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By Adam C. Warner

SportsPower Editor

 

There are seven championships still left for the taking in the Lone Star State. Will Allen follow through with a title after taking out previous No. 1 Trinity? Can Katy make it back-to-back titles after starting the season 0-2? Find out this weekend in what should be a fantastic conclusion to the year.

 

5A Division I – Dec. 20, 7 p.m. at Reliant Stadium

 

Allen Eagles (14-1) vs. Hightower Hurricanes (13-0): Two unexpected foes meet on Saturday for the state championship. Allen has defeated some elite rivals along the way, including defending state champs Trinity, despite being out-gained in total yardage in two of the last three playoff games, which includes 177 yards in a 23-21 win over Stony Point last week. Allen quarterback Tucker Carter is a dual threat and can run just as well as he can throw. Meanwhile, the Eagles rushing attack –buoyed by a powerful offensive line – might be the team’s strength. RB Jeremiah Williams typically accounts for 200 yards per game and will called upon often this weekend. Meanwhile, Hightower is riding high after a 28-7 semifinal win over Clark. The squad is playing well at the right time and will rely heavily on its dominating defense. The unit is giving up just 11 points per game this season, including just seven points last week to a tough Clark squad. RB London Hamilton is a safe bet to scamper for 100 yards or more for the Hurricanes, while QB A.J. Highsmith is a major weapon and averages almost 250 yards in the air per game. Expect this game to be a seesaw battle between two formidable teams.

 

5A Division II – Dec. 20, 2 p.m. at Reliant Stadium

 

Wylie Pirates (13-2) vs. Katy Tigers (12-3): It’s a battle of metropolitan Houston this weekend at Reliant Stadium. While Katy commenced the season at 0-2, which included a 47-0 loss to the Woodlands, they are now playing its best football of the year. If the Tigers can top a talented Wylie squad, they will earn their second championship in a row. And while Gary Joseph’s team may not be as strong as last season’s 16-0 squad, Katy is still formidable. Running back Vernon Jeffries leads the way for the Tigers in addition to playmaking quarterback Parker Ray. Both players played integral roles in last weekend’s 41-19 dismantling of Smithson Valley. On the other side, Wylie has been a 5A team for just three seasons and hasn’t been to a title game since 1978. But this Pirates team must not be overlooked. Last week, the Pirates came away with five turnovers en route to a 23-7 win over Copperas Cove. Look for RB Nick Knott and the Wylie rushing attack to play a big role in this one. Last week, Knott rushed for 142 of his team’s 267 total rushing yards. If Knott can be highly effective while QB Jerod Monk can get on track, Wylie can certainly earn its first 5A football title.

 

4A Division I – Dec. 20, 2 p.m. at Floyd Casey Stadium

 

Longview Lobos (13-2) vs. Lake Travis Cavaliers (15-0): It’s the clash of an old titan versus a current power in the Class 4A Division I championship at Floyd Casey Stadium this weekend. Longview will be looking for its first state title since 1937 when they hit the gridiron against defending champs Lake Travis. The Lobos won’t fool anyone with their overall offensive strategy. The unit runs the ball 70 percent of the time and does so with great success. RB Tyler McCray (1,674 yards and 26 TDs) heads the attack along with QB Aaron Johnson, who needs 82 more yards to top the 1,000-yard mark for the season. Defensively, the Lobos will be led by all-state DB Lamarcus Howard, who has accounted for more than 100 tackles this season. Meanwhile, Lake Travis has been downright lethal all season long. The Cavaliers average 50 points per game behind standout quarterback Garrett Gilbert, who was recently named the offensive player of the year on the Associated Press Sports Editors Class 4A all-state team. Gilbert threw for more than 3,000 yards and 38 TDs in the regular season and can dissect defenses with the best of them. Behind Gilbert, the Cavaliers crushed a talented Friendswood squad last week, 56-22, and have averaged 61 points in the last three games. Longview’s defense will need its best performance of the season, in addition to producing several turnovers, for the team to come out on top.

 

4A Division II – Dec. 20, 2 p.m. at the Alamodome

Sulphur Springs Wildcats (13-2) vs. Dayton Broncos (13-1): Two high-powered offenses clash on the turf at the Alamodome this weekend. Sulphur Springs enters this pinnacle contest on the heels of a 47-34 win over Everman in the semifinals. The Wildcats’ offense averages 41 points per contest behind RB Ryan Young (140 yards per game) and QB Tyrik Rollison, who averages nearly 300 total yards per game as a passing and running threat. The Wildcats are also on a roll, having defeated three straight undefeated teams to get to the finals. Sulphur Springs will likely need a stronger performance by its defense, which has given up 28 points per game this year. Dayton and its potent offense will likely go right at the Wildcat defense and aim for some long, sustaining drives for scores in order to be successful. QB Cody Green is the catalyst for the Broncos and averages more than 200 yards passing and 110 yards rushing per game. The standout has accounted for 56 touchdowns this year and 4,300 total yards. It’s clear that Green holds the keys towards victory for the Broncos. AJ Dugat is Dayton’s top receiving threat and has 104 catches for 1,617 yards and 18 scores this year. Expect nothing other than a thrilling high-scoring affair this weekend.

 

3A Division II – Dec. 19, 8 p.m. at Texas Stadium

 

Celina Bobcats (13-2) vs. Carthage Bulldogs (13-2): Celina is on the verge of setting an unprecedented record this weekend when they take on an excellent Carthage program. Should the Bobcats prevail on Friday, the squad will earn a state record ninth overall championship. They can also become the second team from District 9-3A to win a state title after Proper won the Division 1 title last week. The Bobcats will likely look to RB Troy McCartney early and often. McCartney had 196 total yards last week and two touchdowns in last week’s 40-12 semifinal win over Liberty Hill. Celina scored touchdowns on all six of its possessions last week, so Carthage will certainly need to force them to punt or come up with some turnovers to win. The Bulldogs will count on RB Dwight Smith to carry the load offensively. The standout rushed 22 times last week for 298 yards and five scores en route to a 41-14 win over Giddings. The Bulldogs feature a rush-oriented attack that features a host of backs, which includes Jarvin Robinson and O’Bryan Washington. This state title berth is the team’s second all-time and first since 1991 and they would want nothing more than Celina to notch an all-time record against them.

 

 

2A Division II – Dec. 20, 3 p.m. at Waco ISD

Cisco Loboes (14-1) vs. Daingerfield Tigers (14-1): This game may just be the most evenly matched up contest of the weekend, so be prepared for a down-to-the-wire finish. Cisco enters after defeating Pottsboro 33-26 last week thanks in part to Cory Pippen’s interception return for a touchdown in the second quarter. Pippen will play a key role in stopping Daingerfield’s high-powered attack. Last week, the standout’s unit forced seven turnovers, three of which resulted in scores. Offensively, Josh Bridges leads the way at QB, while running backs Robert Medina and Vegas Hastings will split time in the backfield. On the other side, Daingerfield hopes to raise a championship trophy into the air and they very well may do so should the squad’s big three find frequent success. QB Tyler Boyd is a two-way threat, WR Juron Smith is a playmaker and is coming off a two-touchdown performance and RB KoKo Smith is a workhorse in the backfield (rushed for 172 yards last week). The team that can come up with defensive stops and some key turnovers will likely come out as victors at the end of the day.

 

1A Division II – Dec. 20, 3 p.m. at Shotwell Stadium

 

Stratford Elks (13-1) vs. Cayuga Wildcats (13-2): It’s a battle between two red-hot teams this weekend at Shotwell Stadium. Stratford is riding high after beating previously undefeated Albany last week, 28-0. The Elks are averaging nearly 40 points per game this year thanks in large part to running back Jessie Lopez. The standout ran 19 times for 124 yards and a score last week to fuel his team’s semifinal victory. The Elks will likely rely heavily on their potent rushing attack, so if Lopez and company can find open holes down the field and move the chains, they could very easily be state champions. Meanwhile, Cayuga is coming off a 42-7 dismantling of Ganado in the semifinals last weekend. Like the Elks, the Wildcats are putting up nearly 40 points per contest and giving up nearly 17 per game defensively. Cayuga running back Traylon Shead is a workhorse and will certainly see a heavy load on Saturday. Last week, Shead rushed for 253 yards and six touchdowns on 31 carries. So far this season, the standout has found pay dirt 51 times. Whichever defense can come up with some big plays and prevent their opponents from reaching the end zone will give their squad a great chance of winning the title.

 

 

 

To contact editor Adam C. Warner, send an e-mail to adam.warner@activenetwork.com.

 

 

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By Ryan Rohde

FootballPower Correspondent

 

Class 6A Championship

 

 

 

Miami Northwestern Bulls (13-1) vs. Seminole Seminoles (12-2), Dec. 20: Northwestern will be trying to make it three straight class 6A titles and fourth overall this weekend. Wayne Times has been Mr. Everything for the Bulls. The senior has spent time at quarterback, wide receiver, running back and punt returner. Being the consummate team player, Times has thrown for 476 yards and four touchdowns, caught 33 balls for 482 yards and five more scores, also has two rushing scores and averages 18 yards per punt return. Meanwhile, Seminole comes in on the heels of a 10-game winning streak after starting the season 2-2. This is the first state finals appearance for the Seminoles in school history. Quarterback Ray Ray Armstrong is the leader of the ‘Noles offense. Armstrong accounted for all three touchdowns, including the game-winner with 44 seconds left in last week's 21-17 win over Boone. Both teams have a chip on their shoulder as they try to stake their claim in history.

