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Spring football: State-by-state look at postseason play - HIGHSCORE
Spring football: State-by-state look at postseason play
High school spring football throughout the country has largely resembled spring training in baseball. It's good to be back. There's loads of camaraderie. But little drama. Without playoffs or postseason implications, the games can feel more like exhibitions than traditional all-out battles.

Considering many of these states were paused up to 16 months, there's nothing wrong with that.

FOOTBALL IN THE FALL — All 35 that tried

Of the 15 states that chose or were ordered not to play during the fall season, four dropped out completely. And of the 11 to play in the winter and spring, only three have decided to run some form of a playoff.

They are:

North Carolina: The North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) football season ends Friday, playoff brackets are selected Saturday. First-round game begin April 16, second round (April 23), regionals (April 30) and state finals (May 8).

Rhode Island: Four-team brackets in five divisions of the Rhode Island Interscholastic League take place April 30. Championship games are all scheduled for May 7.

Virginia: After most of the state got to play six games in seven weeks starting on Feb. 22, the playoffs began Wednesday, with semifinals taking place April 24 and all state finals on May 1. See all the brackets.

The states (linked to their association or federation) that opted out of spring football playoffs are California, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico, New York and Oregon.
North Carolina football playoffs brackets will be selected Saturday with four rounds of play beginning April 16.
File photo by Matthew Plyler
North Carolina football playoffs brackets will be selected Saturday with four rounds of play beginning April 16.






High school football: Los Gatos senior Adam Garwood carries ball, legacy for his late uncle Pat Tillman - HIGHSCORE
High school football: Los Gatos senior Adam Garwood carries ball, legacy for his late uncle Pat Tillman
Los Gatos (Calif.) senior Adam Garwood doesn't hide it. He just doesn't talk about it much. He doesn't need to.

The chiseled 5-foot-9, 185-pound running back and linebacker proudly wears No. 42 on his black and orange jersey and a small decal of the same number with an American flag that's pasted on his helmet.

It's to honor his uncle, Pat Tillman, the former NFL safety who — in the prime of his career — enlisted in the Army after 9/11 and was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan in 2004. Tillman was only 27.

Garwood was a baby at the time of his uncle's death but has worn Tillman's retired Arizona State number since starting youth football at age 8.

"I just try to represent and carry on his legacy," Garwood said. "He's the role model. He's everything."

By all accounts and every measure, Garwood has represented Tillman impeccably.

The third-year starter leads California's Central Coast Section in rushing (467 yards), yards per carry (13.7) and rushing touchdowns (10) for the section's third-ranked team during an abbreviated spring season due to the pandemic. The Wildcats (3-0) play their biggest game of the season Thursday at fifth-ranked Wilcox (Santa Clara).

His coach Mark Krail calls him the team's heartbeat for an unrelenting work ethic, authentic appreciation of teammates and desire to always be better.
Adam Garwood (42) is the nephew of late Arizona Cardinals safety Pat Tillman.
File photo by Dennis Putian
Adam Garwood (42) is the nephew of late Arizona Cardinals safety Pat Tillman.
"He's for sure the most dedicated player I've ever met," said junior linebacker Jake Ripp, a 6-3, 210-pound FBS prospect who Friday had 19 tackles. "He's a great leader. Very intense. He definitely leads by example."

Last week after practice, Krail was heading home but happened to glance out at the field. There was Garwood doing gassers. By himself. Again.

"He does them all the time," Ripp said. "Some of us will join him but he always outlasts us."

Said Krail: "He's always the last guy off the field. It's just him wanting to be great. He's the heart and soul of the team, but you'll never hear it from him."

Garwood doesn't talk much about his own accomplishments and rarely speaks about Tillman. Even though he plays the same positions, he didn't study Tillman's game film at Leland (San Jose, Calif.), Arizona State or with the Arizona Cardinals.

"Adam doesn't watch much," said his father Alex Garwood. "He's more of a doer."

A star football player himself at Leland and later at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, Alex Garwood earned All-American and conference Defensive Player of the Year honors as a linebacker.

