The top seed goes down and one game is dubbed the best of the year by some pundits. Week 16 was full of action, even if there are only a few games remaining.
Hurricanes swept out: Manatee (Bradenton, Fla.) wasn't merely undefeated entering the state semifinal against St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), it was unmatched and still seeking a worthy opponent. Eleven of the Hurricanes' 13 wins had ended with a running clock and they averaged a 40-point margin of victory.
So even though St. Thomas Aquinas is one of the nation's most storied high school football programs, nobody expected the Raiders to obliterate the Hurricanes 35-18 and end Manatee's dream season.
SI.com and multiple national outlets considered Manatee the top team in the nation, and the Hurricanes held the No. 1 position for 13 consecutive weeks before Friday's loss. Three years ago, the same two teams played in similar circumstances but with different roles; Aquinas was the heavily favored defending state champion before Mantaee stunned the nation with a 28-20 win.
The difference between the two games is that the '09 edition was a bit closer. The Raiders turned an early 3-0 deficit to a 21-3 lead by the middle of the third quarter, and Manatee would trail by at least two scores the rest of the night.
The upset sets up an unlikely Class 7A state final between St. Thomas Aquinas and Lincoln (Tallahassee, Fla.), which beat Osceola (Kissimmee, Fla.) to advance to the championship.
Game of the year? DeSoto (Texas) has established itself as one of the top offenses in the nation. On Friday night, it needed to show off its defense against the defending state champion.
The Eagles and Carroll (Southlake, Texas) traded touchdowns all night, but the game eventually hinged on three plays at the goal line. Carroll quarterback Kenny Hill had already scored five touchdowns, and now he had three shots at the end zone to advance to the state semifinals.
He was stopped three times, and DeSoto continued its magical season with a 49-45 win over the defending champs. Eagles' quarterback Desmon White passed for 376 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 139 yards. Heralded running back Dontre Wilson (who is committed to Oregon) was limited by a leg injury.
Coach Claude Mathis and his team now advance to the Class 5A state semifinals and will take on Allen (Texas).
Centennial, De La Salle advance to final: The Huskies of Centennial logged a third straight thrilling win and second consecutive win over a national top-10 team on Friday night. To win the state title, it will need to beat a third.
The Huskies scored in the final minute to beat Narbonne (Harbor City, Calif.) 41-34 to resist a big comeback and advance to the CIF Open Championship against De La Salle, which beat Folsom (Calif.) 49-15.
Centennial opened up a 27-8 lead at halftime, but two-time Los Angeles City Section Player of the Year Troy Williams helped Narbonne back into the game in the second half. Though the Gauchos came all the way back to tie the game 34-34, Centennial running back Tre Watson scored the game-winning touchdown with 22 seconds remaining.
Centennial will now take on the powerful Spartans on Saturday at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
1. Bellevue (Wash.)
Previous rank: 2
Last week: Season over -- finished state champions
The Wolverines take over the top spot (perhaps for good) after Manatee's stunning loss. With a variety of dominant victories and a thrilling win over a major Trinity (Euless, Texas), Bellevue takes over the throne.
2. John Curtis (River Ridge, La.)
Previous rank: 2
Last week: Defeated Evangel Christian Academy (Shreveport, La.) 35-13 in the Class 3A State Championship.
The Patriots capped an utterly dominant season with another big victory over a traditional state power.
3. DeSoto (Texas)
Previous rank: 5
Last week: Defeated Carroll (Southlake, Texas) 49-45 in the Class 5A Division I Area quarterfinals
Next week: vs. Allen (Texas) in the Class 5A Division I Area semifinals
The Eagles pulled out a magnificent win to oust the defending state champions, but a stiff test is waiting against Allen, the team that shut out Carroll to begin its 2012 season.
4. Katy (Texas)
Previous rank: 4
Last week: Defeated Cypress Ranch (Houston) 70-21
Next week: vs.Steele (Cibolo, Texas) in the Conference 5A Divison 2 semifinals
The Tigers keep mauling their opponents, but an undefeated Steele side should present a formidable challenge.
5. De La Salle (Concord, Calif.)
Previous rank: 6
Last week: Defeated Folsom (Calif.) 49-15
Next week: vs. Centennial (Calif.) in the CIF Open Football Championship
The Spartans are hitting their stride at the right time. Though legendary coach Bob Ladouceur is rumored to be retiring, De La Salle has continued its dominance despite persistent questions about its consistency.
6. Butler (Matthews, N.C.)
Previous rank: 7
Season concluded after defeating Jack Britt (Fayetteville, N.C.) 56-28 in the NCHSAA 4AA Championship.
7. Ensworth (Nashville)
Previous rank: 8
Season concluded after defeating Memphis University (Tenn.) 31-14 in the Tennessee Boys State Football II-AA Championship.
8. University (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
Previous rank: 9
Last week: Defeated Madison County (Fla.) 24-17 in the Florida Class 3A State finals
The Suns are state champions after rallying to knock off Madison County, a team that called itself "the biggest underdog in the history of football." After the Cowboys built a 17-point lead on University, it appeared to be the underdog's night. Instead, Suns' quarterback Mike White (who also committed to USF over the weekend) helped bring his team back to clinch the first
9. Centennial (Corona, Calif.)
Previous rank: NR
Last week: Defeated No. 10 Narbonne (Harbor City, Calif.) 41-34
Next week: vs. De La Salle (Concord, Calif.) in the CIF Division I Open Championship
Centennial is the only team with a loss in the top-10, but consecutive victories over two nationally acknowledged teams give them an appearance in this week's rankings. The Huskies will shoot up the charts if they can knock off vaunted De La Salle in the state championship.
10. Norcross (Ga.)
Previous rank: NR
Last week: Defeated Colquitt County (Moultrie, Ga.) 41-27
Next week: vs. Lovejoy (Ga.) in the GHSA Class 6A State Championship
With star running back Alvin Kamara, Norcross has knocked off two consecutive powerhouses (Camden County, Colquitt County) en route to the state championship.
Next five: Our Lady of Good Counsel (Olney, Md.), Archbishop Moeller (Cincinnati), Hoover (Ala.), Trinity (Louisville), Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas)
Dropped out: No. 1 Manatee (Bradenton, Fla.), No. 10 Narbonne (Harbor City, Calif.)