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51 Posts authored by: adam_sp

 

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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By Adam C. Warner

SportsPower Senior Editor

 

It's the biggest weekend of the year to date as champions will now be crowned in Ohio, Delaware, Colorado, Michigan, Kansas and Indiana. Find out the latest information and trends on every title game matchup from coast to coast.

 

Ohio

 

 

 

Division I

St. Ignatius Wildcats (13-1) vs. Elder Panthers (13-1), Nov. 29: For many fans across the Buckeye State, this is the matchup of the year by leaps and bounds. Two of the state’s most storied programs do battle for the Division I championship at 7 p.m. at Fawcett Stadium in Canton. St. Ignatius is riding high after stomping Strongsville, 37-0, in the semifinals. Led by a pair of Andrew Holland touchdown passes, the Wildcats led 24-0 at halftime and never looked back. Meanwhile, Elder needed two overtimes to defeat Colerain, 27-20 in the other semifinal contest. Mark Miller found Josh Jones for a 20-yard score to give Elder the win in front of nearly 11,000. Expect nothing other than a knock-down-drag-out battle between two of the state’s best.

 

Division II

Southview Cougars (14-0) vs. Anderson Redskins (12-2), Nov. 28:  Two teams with tremendous momentum clash for the Div. II title at Paul Brown Stadium in Massillon. The Cougars hope to cap an undefeated season with a win over a formidable Redskins program that won the title last year. Southview is fresh off of a 31-0 trouncing of Archbishop Hoban last weekend. Southview quarterback Alex Pidcock, who had 275 total yards last week, will need another repeat performance for his team to prevail. On the other side, Anderson clipped DeSales last weekend, 14-10, to advance to its second straight title game. Kyle Slater will once again play the role of catalyst after tallying 255 yards and a score vs. DeSales to advance.

 

Division III

Eastmoor Academy Warriors (13-1) vs. Aurora Greenmen (12-2), Nov. 29: It’s a battle of championship game newcomers on Saturday. Eastmoor Academy is on cloud nine after clinching its first state title appearance last weekend with a 14-10 semifinal victory over Licking Valley. Now, the Warriors are looking to finish what they started on Saturday in Canton. Malon Johnson will be counted on to direct the offense and will need support from Aaron Flowe and Aaron Ross in the backfield. All the while, the Greenmen are feeling fine after a 20-14 semifinal victory over defending champ Big Walnut to earn their first trip to the pinnacle game. Tailback Steven Young heads an impressive cast, which includes QB Brendan Gallagher and wideouts Steven Snyder and Dee Brizzolara. With both teams never tasting a championship before, you know this one will be special.

 

Division IV

Steubenville Big Red (14-0) vs. Archbishop Alter Knights (12-2), Nov. 28: It’s a rematch of the ’06 Div. III final this weekend in Canton. Steubenville has yet to be tested in the majority of its 14 games this season and has won 56 of its last 57 overall. This year, the squad has won every contest by 12 points or more, but that will likely change this weekend. The Big Red had no trouble downing New Lexington last week in the semifinals as running back Demetrius Brandon rushed for 180 yards and a score. Brandon and teammate Dwight Macon, the squad’s star quarterback, will have to light up the scoreboard for the Big Red to come away victorious. Archbishop Alter is making another championship appearance after a 28-27 win over Genoa last Friday. Quarterback Austin Boucher, a Toledo recruit, and running back Chris Borland (Wisconsin) are an electrifying one-two combo and will spearhead the Knights’ attack.

 

Division V

Ursuline Fighting Irish (14-0) vs. Liberty-Benton Eagles (14-0), Nov. 29: Ursuline will be making its second consecutive finals appearance this weekend and third overall when they battle fellow undefeated squad Liberty-Benton in Massillon on Saturday. The backfield combo of Akise Teague and Allen Jones will certainly see plenty of carries this weekend. The duo combined for 300 yards and a pair of scores in a 35-6 romp over Liberty Union to advance to the finals. Meanwhile, Liberty-Benton has plenty of steam after steamrolling defending champ Marion Local, 35-0, in the other semifinal game. Running back Aaron Craft, who had three scores and 168 yards on the ground last week, will need to move the chains for the Eagles to have a chance. 

 

Division VI

St. Johns Bluejays (12-2) vs. Hopewell-Loudon Chieftains (14-0), Nov. 28: Two familiar squads go head-to-head in the Div. VI finals as both teams faced each other in the ’06 semifinals before St. John’s took the title. St. John’s has won six games in a row heading into Friday’s championship tilt in Massillon, including four victories over teams with a state power rating of 63.00 and above. Last week, the Bluejays crushed Lehman Catholic, 32-13, behind a pair of scores from standout quarterback Wes Ulm. Backs Jordan Leininger and Matt Brinkman figure to play key roles in Friday’s title contest. The Chieftains can finish the year with an unblemished record should they beat St. John’s on Friday. The Chieftains are fresh off of a 55-20 defeat of Malvern in a snow-filled semifinal game. Led by running back Aaron Kapelka and quarterback Tyler Brown – who were key to the Chieftains scoring on eight of their first nine possessions last week– Hopewell-Loudon features a multi-faceted attack that can hit teams from all directions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Delaware