 

 

 

Class 5A Championship

 

 

 

St. Thomas Aquinas Raiders (14-0) vs. Lakeland Dreadnaughts (14-0), Dec. 19: In the most anticipated game of the weekend, Florida’s No. 1 and No. 2 meet for the state title. It doesn't get any better than this. Aquinas comes in after passing every test this season with flying colors and is expected to win this game by double digits, but Raider fans know all too well of what Lakeland is capable of. The Dreadnaughts have won six state titles in school history, four of them coming against Aquinas, including three straight from ’04-’06. There is a lot of history between these two programs and they are both led by two of the state's all-time greats. Lakeland coach Bill Castle took over at Lakeland in '79 and now the rest is history. 325 wins into his career, the ‘Naughts have captured 18 district titles, six state championships, and two “national” championships. Lakeland also holds the state record for 53 consecutive wins. This resume was impressive enough to earn Castle the FHSAA Coach of the Century award. Roaming the opposing sideline will be George Smith. Since '75, Smith has compiled a 332-65 overall record. He has taken the Raiders to 12 state title games while winning four. Smith was  also named a Coach of the Century Coaching Staff honoree. If you are a fan of high school football, this game is a can't be missed.

 

 

 

Class 4A Championship

 

 

 

Plant Panthers (13-1) vs. Lincoln Trojans (11-3), Dec. 20: There was a lot of speculation over whether Aaron Murray’s return last week would disrupt the team chemistry after being sidelined with a broken leg for eight weeks. After all, backup QB Phillip Ely has played great and led the Panthers to a win over nationally-ranked and bitter rival Armwood in the region championship. Murray silenced all doubters with a touchdown on his first throw of the game. Murray is touted as the best in Florida, and he will be facing one of the best defensive backfield's in the state this weekend. DB Deandre Byrd leads the team with six interceptions and DB Jawanza Starling has 86 tackles. The Trojan offense has been the difference maker though. By switching from the spread offense to the I-formation, Lincoln has posted gaudy rushing numbers with more emphasis on running the option. Javaris Allen, Tony Moore and Ryan White have combined for 2,334 yards and 27 touchdowns. There's a lot of talent on the field and this game shouldn’t disappoint.

 

 

 

Class 3A Championship

 

 

 

Cocoa Tigers (13-1) vs. Godby Cougars (12-2), Dec. 19: The Tigers were just one play away from making this game a year ago, and they have picked up right where they left off. RB Chevelle Buie is one of the more underrated backs in the state. He has rushed for almost 1,700 yards and 16 touchdowns while QB Matt Younger is a dynamic dual threat. While Cocoa dominates the ground, Godby dominates the air. QB A.J. Graham has posted 3,632 yards and 37 touchdowns this season. All the while, Florida St. commit WR Willie Downs has been his favorite target, hauling in 61 passes for 952 yards and 13 touchdowns. Kessey Graham and Chris St. Hilaire

have really stepped up as the second and third receivers as well. A pair of great offenses will be on display this weekend, so look for the scoreboard to light up.

 

 

 

To contact correspondent Ryan Rohde, send an e-mail to ryan.rohde@activenetwork.com.

 

 

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By Brett Manney

FootballPower Correspondent

 

The state of California typically produces some of the nation’s best high school football teams and this weekend will be the ultimate showcase for many of them. The California Interscholastic Federation championship features ten teams battling for state championships, with each matchup pitting a northern team against a southern one as determined by the CIF. With future NFL players and Hall of Fame coaches on the field, the games slated for this weekend will certainly be entertaining. The summer of 2009 is months away, but memories can be etched forever at the Home Depot Center in Carson this weekend.

 

Division I

De La Salle Spartans (12-1) vs. Centennial Huskies (14-0), Dec. 19: This rematch of last year’s Division I bowl pins two powerhouses for supremacy in the state. De La Salle won 37-31 last year in which they saw a huge lead disappear in the fourth quarter. Spartans head coach Bob Ladouceur could become the state’s winningest coach with a victory. He tied the record last week with his 344th win when the Spartans defeated Pittsburg, 34-10, in the North Coast Section championship game. QB Blake Wayne heads the Spartans and has compiled 1,520 passing yards, 619 yards rushing and 29 total touchdowns. He hands the ball off to RB Kylan Butler, who has 1,286 yards rushing with 15 touchdowns and is extremely tough to bring down. The Huskies have been waiting a year for a rematch with the Spartans. With an undefeated record and a year of waiting, the Huskies are prepared to win this time. UCLA recruit WR Ricky Maryray is their top playmaker. The athletic receiver has 65 catches for 1,135 yards and 13 touchdowns. This big-time matchup will surely have everyone in California watching as two powerhouses collide.

 

Division II

St. Marys Rams (10-2) vs. Cathedral Catholic Dons (13-0), Dec. 20: Fireworks will most likely be on display in the Division II championship game. Cathedral Catholic has the unblemished mark and will represent San Diego Section Division III. The Dons rely heavily on RB Tyler Gaffney, who has been the focus of the offense all season. With great speed and elusive moves, Gaffney set section records for points scored (306) and touchdowns (51) this season. Meanwhile, the Rams are looking for some recognition after becoming the first Stockton area team to compete for a state bowl game. The Rams captured the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 1 championship with a 36-14 victory over Pleasant Grove. Oregon State recruit QB Cody Vaz has a rocket arm and passed for 244 yards to captain the Rams last week. This game will decide who goes home with a championship trophy or eight months of agony.

 

Division III

Cardinal Newman Cardinals (13-0) vs. St. Bonaventure Seraphs (13-1), Dec. 20: This is a much-anticipated matchup of one high-powered offense against an athletic defense that’s one of the state’s best. Cardinal Newman, the North Coast Section champions, are averaging over 40 points a game. The team’s talented offense averages 426 yards a game and is led by QB Randy Wright, who has completed 71 percent of his passes for 2,266 yards and 29 touchdowns. In the backfield, RB Jeff Badger has rushed for 1,342 yards and 13 touchdowns but will not find many holes in the Seraph defense. The Seraphs have only one loss this season and that was to national power Long Beach Poly. The fundamental Seraphs captured their tenth section title last week and eighth in the past ten years. The squad’s stellar defense has allowed only 79 points in their last nine games and 22 in its three playoff games. Cardinal Newman looks to take down the imposing Seraphs in this great matchup of contrasting styles of football.

 

Open Division

Grant Pacers (13-0) vs. Long Beach Poly Jackrabbits (14-0), Dec. 20: The Open Division championship is between two undefeated thoroughbreds competing to be king of California. Grant, the surprise pick from California, has been punishing opponents all season, but Poly is no slouch by any means. Grant is the first school from the Sacramento area to play for a state football championship. Under head coach Mike Alberghini, Grant has been a powerhouse in the Sacramento area by winning 15 league championships and six section championships. This year they have defeated state champions from both Idaho and Utah and are led by stud RB Devontae Butler. With explosive moves and speed, Butler has 1,850 yards rushing and 36 touchdowns. Butler will look for any holes that he can find, however small they may be, due to the dominance of the Poly defense. The Jackrabbit defense is considered one of the best in the state because of their ferocious and fast defenders. With multiple Div. I recruits, LB Iuta Tepa stands out for the Jackrabbits and leads the team in tackles (149) and sacks (14). The high-powered offense features a dynamic one-two running attack. RB Melvin Richardson has been the savior in many games and has rushed for 1,439 yards with 23 touchdowns.  RB Daveon Barner has 1,131 yards rushing with seven touchdowns to complement Richardson well. Grant can become a household name with a win, but the road to the state championship runs through powerful Poly.

 

Small School Division

Hamilton Union Braves (10-2) vs. St. Margarets Titans (14-0), Dec. 19: Two schools representing opposite sides of California will clash in Los Angeles for supremacy. St. Margaret’s represents the Southern Section Northeast Division. Lead by head coach Harry Welch, the Tartans are riding the coattails of a 42-game winning streak, which is the longest active streak in the state and currently the fifth-longest in the country. The squad has flat-out destroyed their opponents this season, outscoring them 683 to 62 altogether. The Braves repeated as the Northern Section Division III champions last week to advance to the small school state football championship. The Braves are a tough and physical team with just two losses on their resume. Much like the Tartans, the Braves outscored their opponents by a great margin, 375 to 95.  One small team can bring home a big-time trophy and end their season as a state champion.    

