Rivals Roundtable: The best of high school football
This week's #RivalsRoundtable looks at the favorites in terms of high school football among the national staff's analysts.
1. What's your favorite high school uniforms, helmets included?
Rob Cassidy (Southeast/Florida): It’s probably Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas. Gorman has a million different combinations and I like the shade of blue. They also find subtle and tasteful ways to use gold and silver, which isn’t easy.
Mike Farrell (National): The Bishop Gorman uniforms with the reflective silver helmets are tough to beat. Oddly, I’m also partial to the Armwood (Florida) helmet as I nearly pilfered one once when I was covering Byron Cowart back in the day. Oaks Christian in Cali has some nice uniforms and I’ve always loved Eleanor Roosevelt's uniforms in Maryland as well. But perhaps my favorite of all-time are the Landstown helmets from Virginia Beach, the old Percy Harvin helmet. I’m not sure why.
Adam Friedman (Mid-Atlantic): There are a lot of cool uniforms out there but I've never seen a helmet that looked like Chesterfield (Va.) Lloyd C Bird's. They have a version of the Michigan helmet design but instead of maize there is a blue, black and white design that I've never seen.
Adam Gorney (National/West Coast): Las Vegas Bishop Gorman. They have a bunch of uniform and helmet variations but the ones that are the neatest are the helmets that are metallic silver so they kind of look like mirrors. When I saw Gorman play Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei this past weekend, the Gaels were wearing relatively plain white jerseys and white helmets, kind of looked like Boise State out there. Must admit, I was a little disappointed not to see the metallic helmets.
Josh Helmholdt (Midwest): One of the most intimidating sights I've seen on a high school football field is The Cleveland Glenville Tarblooders taking the field wearing their all black uniforms with the Grambling "G" on the helmets. Those uniforms were clean, classic and had the ability to strike fear in opponents. Their all whites were pretty solid too, especially the ones with "The Ville" on the front.
Nick Krueger (Texas): My favorite football uniform here in Texas is probably Waxahachie's specifically because of the Native American headdress art that takes over the entire helmet. Otherwise, Waxahachie uses a basic green, white and gray color scheme, but the form-fitting uniforms and the helmets provide a nice splash of color. Otherwise, Mercedes in south Texas has a nice mix of white, gray, orange and black that looks pretty cool.
Chad Simmons (Southeast): West Monroe (La.) has always stood out to me. It mixes and matches very well with the white, red and navy blue. It has multiple helmets, and my favorite is the white one. The uniforms are clean, they always update them and they look like they play — very good.
Woody Wommack (Southeast): I'm a big fan of the Norcross (Georgia) navy blue uniforms with the shiny "chrome" helmets.
2. Favorite high school stadium?
Rob Cassidy (Southeast/Florida): Hey, they don’t call Traz Powell Stadium in Miami “The Mecca” for no reason. It’s a neutral site, but it hosts games every week. And when it’s a big game, that place is an unbelievable atmosphere. I’m sure there are some places in Texas that are bigger and louder or nicer, but Traz is unique. Plus, the makeshift food court outside the gates is amazing. Get the conch.
Mike Farrell (National): To me it was the old Bishop McDevitt stadium in Harrisburg. I found it very unique because it was essentially in a courtyard surrounded on a few sides by the actual high school and the quarters were so close. It looked like an errant pass could end up through the window of a math class. It is still, to this day, the oddest layout of a high school football stadium I’ve seen and I’ve been to a lot of places. It was very cool and worth the seven-hour drive for me.
Adam Friedman (Mid-Atlantic): There is something about stadiums with concrete stands that makes the atmosphere feel different. The stadium affectionately referred to as "The Pit" at Aliquippa High School in western Pennsylvania has a ton of character and big games there are intense. Laurinburg (N.C.) Scotland has a massive stadium and home-side stands look like a concrete mountain.
Adam Gorney (National/West Coast): I'm going with Los Angeles Cathedral based on views. From the field, you can see the entire Los Angeles skyline so it's pretty neat and difficult to beat for high school stadiums. Parking is an absolute nightmare at Cathedral so that is a drawback and one reason why Santa Ana Stadium - the home of Mater Dei - is also high on my list but the views cannot be beaten at Cathedral so that stadium wins out.
Josh Helmholdt (Midwest): I am a big fan of Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary's Green St. Stadium. A lot of the new stadiums are nice and clean, but they lack character. SVSM's stadium has been around since 1949 and has a great view of the downtown skyline, yet still feels like it's in its own corner of the world. It has that character and feeling of tradition, but also features all of the modern amenities today's high school fans have come to expect.