He and his wife Christine, a soccer player and competitive dancer, were high school sweethearts at Leland and Christine's sister Marie married Tillman. The four were extremely tight.

When Tillman was killed, Alex quit his day job as a Silicon Valley software salesman and co-founded the Pat Tillman Foundation, which according to its website was "born overnight in the wake of tremendous tragedy, and with determination to honor a man whose passion for life was contagious."

The foundation has raised more than $18 million to "unite and empower remarkable military service members, veterans and spouses as the next generation of public and private sector leaders committed to service beyond self."
Adam Garwood leads the Central Coast Section in rushing yards, touchdowns and yards per carry.
File photo by Dennis Putian
Adam Garwood leads the Central Coast Section in rushing yards, touchdowns and yards per carry.
Alex and Christine never pushed Tillman as a role model for Adam or their two other sons — Ryan, now 20, or Scott, 15. 

"How could they live up to that? How could anyone?" Alex said. "Obviously, we've struggled with Pat's passing. He was just an incredible human being and everything you've ever heard about him, he was better than that. He was the best conversationalist I ever met. Best friend. Simply, an awesome, awesome person."

With dad working daily on the foundation for four years — he's now back to selling software — Tillman's life was prominent among the boys. His traits and actions naturally permeated and penetrated.

Adam Garwood told Ripp about running in one of the foundation's 4.2-mile "Pat's Run," held annually in Tempe (Ariz.).

"He said he ran the entire way with a Navy Seal, and how cool he thought that was," Ripp said. "He told me all about that guy."

Alex Garwood said Tillman's influence was more off the field for his son than on the field. Offerings of hard work, being a good teammate and an example for others. Being well-rounded, interested, resilient, true to yourself and engaged. 

Tillman left behind a blue print to live. Not to mention a Purple Heart. And a Silver Star.

"In that way Pat never stops giving back," Alex Garwood said. "But Pat wasn't perfect and we don't hold him up as a Norse God. We just raised our sons to be the very best versions of who they are. And they have. And we're so grateful for that."

Turns out. Adam shares a lot in common with his uncle on the field as well.

Tillman was considered too small growing up to play football. Instead, he was a two-way terror at Leland, rushing for 34 touchdowns as a senior in addition to leading the team in tackles and to the school's first section title in 1993.

"He wasn't about glory," a former Tillman teammate Rudy Perez told the San Jose Mercury News in 2012. "He was the MVP of the championship game, but he never took the credit."

At 165 pounds, Adam Garwood was well undersized as a junior, but put up a team-best 1,260 yards rushing and 20 touchdowns to go along with 50 tackles and four fumble recoveries. He led the Wildcats to the program's 13th CCS title.

Since then, he's added 20 pounds of muscle, and utilizing a super speed treadmill at home, he's lowered his 40-yard time to 4.47 seconds while upping his top-end treadmill speed to 22 mph. Adam is getting FCS Division I recruiting looks, including Cal Poly, his dad's alma mater.

"Had he played in the fall, I think he'd have many more opportunities," Krail said. "He didn't complain about the time off or bemoan the pandemic. He made the most of the time away. He's considerably bigger and faster. Whoever gets him will be very pleased."

Not only for his talent or speed, Krail said, but also the impassioned, selfless intangibles that mirrors Tillman. Adam led the team in offseason workouts, for instance, and after every touchdown, he truly celebrates with the offensive linemen who paved the way. It's not simply a ritual.
Adam Garwood (42) has celebrated with his offensive linemen 10 times in three games in 2021.
File photo by Scott Dinn
Adam Garwood (42) has celebrated with his offensive linemen 10 times in three games in 2021.
"He'll sprint back to us and really let each of us know we did a great job," Ripp said. "He'll get to us as fast as he got in the end zone. And if you ask him how many touchdowns he's scored and it's always one less than he actually has."

Said Adam: "I definitely don't consider myself the heart and soul of the team. Every single person plays a role, senior or sophomore, two-way player or reserve. Every snap, 11 players have to do their job."

The entire Garwood family embraces that "all-for-one, one-for-all" football culture. Ryan, who graduated from Los Gatos in 2019, introduced it to Adam. And now, Adam displays it to Scott, who stars on the freshman team. The brothers are extremely close.

