Monday, September 03, 2007

The week in review

Another edition of Monday morning news, views and other stuff.

During my in-game blog of the St. Xavier-DeMatha game, I wrote "if there's a better-coached team in America than St. X, you'll have to show them to me."

Well, there are plenty of great coaches in the high school coaching fraternity. Hundreds of them, to be precise. Pretty hard to match the accomplishments of Steve Specht of St. X against those of Concord (Calif.) De La Salle's Bob Ladouceur at this point. Bill Castle at Lakeland (Fla.) and Tom Knotts at Independence (Charlotte, N.C.) are also right there on the list.

But watching St. X play such assignment-sound, fundamentally sound football was really a pleasure on Sunday.

The Bombers don't have the most speed of any team in the country -- probably not even in the Top 10 in that category. But there's this thing called "football speed."

Few, if any, teams in the country play the game faster as a unit than St. X's defense. Not only do they fly to the football, they play with great confidence and are able to go 100 percent on every play, because they know where they are supposed to be going. They don't overpursue. They don't miss assignments. They don't play out of position.

It's amazing how much more important it is to be quick getting into the right spot than it is being fast while constantly chasing the play from behind.

So, with that said, I am supremely impressed by job being done by Coach Specht and his staff (who are now 39-3 in a little over three seasons).

More St. X-DeMatha thoughts

I really think that DeMatha was dog tired in the second half of its 28-7 loss to St. Xavier. It's not the only reason they lost, but I think it had a ton to do with why they lost by so much.

Even though it was St. X having player after player leaving the field with leg cramps, it looked like DeMatha was clearly the most gassed and heavy-legged team.

The blocked punt that led to St. X's third touchdown was, I think, another example of a tired team breaking down on special teams.

With that said, it's very hard to blame DeMatha and its coach Bill McGregor for not being as physically ready for the game.

Consider the fact that St. X had one extra week of practice, one extra preseason scrimmage, plus one extra regular season game leading up to Sunday.

Then there's the huge disadvantage of having to travel, like not being able to sleep in your own bed (as St. X did) and the emotional drain of playing a big game like that in a foreign environment like Nippert Stadium and on national television for the first time.

House cleaning
  • I'll try to confirm, but I believe that ESPNU will show Cincinnati Elder's upset of Charlotte Independence this Wednesday at 9 AM (EDT). Set your DVRs to own a piece of history.
  • Beginning at 9 AM (EDT) this Saturday, the NFL Network will show all four of the Kirk Herbstreit Classic games that were played in Canton, Ohio. It includes No. 5 Long Beach Poly beating Cleveland Glenville, No. 20 Youngstown Mooney beating Gateway and regionally ranked Tulsa Union throttling host Canton McKinley.
  • I would really like to hear fewer fans comparing the football played in one state against that played in another. Personally, think there are great teams in every state. Just because a good team in State A beats a good team in State B, it doesn't necessarily mean that all football is being played at a higher level in State A. It's the same debate we hear in college football all the time comparing conferences. It tends to drive me nuts.
  • How about Hoover (Ala.) entering the regional rankings after losing to Colerain in overtime? Well, some say they had no business losing. Hard to argue. They could have attempted a short game-winning field goal in regulation had the clock not run out on a running play near the goal line. But given the way they played against a Top 25 team in its home city, I was pretty impressed.
  • I was also quite impressed with the way Brother Rice (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) went into Pittsburgh and leveled Penn Hills, 24-0. It earned the Warriors a spot in this week's Midwest regional rankings.
NOTE: Steve Specht photo courtesy of

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