 

 

 

 

 

To contact correspondent Brett Manney, send an e-mail to brett.manney@activenetwork.com. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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By Adam C. Warner and Jimmy Oliver

SportsPower Correspondents

 

Class 5A – Div. 1 Semifinals

Allen Eagles (13-1) vs. Stony Point Tigers (13-1) Tigers, Dec. 13: All eyes are on Allen this week after the squad beat state and national power Trinity, 34-21, to advance to the Div. 1 semifinals. Buoyed by quarterback Tucker Carter and Jeremiah Williams, Allen’s offensive attack is potent through the air and on the ground. Allen is back in the semifinals after falling to state power Southlake Caroll in ’03 and ’06. Meanwhile, Stony Point enters on the heels of an 11-game winning streak and has been dominating opponents in the playoffs by outscoring them 128-34. Stony Point is very sound defensively with linebacker P.L. Lindley and safety Kevin White heading the group. Offensively, watch for RB Glasco Martin, RB Stephen Williams and QB Nyk McKissic to be major factors in the contest.

 

Hightower Hurricanes (12-0) vs. Clark Cougars (13-1), Dec. 13: Two teams that love to run the ball will meet on the gridiron on Saturday for the chance to land a championship berth. Hightower is coming off a 38-21 win over Pearland and can set a school mark for most victories in a season with a win this weekend. The Hurricanes are led by standout QB A.J. Highsmith, who is a dual threat whenever he has the ball. Meanwhile, Clark features one of the top rushing units in the state and will try to control the clock. The Cougars average over 300 yards per game on the ground and will be carried by RB Jock Tilghman, who has over 2,200 yards so far this season.

 

Class 5A – Div. II Semifinals

Wylie Pirates (12-2) vs. Copperas Cove (13-1), Dec. 13: Two offensive juggernauts battle for a spot in the championship at Waco ISD Stadium on Saturday. Headed by dynamic back Nick Knott (15 rushes for 159 yards last week vs. Cedar Hill) and QB Jerod Monk, who can torch defenses with his strong and accurate arm, Wylie has been hard to contain all season long. Knott can also pound for short yardage or break open big gains. On the other side, Copperas Cove will likely rely on running back William Wright to control the pace of the game. Wright has tallied 430 yards and five scores in just his last two games. While Copperas Cove has been to the last 4A title games, Wylie went just 5-6 last year and has experienced an unprecedented turnaround. This one shapes up to be a classic.

 

Katy Tigers (11-3) vs. Smithson Valley Rangers (13-1), Dec. 13: Saturday’s semifinal will be a showdown of storied programs. After a rough 0-2 start to the season, Katy is back on track and playing its best football of the season. Including a 42-0 win over La Porte last week, the Tigers have allowed just 24 points in four postseason games. Katy will be going for its fourth state title within the last decade while Smithson Valley hopes to earn its first, despite winning five Region 4 titles. The Katy rush defense has been excellent and will need a top-notch performance against RB Robbie Mecke to prevail. Katy RB Michael Webb will be key as well. The standout has rushed for more than 100 yards in all four postseason victories.

 

Class 4A – Division I Semifinals

Guyer Wildcats (12-2) vs. Longview Lobos (12-2), Dec. 13: Two high-scoring squads meet in the semifinals after squeaking out quarterfinal shootout wins. Guyer will likely depend on RB Jaimaine Wilhite and QB J.W. Walsh to carry the load on offense. Guy averages just over 410 yards per game, including 285 on the ground. Meanwhile, Longview is headed by the offensive duo of RB Tyler McCray and QB Aaron Johnson. Both teams average nearly identical rushing stats, so the defense that can come up with stops and some turnovers will likely propel its team to victory.

 

Friendswood Mustangs (11-1) vs. Lake Travis Cavaliers (14-0), Dec. 13: While Friendswood squeaked into the semifinal, Lake Travis is hitting on all cylinders. Friendswood beat Central, 20-19, last week while Lake Travis trounced Kileen, 71-9. The Cavaliers have won 28 straight games behind star QB Garrett Gilbert, who threw for four TDs last week in the 62-point win. Friendswood QB Jacob Karam is a standout too, and has over 3,000 yards and 37 TDs on the year. Friendswood WR Andre Gautreaux is a stud and has tallied 1,165 yards and 17 TDs. The Friendswood defense is a cause for concern as the unit has allowed 27.6 ppg in the regular season. It could be a long day if they can’t shut down Lake Travis' potent offensive attack.

 

Class 4A – Division II Semifinals

Everman Bulldogs (14-0) vs. Sulphur Springs Wildcats (12-2), Dec. 13: With a potent rushing attack, the Bulldogs will look to take a bite out of the Wildcats’ defense this weekend. WR Chris Franklin is a standout offensively as well, while DB Cory Franklin, LB Lee Langston and teammate Devin Woods are physical and can fly to the ball. The Wildcats rely heavily on do-it-all QB Tyrik Rollison. The standout accounted for seven touchdowns last week and had 387 yards passing. And with speedster RB Ryan Young making defenders miss left and right, Sulphur Springs will be hard-pressed to miss out on a championship berth. 

 

Dayton Broncos (12-1) vs. Tivy Antlers (12-2), Dec. 13: Dayton QB Cody Green is a standout as a dual threat. Green had 259 yards rushing and two scores plus 71 yards passing and two more touchdowns last week in a 42-21 win over Brenham. The signal-caller will be called on once again to have a repeat performance. All the while, Tivy QB Colton Palmer is very similar to his rival. Last week, Palmer threw for 250 yards and three scores to lead his side to a 45-14 win over Hendrickson. Despite giving up 30 points per game in the regular season, the Tivy defense has held playoff opponents to just 13 points per outing. They will certainly need another strong postseason showing to survive against a formidable Dayton team.

 

Class 3A - Division II Semifinals

Liberty Hill Panthers (14-0) vs. Celina Bobcats (11-3), Dec. 13: Liberty Hill is coming off a convincing 48-27 win over Bridgeport, while Celina is fresh off a huge 55-13 win over Kaufman.  The key to this game will be which team can put together a consistent, time-consuming rushing attack as both teams run the ball well. The Panthers are riding the coattails of a 38-game winning streak and Celina would love to put an end to that streak. This is also a rematch of the ’06 3A Division II title game, which saw the Panthers take home the title. .

 

Carthage Bulldogs (12-2) vs. Giddings Buffaloes (11-3), Dec. 13: This game comes down to offense vs. defense.  Despite a banged up Dwight Smith at running back, Cathage features a dynamic offense that frequently racks up first downs. Smith has rushed for over 2,000 yards and 33 touchdowns so far this season. Meanwhile, Giddings can come away as victors with another top-notch defensive performance. The Buffaloes have have forced five turnovers in the playoffs so far and will need to come away with some more this week to reach the finals. 

 

Class 3A - Division I Semifinals

Prosper Eagles (13-1) vs. La Vega Pirates (12-2): If Prosper can stop La Vega RB Chris Parr from having a big day, they will be favored to come away as victors this weekend.  Parr, after sitting out the entire regular season, is fresh and looking to make an impact.  In his first two playoff games, the standout back has rushed for six touchdowns. Another key area will be to see if La Vega can stop the two-headed rushing attack of Bryan Monroe and Hunter Nix. This has the makings to be a grind it out battle and it will be interesting to see who will be left standing at the end.

 

Class 2A - Division II Semifinals

Daingerfield Tigers (13-1) vs. Blanco Panthers (14-0): This matchup is all about two defensive juggernauts going head-to-head.  Daingerfield has three shutouts this season and hasn't allowed more than 18 points since Sept. 26. Meanwhile, Blanco has five shutouts to its name and hasn't allowed more than 21 points to a team all season. With the game being played in Texas Stadium, think the kids are going to be pumped for this one?

 

Class 2A - Division I Semifinals

Muleshoe Mules (14-0) vs. Kirbyville Wildcats (13-0): Muleshoe has a tough and strong defense as evidenced by the team giving up just 27 in the last three playoff games.  Kirbyville coach Jack Alvarez recently told the Beaumont Enterprise that, “[Muleshoe] has some of the best tacklers I’ve seen all year”.  That's saying a lot, seeing that the Wildcats have played some tough teams like Arp and Newton. Muleshoe is led by QB Wes Wood, who has thrown for 61 touchdowns this year.  On the other side, the Wildcats can grind it out with their strong running game to eat up the clock and move the chains.  This is going to be another great Texas showdown.

 

To contact editor Adam C. Warner, send an e-mail to adam.warner@activenetwork.com.

 

 

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By Adam C. Warner

SportsPower Editor

 

PIAA Class AAAA Championship

Bethlehem Liberty Hurricanes (14-1) vs. Bethel Park Black Hawks (15-0), Dec. 13 at Hersheypark Stadium: It’s a battle of dominant teams looking for their first ever PIAA state title. Liberty is no stranger to success as they are now making a third finals appearance in the last four years. Liberty loves to run the football, so expect plenty of carries from Brendan Brader, Anthony Gonzales and Daryl Klotz. The unit averages over 250 yards per game. Brader has racked up 1,885 yards and 23 scores, while Gonzales has 1,500 yards and 21 touchdowns on the season, so Bethel Park will have more than one standout to contend with. Meanwhile, WPIAL champ Bethel Park is playing in its first PIAA title game in school history. The squad is dynamic on both sides of the ball and will be led by QB Erik Olson (1,800 yards passing and 21 touchdowns), RB Lyle Marsh (1,300 yards rushing and 20 scores) and all-state wideout John Schademan (51 rec. 1100 yards, 15 TDs). Bethel Park features a very balanced offense that can hit you both ways. This one shapes up to go down to the wire as two even teams square off for the championship.

