown defender. Mann started lining up visits, starting with a return trip to Durham for the Duke Spring Game. The Blue Devils extended a scholarship and it took just two days for Mann to offer his commitment to Coach Cutcliffe. And the staff is keeping the pedal to the metal, hosting top Pennsylvania QB Chavas Rawlins on an unofficial visit in Durham yesterday.
Don't expect things to slow down anytime soon; we're just getting started. The spring evaluation period kicks off on April 14th and lasts through the end of May, nicely coinciding with most high school spring football schedules. With their own spring practice behind them, the Duke staff will be out in full force, evaluating dozens of prospects and checking up on others. We'll then reach the height of the recruting season in June, as Duke hosts their annual football camps, an opportunity for serious evaluation for both the prospects and coaches. So in other words, if you want to keep up with the latest in Duke Football, now would be an excellent time to try out a BDN Premium Membership. Ok, that's my pitch for the day.
I know, these columns get wordier and wordier. Though in person I'm known for brevity, my writing clearly is not. Check back next week for another helping of Football Friday, provided I am able to purchase a new ribbon for my typewriter. In the meantime, enjoy the Masters for you golf fans, Happy Easter to the Christians, and regardless of your interests or beliefs, I hope you all enjoy National Beer Day on Saturday. WE ARE DUKE.