Nick Krueger (Texas): When I first came out to Texas, everyone told me that the Bradley Center in Houston would be the coolest football facility that I would see out here. While that's certainly an impressive stadium, Eagle Stadium in Allen is probably the one that I like best. The seating is a true horseshoe throughout the lower level, with a second level of balcony seating on the home side. The fieldhouse in the open end zone with an impressive scoreboard and video screen add to the aesthetic, and the mezzanine allows a view of the field from anywhere inside. Honorable mentions from Georgia are Norcross and the Granite Bowl in Elberton.
Chad Simmons (Southeast): Carrollton High School in Georgia has a great stadium. It is not the biggest stadium out there, but it has a great feel to it, the setup is perfect and they keep it modern. The venue is top notch and they know how to take care of the media. It just has a special feel to it.
Woody Wommack (Southeast): There are several places in the South I enjoy going to watch a football game, but one of my favorite is Grisham Stadium in Carrolton, Ga. It's massive in size and always has large, engaged crowds. Not to mention it always gives me an excuse to stop at Little Hawaiian restaurant before the game, one of my favorite places to eat when I'm traveling.
3. Favorite Friday Night town in which you've covered a game?
Rob Cassidy (Southeast/Florida): I try not to spend much time in the tiny towns. I’m usually in for a game and out to the nearest city. Phenix City, Ala., is cool, though, as the city seems really into high school football and the school is essentially on the border between the Central and Eastern times zones. I never know what time it is there.
Mike Farrell (National): Ramsey, N.J., when Don Bosco is hosting anyone. It’s not the biggest place nor the loudest but some of those teams I saw were simply so dominant it seemed everything was electric. There were college coaches everywhere and the Bosco kids got so fired up that guys such as Ryan Grant, Brian Toal, Jabrill Peppers and others seemed to just rip people apart and the carnage was welcomed by the North Jersey crowd.
Adam Friedman (Mid-Atlantic): It's hard to beat the history and traditions of the northern New Jersey private schools such as Ramsey Don Bosco, Montvale St. Joseph's, Oradell Bergen Catholic, Paramus Catholic, Jersey City St. Peter's Prep and a few others. These communities are always very involved in the games, have big tailgates before the games and the student sections are always very loud with creative chants. Going to any of these schools' home games is always a fun experience.
Adam Gorney (National/West Coast): This one is fresh in my mind since I spent over 12 hours at the high school this past weekend covering the Honor Bowl but San Diego Cathedral Catholic is absolutely one of the nicest high schools I've ever seen. It looks like a small college campus, immaculate buildings, clean as could be and just an outstanding atmosphere. Also must add, phenomenal food options and that's always important when covering three high school games in a row.
Josh Helmholdt (Midwest): Lincoln, Neb., is a great football town and I have fond memories of covering high school games there. In fact, for Labor Day I tried making grilled wings using the bootleg recipes on the Internet from the famous Watering Hole in downtown Lincoln. Mine were good, but not as good as the original. The overall football vibe the town has, though, is really outstanding and the game I covered between Lincoln Southwest and Lincoln Southeast was loud and the crowd was raucous.
Nick Krueger (Texas): Going back to my days before working for Rivals, when I was working for a newspaper in Southwest Florida, I covered a playoff game in Venice one year. I wouldn't recommend spending a lot of time in Venice if you find yourself in the area, but I remember the home team playing in a big, albeit kind of rickety, stadium, but everyone in town came out for the game. Seeing the community support the team like that is the sort of thing that you see in television and movies all the time, but isn't really always the actual experience. I almost got nostalgic for a feeling I didn't really have back in my high school days after seeing that atmosphere that night.
Chad Simmons (Southeast): This is kind of a combination answer for me. I have seen many games at Valdosta (Ga.) as a football fan and as a media outlet. The atmosphere is not quite the same today as it was years ago, but it is still one of the best out there. About 20 years ago, Valdosta played Colquitt County at home (I was there), and the town was shut down at lunch. I remember the atmosphere and environment like it was yesterday. They call Valdosta "Titletown" for a reason and there have been some crazy games there.
Woody Wommack (Southeast): I always really enjoyed going to games in Immokalee, Fla. The town really shuts down when it's Friday night and you can always count on a very lively crowd, win or lose.