 

PIAA Class AAA Championship

Archbishop Wood Vikings (12-2) vs. Thomas Jefferson Jaguars (14-1), Dec. 12 at Hersheypark Stadium: It’s a battle of a newcomer against a seasoned squad in the Class AAA title game. This season, the Vikings set a school record for victories with 12 and hope to cap off the season with 13 and a championship. By leaning on its strong rushing attack, Wood averages 320 total yards per game, with 225 coming behind the trio of Sean Cunningham, Sean McCartney and Nick Devine. Cunningham has racked up nearly 1,750 yards plus 26 scores this year on the ground, while McCartney has 12 touchdowns on the year at QB with 1,300 yards passing (and almost an 80 percent completion rate, too). Wood’s defense, led by Scott Atkins, has been lethal, and has allowed just 8.5 ppg. On the other hand, Thomas Jefferson has been in the last six WPIAL title games and has won the last three. On Friday, they will be going for their third PIAA championship. Jefferson is a multi-dimensional team that can run and throw with great success. The unit is headed by standout RB Brian Baldrige, who has nearly 2,200 yards on the ground and 34 touchdowns. QB Tyler Wehner is another weapon and has rushed for 670 yards and 10 scores while passing for 2,500 yards and 30 touchdowns altogther. WR Dan Virgin is another go-to guy and has just over 1,000 yards and 12 scores. Will TJ continue its postseason reign or will the new kid on the block crash the party?

 

PIAA Class AA Championship

West Catholic Burrs (14-1) vs. Wilmington Greyhounds (14-1), Dec. 13 at Hersheypark Stadium: Two unlikely participants will be battling for the state championship on Saturday in Hershey. West Catholic, a squad new to the PIAA this season, has one of the top offenses in the state and averages 50 points per game. As the highest-scoring Philadelphia Catholic League offense of all-time, West Catholic loves to run the ball and on average, rack up nearly 370 yards per game, including 82 rushing scores. Rob Hollomon (1,800 yards rushing and a PCL record of 41 scores) leads the way for West, while Raymond Maples (1,130 yards, 16 touchdowns) and QB Curtis Drake (1,500 yards rushing, 1,300 passing and 36 total touchdowns) also are impact players. Meanwhile, Wilmington is playing in the PIAA title game for first time since 1988. The squad is coming off an upset win over 13-time WPIAL champ Aliquippa and will hope for the momentum to continue. Wilmington runs a Wing-T offense and relies heavily on its ground attack behind Derrick Burns (1,500 yards and 20 scores) and Sutton Whiting (830 yards and 12 touchdowns). QB Shane Wagner (1,400 yards and 21 touchdowns vs. 2 INTs) should also play a major factor in this one, which shapes up to be a great matchup.

 

PIAA Class A Championship

Steelton-Highspire Steamrollers (15-0) vs. Clairton Bears (15-0), Dec. 12 at Hersheypark Stadium: It’s a battle of unbeaten teams on Friday night as two dominant squads go head-to-head. Steel-High is currently riding a 24-game winning streak, which is best in the state right now, and will be going for back-to-back state titles. Led by standout running back Jeremiah Young, the Steamrollers' offense averages 35 points per game. Young is the Keystone State’s all-time leading rusher and this season he has racked up 2,730 yards and 30 touchdowns, making it the third straight year he has gone over the 2,000-yard rushing mark. QB Andre Campbell is a dual threat and has over 500 rush yards and nearly 1,000 passing yards and will likely be a force for the Rollers. All the while, Clairton is making its first state finals appearance in school history thanks to a defense that has been downright lethal. The unit has held 14 of 15 opponents to seven points or less, and overall, allow just 3.8 points per game. Additionally, the Bears have shut out eight opponents this year and have allowed just 57 points all season. The Clairton offense is strong as well and average nearly 40 points per game. The group is headed by RB Deontae Howard (1650 yards and 24 TDs) and QB Troy Webb, who is filling in for injured QB Andrew Currington. WR Kevin Weatherspoon is a big-time threat and has 54 rec. for 1,500 yards and 25 scores this year.

 

 

 

 

 

To contact editor Adam C. Warner, send an e-mail to adam.warner@activenetwork.com.

 

 

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By Ryan Rohde

SportsPower Correspondent

 

Champions will be crowned in Georiga, Florida and North Carolina this week. From Bolles to Pine Forest and to Camden County,  newcomers and perennial powers alike will be featured throughout the region this weekend. 

 

Florida

Class 6A Semifinals

Miami Northwestern Bulls (12-1) vs. Miramar Patriots (11-2), Dec. 12: Miramar has had its share of close games the past three weeks. The Patriots have ended the seasons for Carol City, Cypress Bay, and Deerfield Beach by a combined 11 points. QB Eugene Smith has been responsible for the fourth quarter magic that has the Patriots in the semifinals. Meanwhile, Northwestern is closing in on its third straight 6A title. The Bulls have been impressive this postseason by beating Columbus, Central and Killian. RB Daquan Hargrett has been impressive as usual and the Bulls defense held Killian to just 15 points last week. Miramar is going to need some more fourth quarter magic to take down the Northwestern this weekend. 

 

Class 5A Semifinals

Lakeland Dreadnaughts (13-0) vs. Pine Forest Eagles (12-0), Dec. 12: Lakeland is one of the most successful programs in the nation, let alone the state. The ‘Naughts have won six state titles and two national titles as well. Last week, Lakeland used a myriad of running backs to post over 300 total rushing yards and four rushing scores. Meanwhile, the defense controlled the line of scrimmage and held an explosive Chamberlain team scoreless until 3:30 left in the third. Pine Forest has exceeded expectations after a 6-5 season a year ago. The offensive is potent with 21 points being its lowest output all season. The Eagles look to make a little history of their own as they try to continue their dream season.

 

Class 4A Semifinals

Plant Panthers (12-1) vs. Dwyer Panthers (12-1), Dec. 12: Plant has been just fine without star QB Aaron Murray. The Panthers took down top-seeded and Tampa area rival Armwood last weekend, 17-14. The Plant defense may be tops in the state. The unit has allowed just 28 points this postseason and has held strong while backup QB Philip Ely has thrown for 2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns since Murray went down midseason. Dwyer features Palm Beach County player of the year Matt Elam. Elam has been ferocious on both sides of the ball. He has posted over 1,000 total yards as a receiver and running back and posted 82 tackles as a linebacker and defensive back. The Panthers will rely heavily on Elam if they want to take out Plant.

 

Class 2A Championship

Bolles Bulldogs (13-0) vs. Gulliver Prep (11-1), Dec. 13: The Bulldogs are going after their ninth title in school history this weekend. Last week, Bolles stunned nationally ranked Madison County, 21-7. Junior RB Jawan Jamison rushed for 193 yards and two touchdowns in last week's semifinals. The defense did their part by keeping Madison County RB Chris Thompson in check while Jamison controlled the clock. Meanwhile, Gulliver Prep's offense has been explosive all year. QB Michael Strauss has completed over 73 percent of his passes and has thrown for 3,024 yards and 32 scores. RB Darian Mallary might be the most underrated back in the Miami area. The 5-7, 180 lbs. senior has put up over 1,600 yards and 14 touchdowns. Look for this one to go back and forth in a close battle. 

 

Class 2B Championship

Trinity Catholic Celtics (12-1) vs. Pahokee Blue Devils (11-2), Dec. 13: Pahokee has long been the class of 2B. The Blue Devils have won the past two championships and three of the last four. Two of those games were played between these same two teams with Trinity winning the title in ’05 and Pahokee exacting revenge the next year. RB Vincent Smith has been solid all year and contributed 184 yards in last week's 30-0 win over Frostproof. The battle to watch will be Trinity’s offensive line against Pahokee’s massive defensive line. The Celtic front five has allowed just four sacks all season while opening holes for the ground game, which is averaging 7.2 yards a carry. The big guys up front have the task of controlling a Pahokee squad that allowed just 14 points all postseason long. This game will be won in the trenches.

 

Georgia

Class AAAAA Championship

Peachtree Ridge Lions (12-2) vs. Camden County Wildcats (14-0), Dec. 13: Peachtree Ridge has returned to its second title game in three years. The last showing for the Lions ended with a co-championship when the game ended in a 14-14 tie to Roswell. This year’s version has relied on great defense. LSU commit LB Kevin Minter leads a defense that has posted two shutouts in the playoffs. Camden County has dominated opponents all season long and last week's semifinal was no different. The Wildcats outgained Newnan 122-19 in the first half and led 20-0 after the first quarter. QB Christian Milstead leads an offense that averages 44 points a contest. This game is set up for a grudge match of one great offense vs. one great defense.

