In honor of Wrestlemania 29 taking place last night, it’s perhaps appropriate to start this post with Ric Flair’s famous phrase: “To be the man, you’ve gotta beat the man!”
Take one look at Gonzaga‘s schedule for the 2013 football season and it seems the Eagles are taking Flair’s words to heart.
In their first three games this fall, the Eagles will travel to North Carolina to take on Charlotte Catholic and running back Elijah Hood (ranked No. 12 overall in the 2014 class by Rivals), followed by perennial national power Cocoa (Fla.) at Maryland’s Byrd Stadium and then head north to New Jersey to face another national contender in St. Peter’s Prep.
“Not only does it bring great exposure to our kids, but it also prepares us to play the top teams in our league like Good Counsel and DeMatha,” Gonzaga Coach Aaron Brady said. “We always tell our kids don’t be afraid to play anybody, any time and anywhere, and playing three national teams that are tough and physical will help show how ready we are.”
And while all three of Gonzaga’s national opponents boast highly ranked recruits, the Eagles possess their own top-level talent.
Last month, defensive back Miles Taylor committed to play at Georgia Tech following a visit to the campus during one of its junior days. The speedy six-foot, 185-pounder’s physical play and coverage ability at safety makes him a threat in both the Eagles’ and Yellow Jackets’ quarter and nickel formations.
“As a two-year starter at safety for us, Miles plays the game really fast and he’s a physical player that flies around out there and coaches love that,” Brady said.
Taylor also held offers from Iowa, Temple and U-Mass. and strong interest from the likes of Maryland, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Rutgers, Penn State, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Syracuse and Boston College. But the good fit provided by Georgia Tech’s defensive philosophy led Taylor to pledge to the Yellow Jackets.
“My speed helps me out and I feel like I bring hard work and enthusiasm to any team,” Taylor said. “Coming in as a freshman, they see me playing the nickel and they want me to come in on third downs to cover the slot [receiver] or tight end or just make a play wherever they need it.”
The Eagles possess another playmaker in running back/receiver Robbie Walker. The junior rushed for a team-high 926 yards to go with 16 total touchdowns and 259 receiving yards on 19 catches (13.6 yards per catch).
Walker’s production has drawn interest from Wake Forest, Maryland, West Virginia, Towson and Richmond. The 5-foot-9, 170-pounder said he visited Maryland, West Virginia and Towson this past week during spring break.
“What makes Robbie special is not only can he play running back well with strong rushing and blocking ability but he can also go in the slot, run routes and catch passes,” Brady said. “He has great hands and he can also make people miss in the open field.”
Walker, who has also been in contact with Duke and Old Dominion, said he’ll likely look to play at a college that runs the spread offense, where he can put both his strong rushing and receiving abilities to use from the running back position.
In the meantime, though, Walker hopes to use his game-breaking skills and next season’s tough schedule to earn respect for Gonzaga on the local and national level.
“We’re looking forward to playing some higher ranked teams and coming out and showing The Post, Rivals and everybody else that we deserve to have the spotlight on us just as much as anyone else,” Walker said. “We feel we’re overshadowed, so we want our chance to stand out.”
NUMBER CRUNCH: 500
Career wins for Robinson girls’ soccer Coach Jim Rike following the Rams’ 6-0 victory against West Springfield last Thursday. Check back at AllMetSports.com on Wednesday for more on Rike’s big accomplishment.
–For the second straight year, Spalding fell to Dr. Phillips (Fla.), this time in the National High School Invitational girls’ basketball championship by the score of 62-45.
–Led by Devon Burns and Rachel Penaranda, Westfield’s boys’ and girls’ track and field teams swept the Carolyn Legard Relays, with Lake Braddock tying for first in the girls’ meet.
-Our annual All-Met winter team selections were released this past weekend. Click here to see who made the cut this year, along with lots of videos and photos.
WHAT TO WATCH TODAY
No. 1 Oakton (5-0) at No. 2 Lake Braddock (3-0-1), 7 p.m.
The top two boys’ soccer teams in the area will clash. Top-ranked Oakton has allowed just two goals while Lake Braddock has scored 13 goals in just four games.