September 4, 2007

DeMatha-St. X doesn't disappoint

CINCINNATI - In what many expected to be the top matchup of all the games at the 2007 Herbstreit Classic, Cincinnati (Ohio) St. Xavier defeated Hyattesville (Md.) DeMatha in a well-contested game. And the Bombers did so without star running back Darius Ashley who missed the game with a knee injury. But led by DeMatha star Kenny Tate, there was plenty of talent on display.

Tate is a great-looking physical specimen with a huge frame, long arms and sneaky quickness. He's had trouble dropping balls in the past but he showed good hands overall in the game and made one tough catch in traffic. However, St. Xavier did a good job of keeping him out of DeMatha's gameplan and held him to only three catches. Tate plays wideout and safety and made a few nice tackles on defense and got more physical as the game progressed. He displayed his athletic ability on his final catch of the game where he caught a pass in the flat, spun away from the defensive back and gained extra yardage. He was also very emotional throughout the game, urging on his teammates.

Tate's defensive backfield mate is Virginia commitment Rodney McLeod, who also plays wideout on offense. McLeod's future seems to be as a cornerback and he's good in coverage with loose hips and excellent closing speed, but he needs to work on his tackling and run/pass recognition. On the first touchdown for St. X, McLeod missed a big open-field tackle that allowed the wideout to stroll into the endzone. However, he was solid for the rest of the game in regards to tackling.

The offensive line for DeMatha was huge, led by massive tackle Sheldon Sellman who looks to be about 6-foot-6 and 310 pounds. Sellman lacks quick feet but he's a mauler and is hard to get around with his big frame and long reach. He protects DeMatha's lefty quarterback from blind side rushes. Junior lineman Pete DeSouza is even bigger than Sellman at around 6-foot-7 and 330 pounds. He is also a mauler and plays left tackle.

DeMatha athlete Jonathan Mason had a big game for the Stags. He caught a 50+-yard pass that was called back due to illegal motion and made numerous nice tackles including an open field tackle on a punt return that helped pin St. Xavier deep in its own end.

Without Ashley, St. X didn't have a ton of star power. Stanford-bound safety/linebacker Fred Craig made the tackle of the day, nailing a DeMatha running back just shy of a first down on a third down play. The collision was so violent that Craig's helmet flew off. He shows no fear and will be a hard-nosed, big hitter in college.

Kicker/athlete Danny Milligan did a little bit of everything for the Bombers. The 5-foot-8, 165-pounder caught the first touchdown pass, breaking a tackle attempt by McLeod (he also scored the third). He juked Tate in the open field on another reception and his kicking was outstanding. Each kickoff reached the endzone and his punting was exceptional. He was also slippery on returns. He did, however, miss two big field goals.

Wide receiver Stephon Ball has only been playing football for a couple of years and he has a ton of potential. The 6-foot-4, 217-pounder is an excellent blocker, he provides a huge target downfield and he made a nice, acrobatic catch across the middle in the third quarter. He's going to get some bigger offers before all is said and done.


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