GARDNER, Kan. - The on-field fireworks provided by 2011 dual-threat quarterback Bubba Starling and his Gardner (Kan.) Edgerton teammates Friday night rivaled those of the pregame pyrotechnics show.
Starling turned the first play from scrimmage against Overland Park St. Thomas Aquinas into a 46-yard touchdown run. He finished with 94 yards rushing, connected on a 51-yard completion and helped seal the Trailblazers' 28-26 victory with a touchdown run in the final minutes.
With the victory, Gardner Edgerton erased three years of frustrating losses to Aquinas and solidified a playoff spot. The victory also helped solidify Starling as one of the nation's top prospects for the Class of 2011.
The 6-foot-5, 190-pound Starling was everything that you want from a big-time, dual-threat quarterback. He made the nice passes when they were needed, was cool under the pressure of a relentless Aquinas defense and used his running ability wisely.
"If we were to circle one game on our schedule, it was this one right here," Starling said. "We were wanting to play them really bad. Coach [Marvin] Diener has changed everything around the last five years since he's been here. This is the time when we start beating Aquinas, and it's going to stay like this."
It probably will as long as Starling is around.
So far this season, Starling has rushed for 639 yards and nine scores. He's also thrown for 783 yards and 12 touchdowns, which is not bad considering he suffered a serious shoulder separation in the third game and missed the next two games.
"He has been used in limited reps rushing since the injury," Diener said. "His recovery has been remarkable and should be at 100 percent in just a few more weeks."
What makes Starling's story even more intriguing is that he's also one of the nation's best baseball prospects. With a 93 mph fastball, a strong bat and ability to run down balls in the outfield, there already has been talk about him being a future high round draft pick in the MLB draft.
This could make his recruitment even more interesting, much like it did when Joe Mauer was the nation's No. 1 quarterback coming out of high school. Mauer made the right decision when he picked baseball, but Starling isn't sure what decision he's going to make at this point.
"I really haven't thought about football versus baseball yet," Starling said. "I just want to get done with the season, hopefully make it to the state championship and win it. I just want to get through the season and after that I'll figure out where I'm at with all that.
"I've had people emailing me, places like Alabama, KU, K-State, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State. I really haven't even thought about it yet. It'd be real cool to play both football and baseball in college. I also have the baseball thing, so I don't know yet."
For now, Starling is just happy being the leader for the Trailblazers. They appear to be on a collision course with nationally ranked Hutchinson in the Kansas Class 5A state playoffs.
"I just love being a quarterback," Starling said. "It's awesome. Playing on a really great team and coming out here when there's so many people, fireworks and things like that, it can't get any better than this."
FINAL OAKS CHRISTIAN STAR OFF THE BOARD
Four-star defensive tackle Cassius Marsh watched his teammates Erik Kohler, Nick Montana, Zac Stout and Alani Fua commit early in the recruiting process. Kohler and Montana went to Washington and Stout and Fua pledged to BYU. That was later followed by the recent decision of Malcolm Jones to commit to UCLA over Stanford.
The early decisions left Marsh as the last Lions target undecided, but that changed on Monday when Marsh committed to LSU. Marsh originally committed to Cal, but later backed away from the decision when he said he needed more time to think.
"Back in April I made a hasty decision and jumped on something I shouldn't have," Marsh said. "I hadn't seen anything outside of California and I didn't want to have any regrets recruiting wise. I've found something I like better, that's a better fit for me, and somewhere I belong.
"The level that LSU's defense plays at is amazing. Everybody is a great player and everybody on their team is intense and gets fired up and has a mean streak. They play good together as a team. They play in the SEC, which is the best football in the country I feel … and a lot of other people feel the same way."
DEMIEN COULD BE BACK IN TIME FOR ARMY GAME
This was supposed to be a year to remember for Wentzville (Mo.) Timberland offensive linemen Nick Demien, but a torn anterior cruciate ligament early in the season has made most of the year one to forget.
But when he was announced as a member of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl this past Friday, Demien said there's a good chance he'll be back in time for the game on Jan. 9.
"I'm excited about being able to play in this game," he said. "But at the same time, it's bittersweet. All my senior friends and my team, I kind of feel like I let them down because I couldn't be there to support them [on the field]. I'm confident there's a chance I'll be able to get back to play in our last game. Even if it's not for the whole game, I want to get out there."
NEWTON ON HOLD
When Rivals.com updates its Junior College Top 50 rankings early next month, there's a good chance that Blinn (Texas) College quarterback Cameron Newton might end up at the top spot.
Newton has completed 138 of 204 passes for 2,066 yards and 20 touchdowns on the season. He also has rushed 76 times for 476 yards and 12 touchdowns. He has helped lead Blinn to a No. 1 ranking entering this week's game against conference rival and No. 2-ranked Navarro.
Because of his successful season, Newton said recruiting has kind of taken a back seat.
"My top three schools are Tennessee, Mississippi State and Kansas State," he said. "There is no order for them right now. They are all even. I am not favoring anyone at this point. I am focused on our season first right now. That is my main concern. After we are done, I will take my visits and make a decision on where I will go to school next year."
The Metroplex area has been kind again to Tulsa. On Monday, three-star running back Ja'Terian DouglasClick UCF has gained a pledge from Justin TukesClick North Dakota State College of Science four-star linebacker Derek EarlsClick Defensive tackle Mustafa JalilClick ETC.Here to view this Link. from San Diego Cathedral Catholic will be one of the most sought-after players out of the Golden State for the Class of 2011. "I talk to Arizona State and Washington, the two schools that have already offered me, and then most of the Pac-10 schools as well," Jalil said. "Really, right now, I'm loving Miami. I'm thinking about taking an unofficial visit down there sometime." Here to view this Link. is Pac-10 bound. The 6-4, 225-pounder pledged to Arizona over the weekend, turning down offers from teams such as Colorado, Illinois, Iowa State, Kansas State, Oklahoma State and others. Earls ranks as the No. 39 junior college player in the nation. Here to view this Link., a tight end/defensive end from Sylvester (Ga.) Worth County. Tukes, who is 6-5 and 225 pounds, also had an offer from UAB. Here to view this Link. called Golden Hurricane coaches with his verbal pledge. The 5-11, 180-pound running back from Arlington (Texas) Lamar is rated by Rivals.com as the No. 41 back in the nation and the No. 62 player overall in the state of Texas.