YULEE HS (FL) 42 GLADES DAY HS (FL) 6
YULEE, FL - Derrick Henry ran. Kelvin Taylor ran. And late in the fourth quarter of Friday's blockbuster in a small town just 12 miles south of the Georgia state line, so did the clock.
A fitting end to a battle between two of the top running backs in high school football history.
Henry, who commmitted to Alabama earlier in the day, finished with 362 rushing yards on 35 carries and had six touchdowns as Yulee (Fla.) defeated Glades Day (Belle Glade, Fla.) 42-6 in a game televised nationally. It was punctuated with a running clock due to the mercy rule.
Taylor, a University of Florida commit, and the state's all-time rushing leader (10,805), was as good as advertised, rushing for 223 yards and a touchdown on 35 carries.
The big difference?
"Our defense," said Yulee coach Bobby Ramsay. "I know Derrick gets a lot of recognition, but our defense is a tough group of guys. They did an excellent job of containment."
If the game was a question on whom the better back was – and that question was brought up by fans throughout the night – then it certainly tilted in favor of Henry, who now has 9,617 career rushing yards.
The Gators held Henry in check for roughly eight carries before the dam broke on a delayed, underhanded pitch from quarterback Dalton Bradley to Henry. Glades Day had a line on wrapping him up in the backfield, but missed at the chance. Henry paused briefly before bulldozing his way to the left side of the field, swatting away Glades Day defenders and going straight down the Gators sideline for 65 yards.
The carry pushed Henry to his 39th consecutive 100-yard rushing game, tying him with Rushell Shell, a current freshman at Pittsburgh, for the national record. Henry, who is averaging 348.6 yards per game, could break the record next week against Fernandina Beach.
The score also gave Yulee (4-1) a lead that it never let go of. It was also the beginning of a period of relief for Henry, who had been so drained from recruiting talk and the buildup for Friday's game that he was noticeably worn down.
"Yes, I'm done with everything," Henry said of an exhaustive day. "I can spend time with my family, focus on my team. So much going on, so much hype … I'm just glad everybody enjoyed it, and just glad we got a win."
There was plenty more to come.
Following Taylor's jolt, a scoring run from the 7, to pull the Gators within 7-6, Henry took over.
He hit Glades Day with touchdown runs of 37 and 30 yards. He added a 5-yard shot up the middle out of the Wildcat that was set up by a play that symbolized the Gators' night – defender Brian Monts holding on to Henry's jersey while the 6-foot-3, 241-pounder dragged him down the field.
Glades Day coach Pete Walker said Henry was "like a big oak tree" in the lead up to the game, and the Gators' struggles trying to bring him down proved his point. Glades Day just couldn't tackle him.
Henry's fifth touchdown, a 19-yarder, was even better, bulldozing three Gators players and then using his stiff-arm to push off another handful before crashing into the end zone midway through the fourth quarter.
Henry was coming off a game in which he set a Florida state record with 502 rushing yards. That gives him 865 yards and 12 touchdowns in his last two games - a good season for most.
"What can you say, it's Derrick, he's a great back," Ramsay said. "I thought if we could get up a couple scores, take them out of [their offense] that would really change things."
With Henry having another big night in a career full of them, Taylor was having an atypical game in the biggest showcase of his career. He had plenty of sizzle and pop, ripping off one big run after another, often on a direct angle to the sideline and then turning back upfield. Taylor was usually quick enough to make Yulee's first defenders miss, but often wound up being corralled along the sideline.
Taylor entered the game as Florida's all-time rushing leader with 10,582 yards (that includes his eighth-grade season).
"I just wanted do the best I could to try to help my team win," Taylor said to the Palm Beach Post. "We just came up short."
The Hornets said they were content to give Taylor his yardage, they just wanted to keep him out of the end zone
"It's Kelvin Taylor, he's going to get his yards," said Yulee defensive back Leotis Williams, who had an interception and broke up a pass intended for Taylor inside the 5. "We kept containment. We made a statement out there."
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Austin Rehkow, Central Valley HS (WA)
At 6'3", 190 pounds, Austin Rehkow does not possess a typical kicker frame. A forward on the Central Valley hoops team, Rehnow even plays wide receiver. But it was his 67-yard field goal as time expired Friday that got the senior national attention Friday evening in the Great Northwest. The state-record boot sent the game into overtime. Rehkow's Central Valley would go on to prevail 62-55.
According to The National Federation of High Schools Record Book, Rehkow's kick is tied for the second-longest kick in the country. Dirk Borgognone, from Reno, Nevada, holds the record with a 68-yard field goal in 1985.
Recruiting experts indicate that Rehkow only holds a partial scholarship from Eastern Washington University at this time. But after all this media focus and a likely spot on the all-state team in the offing, it is likely the senior kicker will have more deserving offers.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK: "FREEDOM RINGS"
Brody Flanagin (Freedom HS/FL) is nicknamed "Polamalu" because of his physical resemblance to hard-hitting Pittsburgh Steeler safety Troy Polamalu. Like the former NFL Defensive Player of the Year, the chiseled 6'1", 200-pound headhunter is known for his flowing locks and knockout shots. One of the top high school defensive prospects in the Sunshine State, Brody's flying tackle captures top picture honors.
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