 

Division I

Sussex Central Golden Knights (10-1) vs. Caesar Rodney Riders (10-1), Nov. 29: The battle of the First State comes to its pinnacle on Saturday at Delaware State University. This is the third straight year that Sussex Central has made it to finals, but they have yet to capture that elusive crown.  Will the third time be the charm? Quarterback D.J. Long, lineman Patrick Diamond, running back Tim Showell will all be key towards success for the Golden Knights. Last week, the Golden Knights went up 14-0 on William Penn and never looked back, cruising to a 20-0 win. Caesar Rodney won 28-21 over St. Mark’s last week in the other semifinal after QB John Sclesky hit Wendell Flamer on a 4-yard score with 11 seconds left in the game. The Riders scored 21 unanswered points to win that game. The running back combo of Duron Harmon (20 for 106 yards) and Malcolm Yowk (14 for 71) will be vital towards a Riders win.

 

Division II

Laurel Bulldogs (9-2) vs. Milford Buccaneers (9-2), Nov. 28: Laurel has landed in title game for first time since 1992 and they hope to make the most of it. Meanwhile, Milford beat Laurel in regular season and is playing in the title game for the first time ever. Last week, Laurel beat Caravel, 23-22, after Josh Kosiorowski scored on a 13-yard touchdown catch with 28.5 seconds left. Kyle Brown’s PAT was the difference. The running back duo for Laurel was huge last weekend, like they have been all season long. Chris Jones had 128 yards on 22 carries and fullback Tyler West had 115 yards on 30 carries. Milford’s Brandon LeGrand has been dynamite and is coming off a 318-yard performance with four touchdowns on 23 carries in a 45-14 blowout over Wilmington Friends. This is Milford’s first postseason appearance since ’74, but that may not matter with Hunter Barr, Alex Bell and Michael Ceus all over 240 lbs and clearing holes up front.

 

 

 

 

Nevada

4A Semifinals

Bishop Manogue Miners (11-1) vs. McQueen Lancers (12-0), Nov. 28: Bishop Manogue has steamrolled its opponents in the regular season and now the playoffs, and the will look for the trend to continue against McQueen. However, the Miners haven’t seen such a quality opponent all season. McQueen enters with a state power rating of 95.12. The next highest PR for a Miner opponent was Hug back on Sept. 13 at 75.95. That matchup was the only loss for the Miners all season (34-31). Meanwhile, McQueen is looking quite impressive after demolishing Reed last week, 55-7. The Lancers’ rushing attack is as potent as they come. Tyler York and Anthony Martinez have both been routinely racking up 100-yard performances each week.

 

Las Vegas Wildcats (12-1) vs. Palo Verde Panthers (13-0), Nov. 29: If last week’s 50-14 drubbing of perennial power Bishop Gorman didn’t grab people’s attention, a victory over Las Vegas this week surely will for Palo Verde. The Panthers head into the semifinal matchup having scored 50 points or more in three separate contests already. It’s no secret that the team’s high-flying attack – led by Torin Harris, Chaz Thomas and Sidney Hodge -- is one of the state’s best. On the other side, Las Vegas slipped by a tough Del Sol squad last weekend, 35-28, and should match up well against the Panthers. The Wildcats came back from 14 points late in the game to earn a spot in the semifinals. Quarterback Emir Lopez and running back Reggie Bullock lead a talented cast and should figure significantly in Saturday’s final result.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colorado

 

5A

Cherry Creek Bruins (11-2) vs. Mullen Mustangs (11-2), Nov. 29 at Invesco Field: The Bruins are coming off two close playoff wins against quality opponents, most recently a 27-25 thriller against Columbine. R.C. Willenbrock booted a 35-yard field goal with two seconds left to give his team the win. The Bruins have proven that they can pull out victories in tight contests, which could fare well on Saturday in an even battle with Mullen. The Mustangs and Bruins battled earlier in the year on Oct. 10 and the Mustangs came away with a 21-7 win. Expect a down-to-the-wire finish in this one. Led by dynamic running backs Adonis Ameen-Moore and Josh Ford, the Mustangs are making their third finals appearance in five years. This championship tilt will be one to remember.

 

4A

Greeley West Spartans (12-1) vs. Wheat Ridge Farmers (13-0), Nov. 29 at Invesco Field: The Farmers are looking to follow up on their 2006 title and finish the year undefeated, but will face a stiff test this weekend in Greeley West. Expect Colorado recruit Parker Orms to see plenty of carries. The standout running back has nearly 2,500 yards and 25 touchdowns this season and is a key ingredient towards his team’s success. Greeley West is making its first trip ever to the 4A championship game. To defeat a stout Wheat Ridge team, they will need a carbon copy performance from last week’s 49-6 semifinal win over Pine Creek. The Spartans tallied 500 yards of total offense en route to the most lopsided final semifinal game through all classifications this season. Sean Blackmer heads the team’s stellar offensive unit at quarterback, while Eli Swick and Steffen Bunting round out the group.

