South Pointe vs. Northwestern
Two of the nation's best high school football teams meet when the Rock Hill (S.C.) South Point Stallions play the Rock Hill (S.C.) Northwestern Trojans on Saturday. The game, airing on ESPNU at 4 p.m. ET, is part of the ESPN RISE High School kickoff, a series of eight games over three days televised on ESPN's family of networks.
SOUTH POINTE STALLIONS
Coach: Bobby Carroll Record: 1-0 Team overview: South Pointe has made a big impact on the gridiron, despite heading into its sixth season. The Stallions already have an undefeated state championship team in house from 2008 and could have went back-to-back if not for a loss to Northwestern in the state semifinals. Prospect history: With a school just going into its sixth year of football, South Pointe doesn't have any alumni in the NFL yet. But the Stallions have already established a pipeline at South Carolina where three members of the 2008 championship team -- cornerback Stephon Gilmore, wide receiver Charles Holmes and linebacker DeVonte Holloman all committed to South Carolina. Top prospect: Defensive lineman Jadeveon Clowney is the No. 1-ranked prospect in the ESPNU 150. The 6-foot-6, 250-pound defensive end is absolutely ferocious off the football and had 162 tackles and 23 sacks. More than any player in the nation, Clowney can completely alter the course of a game with his abilities. Everyone has offered, but South Carolina, Alabama and LSU are the schools that Clowney usually talks about. New face: Junior Corey Neely quickly showed his abilities as a special teams ace with two long punt returns that set up touchdowns in South Pointe's 51-7 victory over AFC Rangers (Charlotte, N.C.). The 6-1, 170-pounder will play receiver and defensive back as well. Keep an eye on: On the other side of Clowney there's defensive end Gerald Dixon and he's no slouch by any means. At 6-2, 235, Dixon is a bonafide prospect in his own right and has offers from South Carolina, Arkansas, Michigan State, North Carolina and Wake Forest. Other prospects: There are a ton of quality underclassmen in this young program. Quarterback Tay Hicklin (6-1, 175 pounds) and athlete Montay Crockett (6-0, 175 pounds) connected for a 93-yard touchdown play early in last week's game. Defensive back Lakeenan Scruggs (6-2, 170 pounds) was one of four players to score a defensive touchdown last year. Another defensive back, Devin Pearson (5-9, 165 pounds) is just a sophomore, but he had two interceptions and a touchdown last week. Keep an eye on the Stallions for Class of 2012 and 2013 prospects. Bet you didn't know: Not only does South Pointe already have a football championship team, but their school resource officer Sgt. John Aiton was named the state's School Resource Officer of the Year for 2009-2010.
Coach: Jimmy Wallace Record: First game (9-6 last year) Team overview: It's been a mixed bag for Northwestern over the decade, but things are looking up after appearances in the state finals the last two seasons and a 12-2 team in 2007. The Trojans lost to South Pointe in the 4A championship game in 2008, but knocked off the Stallions in the 4A semifinals last year. Prospect history: The NFL lineage from Northwestern is impressive. The Trojans have four alumni that were actually drafted in the first round. Defensive back Rick Sanford was drafted No. 25 overall by the New England Patriots and spent seven years in the league. Defensive back Jeff Burris was drafted No. 27 overall by the Buffalo Bills and spent 10 years in the NFL. Tight end Ben Watson was drafted No. 32 overall in 2004 by the New England Patriots and spent his first six seasons as a Patriot before signing a free-agent contract with the Cleveland Browns. Defensive back Jonathan Joseph was drafted No. 24 overall by the Cincinnati Bengals, where he has started for much of his five seasons and is considered one of the rising stars in the league. As for more recent Northwestern alums in FBS programs, defensive back Jamie Robinson started for much of his four-year career at Florida State. Top prospect: Quarterback Justin Worley threw for 4,366 yards and 42 touchdowns as a junior. The 6-foot-4, 200-pounder is a classic passer with enough mobility to move in the pocket and escape the rush. Worley committed to Tennessee over LSU and Notre Dame. New face: Junior running back Montrece Kennedy is going to have the opportunity to be the team's feature running back in 2010. Kennedy moved up from junior varsity late last season and was second on the team in rushing. Keep an eye on: Defensive lineman Gerald Dixon (6-4, 200 pounds). Yes, a different Gerald Dixon, he's got a bother named Gerald Dixon that will be on the other side of the field Saturday. They have a father, Gerald Dixon, who starred at nearby Rock Hill High School and played in the NFL for 10 years. The brothers are expected to play at South Carolina. Other prospects: Defensive lineman Roderick Byers is a great looking prospect. The 6-4, 255-pounder is larger than the average high school defensive end and could grow into a tackle/end hybrid at the next level. He says that Georgia Tech and South Carolina are the two schools recruiting him the hardest. He has offers from Oregon, Maryland and Texas Tech as well. Most of Worley's passes went to 5-11, 160-pound receiver Robert Joseph. While Joseph might have to get a little bigger to receive the sort of attention from the big schools, his numbers in 2009 (150 catches, 1,834 receiving yards) were eye popping. Joseph caught 22 passes in a single game last season. Keep an eye on senior wide receivers Stewart Hunt and Brandon Lewis as well. Bet you didn't know: Northwestern's soccer team is among the best in the state, winning championships in 2006, 2008 and 2009.
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