High 5: Near comical returns and runs highlight top games

Cameron Smith

The hallmark of great players is their ability to overcome tough competition. With the playoffs looming across the country, that means that each week's top plays are more and more worthy of additional reflection, criteria which is certainly valid now for a handful of stars who turned in memorable moments over the prior weekend.

As always, the entire crop of RivalsHigh TV Top 10 plays are worthy of inclusion, but five are particularly notable for a variety of reasons that run that gamut from sheer competitiveness to Bugs Bunny references ... really.

The first of those is the play that slides in at number 6, which was taken from what was almost surely the weekend's most impressive victory. With new number 1 Louisville (Kent.) Trinity School routing Cincinnati (Ohio) Archbishop Moeller School, there were bound to be a handful of fantastic plays, but none were more stunning than this punt return by Trinity cornerback Ryan White, who shows near Olympic sprinter speed to blow by the defensive coverage and then completely embarrasses Moeller's punter (who will remained unnamed to save face) en route to an 88-yard score.

That may have been the week's most entertaining return, but it wasn't necessarily its most enjoyable play. Rarely has the commentary been more on point than the one RivalsHigh TV announcer Sam Farber provided for play number 5, on which Bellevue (Wash.) High running back Ari Morales scooted his way to the end zone with his best Bugs Bunny impression, taking a hard right at Albuquerque to stun the defense's path and, eventually, find his way to the end zone. Not that Pismo Beach would have been a bad place to end up either, of course.

If Morales was impersonating Bugs Bunny, Harrison (Mich.) High wide receiver Aaron Burbridge was channeling Lions wide out Calvin Johnson at play number 3. While that's no small feat, it seems fair to say that Burbridge lived up to the hype, both outleaping his defensive back and then outsprinting the entire coverage on a stunning, 64-yard touchdown reception.

The determination that shined through Burbridge's grab was certainly present in the run that came in at number 2, with San Jose (Calif.) Valley Christian High running back Byron Marshall simply refusing to go down, flexing every tool in an all purpose back's box on a 68-yard scoring run. Go ahead and count them out, Marshall started by using brute strength to push through tackle attempts at the line, trotted his way around closing defenders with elusiveness and will and then turning on his pure speed down the stretch on a memorable touchdown for one of the nation's best backs.

Yet, of all the top plays from the past week, none may have been more worthy of the top spot than the desperation touchdown run turned in by Baltimore (Md.) Mount St. Joseph quarterback Luke Casey, who found his team on the end of a brutal, 56-28 drubbing by Baltimore (Md.) Gilman School. Still, despite the scoreline, Casey refused to give in, fighting his way to the end zone after breaking through a gang of no fewer than five attempted arm tacklers and finding enough energy for one last spurt to the goal line.

That kind of effort is always worthy of attention and plaudits, whether from RivalsHigh TV or the rest of us, who almost certainly would have passed over the best from Mt. St. Joe's with the thought that a team on the losing end of a 56-28 game would have been thoroughly overmatched.

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