 

3A

Glenwood Springs Demons (13-0) vs. Fort Morgan Mustangs (13-0), Nov. 29 at Legacy Stadium: It’s a battle of undefeated squads in the 3A championship on Saturday. Thanks to a 47-14 blowout win over Mountain View, Glenwood Springs is making its first finals appearance in 28 years and has a chance to win its third championship in program history. Quarterback Dakota Stonehouse is a dual threat while wideout Kevin Screen is his top option down the field. All the while, Fort Morgan (State PR: 94.36) should prove as a worthy finals opponent. The Mustangs have been clobbering their foes left and right this season, which includes a 42-24 semifinal win over D’Evelyn. Sean Rebek is been dazzling lately at wide receiver, most especially his 14 reception, 187-yard performance last weekend. These teams can run and throw well, so expect plenty of variety in what should be a close battle.

 

2A

Erie Tigers (12-1) vs. Olathe Pirates (13-0), Nov. 29 at Legacy Stadium: The Pirates had waltzed through their schedule before disposing of Faith Christian (formerly 12-0) last week in a tight contest, 14-6. Olathe could see a similar style of game in the 2A finals on Saturday against a formidable Erie squad, which knocked off top-seeded Platte Canyon 28-21 to reach the pinnacle matchup. Led by linebackers Chris Brummitt and Camren Harris, the Olathe defense has held seven different opponents to 10 points or less this year. Meanwhile, Erie has earned a spot in the finals for the first time since ‘97 thanks to its formidable rushing attack and aggressive defense that likes to get after the ball. Running back Michael Chambers has been giving teams fits throughout the playoffs and has the ability to move the chains on power runs or break open down field on long runs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indiana

 

Class 1A

Sheridan Blackhawks (13-1) vs. Cardinal Ritter Raiders (14-0), Nov. 28: Two Indiana football powers clash in the Class 1A championship at Lucas Oil Stadium. Expect Sheridan to hand the ball off early and often to Indiana recruit Nick Zachery, who torched Southern Wells last week for 156 yards and four touchdowns. The Blackhawks are seeking their fourth straight state championship and 10th in program history, but will be hard-pressed to do so against top-seeded Cardinal Ritter. Last week, the Raiders came back from a 12-point deficit in the fourth quarter to knock off fellow unbeaten Linton-Stockton, 30-26, in the other semifinal. The QB-WR combo of Ross Hendrickson and John Shockley has been extremely effective. Also expect Isaiah Norwood and Michael Timko to provide support with the running game.

 

Class 2A

Cass Kings (13-1) vs. Heritage Christian Eagles (13-1), Nov. 28: Cass enters this 2A championship showdown behind the strength of its Wing-T offense and ball-hawking defense. Last week, the Kings trounced Jimtown, 28-7, in the semifinals behind 176 yards rushing and four touchdowns from fullback Colton Zeck. The Kings are making their first finals appearance in program history after falling in the semifinals in ’05 and ’07 and hope to make the most of it. Meanwhile, Heritage Christian is making its second consecutive state finals appearance after finishing as runner-up last season. The Eagles will look to effectively run their shotgun spread offense behind quarterback Jackson Kirtley, who has 44 touchdowns this year, and Morgan Cook, who leads the team with 72 receptions for 1,017 yards and 17 scores. Expect an exciting game between two talented teams that feature rather unorthodox offenses that can put up points in droves.

 

Class 3A

Bellmont Braves (13-1) vs. Evansville Memorial Tigers (12-2), Nov. 29: The Braves are in uncharted territory this weekend after taking down NorthWood last week, 35-21 in the semifinal round. Bellmont is making its first championship appearance after winning the program’s first regional and sectional crowns earlier this yea. Quarterback Joel Bone and running back Nick Hall give the Braves a potent one-two punch offensively. Hall is coming off of a 230-yard rushing performance in which he also scampered for a 99-yard run. All the while, the Tigers are joyous after stunning top-seeded Bishop Chatard, 27-14, last week to reach the pinnacle contest. Quarterback Grant Gribbins excels at mixing in the rush with the pass and will likely be Evansville’s main weapon. Gribbins is fresh off of a four-touchdown performance that saw him throw for a score and rush for three more. Two unlikely teams will battle for the championship, it doesn’t get much better than this.

 

Class 4A

Bishop Dwenger Saints (14-0) vs. Indianapolis Cathedral Fighting Irish (11-2), Nov. 29: Bishop Dwenger has been denied a championship appearance for the last two seasons running, but this year, the squad has finally broke through, and now they aim to bring home a state title. The Saints pose as a dangerous team headed by quarterback Trevor Yerrick and running back Joe Colone. Yerrick threw for four touchdowns while Colone notched two scores in a 38-22 semifinal win against Lowell last week. If the Saints want the ’08 crown, they will have to get past perennial power Cathedral, who demolished Columbus East last week, 41-10, to advance. Kofi Hughes and Nick Najem are both big-play threats and will be the focal point for the Fighting Irish. If both players can get it going early, chew up some clock and attain first downs, Cathedral can come away as champs.

