Video: Top 25 high school football rankings
Zack Poff breaks down the MaxPreps Xcellent 25 rankings.
Normally this time of season, it's snooze time and blowout city for the football program at De La Salle (Concord, Calif.)
. Most if not all of its challenging games occur by Week 5.
The 2018 campaign is much different, starting Friday night at Buchanan (Clovis, Calif.)
Not only are the Bears undefeated at 4-0, but they feature the nation's second rated junior tailback in Kendall Milton
"It's another formidable opponent," said De La Salle coach Justin Alumbaugh, whose 5-0 squad is ranked 12th nationally by MaxPreps. "These guys are talented, deep and well coached."
WATCH FRIDAY'S GAME: Click here or here
The Spartans better believe it, Alumbaugh said. They're coming off an emotional 27-21 home win over perennial national power Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas), a team that dropped to 1-3 but had every chance to beat De La Salle.
Gorman led most of the game, and after the Spartans seemed to take control with a second long touchdown run by 4-star recruit Henry To'oto'o
, the Gaels still didn't go away. They actually had a chance to win it with a play from the DLS 28. But time just ran out before the snap exchange.
De La Salle escaped.
"We didn't do a lot of things right in that game, but we fought hard until the end," Alumbaugh said. "We competed to the whistle. We had to. That was a great team and program. We're going to have to do the same Friday night. Hopefully we'll execute better."
Milton, a 6-foot-2, 210-pounder, is rated the No. 12 junior recruit overall by 247Sports
. He's got an impressive 39 offers, including from Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Miami, four schools rich in producing star running backs.
As a sophomore Milton rushed for 1,514 yards and 23 touchdowns. This season in just 38 carries, he has 286 yards and seven touchdowns. Three other Bears have rushed for at least 100 yards, including leading rusher Levi Willems
(44 caries, 371 yards, six touchdowns). Sophomore quarterback DJ Stevenson
has passed for nearly 300 yards and rushed for 105 more.
The Bears have shown very well on both sides of the ball in wins over Paso Robles (58-17), Bullard (Fresno) (31-0), Edison (Fresno) (45-6) and Liberty (Bakersfield) (28-13), but they haven't likely seen the defensive speed and physicality the Spartans bring.
Besides linebacker To'oto'o, who has narrowed his college choices to Alabama, Oregon, Cal, Tennessee and Washington, the Spartans feature four-star defensive end Isaiah Foskey
, defensive lineman Beau Tagaloa
, linebacker Jhasi Wilson
, and defensive backs Shamar Garrett
and Amir Wallace
. All are considered Division I prospects.
PLAYER ROSTERS: Buchanan / De La Salle
They have to be talented in order to shutout previous No. 19 ranked Folsom (Calif.), which has since averaged 56 points per game in four straight wins.
Alumbaugh said the Spartans have plenty of challenges to deal with.
Two weeks ago, they faced a similar back to Milton in Bishop O'Dowd's Austin Jones, the fifth ranked senior tailback in the country. He accounted for 252 total yards, but De La Salle prevailed 58-16.
That game was at home, where De La Salle has played four of five contests. This will be played at Buchanan's beautiful 10,000-seat stadium, that resembles one built in Texas. The venue is roughly 180 miles from Concord.
"It's going to be a hostile environment after a long trip," Alumbaugh said. "We'll have to be mature. They have a great runner, aggressive defense and good athletes. It's another big challenge."
De La Salle has partnered with CBS Sports Digital to stream
nine of its 10 regular season game this season, including Friday's home
game. Pat O'Rourke, the voice of De La Salle, and 30-year journalist Damin Esper will call the action.
the partnership, fans throughout the country can watch the nation's No.
15 team along with more than 40 other De La Salle sporting events over
the next 10 months via the SportsLive
subscription OTT service online and via mobile and Roku apps.