 

Class AAAA Championship

Tucker Tigers (13-1) vs. Marist War Eagles (13-1), Dec. 12: Tucker will need to avenge its only loss of the season if it wants to win its first-ever state title. The Tigers fell to Marist, 38-0, on Sept. 26. Tiger RB Drayton Calhoun has tremendous speed and committed to LSU. Linebacker Jonathan Davis is a big-time prospect and has great sideline to sideline speed. Marist, meanwhile, has shown they can win with defense. The War Eagles won a very physical game over Rome, 19-17,  to reach the championship. The Marist defense held Rome’s P.J. Green to just 33 yards rushing. These teams know each other all to well and don’t expect the same result as the regular season matchup.

 

Class AAA Championship

Cairo Syrupmakers (14-0) vs. Flowery Branch Falcons (12-2), Dec. 13: Cairo exacted a matter of revenge last week to reach the title game for the second consecutive year. The Syrupmakers defeated defending champs Carver-Columbus, 42-13, in a rematch of last season's title match. QB Angelo Pease threw two touchdowns and ran for two more. Cairo showed why they have been on top of the rankings all season long. Flowery Beach, meanwhile, has had quite a different road. The program commenced in '02 and had to win all of this year’s playoff games on the road, including last week's 28-0 win over LaGrange. The unranked Falcons are led by Georgia Tech commit FB Daniel Drummond, who ran for 248 yards on 22 carries in the semis. Drummond has not garnered the respect he deserved until his performance in the playoffs. That could change on Saturday.

 

Class AA Championship

Calhoun Yellow Jackets (12-2) vs. Buford Wolves (14-0), Dec. 12: Buford has been crushing teams all season on its way to a second consecutive title game. The Wolves have a chance to capture their fifth title this decade. Buford has also been making history and has had an easy time doing so. They are only the sixth GHSA team to reach 10 state championship games and could tie a state record for most wins in a decade. Meanwhile, Calhoun needed a goalline stand to preserve a win over Brooks County in a 38-35 win. The Yellow Jacket defense stopped Brooks County a half-yard short as time elapsed to secure a spot in the title game. QB Michael Johnson accounted for four touchdowns, including the game-winning one-yard run with 4:11 to play. Calhoun will need some more heroics if they plan on beating Buford.

 

Class A Championship

Wesleyan Wolves (12-2) vs. Emanuel County Institute Bulldogs (14-0), Dec. 13: ECI comes in as defending champs with a 29-game winning streak on the line. ECI running back Washaun Ealey is one of the most heralded in state history. The future Georgia Bulldog has rushed for nearly 8,000 yards in his career and has broken the state record for single season and career touchdowns. Wesleyan is making its first-ever trip to the finals. QB Conor Welton threw three touchdown passes in last week;s win over Lincoln County. The upstart Wolves have a big chance to make history in the Georgia Dome this weekend.

 

North Carolina

Class 4AA Championship

Jack Britt Buccaneers (13-1) vs. Richmond Raiders (11-3), Dec. 14: Richmond ended Independence’s streak of nine straight championship games with a 30-22 win last week. QB Tedarrius Wiley threw three touchdowns as the defense limited the high-scoring Independence team to just 14 points through three and half quarters. Richmond is playing in its first title game since '98. Britt will look to avenge its only loss of the year to Richmond on Sept. 27th. The Bucs can put up big numbers on offense, especially with offensive lineman Xavier Nixon opening holes for NC State commit QB Everett Proctor. The two conference rivals know each other well so expect a tight game.

 

 

 

 

 

To contact correspondent Ryan Rohde, send an e-mail to ryan.rohde@activenetwork.com.

 

 

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By Brett Manney

SportsPower Correspondent

 

Arizona

 

Class 5A-Division I Championship

Hamilton Huskies (12-1) vs. Brophy Prep Broncos (10-3): The case for the state champion pits frontrunner Hamilton against the surprising and defending state champion Brophy Prep. The two teams met on Sept. 5, with Hamilton winning 10-0. The stakes are higher now and both teams are much improved. The Broncos' stout defense has given up only 33 points this postseason and are led by a strong defensive line. The squad hasn't lost in their last nine games and star RB Max Leonesio is closing in at 2,000 yards rushing. Hamilton has been a favorite to win the state title all season. After shutting out their first two opponents in the postseason, the Huskies allowed 28 points to Red Mountain. The Huskies rely on the arm of QB Zakary Hambsch, who has thrown for 2,169 yards and 17 touchdowns en route to the title game. Emotions will be high for this rematch game that will decide who's best in the state of Arizona.

 

Class 5A-Division II

Centennial Coyotes (13-0) vs. Westview Knights (12-1): It isn't déjà vu but these two teams collide again for the 5A Division II state championship. As the defending state champion, Centennial has been a powerhouse all season and looks to finish what they started, while high-powered Westview looks to stop the Coyotes' thunder. The Coyotes haven't scored less than 35 points this postseason and have an average margin of victory of more than four touchdowns. Centennial hoeps to repeat as champs and by implementing its run-happy offense featuring the Hughes brothers, John and Anthony. The duo combine for over 180 yards rushing a game. Meanwhile, a state title berth a year ago was simply not good enough for the Knights. Westview's last two losses have been at the hands of the Coyotes and will try to play its best game this weekend. WR Carlton Williams has 115 receptions and over 1,000 yards receiving to lead the Knights. He is the leader of a talented receiving core looking to break free from Coyote defenders.

 

 

 

 

California

 

Southern Section   

Northwest Division Championship

Oaks Christian Lions (13-0) vs. Serra Cavaliers (13-0): The Lions are looking for their sixth consecutive section title against a highly talented Cavaliers team. The Lions have been dominant on both sides of the ball. QB Nick Montana has thrown for 30 touchdowns and the Lions defense has allowed just 76 points all year. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers look to slay the Lions using their great team speed. QB Ted Landers has great accuracy and likes to find his favorite target WR Robert Woods early and often. Also, the Cavaliers have a stellar RB in Carl Winston, who has 21 touchdowns and averages 120 yards per game rushing. If there is one team that could take the powerful Lions, it could be the Cavaliers in this must-win game for both squads.

 

Southern Division Championship

Tesoro Titans (13-0) vs. Long Beach Poly Jackrabbits (13-0): The Titans have exceeded all expectations this season and have put themselves on the map. The Titans won their first Pac-5 division games ever this year and a win this weekend would be the team’s first southern division championship. The Titans have arguably the best player in the section in electrifying WR Preston King. QB Robbie Picazo has been scorching secondaries all season with over 2,600 yards passing and 32 touchdowns. The Titans will have their hands full with the best defense they have seen all year. The Jackrabbits are fast at every position and have only allowed 8.3 points per game. On offense, running backs Daveon Barner and Melvin Richardson each have over 1,000 yards rushing and form a formidable one-two punch. With perfect records and seasons on the line, each team is sure to bring their A-game this weekend.

 

Central Division Championship

Upland Scots (11-2) vs. Rancho Cucamonga Cougars (12-0-1): These two league rivals will be fighting for a coveted Central Division title after battling just a few weeks ago. Rancho defeated Upland in a defensive struggle, 13-2, and so you know that tensions will be high. Upland is led by their stud RB Davion Fleming, a Northwestern recruit, who had 140 yards and three touchdowns last week against Los Oslos and has been a constant contributor all season.  The Cougars look to stay undefeated behind QB Greg Watson. The QB is a dual threat to throw and run for the Cougars. The division championship should be a fierce and heated battle as each team looks to be crowned as Central Division champion.

 

Los Angeles City Championship

Narbonne Gauchos (12-1) vs. San Pedro Pirates (12-1): The Los Angeles City championship features two tough football teams vying for bragging rights in the “City of Angels.” The Gauchos barely got by Crenshaw last week, 25-24, and now face a tough San Pedro squad. QB Josh Moten combined with WR Bryon Moore provide highlights every game and also nightmares for opposing defenses. The Pirates will be looking for revenge as the Gauchos gave them their only loss back on Oct. 24, by a count of 27-24. RB Joseph Deguchi has been a workhorse and averages 98 yards rushing per game. He will look to keep the Pirates grounded and on track for the championship. The last time these two teams met, the contest came down to the wire. And with the city title on the line, this game should be no different.

 

Inland Division Championship

Corona Centennial Huskies (13-0) vs. Chaparral Pumas (12-1): There is plenty of recent history between these two teams and tensions are mounting. The Huskies' closest game of the season was against Chaparral, a contest they lost 29-16 to open up the season. The Husky defense plays with a lot of emotion and have one of the nation's most feared players in LB Vontaze Burfict. The USC recruit creates havoc all over the field. Meanwhile, Chaparral relies on the long runs from RB Jonathan Diaz, who has compiled over 1,900 yards rushing. Thes two teams will fight to the finish to save their season and live another day.

 

Northern

St. Bonaventure Seraphs (13-1) vs. Moorpark Musketeers (13-1): St. Bonaventure is the defending Northern Division champs and they will be looking to repeat against Moorpark this weekend. The Seraphs' defense has been stellar all year and is led by USC recruit DB Patrick Hall and stud linebacker Dylan Davis. Much like the Seraphs, Moorpark has a great defensive line that applies pressure to the quarterback and stuffs running lanes. The Seraphs will have to focus on shutting down Musketeers WR Tim Vizzi, who has 62 receptions and over 900 yards receiving. The Musketeers have been overlooked all year and this weekend could be their time to shine against the powerful Seraphs.