 

Class 5A

Carmel Greyhounds (13-1) vs. Center Grove Trojans (13-1), Nov. 29: Talk bout Indiana heavyweights. Longtime power Carmel is playing in its third consecutive state championship game after thumping Penn last weekend, 38-3, in the semifinals. Kentucky-bound quarterback Morgan Newton will likely receive most of the attention by Center Grove. The standout is a multi-threat signal-caller and is just as effective rushing as he is throwing down field. Eric Ardaiolo is Newton’s go-to guy at receiver and will need to be contained as well. Meanwhile, Center Grove features one of the nation’s most prolific offenses. The Trojans have scored at least 32 points in all 14 of their games, including seven straight victories of 49 or more. The Trojan rushing attack has been stellar behind a giant offensive line. Last week, the Trojans gained a whopping 400 yards on the ground thanks in part to Luke Swift’s 180-yard effort. Both teams met earlier in the season in a thrilling affair. That matchup saw Carmel win on a late touchdown off of its own fumble and then a converted two-point conversion in the last minute of action. This finale has the makings to be a classic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kansas

6A

Lawrence-Free State Firebirds (9-3) vs. Junction City Bluejays (12-0), Nov. 29: Despite starting the season 1-2, the Firebirds have won eight of nine since, including last week’s 14-7 victory over Blue Valley. The Firebirds have their toughest test ahead in undefeated Junction City. The Bluejays crushed Derby last week 39-14 and head into Yager Stadium with plenty of momentum. Junction City has a state power rating of 93.16, in comparison to Lawrence’s mark of 76.07, but the Firebirds have been defying logic all season long.

 

5A

St. Thomas-Aquinas Saints (11-1) vs. Hutchinson Salt Hawks (10-2), Nov. 29: Two state juggernauts go at it this weekend in America’s heartland. The Salt Hawks are making their sixth straight state title game appearance and have won the last four championships. The squad is peaking at the right time as well. The Salt Hawks rushed for six touchdowns last week in a 42-21 win over McPherson, so expect Josh Smith, Deveon Dinwiddie and company to work the ground game again on Saturday. The Saints are making their first state title appearance in program history following a 17-12 win over Gardner-Edgerton. Quarterbacks Ricky Nachbard and Beau Bourquin will likely split some time, while senior Zach Bourquin figures to play a key role in the passing game. The Saints are in a big spot and certainly have the tools to pull off an upset.

 

4A

Perry-Lecompton Kaws (10-3) vs. Topeka-Hayden Wildcats (12-1), Nov. 29: Perry-Lecompton hopes to implement plenty of its potent rushing attack this weekend in the 4A title game against Topeka-Hayden. The Kaws have rushed their way to the championship this year behind standout back Shane Gimzo. The RB scored on runs of 34 and 52 yards in last week’s semifinal win over Holton. Meanwhile, Hayden will play the role as favorites with a 12-1 record and wins over Andale, Buhler and Central, all teams will state power ratings of 70 and higher. Expect quarterback T.J. McGreevey to play a major factor with his arm and running skills.

 

3A

Silver Lake Eagles (13-0) vs. Conway Springs Cardinals (11-2), Nov. 29: The Eagles are looking to cap a perfect season on Saturday against formidable foe Conway Springs. Silver Lake has been pounding its opponents and has posted seven shutouts through 13 games so far, including five straight from Oct. 17 to Nov. 8. The Eagle defense is one of the state’s most aggressive and dominant (the unit has allowed just 63 points all season). On the other side, Conway Springs hopes to give the Eagles all they can handle. The Cardinals have scored 40 points or more in their last six games, all wins, including a 45-25 victory over Garden Plain in the semifinal round last Saturday. If the Cardinals can rev up their high-powered offense, they certainly can come away as the 3A champs.

 

2-1A

Olpe Eagles (13-0) vs. Smith Center Redmen (12-0), Nov. 29: Olpe has its work cut out for itself this weekend against one of the nation’s best small-school squads. On the other hand, Smith Center hasn’t seen a tough squad like Olpe all season long. The Redmen reached their fifth-straight Class 2-1A championship after crushing Meade, 60-14, last weekend and tied a state record for consecutive football victories at 66. The Redmen will likely go to its bread and butter rushing attack led by Joe Osburn and Colt Rogers. Last week, the Eagles reached their first-ever finals with a sound 20-0 win over St. Mary’s-Colgan, the team’s fifth shutout of the season.  Quarterback Matt Redeker and running back Cole Krueger will be the featured combo for the Eagles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michigan

 

Division I

Rockford Rams (12-1) vs. Lake Orion Dragons (12-1), Nov. 29: Two familiar teams with plenty of momentum clash on the gridiron this weekend in the Div. I championship. Both squads battled back on Sept. 29 in a close game, seeing Rockford pull out a 17-7 victory on the road. Expect another thriller this weekend at Ford Field. After a 38-36 win over Utica Stevenson in the quarterfinals, the Dragons smoked Fordson last week, 38-0. Daniel Ney and Marques Stevenson are just two of many standouts offensively for the Dragons and will see plenty of action on Saturday. The Rams are riding high following a decisive 27-13 win over Livonia Stevenson in the semifinals, earning the squad their fourth trip to the finals in five seasons. Running back Ryan Cochran and quarterback Tim McGee have been consistent all season and will most likely serve as the go-to players for Rockford.

