Candidates reflect on high school experiences

November, 4, 2008

Happy Election Day to all -- on a related note, it was great to hear both candidates, Senator John McCain and Senator Barack Obama, speak last night on ESPN in their respective interviews with Chris Berman about the lessons they learned playing high school sports. (You can watch McCain's interview here and Obama's interview here.) Each week we read about stories of athletes or parents attacking coaches. Every game I attend you can hear the parents in the stands or the kids on the sidelines, whispering about what they aren't getting or who is playing more than whom.

Hopefully we can get back to what the foundation of sports are: building character, camaraderie and discipline through the trials and tribulations of your individual or team sports' outcomes. Not everything is going to go your way in life and we all know that life isn't fair. But winning, and more importantly losing, in sports help build the character of young individuals, and as we can see in this election, our country's two top candidates still carry those lessons with them to this day and have used them to help get to where they are today. Now on to the links …

• The Detroit News has the full rundown of district finals this weekend as the Michigan state playoffs move into its second weekend of action.

• Playoffs are also moving into the second round in Illinois, where The Chicago Tribune has a look at the 8A slate, which features FAB 50 teams Maine South and Naperville North.

• FAB 50 ranked Arrowhead hosts 10-1 Hartford High Saturday as the Wisconsin state playoffs move into the quarterfinal round. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has the full slate of this weekend's games.

• The latest Florida AP state rankings by class are out and a couple of teams to watch for possible inclusion in the FAB 50 over the next few weeks would be 6A No. 1 Orlando Boone and No. 2 Miami Columbus. Boone is showing every sign that it is ready to return to the 6A title game (the Braves lost to Northwestern 41-0 in last year's 6A final), having streaked out to an 8-0 start, outscoring the opposition 270-43 in the process. NC State-bound running back James Washington leads the Braves' attack, and runs behind a big, physical front that includes Duke verbal commit David Harding.

 Running back Jakhari Gore has been sensational for Columbus.
Columbus might be one of the state's most talented teams, and coach Chris Merritt has done a masterful job this fall, even benching five of his most talented players for a game earlier in the year because they weren't performing up to par in the classroom. Performance on the field has been no problem for the Explorers, who are led by sensational junior running back Jakhari Gore and massive DT Antwan Lowery, as well as explosive WR/RB Gary Bush, a Purdue recruit. Columbus is 7-0 and should be undefeated heading into the season finale against 6A No. 5 Miami Killian.

• Kentucky also has state rankings by class, led of course by FAB 50 No. 10 Louisville St. Xavier in Class 6A. Somehow St. X is not a unanimous No. 1, because one of the AP state pollsters picked 8-1 Trinity, despite the fact that St. X manhandled Trinity 30-6 earlier this year.

• In The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Lassiter (Marietta, Ga.) standout tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen reflects upon his "SportsCenter" highlight-reel play from this past weekend. For those who still haven't seen it, Lutzenkirchen, a 6-foot-4, 245-pound senior who has verbally committed to Auburn, leapt in the air out of the back of the end zone and directed a pass back to teammate Reid Handler for a 12-yard TD in Lassiter's 49-24 win over Centennial this past weekend. You can watch it here. It was a phenomenally instinctual and athletic play by a player who ranks as one of the nation's top tight end prospects, and for good reason. We saw Lutzenkirchen this spring at the Alabama Nike Camp and he showed a great combination of physicality, athleticism and soft hands. He should be a great fit at Auburn if it can utilize him in the slot as a receiving threat.

• The Hartford Courant's Tom Yantz has his weekly Connecticut state and regional rankings up, as well as a look at some of the top individual performances from around the state over the past weekend.

• Ferris (Texas) High junior running back James Hopkins made a name for himself this weekend, as the 5-10, 185 pound speedster rumbled for 376 yards and six TDs in a 55-49 win over Kennedale, reports The Dallas Morning News. Hopefully we'll get a chance to see Hopkins in person this spring when the Nike Combine rolls into Dallas/Ft. Worth.



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