 

Western

Mira Costa Mustangs (10-3) vs. Quartz Hill Rebels (12-1): The Western Division championship will feature plenty of running as each squad likes to keep the ball grounded. The Mustangs have played many close games and value the time of possession when they have the ball on offense. Mustangs RB Chris Loatman has over 1,000 yards rushing with 10 touchdowns and is the center of the offense.  The Rebels, much like the Mustangs, look to run the ball often. The two-headed attack of Kyle Brookes and Deslonde Brown look to keep the Rebels' nine-game winning streak alive.

 

Southeast

Charter Oak Chargers (12-0-1) vs. Diamond Ranch Panthers (7-6): This title game will be the second time these two teams have met with Charter Oak winning back on Oct. 17. After starting the season 1-6, the Panthers have won their last seven games. During their win streak, they squad has allowed just 6.6 points led by DB and UCLA recruit Brandon Sermons. Charter Oak comes in with an offense that can rack up points. Explosive RB Adam Muema averages 141 yards on the ground per game and has 26 touchdowns. This weekend will showcase a high-powered offense against a formable defense and the contest should bring contrasting styles to the forefront in the championship game.

 

North Coast Section

Division 1

De La Salle Spartans (11-1) vs. Pittsburg Pirates (11-1): De La Salle has been king of the North Coast Section and Pittsburg hopes to take that crown from the Spartans this weekend. The Spartans have won the section 19 out of the last 20 years, but the ironic part is that Pittsburg was the last team to defeat them in '91. QB Blake Wayne has been steady for the Spartans both running and passing on offense. Athletic RB Bryce Flowers leads the Pirates with 1,021 yards rushing. He is just one of a slew of backs that can punish opposing defenses. LB Emeka Williams has lived up to the hype and constantly is around the ball. He averages over 11 tackles per game and will look to stop the running attack of the Spartans. Both squads have plenty of talent, but this game comes down to execution and determination.

 

 

 

 

To contact correspondent Brett Manney, send an e-mail to brett.manney@activenetwork.com.

 

 

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By Adam C. Warner

SportsPower Editor

 

 

Champions will be crowned this weekend in Maryland and New Jersey as the football season finally comes to its pinnacle. In Maryland, Linganore and Sherwood meet in a battle of unbeatens, while in New Jersey, two of the region's most storied programs meet on the gridiron when Don Bosco battles Bergen Catholic. SportsPower editor Adam C. Warner breaks down all of the championship action. 

 

 

 

Maryland

 

 

 

Class 3A

Westlake Wolverines (11-2) vs. Wilde Lake Wildecats (12-1), Dec. 4: Westlake stormed through the regular season and are now playing its best football of the year after quality wins over Friendly and 12-time state champ Seneca Valley. Expect Westlake to hand the ball off early and often to Devon Smith. If Wilde Lake can contain him, expect them to be victorious. Wilde Lake will counter with running back Jarrel Epps and quarterback Danny March, two standouts that can take over a game at any given moment.

 

Class 4A

Linganore Lancers (13-0) vs. Sherwood Warriors (13-0), Dec. 5: Sherwood can notch its third state title this weekend if they can get past a surging Linganore team. The Warriors are coming off two impressive wins, first a 31-10 victory against Quince Orchard on Nov. 21 and then a 45-8 defeat of Wise in the semifinals. However, Linganore could be Sherwood’s toughest opponent all season. The Lancers trounced Arundel last week, 59-34, behind a potent offense that racked up five rushing touchdowns. Running back Pat Balderson is the featured back for Linganore and can put up 200-300 yards on any given day.

 

Class 1 A

Fort Hill Sentinels (11-1) vs. Dunbar Poets (12-1), Dec. 6: It’s a showdown between one hot team and another seasoned squad in the Class 1A title game at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. Dunbar is looking for its third straight title after crushing Catoctin, 48-12, last week. Running back Tavon Austin is a playmaker. Last week, the standout rushed for 213 yards and scored four touchdowns. Expect to hear Austin’s name be called plenty of times on Saturday. Meanwhile, Fort Hill has pulled out several close games already this year and that could bode well for them in this pinnacle contest. The Sentinels beat Frederick Douglass, Mountain Ridge and Allegany this season by a combined nine points.

 

Class 2A

Eastern Tech Mavericks (14-0) vs. River Hill Hawks (13-0), Dec. 6: Both of these teams are evenly matched, so expect a sensational title game on Saturday. The Mavs will try to establish their running attack behind Luke Horner. The unit accounted for 201 yards on the ground last week in a 28-6 win over previously unbeaten Queen Anne’s. Meanwhile, River Hill is flying high after crushing Century, 48-14, in last week’s semifinal. The Hawks will go for back-to-back state titles in Baltimore this weekend. The Hawks have one of the state’s premier rushing attacks, as evidenced last week when Michael Campanaro and Malek Redd combined for 430 yards and five scores. If the duo can be even half as effective as they were last week, River Hill may have the advantage. Expect a hard-played game that comes down to defense in the second half.

 

 

 

New Jersey

 

 

Non-Public, Group IV

Bergen Catholic Crusaders (9-2) vs. Don Bosco Prep Ironmen (10-1), Dec. 6: Both of these teams are very familiar with each other as they squared off on Nov. 1. The matchup witnessed the Ironmen come away with a decisive 38-7 victory, but will Bergen Catholic be able to take it to another level at Giants Stadium on Saturday? Tailback Dillon Romain is the sparkplug for the Ironmen and will need to be effective on the ground for the Ironmen to come away victorious. Wideout Ryan Cobb and quarterback Brett Knief have also been standouts and will be called on often. Meanwhile, Bergen Catholic’s rush defense will need to be at its best. Last week, the Crusaders allowed nearly 300 yards on the ground and five different players score touchdowns. Offensively, signal-caller Rob Eckrote and wideout Anthony Marino need to hook up often for the Crusaders.

 

Non-Public, Group III

St. Joseph Montvale Green Knights (10-1) vs. Immaculata Spartans (10-0), Dec. 5: Expect the Green Knights to pound the ball early and often in their quest of capturing the Non-Public, Group III championship. St. Joseph features a dynamic lineup, which includes Kevin Adams, Kamal Hogan, Kwaun Williams and David Wood. Meanwhile, as the second seed, Immaculata enters the title game on the heels of two close wins over Holy Spirit (21-20) and Gloucester Catholic (14-7). Watch for running back Theo Riddick to receive plenty of carries while quarterback Adam Burke needs to be a passing threat in order for Immaculata to win the title.

 

 

 

 

 

To contact editor Adam C. Warner, send an e-mail to adam.warner@activenetwork.com.

 

 

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By Ryan Rohde

SportsPower Correspondent

 

Championships will be won this weekend in Virginia, Alabama, South Carolina, Mississippi, Tennessee and West Virginia. Meanwhile, semifinal play continues in Georgia, Kentucky and Florida. With some of the country's most elite squads going head-to-head, it certainly makes for one of the best exciting weekends of the season. SportsPower correspondent Ryan Rohde has highlighted the best of the best championship and semifinal matchups in each state. 

 

Alabama

 

Class 6A Championship

Prattville Lions (12-1) vs. Hoover Bucs (13-1), Dec. 6: These two teams have combined to win seven of the last eight state titles, including the past six. Prattville is going for the three-peat and will face a familiar foe in Hoover. This is the third time the teams will meet in the title game since '04, with each team taking one title apiece. The Lions have dominant since the season commenced. The offense is led by QB Sam Gibson, who has over 1,500 total yards, and RB Jarodis Williams, who has rushed for 1,300 yards and 19 scores. The Lions' defense has been the backbone for Prattville. LB La’angel Albright leads the team with 122 tackles and DL Alex Page has added 16 sacks. Meanwhile, Hoover has been the dominant force in Northern Alabama for the past decade and this year is no different. QB Simon Probst has been steady all season and threw for 200 yards and two touchdowns in last week's 28-7 win over Huntsville. Both teams play a similar style of ball and this matchup has the makings to be a classic.

 

 

South Carolina

 

Class 4A Division I Championship

Byrnes Rebels (13-1) vs. Sumter Gamecocks (12-2), Dec. 6: The Rebels are back in familiar territory playing in their sixth title game in the last seven years. Byrnes avenged its only regular season loss to Dorman last week, 24-13. RB Marcus Lattimore is one of the most talented backs in the country and it showed last week when he had 38 carries for 238 yards and two touchdowns against Dorman. QB Chas Dodd has thrown for 2,500 yards and 18 touchdowns, while his defense is playing its best ball of the year. Historically, Sumter is a successful program and is now making its eighth state title game appearance. RB Roderick McDowell is a Clemson commit and has rushed for 1,778 yards and 23 touchdowns so far, including 178 yards and a score last week. For the first time, the title game will not be played in the state capital of Columbia, as the showdown has been moved to Clemson.

