Sunday, December 17, 2006

Instant reaction: No. 4 DLS loses to WC No. 7 Canyon

A few quick thoughts after watching Coach Harry Welch and the Canyon Cowboys defeat No. 4 De La Salle in the CIF Division I state championship bowl game on FOX Sports Net.

First of all, I predicted the outcome. I did so just before kickoff on the national message board at

As I expected, Canyon matched DLS's ability to play physical football.

They exceeded it, actually.

Plus, Canyon's passing game was clicking. In the first half, at least.

But more than anything else Canyon played with more intensity and had DLS on its heels by midway through the first quarter.

Not to pile on, but USA Today ranking DLS #1 was a farce.

But this DLS team lacks the big-time players those teams that won titles in the late 90s and early 00s had.

According to the database, there aren't any De La Salle players committed to Division I colleges -- let alone any future NFL players like Maurice Drew, DJ Williams, et al on the roster.

Quick comparison to No. 4 DLS's loss tonight to No. 1 Lakeland's close shave versus STA.

  • Lakeland dominated STA for all but the last 2 minutes of regulation.
  • DLS was dominated throughout.
  • STA made several big plays at the end of that game to tie it. They were not the product of Lakeland giving plays away.
  • Canyon beat DLS DESPITE its offense turning the ball over three times in the second half. In other words, Canyon's offense was trying to give the game back to DLS, but the Spartans were incapable of making any plays on offense to take advantage.
All in all, I continue to love and respect De La Salle football and all it encompasses. I feel terrible for the DLS coaches and the kids who worked so hard this season. But this DLS team did not belong in the same discussion with the ones that won six National Prep Poll titles between 1994-2003.

And more than anything else, congratulations to Canyon. A very good team that we had ranked No. 7 in the West Coast region going into tonight.

Welch deserves great credit for rallying the troups after the Cowboys started the year 1-2. He also did a fantastic job keeping things from unravelling tonight when the offense started turning the ball over.

Where will De La Salle and Canyon finish in the national rankings?

Well, in Monday's National Prep Poll, I would look for Canyon to finish somewhere in the Top 25. Winning the top prize in a football-power state like California tends to earn you such recognition in my little world. De La Salle, perhaps, will finish in the Top 25, too. We'll have to wait and see.

If recent history is any indication, DLS will remain ranked ahead of Canyon in the USA Today rankings. Which, to me, is the biggest reason to ignore USA Today's rankings. In fact, Canyon might not be ranked anywhere in their final poll.

Sort of like when Gaffney beat Byrnes by two touchdowns and the next week Byrnes stayed in the Top 20 and Gaffney wasn't even in USA Today's regional rankings.

Being successful in the playoffs, winning state championships, earning head-to-head wins all seem to carry very little weight with USA Today.

I do know that USA Today's final Top 25 will probably include 5 or 6 teams that were proven on the field to not even be the best teams in their own state.

For example, Lufkin being ranked #20 in the nation after losing to an 8-3 team in round 2 of the playoffs -- but Euless Trinity not ranked after nearly beating their likely #2 team in the nation?

OK. More off my chest. Time for bed!

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