"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
future blue originals
Wyatt Shallman was the only in-state commit I hadn't had a chance to see so far this season, so last Friday I ventured back to Orchard Lake St. Mary's for a Catholic League tilt against his Detroit Catholic Central squad. Needing a victory to stay alive for a playoff berth, CC came away with a decisive 35-13 upset victory on the strength of their defense and a big rushing day from senior back Anthony Darkangelo.
Shallman, who's been nursing a hamstring injury that's kept him from playing on offense, spent the entire game at strongside defensive end. While St. Mary's ran almost entirely away from Shallman, he still managed to make an impact, recording two solo tackles, a pair of assists, and the pass breakup pictured above. 2014 defensive end Dylan Roney saw a lot more action from his weakside spot and acquitted himself well, recording eight tackles, including a couple impressive stops near the line of scrimmage. Here are some highlights of Shallman and Roney from Friday's game (apologies for the sometimes shaky camera-work; in order to get a good shot, I had to stand and go sans tripod):
Soundtrack: (Don't Be Comin' With No) Weak Sauce — Stanton Moore
[Hit THE JUMP for scouting reports on the defensive end duo plus an interview with Shallman.]
When current New Orleans Saints running back Darren Sproles played pee-wee football, he was so unfairly fast that his league instituted the "Darren Sproles Rule", which barred him from running sweeps—otherwise, he would score on every play.
Given Malik McDowell's dominance at the Class C (enrollment limits: 217-448 students) level of MHSAA football, I'd have to assume that a hypothetical "Malik McDowell Rule" would prevent him from playing entirely.
McDowell is listed at 6'7", 290 pounds, and that does not appear to be an exaggeration despite the fact that he's not playing with any bad weight. On Friday, I watched him lead Detroit Loyola against Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes, a team featuring players with names like Zach Beans, Vinny Puma(!), Clay Senerius, and McLane Burtrum.
It went as you'd expect.
By my count, in four very short possessions' worth of work, McDowell amassed 11 tackles, five TFLs, a sack, and a forced fumble, while also adding a few thunderous hits on a justifiably terrified Our Lady quarterback. This week's video highlights are short and sweet; these include less than half of McDowell's tackles thanks to rain and a brief period when the camera refused to focus:
Soundtrack: "Saw Myself Today" — Oddisee
It's tough to break down McDowell from a technical standpoint when he's so physically dominant over his competition; on most plays, he simply bowled over an interior lineman and moved on to wrecking whomever possessed the football. However, you can see him display a very effective swim move in the first two clips of the above video; despite it probably being unnecessary, McDowell regularly switches up his attack between that swim move and a simple bull rush.
Our Lady of the Lakes lacked a downfield passing game—or even the ability to go into the shotgun—which made it impossible for them to call plays that avoided McDowell. He swallowed up interior runs, at least contacted the quarterback on all but a couple dropbacks, and chased down both attempted toss sweeps for big losses. McDowell proved very adept at reading plays, staying home when runs came at him and reacting quickly when the play went outside.
McDowell's athleticism speaks for itself; he covers the field sideline-to-sideline from defensive tackle, gets a great burst off the snap, and has the strength to match his size. He's all the more impressive when it's noted that he's currently dealing with nagging injuries to both his shoulder—which caused him to exit the game on two occasions—and hip. Despite having to gingerly peel himself off the turf after tackles, he brought full effort on every play.
Caveats apply due to the low level of competition, of course. That said, McDowell is the most physically impressive and dominant prospect I've seen in these last two years; he deserves every bit of the hype coming his way. While I'd like to see what he can do against viable competition, the praise accompanying his camp appearances suggests that he is by no means a mirage produced by lower-division football.
If I had to rank the best players from the 2014 in-state class, it's McDowell first, then Damon Webb, then a large gap before getting to the Cass Tech linebacker trio and Detroit MLK's Carl Fuller (though I haven't seen Drake Harris in action, and rankings suggest that he's right around Webb in terms of potential, nor have I seen Chance Stewart).
A brief note: Our Lady of the Lakes junior kicker Spencer Howell showed off a strong leg on kickoffs, booming one completely through the end zone, and drilled a ~35-yard field goal. I can't find much information on him online but he's a guy to keep an eye on for a potential walk-on spot down the road.
This Week: Speaking of Cass Tech and Fuller, the Technicians take on King on Friday at 7pm. I'll either head there or check out Wyatt Shallman and Catholic Central take on Orchard Lake St. Mary's, also kicking off at 7 on Friday.
My latest foray into the world of high school football took me deep into the heart of Buckeye country to see the cross-town rivalry between Pickerington North and Pickerington Central. Before I get into the game recap and scouting, a few words on the atmosphere: this was the most enjoyable experience I've had at a high school game, and it isn't particularly close.
