• J.T. Barrett, QB, Wichita Falls (Texas) Rider – Despite missing Barrett for much of the season because of a knee injury, Rider has found its way to the postseason. The Raiders (8-2) earned a spot in the University Interscholastic League Class 4A Division II playoffs and will play Friday against visiting Fort Worth Dunbar.
Since Barrett’s injury, Rider has won five of six games. The Wildcats (5-5) are looking for not only a playoff win but their first victory against a winning team in 2012.
• Joey Bosa, DE, Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas – Bosa and the Raiders begin their postseason run Friday night. They’ll take on Miami Beach in the first round of the Florida High School Athletic Association Class 7A bracket.
St. Thomas Aquinas (8-2) enters the playoffs winners of five straight games. The six-time state champions’ only losses of the season came Sept. 14 to visiting Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco Prep and Oct. 5 at Miramar.
Miami Beach has run hot and cold this year. The Hi-Tides won their first three games before dropping a trio of consecutive contests. They then won their final three games in order to finish 6-3 and qualify for the postseason. Quarterback Jose Fernandez leads the Hi-Tides’ attack. He has thrown for 1,187 yards this season with 14 touchdowns and eight picks. Alonzo Foster is their top rusher with 634 yards and seven TDs.
• Cameron Burrows, CB, Trotwood (Ohio) Madison – After rallying to upset second-seeded Cincinnati Winton Woods, the defending state champion Rams will battle No. 1 Cincinnati Turpin Friday in the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division II, Region 8 championship game at Kings Mill Kings.
Trotwood (10-2) erased a 13-point fourth quarter deficit and earned their spot in the regional title contest with a 27-20 overtime victory last weekend. Burrows had one tackle in the win. The Rams will face a stiff test against Turpin. The Spartans (12-0) have yet to be tested in the playoffs, winning their first-round matchup 26-3 against Tipp City Tippecanoe and routing Franklin 42-14 last weekend.
In Turpin’s win against Franklin, quarterback Connor Jansen rushed for 139 yards and three touchdowns. Tailback Ryan Millikin added two scores and 119 yards. Turpin scored 28 second-half points, including 22 in the fourth quarter. Franklin entered the game having allowed 12 points per game but found no way to slow the Spartans.
• Ezekiel Elliott, RB, St. Louis John Burroughs – Elliott and the Bombers are two wins away from a state championship and look to take the next step Saturday in a Missouri State High School Activities Association Class 3 semifinal battle at Monett.
Burroughs improved to 12-0 with a 24-0 quarterfinal win last weekend against host Park Hills Central. Elliott sparked a second-half surge for the Bombers, who led 3-0 at halftime. The running back ran for all three of his team’s touchdowns on runs of 1, 51 and 1 yard, respectively, in the second half.
Monett (11-3) won its quarterfinal matchup against Eldon. The Cubs emerged with 49-6 victory thanks in large part to a dominant first-half performance. They scored the first 36 points of the game and ended the game by holding Eldon to only 104 yards of total offense. Conversely, Monett rushed for 360 yards as a team.
• Tim Gardner, OT, Indianapolis Lawrence Central – The unbeaten Bears will face possibly their toughest test of the season Friday on the road when they battle Greenwood Center Grove in the semi-state round of the Indiana High School Athletics Association Class 5A playoffs.
Lawrence Central improved to 13-0 last week with a regional victory against Indianapolis Pike. As has often been the case this season, the game was not close, as the Bears earned a 49-21 victory. Lawrence Central scored 13 seconds into the game and cruised from there.
Center Grove (12-1) rallied in its last game and won, 58-34, vs. Kaneohe Castle. The Trojans boast a deep rushing attack. Despite earlier losing top tailback Logan Hutson to a season-ending injury, Center Grove continued to wear down foes with its ground game. The Trojans finished with 335 rushing yards against Castle – even though another rusher, Alex Lucas, went down because of an injury. Conner Stapleton and Lane Morris picked up the slack, combining for 322 yards rushing and five touchdowns.
