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Nationally ranked Plantation (FL) American Heritage is hitting the road for its season opener against Virginia Beach (VA) Bishop Sullivan Catholic on Saturday.
Here's everything you need to know before this weekend's premier high school matchup:
No. 9 American Heritage vs. Bishop Sullivan Catholic
When: Saturday, Aug. 26 at 3:30 PM (ET)
Where: Virginia Beach Sportsplex, Virginia Beach, VA
What You Should Know About American Heritage:The Patriots feature one of the most notable father-son, player-coach dynamics in the country, with three-time NFL Pro Bowler Patrick Surtain Sr. leading a team headlined by Patrick Surtain Jr. The junior Surtain is the consensus No.1-ranked cornerback in the class of 2018 and, depending on your recruiting service of choice, listed as high as the No. 2 prospect regardless of position.
What You Should Know About Bishop Sullivan:Sophomore defensive back Sheridan Jones is already the proud owner of eight FBS scholarship offers -- including a few from Southeastern Conference titans Alabama, Florida, and Auburn. The Crusaders will open 2017 as the top-ranked team in Virginia.
OFFENSE:Bishop Sullivan's all-everything running back Khalan Laborn is gone -- and with him, nearly 1,500 rushing yards along with the offensive identity of a season ago. In 2017, the Crusaders will deploy one of the top quarterback-receiver duos in the country, with Maryland-bound quarterback Tyler DeSue looking for Virginia Tech commit Armani Chatman early and often. Chatman, a transfer from Bayside, will look to bolster an offense that lost its top four receivers along with Laborn. Three-star guard Zach Bevins will anchor the offensive line.
At American Heritage, the graduation of current Harvard quarterback Jason Brown leaves a hole to fill under center, but American Heritage-Delray transfer Cam Smith provides a more than adequate solution -- and he will have plenty of weapons at his disposal. Four-star wide receiver Anthony Schwartz, among the most highly regarded at his position, headlines the group. He's joined by Vanderbilt commit Miles Jones, who racked up nearly 1,000 yards of total offense a season ago. Leading rusher Jordan Johnson is also back -- on the heels of a 132-yard rushing effort in last year's FHSAA 5A state title game. And if all of that's not enough, Surtain Sr. says he expects to sprinkle in offensive contributions from Surtain Jr. and fellow five-star cornerback Tyson Campbell.
Advantage: American Heritage
DEFENSE:American Heritage will lock its opponents down with two of the top cornerbacks -- and overall players -- in the country, Surtain and Campbell, while getting after the quarterback with a defensive front that features two of the top 50 players in Florida: DT Nesta Silvera and DE Andrew Chatfield. The Patriots defense returns arguably its top three defenders from a unit that allowed just 11.9 points per game in 2016. They're filthy and fast.
Bishop Sullivan may not have the depth of raw talent, but it does have one of the top linebackers in the country anchoring things in four-star Ohio State commit Teradja Mitchell. The Mitchell-led Crusaders were stingy last season, holding opponents to 13 points or fewer in each of the team's seven victories. Mitchell is flanked off the edge by Temple commit Dante Burke, in front of a secondary headlined by super sophomore Sheridan Jones and junior Tayvion Land.
SPECIAL TEAMS:With respect to projected Bishop Sullivan return ace Armani Chatman, American Heritage is the only team in the country that can say that the No. 1 cornerback prospect in the country is its go-to returner. Surtain Jr. is a playmaker the likes of which the Crusaders are unlikely to see again in 2017.
Advantage: American Heritage
INTANGIBLES:Bishop Sullivan went 0-2 in neutral-site games in 2016, including a loss at the Virginia Beach Sportsplex to another Florida powerhouse, Bradenton IMG Academy, to end the regular season. Still, the Crusaders are in their own backyard with nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Advantage: Bishop Sullivan
KEY MATCHUP:Patrick Surtain Jr. vs. Armani Chatman
Bishop Sullivan's best chance to steal a victory is on the strength of a big game from newcomer Armani Chatman. There's no escaping elite corners in the American Heritage secondary, so Chatman figures to find himself matched up with Surtain Jr. on a routine basis. No wide receiver in the country has come out on top in a game-long battle with Surtain. Chatman will need to be the first.
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