It started at the church next to the football stadium, where I got paid a dollar to park. The stands at Central were packed on both sides well before kickoff, everyone decked out in their school colors. The game ball was flown in via skydiver (seriously—I have photographic proof). It was louder than a lot of college venues. Best of all, despite this being a heated rivalry, the fans were civil—there was trash talk, to be sure, but nothing that went beyond that. At one point, the Central mascot walked up to me on the sideline and asked if I was enjoying the game.
The game itself wasn't the expected tight contest, as North—0-5 to that point against Central, including a playoff loss—broke it open in the second half and ran away with a 37-0 victory. It was a very emotional experience for both Michigan commits. North's Jake Butt embraced teammate and Northwestern commit Godwin Igwebuike in the waning minutes, triumphant in a long-awaited victory. On the opposite sideline, Central's Taco Charlton sat alone, head buried in his hands, barely acknowledging those that came up to console him.
This is how rivalry games should be, and it was a pleasure to be there to witness it.
[Video, photos, and scouting report after THE JUMP.]
In a game that matched the weather, Orchard Lake St. Mary's ground out a 13-6 victory over Cass Tech in a driving rainstorm on Friday, handing the Technicians their first loss of the season. OLSM dominated the line of scrimmage, rushing for over 200 yards, and Cass Tech couldn't overcome a third-quarter muffed punt by Jourdan Lewis that led to the final St. Mary's score.
Due to the constant rain, I wasn't able to take video last weekend, so unfortunately there are no highlights in this post. I did, however, spend the game talking to a Detroit-area high school coach who's been coaching in the region for over 40 years. He unequivocally stated that Cass Tech junior CB/WR Damon Webb was the best player on the field for either team—overall, not just in that single game—and in fact he'd tried to get Webb to transfer to his school when he left U-D Jesuit last year. I also asked him about RB commit Wyatt Shallman; the coach is convinced Shallman's best position is running back and compared his combination of size and athleticism to NFL Hall of Fame back John Riggins.
[After THE JUMP, full scouting reports on the Michigan commits, Webb, and more.]
Chandler Park Academy wide receiver Csont'e York has largely flown under the radar during the recruiting process, and as a three-star he's one of Michigan's lesser-heralded commits. The Charter School Conference isn't heavily scouted, so I was curious to see how York performed over the course of a full game. On Friday, he caught two passes for 33 yards and a touchdown and added a two-point conversion as CPA fell in double overtime to Old Redford Academy, 26-20.
To discuss York's performance, it's best to add some context. This was lower-division football, and it showed; I lost count of pre-snap procedure penalties when they hit double-digits, both teams put the ball on the ground, officials missed spots by ten yards, and quarterback play was... not stellar. Chandler Park's strategy also left something to be desired—despite having York, the lone BCS-level prospect on the field, facing corners eight inches shorter than him, CPA only targeted him five times during the game, three of those coming on the same drive at the goal line.
As a result, York spent much of the game run-blocking, acting as a decoy, or running routes downfield without much hope of seeing the ball. These highlights reflect that, and trust me, I could've added a solid five minutes of York jogging downfield to this reel. York is easy to spot—he's the one with the maize arm sleeve, maize gloves, maize shoelaces, maize stripes on his socks, and maize mouthguard:
[Hit THE JUMP for the full scouting report and photo gallery.]
David Dawson receives his Under Armour All-American jersey in a halftime ceremony
Last weekend, the definitely-not-a-van made its way to Cass Tech for their matchup against Detroit Renaissance. For the second straight week, the Technicians came away with a blowout victory, jumping out to a 28-0 lead in the first quarter en route to a 44-0 final. With the win, Cass Tech starts their title defense with a 3-0 record, including a season-opening triumph over defending Division II state champion Brother Rice.
Soundtrack: "Detroit Twice" — El Michels Affair
2013 CB/WR Jourdan Lewis (Michigan commit): Lewis focused largely on wide receiver in this game, rotating in on defense after the first couple possessions. He showed his shiftiness on offense, taking a tunnel screen 15 yards for a touchdown, then making a Braylon-esque leaping grab on a fade for the subsequent two-point conversion. Lewis recorded another receiving touchdown in the second half and also made an impact on special teams, breaking into the second level on a punt return.
Defensively, Lewis more than held his own in coverage and was not targeted by Renaissance, who chose to take their chances with Damon Webb and DaQuan Pace. This wasn't a great showcase for Lewis as a cornerback prospect; he continued to show that he's a viable candidate for either side of the ball at the next level, however, and he should also contribute as a return man. Lewis did record a late interception to preserve the shutout.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the scouting report plus photos from Dawson's jersey ceremony.]