The 2014 high school football season is starting off this year with two big interstate games involving four ranked teams loaded with Division 1 talent. Interstate high school football games are usually reserved for the top teams in the nation and this year is no exception. The season will kick off down south at a true high school football Mecca; Hoover, Alabama.
No. 15 Central (Miami) at No. 3 Hoover (Ala.), Aug. 23
The Hoover Buccaneers are coming off their second straight state championship under Coach Josh Niblett. Coach Niblett has taken the Alabama football powerhouse to a whole other level these last two years by going 30-0. This year’s team will be led by All-State running back Bradrick Shaw and linebacker Christian Bell. Facing off against the Bucs is No. 15 Central High School out of Miami. Central is also coming off back to back state championships and is looking to start the year with a big non-conference win. The most explosive player to watch on August 23rd is wide receiver Da’vante Phillips. The Rockets will need him to have a huge game against a Hoover defense that returns 5 division one recruits. Can Central break Hoover’s two year winning streak?
No. 16 Bellevue (WA) at No. 19 Serra (Gardena, Calif.), Sept. 6
The Bellevue Wolverines are entering the 2014 Honor Bowl in Oceanside, California against Serra High School with a 54 game winning streak. Coach Butch Goncharoff hasn’t lost since September 11, 2010 which ranks as the 3rd longest streak in the Nation. The Wolverines have put together this run behind the almost unstoppable Wing-T Offense that has won Bellevue state championships 11 of the last 14 seasons. Opposing Bellevue is maybe the best defense in the nation. Serra high school boosts two five star recruits on the defensive side, defensive tackle Rasheem Green and linebacker John Houston. These two potential All-Americans will have a tough test against a Bellevue squad who over the years has taken down some of the nation’s top teams. The winner of this game will be one step closer to being called the West Coast’s top team!
The sports world received the news it was waiting for Friday when Lebron James announced he was leaving Miami to return home to Northeast Ohio to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Lebron is an Akron native who had a lifelong dream fulfilled in 2004 when he was drafted number one overall by his hometown Cavaliers. After building a legacy in Cleveland for seven years and continually coming short of winning a championship, a frustrated Lebron took his talents to South Beach where he could team up with All-Stars Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade. The Decision to take his talents to South Beach was a major blow to the struggling Midwest City, not just emotionally but financially. King James who is arguably America’s most polarizing and marketable athlete meant the world to Cleveland natives, from the kids who idolized him to the blue collar sports fans that paid their hard earned money to see him perform. When Lebron shocked Cleveland and left for greener pastures it wasn’t just a blow to a proud city’s ego, but it affected the livelihood of many downtown business owners in an already declining city.
After leaving Cleveland, King James elevated his game to a whole other level and was able to reach four straight Finals while winning two championships. In Miami, success came relatively easy with an all-star cast of teammates around him and a Hall of Fame general manager in Pat Riley. Even with all the winning in South Beach it wasn’t quite the same as the scene in Cleveland during their glory days. The Heat fan base didn’t have the same connection with the team as it did in Cleveland. Heat fans are notorious for leaving important games early in order to grab a table at one of the local night clubs. Even with all the Heat’s success during Lebron’s tenure in Miami, he still opted out of his contract after losing to the San Antonio Spurs in the 2014 Finals. The story took an even crazier turn when he turned down the glitz and glam of Miami to return home to the city he hurt so badly just four years earlier.
This story is much bigger than the sport of Basketball; this is a story of how a city helped raise a man who wants more than anything to give back. In America sports have the unique ability to bring together a community in ways few other activities can. This is especially the case in a sports crazed city like Cleveland, where fans have waited decades for a championship trophy. Lebron James had to check his ego when he decided to return home to Cleveland. The Cavs fan base and management openly cursed him and even burned his jerseys after his decision in 2010. However, with time comes forgiveness by both sides and now a super star is looking to rejuvenate the city that he owes all his successes to. Lebron said it best in his announcement to come back to Cleveland, “Before anyone ever cared where I would play basketball, I was a kid from Northeast Ohio. It’s where I walked. It’s where I ran. It’s where I cried. It’s where I bled. It holds a special place in my heart.”
It’s no surprise Brazil is considered a favorite for the World Cup, and not just because of their home advantage. They are well-organized and have Coach Luis Felipe Scolari who has experienced the World Cup before, after leading the Canarinho triumph in 2002. Full of talented athletes, the Brazil soccer squad works hard in all areas of the pitch and will take their excellent work ethic into the tournament. If you’re rooting for Brazil in the World Cup, customize your own Brazil soccer gear today!
If there is anyone to threaten a home win, it is Brazil’s South American neighbor, Argentina. Lionel Messi is arguably one of the world’s best soccer players and could be a game-changer in the 2014 World Cup. Although the focus of Argentina’s play is likely to surround Messi, players Gonzalo Higuain, Angel Di Maria, Sergio Aguero and Javier Mascherano are expected to help bring Argentina to the final match. Even though Argentina is one of the strongest squads in the tournament, they will need to step up their game to ensure success in the backyard of their fiercest rivals. Represent Argentina with exclusive Argentina soccer gear and designs you won’t find anywhere else!
Spain will attempt to be the first country to win consecutive World Cups since Brazil in 1962. Spain successfully remained undefeated during qualification and did not trail at any stage of any match. Manager Vicente Del Bosque is likely to stick with the players that have carried his team this far, with a sprinkling of new faces. Instrumental players to watch during the 2014 World Cup will be Xavi, Sergio Ramos and Cesc Fabregas. For the biggest collection of customizable Spain soccer fan gear, check out Prep Sportswear’s Spain Store!
Germany is a strong force to reckon with in the 2014 World Cup with at least two great players for every position. Mesut Özil is the central figure in the influx of young stars in German football and will bring Germany his lightning bolt for a left foot. Marco Reus is considered the top German player in the Bundesliga with stats like seven goals and five assists this year. Coach Joachim Löw is considered a tactical genius, but we’ll see how he performs now that the pressure is on. Customize your own Germany soccer gear to support your team and show your pride!