 

Division II

Muskegon Big Reds (13-0) vs. Warren DeLaSalle Pilots (13-0), Nov. 28: The Big Reds are breathing a sigh of relief after squeaking past Davison last week, 38-35, in the semifinal round. Davison led by 22 points late in the third quarter before the Big Reds scored 25 unanswered points (thanks in part to six turnovers) to come away with the win. QB Elan Banks and wideout Karey Webb will certainly hope to hook up early and often, while RB Greg Wickliffe aims to move the chains via the run game. The Pilots have shown the ability to win big and pull out the close ones this year, and that could play a major factor in Friday’s contest, which figures to be tight. Top wideout John Martinez is questionable to play after sustaining an injury last week, but expect QB Josh Sinagoga and company to still find a way to put points on the board. This game will likely be decided in the second half.

 

Division III

East Grand Rapids Pioneers (12-1) vs. Inkster Vikings (12-1), Sat. Nov. 29: Ever since a 35-12 loss to Lowell on Oct. 24, East Grand Rapids has been on a roll. Last week, the Pioneers scored 24 unanswered points en route to a 41-13 drubbing of Stevensville-Lakeshore in the Division 3 semifinal contest. The Pioneers will need a fast start against Inkster to come out on top. The trio of Joe Glendening, Colin Voss and Zac Wasserman has been a unique force and will look to keep the chains moving in hopes of controlling the pace of the game. On the other hand, the Vikings defense has been nothing short of brilliant in the last four weeks, holding opponents to just eight points per game in that span. Quarterback Drew Gardner and wideout Cameron Gordon can play a key role in a Vikings victory by picking up some key third down conversions. Expect nothing less than a down to the wire finish.

 

Division IV

Holland Christian Maroons (13-0) vs. Detroit Country Day Yellowjackets (11-2), Nov. 28: Riding the coattails of standout quarterback A.J. Westendorp, the Maroons possess one of the state’s most prolific offenses, so expect the squad to impose their strength early against Detroit Country Day. Westendorp has passed for nearly 3,300 yards while tallying 36 touchdowns on top of 1,150 yards rushing. DCD knows exactly how to stop the Maroons, but actually doing so will be easier said than done. The Yellowjackets are fresh off of a 48-6 demolition of Croswell-Lexington in the state semifinals. The Jackets are riding a nine-game winning streak into the contest, so expect the squad to be ready for the task at hand. DCD is also on a familiar stage having been to the pinnacle contest just last year. Senior O’Neil Swanson will be the key to victory for the Yellowjackets if he can break open some big runs.

 

 

 

 

Division V

Ovid-Elsie Marauders (12-1) vs. Muskegon Oakridge Eagles (13-0), Nov. 29: The Marauders haven’t scored less than 34 points all season, so expect a high-scoring affair on Saturday at Ford Field. Meanwhile, the Eagles have posted some impressive postseason victories to reach the finals, including a 27-16 win over state power Lumen Christi in the semifinal.

 

Division VI

Montague Wildcats (12-1) vs. Leslie Blackhawks (12-1), Nov. 28: The Wildcats have survived a gauntlet of a schedule in the latter stages of the season, which should serve them well in the Division VI finale against another quality team in Leslie. Montague proved victorious in two overtime games over the last three weeks, so if the squad finds itself in a tight game late, they may certainly hold the advantage. Meanwhile, the Blackhawks are in their first title game in program history after nipping Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central, 22-19, last week. If Leslie can jump out early and prevent the Wildcats from sustaining some early successful drives, they game should turn in the team’s favor.

 

Division VII

Traverse City St. Francis Gladiators (12-1) vs. Ubly Bearcats (13-0), Nov. 29: Thanks to a diverse offense that spreads the ball around, the Gladiators are one win away from a Div. VII championship. Corey Williams and Taylor Hennrick are just two major playmakers for Traverse City. Watch for their names to be called early. All the while, the Bearcats can take the title if they can get their offense on track. The Ubly attack has been unstoppable since week one. Last week, the unit racked up 47 points against a strong Reading squad.

 

Division VIII

Forest Park (13-0) vs. Muskegon Catholic Central Crusaders (13-0), Nov. 28: Which Forest Park team will show up on Friday? The squad that edged Frankfort last week, 8-6, or the squad that soundly defeated Wakefield, Washburn and Baraga earlier in the year? The answer may be key to whether Bill Santilli’s squad comes out as champs. Meanwhile, the Crusaders enter the title game as the top-rated team in all off Class C with a mark of 90.78. Muskegon has earned it after crushing Beal City and Mendon over the last two weeks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New York

Class A

Burnt Hills Spartans vs. Sweet Home Panthers, Nov. 29: If running back Deshanro Morris can continue his impressive play (10 touchdowns in his last three games), expect Sweet Home to come away as Class A champs on Saturday at the Carrier Dome. But, if the Spartans can put forth top-notch defensive outings, similar to one’s against Troy and Bishop Maginn, they will holding up a trophy at the end of the day.

 

Class AA

Monroe-Woodbury Crusaders vs. Orchard Park Quakers, Nov. 30: Monroe-Woodbury is making its fourth consecutive trip to the state championship this weekend and they hope to capitalize after losing the last two seasons. If James Boyd and company can put forth another strong defensive game like last week’s (surrendered just eight points to New Rochelle), the Crusaders can buck their recent trend. Meanwhile, Orchard Park will likely give the ball to running back Jeff Tundo early and often. The standout has been brilliant in the postseason and scored four touchdowns in his squad’s semifinal victory over Binghamton.

