by Ryan Moreland
There was a lot of hype going into the Newcomer Games last night, and they did not disappoint. The best high school seniors from around the nation (and the world for some) put their skills on display in two star-studded games. Here are the biggest takeaways from the North vs South and East vs West games.
Defensive Linemen are here to reign
The CFSL breathed a sigh of relief after the Season 14 National Championship game because of the realization that Isaac Frost would no longer be terrorizing the league. However, players like him and Wisconsin’s Iman Porter were the prototypes of a new generation. And while Frost left very large shoes to fill, there is no shortage of promising suitors, and last night was proof of that.
In the North vs South Game, we saw Ezra Rogalski, Jay Gates, Laci White, and Scott Reichle among others have major impacts on the game. Pierce Parker, Hiro Nakajima, Fetu Apatu, and Balor Blaise Dale followed suit in the East vs West matchup. While all these players were getting sacks, tackles for loss, and disrupting quarterbacks, no defensive lineman outplayed Oklahoma’s Shane Lloyd. Llyod had five sacks in a game that seemed like he was lining up in the backfield.
Lloyd led the class, but from top to bottom this class’ defensive linemen are dangerous and they all proved that last night.
Freshman quarterbacks need more snaps
It was evident to anyone that watched the games that the four quarterbacks on display have a lot of talent. Tonio McDaniel, Ayden Martinez, Shaker Mayflower, and Cece Range all made big plays, but all had their struggles as well. The freshmen QBs combined for five passing touchdowns and eleven interceptions. None of them threw for more touchdowns than interceptions.
This isn’t causing concern for their coaches, however. They had to play against the best talent from around the country, in a scheme they were unfamiliar with, against defenses stacked with talent. This will likely be the worst scenario these quarterbacks will see all season, maybe even in their career. Don’t count on these quarterbacks to play like this when they face your team.
Future Teammates, Current Enemies
One of the best storylines from last night was the few times we saw future teammates match up against each other. While there were a few examples of this, by far the best was from two players heading to Iowa City. West’s quarterback Cece Range had a rough night and his fellow Hawkeye Ryan Schultz made sure of it. Schultz, who started at linebacker for the East, jumped in front of a pass intended for Missouri’s Bastille LaRue to pick off his future QB. To make matters worse, for Range at least, the following West possession came to an abrupt stop when Schultz hammered Range, forcing a fumble that was scooped up by Alabama’s Daxton Moore.
However, both have said there is no animosity between the teammates. Rumor has it that Schultz asked Range to sign the ball he intercepted off his quarterback. Still, Range might avoid him in practice for a while.
The Night of the Underdog
The consensus before the game was that the South would beat the North and that the West was going to dominate the East. However, the North and East had different plans. Who doesn’t love a scrappy underdog?
Last night felt like a never-ending fireworks show at times. There were so many big plays; both of Bryar Rich’s picks, Nate Hayes fighting through defenders for the end zone, JT Cass Jr and Cadbury Wellington running angry for massive yards after the catch, Derek Eldridge going 34-yards untouched to the house, JW Eibeck making a house call on his interception, Ayden Martinez finding Quinn James deep for a 52-yard touchdown, and Zay Martinez and Wrangler Brown both had one-handed INTs. And that isn’t even mentioning them all.
The best, and likely most impactful, highlight-worthy play came in the 3rd quarter of the North vs South game. North kicked the ball just inside the endzone to a waiting Titus Price. Price brought the ball out to the 22-yard line before being uprooted by Wisconsin-commit Troy William. The ball came flying out and future-Seminole DJ Hanson picked the ball up and ran into the endzone to tie the game up. It was not only a great highlight, but the play completely changed the momentum of the game. After that play, the North scored 19 unanswered points and came away with a big win.
The Next Expansion Team?
Western Kentucky made its intentions to be part of the country’s premier college football league. An enterprising fan donned his Big Red mascot outfit and was seen several times on the sideline of the East vs West game. Could the Hilltoppers be the next addition to the CFSL? Time will tell.
The League is in Good Hands
If you had any questions about the future of the CFSL, they were answered last night. The season 15 class is not only stacked with talent, but also with heart, passion, and a love of the game. Shout out to all the great players that make up the Season 15 recruiting class.
Don’t forget to tune in Thursday night at 7 P.M. (CST) for the Military Bowl and immediately following at p P.M. (CST) is the CFSL Senior Bowl.