 

 

 

 

Mississippi

 

5A Championship

South Panola Tigers (14-0) vs. Meridian Wildcats (13-1), Dec. 5: South Panola brings the nation's longest winning streak of 89 games into Friday night's contest. The Tigers will try and capture their sixth straight state title. The Tigers havn't been as dominant as in years gone by, as evidenced by a close call to Tupelo in the regular season and a three-point win against Madison Central last weekend, so Meridian is well aware about the opportunity this weekend. The road to the six-peat will not be any easier as star running back Nicolas Parker and standout LB David Connor were both injured in the semifinals, but do expect both to play. Meanwhile, Meridian was a semifinalst last season and they hope to take that final step. QB Tyler Russell is one of the best in the state. Russell has thrown for 3,041 yards and 39 scores to date. Wideouts Marcus McQuarley, JJ Harbin and Chris Smith are Russell’s top targets and complete the best passing attack in the state. This game is going to be an interesting contrast in styles as South Panola will look to its running game while Meridian should feature a potent air assault.

 

 

 

 

Virginia

 

AAA Division 6 Championship

Oscar Smith Tigers (14-0) vs. Osbourn Eagles (9-4), Dec. 6: Oscar Smith has been one of the most consistent squads in Virginia all season. The Tigers averaged over 40 points a game during the regular season while the defense posted six shutouts. Junior QB Phillip Sims is touted as one of the best prospects of 2010 and UVA commit Tim Smith is a dangerous downfield threat. For all of the team's success, this is their first appearance in the state Div. 6 title game. On the other side, Osbourn is the absolute underdog. The Eagles are coming together at the right time and have won six straight games. At one point this season, the Eagles had a record of 3-4 with fears of not making the playoffs. However, Osbourn is a program with experience, as they took home the title in '06. The Eagles have beaten undefeated teams in three consecutive weeks to reach the title game, including last week's blowout against Varina. In that game, the Eagle defense held dynamic back Tre Johnson to 16 yards on 13 carries. Johnson is the leading rusher in the Richmond area with 1,950 yards and 21 TDs.   Osbourn is the hottest team in the state right now and will try to take down its fourth consecutive undefeated opponent. But, Oscar Smith is one of the most talented squads in the nation and Virginia Tech’s Lane Stadium is going to be pandemonium on Saturday night.

 

 

 

 

Tennessee

 

4A Championship

Maryville Rebels (14-0) vs. Hillsboro Burros (12-2), Dec. 6: Maryville is one of the most formidable programs in Tennessee history. The Rebels have won 12 state titles, including the last four. The squad's quest for a fifth straight championship pits them against a familiar foe. Three of Byrnes' 12 state titles have came against Hillsboro, the most recent taking place in '06. In this year's battle, both teams feature great defenses. Maryville’s DE Justin Smith was recently named Tennessee’s Mr. Football for 4A lineman. The Rebels have not allowed more than 17 points in a game all season. Meanwhile, Burros DB Eric Gordon leads their stingy defense. Gordon has recently committed to Tennessee and is regarded as one of the best in the Southeast. Both teams know each other well and it should be a close one.

 

 

 

 

Kentucky

 

6A Semifinals

St. Xavier Tigers (12-0) vs. Trinity Shamrocks (12-1), Dec. 5: One of the best rivalries in the country now spills over into the playoffs. The two most dominant teams in the state have won a combined 29 state championships. The game routinely draws upwards of 30,000 in the regular season and the teams routinely meet in the state title game. While this year may be a little different, it certainly shapes up to be no less intense. Trinity has won three consecutive state titles and six out of the last seven, including of a victory over the Tigers in last year’s championship game. The streak was interrupted by St. X in ’04. The Tigers exacted some revenge earlier this year, crushing the Shamocks, 30-6, in the regular season. St. X has put up big numbers over the course of the season, averaging over 50 points a game. RB Rolandan Finch has averaged 10 yards a carry and has 28 touchdowns. The Shamrocks bring a potent offense as well. RB Tim Phillips put up 216 yards last week and QB Cameron Smyth threw three touchdowns in a 63-15 win over Eastern. Expect another huge crowd and add another chapter to this storied rivalry.

 

 

 

 

West Virginia

 

Class AAA Championship

South Charleston Black Eagles (13-0) vs. George Washington Patriots (12-1), Dec. 6: The first meeting between these two juggernauts came down to one point and you can expect more of the same this time around. George Washington opened eyes this year by making it to the state finals and only losing that one game to South Charleston in the regular season. QB Taylor Norman has stepped up as a first-year starter and has thrown for over 1,500 yards and 23 touchdowns. The running back duo of Greg Jones and Felix Mollett have each rushed for over a thousand yards and have combined for 19 scores. All the while, South Charleston comes in with a very balanced run game led by near thousand yard rusher Aaron Slusher. QB Marcell Brown and WR Aaron Dobson form one elite pass-catch duo. Both teams know each other all too well, so expect another low scoring battle that comes down to the fourth quarter. 

 

 

 

 

Georgia

 

AAAAA Semifinals

Newnan Cougars (13-0) vs. Camden County Wildcats (13-0), Dec. 5: These two squads have been at the top of the pack all season. Defense is the name of the game for Newnan. The Cougars shut down North Gwinnett in last week’s quarterfinal, holding the Bulldogs to just three points. Newnan has a big chip on its shoulder as this team hasn’t reached the title game since '81. Camden County is a very experienced team with 15 starters back from last season's semifinal squad. The Wildcats have not had an easy to road to this point. They had to beat Northside (28-20) and then a rolling Woostock team (18-17). Camden’s offense has been explosive all season but might be without RB Greg Baker, who is nursing a sore ankle. It's going to be abnormally cold in Georgia this weekend, perfect weather for an excellent football game.

 

Peachtree Ridge Lions (11-2) vs. Grayson Rams (13-0), Dec. 5: Two of the youngest programs in the state play for the chance to win a title. Grayson is 60-30 overall since beginning its football program eight years ago, which is the best eight-year start to a program in Gwinnett County history. The Rams defeated mighty Lowndes last week, 17-7, and have been underestimated all season. Peachtree Ridge is also a young program, but they have been to this stage before. The Lions captured a share of the state title two years ago after going on a similar run. The Lions play their best ball when it matters most. They avenged a regular season loss to Harrison in round two and shutout Coffee last weekend.Look for both teams to control the ball in a low-scoring grudge match.

 

 

 

 

Florida

 

Class 4A Region Finals

Plant Panthers (11-1) vs. Armwood Hawks (12-0), Dec. 5: It's a rematch of the annual regular season game between two of Tampa's best. Armwood won the first showdown, 9-2, in week 1, and both teams haven’t lost since. Plant is without star QB Aaron Murray, who broke his leg midway through the season. Backup QB Phillip Ely has filled in beautifully for his teammate and has thrown for 1,600 yards and 19 scores. All the while, the defense has allowed just 14 points total in the playoffs. Armwood QB Mywan Jackson is a great dual threat. He has thrown for 1,500 yards while rushing for almost another grand. He leads an offense that has posted 80 combined points in the playoffs. These two teams always play each other tight and this one should be no different.

 

Class 2A State Semifinals

Madison County Cowboys (12-0) vs. Bolles Bulldogs (12-0), Dec. 5: The winner of this game will be the frontrunner to win the title game. Both schools have historically dominated Class 2A and are doing the same this season. The Bulldogs have won their games by an average score of 55-10, including the playoffs. Running backs Stephan Barnett and Jawan Jamison provide an explosive punch in the backfield. The Cowboys counter with their own duo of Cory Adkins and Chris Thompson. Look for a lot of points to be scored in what could be a shootout.

 

Class 5A Region Finals

Lakeland Dreadnaughts (12-0) vs. Chamberlain Chiefs (11-1), Dec. 5: Lakeland is historically one of the most successful programs in Florida. The Dreadnaughts have won six state titles and two national championships. This year's Lakeland squad is battle-tested and has won a number of close games, including last week's come-from-behind win against defending champ Osceola. RB Aaron Truedell led Lakeland last week with three touchdowns, while the defense shut out Osceola in the second half. On the other side, Chamberlain's only loss came to Tampa power Plant. The Chiefs have been strong throughout the season. QB Dontae Aycock is one of the best playmakers in the state and has accounted for over 2,700 total yards and 32 touchdowns. Lakeland’s strong defense will have to account for Aycock if they want to win. This could be a classic between two Tampa area schools.

 

 

 

 

 

 

To contact correspondent Ryan Rohde, send an e-mail to ryan.rohde@activenetwork.com. 

 

 

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By Brett Manney

SportsPower Correspondent

 

Aside from California and Arizona, teams in Hawaii, Washington, Nevada and Oregon will all be playing for state championships this weekend. Dreams can be crushed or they can come true on the West Coast as some of the most elite teams in the country do battle.

 

Hawaii

 

Punahou Buff n Blue (11-1) vs. Leilehua Mules (11-2), Dec. 5: The Division 1 state championship game in Hawaii will be packed with fireworks and plenty of scoring. The Buff ‘n Blue were sparked by WR Dalton Hillard last week, who had 13 receptions for 139 yards in a 35-28 win over Farrington. On the defensive side, Mantai Te’o is one of the most feared linebackers in the country. Meanwhile, the Mules are riding their emotions coming off a come from behind 17-10 overtime victory last week against Kahuku. Junior QB Andrew Manley threw for 291 yards with two touchdowns. As the final game is played in Hawaii, look for each team to leave it all out on the field with a state title up for grabs.