 

Class B

Rye Garnets vs. Oneida Indians, Nov. 30: Expect Oneida quarterback Ryan Kramer to be a two-way threat for his side and an integral part of the game. If Kramer can keep his team on the field and the Rye defense there as well, the Indians will be looking good. Meanwhile, Cole McCormack and Kyle Ramalho are the engines of the Rye offense at running back. If the duo can move the chains effectively, the Garnets will be Class B champs by the end of the day. 

 

 

 

Class C

Croton-Harmon Tigers vs. Southwestern Trojans, Nov. 29: Croton-Harmon offers one of the best rushing attacks in the state behind standouts Tyler Keppler, Dan Luntz and quarterback Nick Mainiero. The trio has combined for nearly 2,500 yards rushing. If the Tigers control the clock, move the chains and keep Southwestern's defense on the field, they will likely come out as champions. Southwestern QB Zack Sopak will look to ignite his squad's offense as a multi-threat option. Watch for Sopak to implement some play action to keep the Tigers on their toes.  

 

 

 

Class D

Moriah Vikings vs. Maple Grove Red Dragons, Nov. 29: Maple Grove likes to strike early and often, so if Moriah can keep the score low early, that will certainly play in their favor. The Red Dragons have allowed just six first quarter points all season. Meanwhile, running back Jim Carlson will be the go-to guy for Moriah. He can pound for short yardage or take it the distance on any play. These teams are well matched so expect a tight contest. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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By Adam C. Warner

Senior Editor

 

A variety of mainstays and newcomers will be featured in the semifinal round of the Ohio High School Athletic Association playoffs. Who will survive the battle of unbeatens, Malvern or Hopewell-Loudon? Can St. Ignatius pull off another some more postseason magic?

 

 

OHSAA State Semifinals

 

Division I

 

Hoover Vikings (12-1) vs. St. Ignatius Wildcats (12-1), Nov. 22: The Vikings are chomping at the bit to get to the Div. I state championship after making their first semifinal game appearance since 1984. Hoover's defense appears to be hittings its stride at the right time after shutting out a talented Glenoak team last week, 14-0. Expect quarterback Brett Tulodzieski and running back Erick Howard -- a 2,000-yard rusher -- to be the top threats for the Vikings. Meanwhile, the Wildcats are coming off of a dominating 37-0 blowout win over Strongsville, the team's 13th straight over their rival. St. Ignatius has allowed just seven points total in three playoff games and will be hard-pressed to continue the trend this weekend if elite safety Dan Fox (concussion) is not healthy enough to go. Watch for quarterback Andrew Holland to be a major force for the Wildcats.

 

Pickerington Central Tigers (13-0) vs. Elder Panthers (12-1), Nov. 22: The Panthers are breathing a sigh of relief after escaping last weekend's thrilling 27-20 overtime victory over Colerain, but now face a challenging opponent in the semifinals in Pickerington Central. Wideout Josh Jones and quarterback Mark Miller will be looking to hookup early and often for the Pantehrs. All the while, the Tigers are riding the coattails of their punishing defense to the Div. I semifinal. Last week, the Tigers stunned top-seeded Hilliard Davidson, 7-3, to advance. Pickington Central has held seven different opponents to seven points or less this season, including five shutouts, and will likely need another giant effort to take down perennial power Elder. 

 

 

 

Division III

 

Aurora Greenmen (11-2) vs. Big Walnut Golden Eagles (11-2), Nov. 22: The Greenmen are riding high following last weekend's 28-7 win over Walsh Jesuit for the Region 9 title, the team's second in three years. Next order of business for Aurora is to get to the Div. III championship. The Greenmen will likely rely on a steady dose of their potent rushing attack led by Steven Yung. The unit totaled 245 years last week. Aurora faces a difficult opponent in Big Walnut, a squad that captured the Div. III title last season and upended top seed Avon last week, 24-15. Watch for quarterback Johnny Cannell to be a dual threat, in addition to running back Patrick Daugherty and wideout Eugene Cannaday. Defensive tackle Colton Griffis is a force in the trenches for Big Walnut.

 

 

 

Division IV

 

Genoa Area Comets (13-0) vs. Archbishop Alter Knights (11-2), Nov. 21: Two unlikely squads clash in the Div. IV semifinals this weekend. No. 6 Alter heads into the matchup on the heels of a monster 31-21 upset win over No. 1 Coldwater for the regional championship. Quarterback Austin Boucher is the catalyst for the Knights and will likely be game-planned around by the Comets. Boucher is coming off an 89-yard rushing performance with two scores, in addition to 124 yards passing. Meanwhile, undefeated Genoa is flying high after posting three convincing playoff wins so far, including a 40-21 victory over Ottawa-Glandorf for the regional title. Running backs Marcus Vicars and Blair Skilliter and quarterback Matt Bassitt will have to continue their exceptional play to earn a spot in the finals.

