By Mitch Stephens
1. Game On!
The much talked about but never confirmed football game between East and West Coast powers is on for certain. Six-time mythical national champion De La Salle (Concord) will host New Jersey juggernaut, the Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey) Ironmen, who finished third in the final MaxPreps.com national rankings last year. The Spartans (13-0) were No. 1. The game is scheduled for Sept. 27 () at either De La Salle or Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, which about a five-mile trip from the De La Salle campus. The DVC stadium seats about 7,000 fans and was the site of the 2003 clash between De La Salle and Louisiana national power Evangel Christian (Shreveport), a game telecast live on ESPN2 and game won by the Spartans 27-10 (see story). If the game is played at De La Salle, bleachers would be added to either end zone which would increase the capacity to about 8,000. The Ironmen, who won their fourth state title in six years, have won 24 straight games which pails in comparison to De La Salle’s national-record 151-game win streak from 1992 to 2003. Bosco is already playing at Ohio power St. Xavier, the nation’s No. 2 team, on Sept. 12. Though both Bosco and De La Salle had open dates the fourth week of September, the Ironmen were reluctant to make another road trip, especially one cross country. The De La Salle-Bosco matchup is expected to air on either ESPNU or ESPN2.
2. Bruins Get Richer
As if UCLA’s men’s basketball team need any more jewels from the class of 2008 the Bruins got it in J’Mison Morgan, a 6-10, 275-pound post from South Oak Cliff (Dallas, Texas) who de-committed from LSU after former head coach John Brady was fired at midseason. Morgan, the No. 39 prospect in the class according to CBS College Sport’s Van Coleman, will join Jrue Holiday (No. 3), Malcom Lee (No. 19), Drew Gordon (No. 34) and Jerime Anderson (No. 45) as incoming freshman in the fall. Morgan, who averaged 13.5 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks last year, made his announcement last week solidifying UCLA as the top 2008 recruiting class. The Los Angeles Times got Morgan’s mother Bianca to spill the beans two weeks ago. Meanwhile, the Times also reported that USC top recruit Demar DeRozan, the nation’s No. 7 recruit, might opt out of his commitment to USC if the Trojans face serious sanctions due to the recent problems of O.J. Mayo.
3. Three Cheers for Smitty, Reilly
In his year-end wrap-up of Washington prep sports, Seattle Times scribe Craig Smith re-ran the “graph of the year” from then Sports Ilustrated’s Rick Reilly summing up the decision of the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association to disqualify Archbishop Murphy from the playoffs for a paperwork snafu. Such snafu’s have cost many a high school team but the school sought compassion because it not only self-reported the extremely minor oversight but because its legendary coach Terry Ennis died early in the season, causing heartache and overall disarray. Wrote Reilly: “The smallest-brained crustaceans are water fleas. The smallest-brained parasites are flatworms. And the smallest-brained mammals are the men and women who run high-school athletics in the state of Washington.”
4. Girls and Knees
Earlier this month, the New York Times writer Michael Sokolove unleashed one of the year’s most important prep stories this year in ”The Uneven Playing Field,” an expose on the epidemic of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury among girls.
5. Shady’s Future is Bright
Here is a fantastic year-end profile by St. Paul Pioneer Press reporter Brian Murphy on Shady Salamon, of Minnesota state football power Cretin-Derham Hall. While all eyes were on best friend and one of the country’s top recruits, Notre Dame-bound receiver Michael Floyd, Salamon overcame a remarkably rough childhood and home life to land a scholarship to the University of Minnesota.
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