Instant Replay: The playoff push yields shaken rankings

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

Another week in, and another crop of surprising results and major showdowns where only one ranked team could possibly survive. As the days grow shorter, so does the list of national title contenders, with a handful of potential outliers falling by the RivalsHigh 100 wayside after a heated weekend of near non-stop playoff intensity.

No. 18 Bellevue (Wash.) 35, No. 19 Lakes (Wash.) 14: This game was hyped as the best remaining possible game on the Washington state slate, but Bellevue proved it's not only the clear-cut most talented squad in the state, but also one of the nation's more underrated teams with a dominant win from start to finish, in every facet of the game.

No. 91 Upper St. Clair (Penn.) 28, No. 25 Pittsburgh (Penn.) Central Catholic 24: It wasn't enough that Upper St. Clair -- a talented but not entirely overwhelming squad -- pulled off what may be the shocker of the Western Pennsylvania season by knocking off one of the nation's best teams in the playoffs. Rather, they pulled off that significant feat without the use of their starting quarterback, mounting a fourth quarter rally from a 14-13 deficit behind backup passer Pete Coughlin to emerge with a huge win in a WPIAL rivalry grudge match.

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No. 14 Grayson (Ga.) 25, Lowndes (Ga.) 17: Robert Nkemdiche is one of the nation's most prominent junior prospects because of what he does on defense, as he proved with three sacks in his squad's huge win against Lowndes on Friday. Yet, in this case, Nkemdiche may have had an even bigger impact on offense, with the big bruiser getting rare time as a running back, carrying the ball 16 times for 61 yards and three Grayson touchdowns as the Georgia sleeper continued to prove it belongs higher and higher in the national rankings.

No. 85 Cincinnati (Ohio) St. Xavier 35, No. 84 Cincinnati (Ohio) Archbishop Moeller 21: The rematch of this earlier heated Catholic face off went to the Bombers, with St. Xavier rallying from an early 7-0 deficit to take a dominant, 21-7 lead at halftime and never look back, earning a state semifinal berth as a result.

No. 20 Euless (Texas) Trinity 28, No. 9 Allen (Texas) 21: As RivalsHigh national analyst Dallas Jackson artfully makes clear, Trinity may not be the smoothest or prettiest team in the country, but the Trojans are proving once again that they are one of the toughest, most playoff-tested programs in the country, with a huge defensive stop on a fourth down (you can see it as the final play in the Allen-centric highlight reel below) serving as the hallmark play from yet another memorable playoff showdown that keeps Trinity's Class 5A title hopes alive, and might just give it momentum to continue leaping up the RivalsHigh 100 rankings.

No. 6 Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman 35, Palo Verde (Nev.) 7: If anyone had any doubts about whether Bishop Gorman would show up and deliver in a huge Sunset Region clash against Palo Verde, there were put to rest with a quick glance at Gorman star running back Shaquille Powell, who broke through the 200-yard threshold and added a key touchdown in Gorman's latest memorable playoff win.

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