 

Steubenville Big Red (13-0) vs. New Lexington Panthers (12-1), Nov. 21: Steubenville is coming off its sixth-straight undefeated season and has plenty of momentum after dispatching Coshocton, Cardinal Mooney and then Perry last week, 35-17. Quarterback Dwight Macon leads an explosive offensive unit that can get it done both on the ground and through the air. Meanwhile, Clint Cannon heads a formidable New Lexington attack at quarterback and is backed by sure-handed running back R.J. Starkey. Cannon has thrown for more than 1,700 yards with 16 scores. 

 

 

 

Division V

 

Liberty Union Lions (12-1) vs. Youngstown Ursuline Fighting Irish (13-0), Nov. 22: These two division juggernauts are evenly matched, which should make for one exciting Division V semifinal. Watch for this game to be decided in the final quarter. Liberty Union has won behind its dominating defense in the playoffs and have allowed just 10 points in the last two games, including three vs. Ready in a 13-3 win for the Region 19 title. Kicker Sam Tennant is accurate from long distance and could play a major factor. On the other end, the top-ranked Irish squeaked out an 18-17 win over Kirtland to advance to the semifinal round. Quarterback Dawalyn Harper, wideout Dale Peterman and running back Allen Jones make up a formidable trio for Ursuline and need to step up for their team to prevail.

 

Division VI

 

Hopewell-Loudon Chieftains (13-0) vs. Malvern Hornets (13-0), Nov. 21: Only one of these Division VI giants will come out unscathed in this colossal semifinal matchup. The Hornets enter having won their first 13 games of the season rather convincingly, scoring no less than 34 points while only giving up an average of 12 points per game. The Hornets -- led by quarterback Tyler Tucci and playmakers Vince Larson and Zach Johnson -- are fresh off a 38-14 win over No. 1 Hannibal River en route to their first final four appearance ever.  Meanwhile, the Chieftains downed previously unbeaten St. Paul, 42-21, to reach the semifinals. They will attempt to knock off another undefeated team this weekend. Look for running back Andrew Brickner to be the go-to guy for the Chieftains. The playmaker is coming off a four-touchdown performance, which included a touchdown run, two touchdown receptions and an interception return for a score.

 

Lehman Catholic Cavaliers (11-1) vs. Delphos St. Johns Blue Jays (11-2), Nov. 21: With their three-back attack of Max Cartwright, Kaleb Goins and Zac Schmitz, the Cavaliers have made mincemeat out of opposing defenses all season long. Most recently, the trio combined for 272 yards as the Cavs downed Mechanicsburg, 28-13, to advance to the final four. The Blue Jays will have to put eight men in the box and stuff the Cavaliers' potent attack or else it will be a long day. Offensively, with running back Jordan Leininger, Evan Burgei and quarterback Wes Ulm at the helm, St. John's will look to score via the big play, something the squad has been accustomed to in the playoffs.

 

 

 

Other Ohio Semifinal Matchups:

 

 

 

Division II

 

 

Southview (13-0) vs. Archbishop Hoban (9-4), Nov. 21

 

 

St. Francis DeSales (13-0) vs. Anderson (11-2), Nov. 21

 

 

 

Division III

 

 

Licking Valley (12-1) vs. Eastmoor Academy (12-1), Nov. 22

 

 

 

 

Division V

 

 

FIndlay Liberty-Benton (13-0) vs. Marion Local Flyers (11-2), Nov. 22

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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By Adam C. Warner

Senior Editor

 

 

 

 

The Empire State and the Garden State are already set for semifinal action this weekend, and in the Keystone State, some teams are vying for an elusive Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League title within their classification, while others are gunning for a district championship. 

 

 

 

 

New York

 

NYSPHSAA Semifinals

Class AA

Binghamton Patriots (11-0) vs. Orchard Park Quakers (11-0), Nov. 22 at PAETEC Park: This Class AA semifinal matchup pits two undefeated powers together in what shapes up to be one of the best games of the year. The Patriots squeaked out a 28-20 win over Henninger last weekend but now face their toughest challenge of the season. Binghamton hasn't faced a team with a power rating over 70 and the Quakers enter at 97.00. Expect Patriots running back Jamar Smith to pound the ball early and often after last week's 306-yard performance. Meanwhile, the Quakers have a major playmaker as well in Jeff Tundo, who scampered for 210 yards and three touchdowns in last week's 34-12 win over Gates-Chili.

 

Monroe-Woodbury Crusaders (11-0) vs. New Rochelle Huguenots (10-1), Nov. 22 at Dietz Stadium: The Crusaders enter this AA semifinal game with some major momentum as the squad has reeled off 42 straight Section 9 victories and five consecutive Section 9 Class AA championships. Expect the team's balanced offense to put up some points behind back Chris Paolini, signal-caller Dan Scalo and Central Florida-bound kicker Jamie Boyle. On the other side, the Huguenots are coming off a sound 33-7 victory over La Salle Institute. In addition to having a capable offense, New Rochelle's defense has been devastating as of late, allowing just seven points in the last two games while limiting La Salle to just 102 yards of total offense.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Class B

 

 

Rye Garnets (11-0) vs. Hudson Falls Tigers (10-1), Nov. 22 at Dietz Stadium: Rye earned a spot in the state semifinals for the sixth straight year behind a dominating 35-6 win over a formidable Highland team last week. Expect the Garnets to feature a healthy dose of rushing behind Kyle Ramalho (115 yards and three touchdowns last week) mixed with a hard-hitting, ball-hawking defense. Hudson Falls running back Joe McMurry is a workhorse and will be key to igniting the Tiger offense. Last week, the senior rushed for 264 yards and three scores en route to his team's 54-20 mauling of Beekmantown.