"Right, wrong or indifferent, we're a football family," Alex Garwood said.

Adam Garwood definitely shares that unbridled passion of football with his uncle. He's played with "intensity and fire" since he was 8, said Alex Garwood. It's the only area his dad would compare him to Tillman.

"Pat played like every play was his last," said Alex Garwood, who graduated from Leland in 1990, four years before Tillman. "He flew around and figured out a way to make a tackle or play. Adam does that, too."

And he does it with a joy that brings tears to his father's eyes. Before the team's first game this season, Adam led the team in warm-ups, then guided them to the sidelines, where he flailed his fists and roared to the skies, unleashing 15 months of pent up fury from no competition. 

Or perhaps he channeled his uncle's favorite quote: "To err on the side of passion is human and right and the only way I'll live."

Or perhaps he just expressed the glee of playing the game he loves with his best friends.

"Football means everything to me," Adam Garwood said. "The relationship you build with teammates is hard to describe. It's a feeling that only we share, under the lights. It's beautiful."
Adam Garwood looking up at a gigantic Pat Tillman jersey before an annual 4.2-mile run in Tempe (Ariz.) put on by the Pat Tillman Foundation. "Pat's Run" is the signature fundraiser for the foundation's scholarship program, this year scheduled April 24 to be run virtually.
Courtesy of Garwood family
Adam Garwood looking up at a gigantic Pat Tillman jersey before an annual 4.2-mile run in Tempe (Ariz.) put on by the Pat Tillman Foundation. "Pat's Run" is the signature fundraiser for the foundation's scholarship program, this year scheduled April 24 to be run virtually.

Texas high school football: Allen hires former Arkansas coach Chad Morris - HIGHSCORE
Texas high school football: Allen hires former Arkansas coach Chad Morris
Allen (Texas), one of the most prominent high school football programs in the nation, found its next head coach, announcing Wednesday that former Arkansas coach Chad Morris will lead the Eagles. The hire comes two weeks after Terry Gambill announced his retirement following a five-year tenure that saw the Eagles go 65-4 with a 2017 6A Division 1 state title.

"I am honored to join Allen ISD and the Allen Eagles football program," Morris said in a statement. "My roots run deep in Texas high school football, and I am excited for the opportunity to get back to coaching young student-athletes and making an impression on their lives."

Morris was Auburn's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach last year and was the head coach at Arkansas from 2018-19. He was 4-18 as Razorbacks coach. He last coached in Texas from 2015-17 as the head coach at SMU. He went 14-22 in three years with the Mustangs. He also was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for Clemson under Dabo Swinney from 2011-14 and spent a year at Tulsa the year prior.

Before his college coaching career started in 2010, Morris was one of the best high school football coaches in the Lone Star State.

He spent two years at Texas power Lake Travis (Austin) as the head coach from 2008-09 and led the Cavaliers to back-to-back 4A Division 1 state titles going 32-0 in his two years. Garrett Gilbert was his quarterback during the 2008 season when he was named the Gatorade Athlete of the Year after throwing for 4,851 yards and 55 touchdowns.

Morris is 169-38 during his 16 years high school level and also had previous stops at Stephenville (Texas), Bay City (Texas), Elysian Fields (Texas) and Eustace (Texas).

This was one of the most sought-after coaching jobs in the nation. The Eagles have won five state titles since 2008, led by a three-peat with Kyler Murray under center from 2012-14. Allen has the largest enrollment in the state and a $60 million stadium in which they've never lost.

The Texas high school football power has won at least 10 games in 15 consecutive seasons and return a lot of talent next fall led by three-star offensive lineman Neto Umeozulu, junior running back Jaylen Jenkins and 2022 Harvard commit Jackson Newville.
Chad Morris was announced Wednesday as Allen's new football coach. Prior to coaching at the University of Arkansas and other collegiate stops, Morris was Lake Travis' head coach for two seasons.
File photo by Jim Redman
Chad Morris was announced Wednesday as Allen's new football coach. Prior to coaching at the University of Arkansas and other collegiate stops, Morris was Lake Travis' head coach for two seasons.

