Top Florida vs. Texas Football Collision Ahead In Katy
The latest collision between premier Texas and Florida high school football powers on national television is days away in the Greater Houston area, when Weston (Fla.) Cypress Bay travels to Katy (Texas) to kickoff at 2:30 PM (Central) on Saturday, October 4.
The "Battle at Rhodes", which will be televised on ESPNU, will be held at 10,000-seat Rhodes Stadium in Katy.
Cypress Bay is ranked No. 10 in Florida 's latest poll (all classes). The 2008 Lightning under head coach Mark Guandolo are coming off a 10-2 season as region semifinalists and are currently 3-0.
Cypress Bay is loaded with talent on both sides of the ball. Defensively, a trio of linebackers among the finest group in the nation leads Cypress Bay: Phil Walker, Austin Gamble and Shane Gordon.
In last week's 35-3 victory over Western the Lightning marched up and down the field in a 35-3 victory finishing with 468 rushing yards. Running backs Jason Douglas and David McKnight spearhead Cypress Bay's offensive ground attack. Against Western McKnight rushed for 147 yards and two touchdowns while Douglas added 117 yards.
"We're excited to play such a storied program as Katy, which finished as state champions last year and ranked fourth in the nation," said Guandolo, who is 2-1 against Texas high schools dating back to 1997. "I've always liked these trips: it's good for our program to travel, to see what Texas high school football is all about and a game like this with Katy Nation and all will be a playoff atmosphere."
Prior to Weston opening a second high school this fall, Cypress Bay was the largest high school in the nation with more than 5,500 students. Notably, Cypress Bay 's student newspaper was featured in the MTV series "The Paper" earlier this year; the school opened in 2002 and Guandolo arrived prior to the 2007 season.
Katy, which is the defending Texas 5A, Div. II champion after a 16-0 season, is currently 2-2 after season-opening losses on the road to both Galena Park North Shore and The Woodlands (ranked No. 3 and 8, respectively, in the latest Class 5A Texas poll). The reloading Tigers have responded with back-to-back wins, while Katy's Gary Joseph has won a remarkable 57 of 63 games since being promoted to head coach in 2004.
Coming off the 2008 championship season it has been tough for Katy to replace the likes of running back Aundre Dean (UCLA), quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell (SMU), Ryan Doerr (South Carolina) and defensive standout Trent Hunter (Texas A&M), but Tiger coach Gary Joseph and his staff are used to high expectations and retooling their highly-successful program.
Katy played its most complete game of the 2008 season in last week's 27-10 victory over Oak Ridge without running back Michael Webber. Webber suffered a back injury against Flower Mound Marcus and was replaced by sophomore Vernon Jeffries. In his first varsity start Jeffries rushed 26 times for 116 yards and scored a touchdown.
Quarterback Parker Ray, receiver Michael Stojkovic, and lineman Chris Roberson are major contributing factors for the turn around on offense for the Tigers. Ray easily had his best game of the season, completing 7-of-15 passes for 176 yards and two touchdowns against Oak Ridge.
"I knew it would be difficult start for us because we're young and because of our schedule," Joseph said. "Our kids have really grown up the past couple weeks because some had never been through that. "This week is going to be a big test for us against a quality opponent – it'll be like playing a version of North Shore again."
The Tigers have won four other state championships, in 1959, 1997, 2000 and 2003, and have been state runner-up on four occasions, in 1994, 1998, 1999 and 2005. In the 2008 book "Gridiron Dynasties," Katy is highlighted as one of the nation's top 12 high school football programs.
TITUS Sports Marketing is producing the 2008 Battle at Rhodes . TITUS also managed, in conjunction with Paragon Marketing Group and ESPNU, last year's matchup between Florida and Texas football powers (Miami Northwestern and Southlake Carroll) which set a Texas high school attendance record.
For ticket, media and stadium information and an extensive preview of the 2008 "Battle at Rhodes", go to BATTLE AT RHODES
TITUS Sports Marketing Media Contact: Dave Stephenson at 214-764-2024 or E-Mail: Dave Stephenson