• Taivon Jacobs, WR, Forestville (Md.) Suitland – Jacobs and the 10-1 Rams will face their second challenge of the postseason with a Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association 4A South region title game against Upper Marlboro Henry A. Wise.
Jacobs did not catch a pass last week in Suitland’s 21-14 win at Lanham DuVal in its postseason opener. He did rush one time for 7 yards, however, and intercepted a pass on defense. Anthony Squire rushed for a pair of touchdowns and finished with 205 yards. Meanwhile, Wise (11-0) earned a 28-7 victory against Greenbelt Eleanor Roosevelt. The Pumas never trailed and got a combined three rushing scores from running backs Franklin Porter and Antwan Benjamin.
The matchup will be a rematch of a 2011 playoff game. Suitland won that battle, 21-20, on the road.
• Darron Lee, S/QB, New Albany, Ohio – A Central Ohio showdown will take place Friday night when fourth-seeded New Albany battles No. 3 Columbus Marion-Franklin in the OHSAA Division II, Region 7 championship game at Gahanna Lincoln.
The Eagles won their 10th straight game last week after beginning the season with a pair of losses. The latest win was an especially heartening one for New Albany, as it came against top-seeded Dresden Tri-Valley – the team that had eliminated the Eagles in the previous two seasons. Lee rushed for 152 yards and scored on a pair of touchdown runs in the 42-35 victory.
Marion-Franklin (11-1) has also won 10 in a row, with its lone loss coming Aug. 31 against Pickerington Central in the second week of the season. The Red Devils are looking for their third regional title in four years. In their latest victory, a 44-14 blowout win against seventh-seeded Canal Winchester, Marion Franklin got a combined 245 yards of total offense (112 rushing and 133 passing) from quarterback Corry Benson. He also found the end zone five times – two on the ground and three through the air.
• Tyquan Lewis, DE, Tarboro, N.C. – Third-seeded Elizabeth City Northeastern will provide the opposition for the host and No. 1 Vikings Friday in the third round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association Class 2A playoffs.
Tarboro (12-0) advanced last weekend thanks to a 48-14 rout of visiting Kinston. The hosts led 12-7 at halftime before blowing the game open. The Eagles (11-2) defeated previously unbeaten Edenton Holmes, 40-8, in their second-round matchup. Northeastern took advantage of five turnovers by the Aces and scored 21 second-quarter points to take command of the game.
• Jayme Thompson, S, Toledo Central Catholic – The Fighting Irish, the No. 2 seed in Region 6, will battle fourth-seeded Avon Friday night at Clyde in an OHSAA Division II regional championship game.
Central Catholic (11-1) has rebounded well since losing it regular-season finale, routing its first two playoff opponents. The Irish earned a 50-7 rout of No. 7 Grafton Midview in the first round and blasted sixth-seeded Mansfield Madison, 45-7, last weekend. In that game, Thompson recovered a fumble and the Irish took command thanks to touchdowns on their first four offensive possessions.
Avon (11-1) defeated No. 5 Perrysburg, 28-11, in its playoff opener before earning a 24-14 win last week against top-seeded Tiffin Columbian. Against Columbian, the Eagles won despite being outgained 344-211. The Tornadoes hurt their cause by committing four turnovers.
The Eagles ended Central Catholic’s season in 2011 in the regional semifinals.
• Eli Woodard, CB, Voorhees (N.J.) Eastern – The Vikings begin its New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association South Jersey Group 5 playoff march with a battle Friday against visiting No. 7 Toms River North.
Eastern (6-3) is the No. 2 seed in the group and will host the seventh-seeded Mariners (6-3). Toms River North ended its regular season on Saturday with a 24-10 win at rival Toms River South.
The following players have ended their seasons: Marcus Baugh, TE, Riverside (Calif.) North; Michael Hill, DT, Pendleton, S.C.; Evan Lisle, OT, Centerville, Ohio; Jalin Marshall, QB, Middletown, Ohio; Billy Price, DT, Austintown (Ohio) Fitch; Tracy Sprinkle, DE, Elyria, Ohio; Johnny Townsend, P, Orlando (Fla.) Boone.