High school football: Nation's No. 1-ranked quarterback, Washington signee Sam Huard breaks state record - HIGHSCORE
High school football: Nation's No. 1-ranked quarterback, Washington signee Sam Huard breaks state record
High school football's top senior quarterback prospect Sam Huard of Kennedy Catholic (Burien) broke the Washington state record for career passing yards Saturday late in the second quarter of a 60-17 home victory over  Kentwood (Covington). The 6-foot-2, 190-pound left-hander entered the game needing 341 yards to break the mark of 13,044 set by current Denver Broncos backup Brett Rypien of Shadle Park (Spokane) from 2011 to 2014.

Huard reached that with a 12-yard completion to Leland Ward just before halftime as Lancers (2-0) took a 34-3 lead at intermission. By then, Huard was 30 of 38 for 384 yards and five touchdowns.

He left the game with 4 minutes, 25 seconds left having completed 40 of 56 passes for 514 yards and eight scores, upping his career totals 13,226 passing yards and 153 touchdowns. The fourth-year starter and Washington signee told his team after the game it would be his last as a Lancer. He starts classes at Washington on Monday. 

"I've said it before and I'll say it now, coaching Sam Huard is what I imagined it would be like to coach Peyton Manning," Kennedy Catholic coach Sheldon Cross told MaxPreps Friday after the team's practice. "He wants to be so great. He does everything right. He's a great person, a great teammate and the players love him.
Kennedy Catholic quarterback Sam Huard broke the state record for career yardage during his team's home game on Saturday against Kentwood.
Photo by Paul Caldwell
Kennedy Catholic quarterback Sam Huard broke the state record for career yardage during his team's home game on Saturday against Kentwood.
"Sam being on top of the list of great Washington quarterbacks is just where he belongs."

Huard is ranked the No. 11 player in the Class of 2021 nationally by 247Sports Composite and his father Damon and uncle Brock both played quarterback in the NFL.

He's carved up opponents throughout his brilliant career, entering the pandemic-shorted 2021 spring season with 11,745 passing yards and 132 touchdowns in just 32 games. He was the MaxPreps Freshman of the Year in 2017.

Running Cross' air raid offense to near perfection, Huard opened the season completing 28 of 37 for 515 yards and seven touchdowns in a 49-14 win over Tahoma. The following week he was 30 of 42 for 444 yards and six scores during a 53-6 win over Decatur.

On Saturday, he completed touchdown passes of 32 and 35 yards to his future Washington teammate Jabez Tinae, and 14- and 11-yard TDs to Arizona State signee Junior Alexander, making it 27-3.

After an interception, the Lancers took over deep in their own territory, zoomed up field before Huard found Ward on a short dump off pass for 12 yards just before halftime to break Rypien's record.
The game was halted briefly in the first half to mark Huard breaking the record.
Photo by Paul Caldwell
The game was halted briefly in the first half to mark Huard breaking the record.
Cross called timeout, a sparse crowd — due to COVID-19 protocols — cheered and he was presented with a giant banner of Huard with a photo of his image and the words "Most passing yards in Washington state history." 

A few plays later, Kennedy Catholic was back in the end zone, where Huard has led them throughout the last four seasons.

Cross said that Huard didn't return to play in order to break the record. He simply wanted to have one more experience with his teammates. By January, most believed there there wasn't going to be a season due to the pandemic. When Washington committed to the spring, Cross said Huard was one of the first to contact him. Huard had always planned to graduate in December after his senior season to attend Washington early. When COVID-19 wiped out the fall season, Cross thought Huard was done.

"He said, 'Coach I can't miss it, I have to play with my guys one more time,' " Cross said. "I wasn't planning on him coming back. He had absolutely nothing to prove. He had his dream school all ready assured. I was in awe that he wanted to come back. It's something I'll always cherish."

Huard led a student driven advocacy group — Student Athletes of Washington (SAW) — and met with Gov. Jay Inslee to help get prep sports back in play. On Friday, in his final academic assignment, he presented a senior project on the importance of high school athletics.

