FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.
— When St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) hosts Byrnes (Duncan, S.C.) on Friday at Lockhart Stadium (on ESPNU at 8 p.m. EST), it will be the fourth time since the inception of national rankings that the top two teams in the country have faced off. We were fortunate to have covered the previous three Super Bowls of prep football.
Friday, we're planning on making like Albert Pujols and going 4-for-4.
Here is the most vivid snapshot of each game, along with highlights and the game stories from the previous three contests.
Super HS Bowl IOct. 6, 2001, Long Beach City CollegeDe La Salle (Concord, Calif.) 29, Long Beach Poly (Calif.) 15
Who could remember anything else?
De La Salle’s Maurice Jones-Drew somersaulting into the end zone, the first of four touchdowns he scored in a breakout performance. We just retold that story last week.
Poly, with one of the most talented high school teams ever (four players from that team are on NFL rosters), was shell-shocked.
Super HS Bowl IIOct. 12, 2002, Cal-BerkeleyDe La Salle 28, Long Beach Poly 7
The far-away dreamy look of De La Salle quarterback Britt Cecil, an absolute afterthought going into the star-studded game who turned out to be the star by going 12-of-17 for 237 yards and three touchdowns.
He also rushed for a score and a 2-point conversion.
"I'll probably go to bed tonight and just cry," Cecil said that day. "I mean that, I'll probably cry. No one knows how good this feels right now. I can't describe it."
Super HS Bowl IIISept. 15, 2007, Southern Methodist UniversityNorthwestern (Miami) 29, Southlake Carroll (Texas) 21
Another far-away stare, this one from defensive stud Marcus Forston, who looked into the warm Texas night long after Northwestern broke Carroll’s 49-game win streak before 31,896 fans in Dallas and a national television audience.
His team held high-powered Carroll scoreless the second half while Jacory Harris completed 21-of-28 for 280 yards and four touchdowns. (Harris and Forston are now leading the resurgence at the University of Miami.)
Forston was reflective because his team’s previous coaching staff was fired a couple months earlier in a controversial decision.
"We practiced for a week without a coach," Forston said. "What team anywhere would practice without a coach?"
Forston then answered his own question.
"I knew then this was a special group," he said. "I could see it in their eyes."
E-mail Mitch Stephens at email@example.com with your recollection of any of these games.