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September 16, 2013

St. Louis Recruiting Notebook



DeSmet scores late touchdown to defeat Vianney

KIRKWOOD, Mo. -- Vianney had two opportunities in the last five-and-a-half minutes of their game against Metro Catholic Conference rival DeSmet to secure a victory. Leading 28-24 with 5:34 left, the Griffin defense was able to get pressure on DeSmet quarterback Scott Sinovich, which led to an intentional grounding penalty. That put the Spartans in third and extremely long, which led to a punt.

With Vianney now possessing the ball, they were looking to pick up a few first downs and run out the clock. Workhorse running back Markel Smith had already rushed for over 200 yards and 4 touchdowns, but the DeSmet defense stepped up to the challenge and forced a three and out. After the punt, the Spartans got the ball back with 3:29 remaining in the game.

Smith primarily plays running back, but on passing downs and key defensive snaps he comes in and plays cornerback. It had worked earlier in the game for Vianney as Smith broke up a touchdown pass with a nice defensive play. This time, though, it hurt the Griffins. Smith was called for pass interference on a play where it did not look like there was much contact.

"I didn't see him when I turned around and our feet got tangled up. The official threw the flag and made the call," Smith explained.

DeSmet still had 40 yards to gain before reaching the end zone, but Sinovich calmly led them down the field with his arm and legs. He capped off the game winning drive by scrambling up the middle for a 10 yard touchdown run to give the Spartans the a 31-28 lead.

Vianney had 1:20 left in the game to try to drive down the field and either score the winning touchdown or kick a game tying field goal. An interception followed by another DeSmet score ended any chance of a Vianney rally, though. It was a tough defeat for the Griffins, but Smith understands what they need to do to get back on track.

"We just need to practice harder, stay focused and play all 48 minutes," he said.

On the recruiting front, Smith said things are kind of hold for now as he focuses on his season. He does not plan to take any official visits until after his senior season is completed.

"It's really the same. I got the same offers that I had. I'm getting letters, but no other offers," said Smith.


Junior RB Kevin Batt leads Hazelwood Central to victory

FLORISSANT, Mo. -- With big time D1 prospects Roderick Johnson, Matt Quarells and Harry Ballard on the field at Hazelwood Central, it was not a surprise that an outstanding individual performance took place. What was surprising, though, was that junior running back Kevin Batt was the one who put on the show.

Batt finished the game with nearly 300 yards of total offense and five touchdowns (four rushing, one receiving) in Hazelwood Central's (3-0) 41-27 victory. Not bad for a player who was not even listed on the game program.

"He finally bought in. That's the biggest thing with us as a coaching staff," said head coach Van Vanatta. "We want to make sure that they buy in. When they do then they will play. He did well on JV last year. He torched our defense last year. We figured if we could tackle him we could tackle any back. Same thing kind of early in the season. We just kind of held off. I told him at halftime of the first game 'Here you go, you're getting the ball' and he took the first carry 89 yards to the house. He's a big, strong, physical kid and when you have an offensive line like ours, it helps."

The offensive line is led by four-star Mizzou target Roderick Johnson. Breaking down individual performances by offensive linemen is difficult, but one thing was clear. For his size Johnson moves extremely well. If the ball was not run off his side of the line, Johnson was generally pulling all the way around the line and still opening up holes.

"I played pretty good, personally. As a whole, the offensive line did a great job of opening up holes for Kevin Batt. His yardage total for this game demonstrates that. We can only get better from here. We're going to try to keep going further," said the 6-foot-7, 310 pound tackle.

For the season, Johnson has anchored an offensive line that has rushed for an average of 272 yards per game, 6.8 yards per carry and scored 14 rushing touchdowns. The Hawks are not to be mistaken for a one dimensional team, though. They have also thrown for 238 yards a game, 18.8 yards per catch and scored five receiving touchdowns.

One of the stars of the passing game was Mizzou target Matt Quarells. This week he had four catches for 107 yards and added an interception on defense, despite playing through an injury he sustained early in the game.

"I felt like I was doing good. Something happened to my calf and I was injured all game. I had to sit out the whole second quarter," the 6-foot-3, 185 pound wide receiver said. "I had to come back in the second half and make some plays for my team. Once I saw that my defense needed me I just had to step back in and play both ways. Just suck it up."

Quarells has 382 yards receiving and two touchdowns on 16 receptions through the first three games of the season. Defensively, he draws the matchup with the oppositions best receiver each week. This week, that was Stars' sophomore Harry Ballard.

Ballard is an emerging star in the St. Louis football scene. For the season he has caught 12 passes for 199 yards and two touchdowns. He has also returned three punts for a total of 73 yards and one touchdown. In his matchup with Quarells, Ballard caught five passes for 75 yards.

"It was just me and him going back and forth. I liked that," said the 6-foot-4, 180 pound wide receiver. "He's a good athlete. Me and him are cool outside of school and I was looking forward to that matchup this game."

Despite the tough loss, Ballard is confident that he and his teammates will be able to bounce back and improve.

"We still fighting. We just got keep working. We're going to get better in practice and we're going to keep working," he explained. "We got to work on overcoming fatigue and build some more depth, but I have to give credit to [Hazelwood] Central. They are a good team."

As far as recruiting goes for the quartet, it is all over the map. Batt is just starting to draw college coaches attention after his strong start to the season. Schools are in their research mode right now, trying to get as much film and information on him as they can. If his season continues at this pace schools will definitely begin to show more interest in the running back prospect.

Seniors, Johnson and Quarells both said they are focusing more on school and their final season then recruiting right now. Johnson does not have any plans for official visits yet, saying eventually he will sit down with his parents and work that all out.

With serious interest from Florida State, Alabama, Ohio State and many other big-time out-of-state schools, Mizzou has been considered an underdog in Johnson's recruitment. That is not stopping them from continuing to make a strong push for the number three ranked player in the state of Missouri.

"I just talked with Mizzou just this week, so they're still in their," Johnson said.

Quarells does not have quite the national attention that his teammate does, but he still has a solid offer list that includes schools like Illinois, Indiana, Purdue and Missouri.

"I'm going to take some visits, but I don't know exactly what schools or days yet," he said. "I'm definitely going to make it to Mizzou."

Ballard, who has just started his sophomore year, does not plan to visit any schools unofficially right now. He is hearing from Mizzou, Tennessee, Florida State, Georgia, Arkansas and several other schools already.

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