On Saturday, in his final prep athletic assignment, he finished on top of the heap as king of Washington quarterback. On Monday, he's off to college.

"He's obviously way more than just a great high school football player," Cross said. "He's going to do many more great things from here."
Huard leads his teammates onto the field before the game.
Photo by Paul Caldwell
Huard leads his teammates onto the field before the game.
Photo by Paul Caldwell
Photo by Paul Caldwell
Photo by Paul Caldwell
On Senior Day, Sam poses with his father, Damon, and mother, Julie.
Photo by Paul Caldwell
On Senior Day, Sam poses with his father, Damon, and mother, Julie.

 
California high school football: Behind sophomore Matayo Uiagalelei, St. John Bosco beats Servite 38-28 - HIGHSCORE
California high school football: Behind sophomore Matayo Uiagalelei, St. John Bosco beats Servite 38-28
In one of the biggest high school football games of the spring season in California, 2019 MaxPreps national champion St. John Bosco (Bellflower) beat Servite (Anaheim) 38-28 Friday night. The first half was a defensive battle between the Trinity League rivals with Servite carrying a 7-3 lead into halftime.

Houston Thomas scored the only touchdown on a three-yard run with 10:04 left in the second quarter.

Both offenses got on track in the second half as Katin Houser led the Braves on a six-play, 62-yard drive to begin the third quarter capped by a 26-yard touchdown pass to four-star sophomore tight end Matayo Uiagalelei.

Bosco's defense forced a three-and-out on the Friars' opening possession of the third quarter and took momentum of the game on the following drive that began at its own one-yard line. Sophomore Pierce Clarkson came in under center for the next drive as head coach Jason Negro continued to alternate quarterbacks on each possession. The result was a 99-yard drive culminated with a three-yard touchdown pass to Chedon James.
Pierce Clarkson, St. John Bosco quarterback
Photo by Louis Lopez
Pierce Clarkson, St. John Bosco quarterback
After only completing one pass in the first half, Servite's junior quarterback Noah Fifita started to find his rhythm and connected with five-star wide receiver Tetairoa McMillan four separate times on the ensuing drive after he was held without a catch in the first half.

Fifita scampered in from 11 yards out with 3:03 left in the third quarter to cut the Bosco lead to 17-14.

The Braves answered two plays later as three-star junior running back Jabari Bates took it 75 yards to the house to increase the lead to 24-14. He finished the night with 14 carries for 170 yards.

Fifita connected with McMillan on a 64-yard pass to get inside the red zone, then found the five-star receiver a couple of plays later for a three-yard score with 1:33 left in the third quarter to cut the lead to 24-21.

The biggest play of the game came on the following drive for St. John Bosco as it faced a fourth-and-eight on Servite's 12-yard line. Clarkson threw a perfect ball to the 6-foot-6, 265-pound Uiagalelei, who went up and snagged it for his second score of the night to take a 31-21 lead with 9:57 left.
Jabari Bates, St. John Bosco running back
Photo by Louis Lopez
Jabari Bates, St. John Bosco running back
On the following Servite drive, Uiagalelei showed why he is being recruited as both a defensive end and tight end, pulling down Fifita with one arm for his first sack of the night.

After three-star junior linebacker Jalen Woods intercepted Fifita, Servite's defense forced a three-and-out and got the Friars the ball back inside Bosco territory. Fifita led them on a 35-yard drive capped with a three-yard touchdown run to cut the deficit to 31-28 with 5:18 left.

St. John Bosco responded with a 15-yard touchdown run by Michael Hayes with 1:54 left to take a commanding 38-28 lead.

The Braves improve to 3-0 with the win while the loss drops the Friars to 2-1.

Up next for St. John Bosco is JSerra Catholic (San Juan Capistrano) on April 3. Servite will look to bounce back against state No. 1 Mater Dei (Santa Ana).
Houston Thomas, Servite running back
Photo by Louis Lopez
Houston Thomas, Servite running back
Noah Fifita, Servite quarterback
Photo by Louis Lopez
Noah Fifita, Servite quarterback