 

 

 

 

Washington

 

 

 

Class 4A

Issaquah Eagles (11-2) vs. Skyline Spartans (13-0), Dec. 5: Skyline has been the class of 4A all season and Issaquah looks to play the role of spoiler. The Spartans are coming off an emotional battle against Ferris last week and prevailed, 24-21. Skyline can become the first team ever in state history to win back-to-back state championships in different classifications (they were 3A last year). The Spartans feature four Seattle Times offensive selections, including the state’s best receiving duo in Gino Simone and Kasen Williams. Anthony DeMatteo, who was the league defensive player of the year as a junior, leads an unheralded defense. On the other side, Issaquah looks for senior leadership and toughness to win against Skyline in the Tacoma Dome. Lineman Christian Rennie is one of the best tackles in the state and opens massive holes for his team’s running game. The Eagles hope to avenge the 38-0 loss to the Spartans earlier in the season.

 

Class 3A

Bellevue Wolverines (13-0) vs. Union Titans (13-0), Dec. 6: Two undefeated teams clash for the Class 3A title game. Bellevue experienced some recent trauma when its team bus flipped over before last week’s game against Capital. Due to the incident, the squad had to play the semifinal on Monday, which still resulted in a 28-6 victory. The Wolverines have been dominant all season and look to continue their prowess against Union. The Wolverines do much of their damage in the first half as they have outscored opponents 336-33. All the while, Union looks to stop the Wolverines’ wing-t offense behind the play of its superior defense. The Titans only gave up seven points to a powerful Lakes team last week and will seek to take down a perennial power this weekend for the state title.

 

 

 

 

Nevada

 

Class 4A

Palo Verde Panthers (13-0) vs. McQueen Lancers (13-0), Dec. 6: Both teams enter the Class 4A championship with undefeated records but only one will go home with the hardware and a perfect season. McQueen will have to find a way to contain the explosive running backs of Palo Verde, most especially Torin Harris. The USC recruit has lightning speed and scored three touchdowns in last week’s 42-21 win over Las Vegas. Meanwhile, the Lancers have been dominating opponents all season. Case in point, they have defeated Northern Nevada opponents by an average of 40 points. The Lancers’ trademark style of football entails their massive linemen opening holes for RB Tyler York (1,130 yards rushing and 19 touchdowns). A championship trophy will be on the mind for all of the players on Saturday as an amazing feat is just one win away.

 

 

 

 

Oregon

 

 

 

Class 6A

Lake Oswego Lakers (12-0) vs. Southridge Skyhawks (11-2): The 6A title game in Oregon pits two of the best teams in the state fighting for one glorious prize. The Skyhawks are making their second trip to the state championship in the past three years. In ’06, Southridge fell to Jesuit. The team’s offense has been dominant since the return of 6-6 wideout Mitch Matthews, who had three touchdown catches last week and 132 yards receiving. The Skyhawks rely on a balanced offense to wear down opposing defenses. The top-seeded Lakers came from behind to beat Jesuit last week, 32-28. The passing game is the strength for the Lakers, led by Oregon State recruit Jack Lomax. Last week, Lomax threw for 323 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Tensions will be high in Oregon for the biggest game of the year on Saturday night.

 

Class 5A

Thurston Colts (12-0) vs. West Albany Bulldogs (13-0), Dec. 6: It comes down to the No. 1 seed versus the No. 2 team for reign of 5A football in Oregon. West Albany has not been tested this season and has dominated opposing squads, winning 40 of its last 41 games. The Bulldogs have scored more than 41 points in 11 consecutive games, while the defense has not allowed more than 22 points in three years. RB Anthony Lacoste is a workhouse for the Bulldogs and can break for long runs on every touch. Meanwhile, the Colts have one the state’s most dynamic players in QB Tym Pearson. The athletic QB has thrown 44 touchdowns this year in addition to rushing for 18 touchdowns on 865 yards. The Colts’ dangerous passing attack and the Bulldogs’ tough running game makes this highly anticipated matchup well worth watching.

 

 

 

Arizona

 

Division II-5A

Marcos De Niza Padres (11-1) vs. Westview Knights (11-1), Dec. 5: The Division II Class 5A semifinal game features two teams determined to play in the state championship game next week. The Padres still remember when they were eliminated in last year’s state tournament to Westview, but a lot has changed since then. The Padres have outscored their opponents this season 404-117. The defense is led by outstanding linebackers. Arizona State recruit Anthony Rose leads the team in tackles and junior LB/RB Ramon Abreu is receiving PAC-10 interest and leads the team with six interceptions, returning five for touchdowns. The Knights’ only loss was to undefeated Centennial (14-0 overall). They rely heavily on their dominant running game and a strong and experienced defensive line. QB R.J. Robinson and RB Carlton Williams combine to make a dangerous running attack.

 

Ironwood Ridge Nighthawks (10-2) vs. Centennial Coyotes (12-0), Dec. 5: Ironwood Ridge hopes to knock the king off its throne in the other Division II 5A matchup.  The Nighthawks have lost their two games by a combined seven points and rely on some hard-nosed football. WR Scott Campbell is their biggest threat with 50 catches for 889 yard receiving and eight touchdowns. On the other side, the Coyotes have relied on their dominant rushing game, which features one of the state’s best backs in John Hughes. The explosive tailback averages 9 yards a carry, 124 yards a game and has scored 27 touchdowns. Centennial will be tested in this game, which figures to come down to the wire.

 

Division 1-5A

Hamilton Huskies (11-1) vs. Red Mountain Lions (7-5), Dec. 5: Hamilton has played very well all season long and now goes up against a surging Red Mountain team looking to keep its hot streak alive. Red Mountain will try to avenge an earlier season loss to Hamilton, 30-14. The Lions advanced to the state semifinal a year ago and will need RB Derek Molina to carry the load on offense. Molina had his worst game of the season against Hamilton when he had nine carries for just 19 yards. The Huskies rely on their talented defense, which hasn’t yielded any points in their last two games. Hamilton is well coached and eyes the state championship.

 

Mountain View Toros (12-0) vs. Brophy Prep Broncos (10-3), Dec. 5: The undefeated Toros will rely on experienced QB Blake Decker to get them into the title game. Decker has completed 64 % of his passes this year and runs an efficient offense. RB Jacom Brimhall has over 1,500 yards rushing this season with 15 touchdowns and is a threat to score every time he has the ball. The Broncos have won every game since Sept. 26 and have elevated their play in the postseason. The defending state champs have shut out their last two opponents. RB Max Leonesio has been the focal points of the offense and has tallied 1,496 yards rushing with 19 touchdowns. Brophy looks to return to the promised land while Mountain View tries to back up its No. 1 seed.

 

 

 

 

California

 

San Diego Section

Carlsbad Lancers (7-5) vs. La Costa Canyon Mavericks (9-2), Dec. 5: The Lancers barely squeaked by Chula Vista last week and now have a date with top-seeded La Costa Canyon. The Lancers converted on a crucial 4th and 5 in the third quarter last week before going on to score on that drive. That would open the floodgates towards a 34-21 win. RB Michael Taele had a superb game with 98 yards rushing on only 16 carries. Keep in mind, though, the Mavericks defeated the Lancers earlier in the season, 52-3. RB Seth Hanson, who has been making defenders miss frequently, heads the Maverick offense. Meanwhile, led by North Country Times defensive player of the year Jacob Driver, the defense is just plain tough. The Division 1 semifinal will be a showcase of two teams loaded with talented players.

 

Mission Hills Grizzlies (8-3-1) vs. Escondido Cougars (9-2), Dec. 5: This San Diego Section Division 1 semifinal game will be one of the top games to watch in the San Diego area. Cougars RB Ricky Seale leads the San Diego area in rushing and accumulated 280 yards on 36 carries last week against Fallbrook.  The Cougars’ strong running game has worn down opposing defenses all year. Meanwhile, Mission Hills is a team possessed after defeating defending San Diego Division 1 champs Poway last week, 20-14. Grizzlies QB D.J. Zapata threw for 224 yards despite leading rusher Eddy Shiavong being out of the lineup the past couple of weeks with an ankle injury. It’s win or go home time in San Diego.

 

Southern Section Semifinals

Orange Lutheran Lancers (10-2) vs. Tesoro Titans (12-0), Dec. 6: Orange Lutheran is playing great football lately and Tesoro has been unstoppable all season. The Lancers beat undefeated Sherman Oaks Notre Dame last week behind their ability to rush the quarterback. Led by an elite secondary, the Lancers’ defense is superb, as evidenced by the unit giving up just 14 points to Notre Dame. Tesoro looks to remain undefeated and QB Robbie Picazo has a plethora of weapons and has thrown only four interceptions all season. RB Preston King is an electrifying player who can torch defenses every time he has the ball. This potential classic will be the best game played in the Southern Section this weekend.

 

 

 

To contact correspondent Brett Manney, send an e-mail to brett.manney@activenetwork.com.

 

 

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