 

 

 

Bath Haverling Rams (10-1) vs. Oneida Indians (10-1), Nov. 22 at PAETEC Park: The running back duo of Cody Hutcheson and Andre McCloud has played a key role in Bath Haverling's success in '08 and figures to do so again this weekend. The dynamic duo has made it difficult for any opposing defense to stop them. Their most recent victim was Lackawanna on Saturday as the two scampered for over 100 yards each. Meanwhile, while making their first-ever state playoff appearance, the Indians pose as a major challenge. Look for quarterback Ryan Kramer and wideout Brandon Miles to be headliners.

 

 

 

 

Other NYSPHSAA Semifinal Games:

 

 

 

Class C Semifinals

 

 

 

Saranac Lake vs. Croton-Harmon, Nov. 22 at Dietz Stadium

 

 

 

Elmire Notre Dame vs. Southwestern, Nov. 22 at Paetek Park

 

 

 

 

Class D Semifinals

 

 

 

Moriah vs. Tuckahoe, Nov. 21 at Dietz Stadium

 

 

 

Walton vs. Maple Grove, Nov. 21 at Paetek Park

 

 

 

 

Class A Semifinals

 

 

 

Burnt Hills vs. Nyack, Nov. 21 at Dietz Stadium

 

 

 

Corning West vs. Sweet Home, Nov. 21, Paetek Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Jersey

 

 

 

Non-Public Group IV Semifinals

 

 

 

No. 6 St. Peters Prep Marauders (7-2) vs. No. 2 Don Bosco Prep Ironmen (8-1), Nov. 21: The sixth-seeded Marauders pulled off a first round upset against No. 3 Red Bank last weekend to set up another postseason matchup with their archrival. Watch for quarterback Justin Perez to be a two-way threat for the Marauders and Greg Kohles and Sheldon Royster to be major playmakers on defense. Don Bosco enters the matchup after trouncing Paul VI, 65-6, last weekend behind five combined rushing scores from Dillon Romain and Tony Jones. You can count on the duo to have plenty of carries against St. Peter's in order to control the pace of the game. 

 

 

 

No. 1 Bergen Catholic Crusaders (8-1) vs. No. 5 St. Augustine Prep Hermits (9-0), Nov. 22: Bergen Catholic faces an upstart St. Augustine squad this weekend in a tough non-public Group IV semifinal game. The Crusaders are flying high after stomping Seton Hall Prep last weekend, 36-14, behind a balanced attack. Rob Eckrote manages the offense well as quarterback, while John Mitchell, Doug Rigg and Anthony Marino will be his main targets. On the other side, the Hermits look to remain unbeaten and get to the state championship game with a win over their toughest foe yet. St. Augustine captured its first postseason win in 13 years last weekend over Notre Dame despite falling behind 14-0 in the first half.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pennsylvania

 

 

 

Class A

 

 

 

District 6 Championship

Portage Area Mustangs (12-0) vs. Bishop McCort Crushers (11-0), Nov. 22: The Mustangs have blown teams away all season long thanks to their punishing and clock-consuming rushing attack, a unit that has averaged 350 yards per game. Portage won't surprise anyone with its rush-first philosophy, but quite simply, it works to perfection. Last week, the Mustangs rushed their way to the District 6 title game thanks to big days from Mike Sinosky and Tommy Burgan, who combined for 320 yards. Bishop McCort will have to shut down Portage's offense or else they will be running uphill all day. Quarterback Jack Schrey is a multi-threat option and will look to Dane Domonkos and Josh Seidel as options offensively to spark his side to a championship victory.

 

 

 

WPIAL Class A Final

Clairton Bears (12-0) vs. Monaca Indians (11-1), Nov. 22: Two defensive stalwarts meet face-to-face this weekend at Heinz Field for the WPIAL Class A Championship. Clairton proved last week that its second-ranked defense was up to the challenge against Rochester in a 16-0 victory, which was also the team's seventh shutout of the season. Monaca will have its work cut out for them. Clairton has allowed just 29 points in 12 games all season. RB Eddie Ball and QB Andrew Currington will lead the offense. Meanwhile, the Indians hope to break the trend and get back to the title game by implementing a balanced offensive attack behind running back Skyler Schultz and also Matt Bradford and Tony Reda, who have each taken snaps for Monaca since Brandon Gaydosh went down with an injury in week three.

 

 

 

 

Class AA

 

 

 

WPIAL Class AA Final

Beaver Falls Tigers (12-0) vs. Aliquippa Quips (10-2), Nov. 22: Two rivals will battle it out on the gridiron this weekend for the WPIAL Class AA title at Heniz Field in Pittsburgh. The Tigers will look to establish their potent rushing offense headed by Cody Cook and Tony Omogrosso. Cook is comingoff a monser performance in the semifinals vs. Jeannette in which he tallied 313 yards on the ground and scored three times. If the Quips can limit the Tigers and get them off the field, they can certainly come away as victors. Aliquippa is certainly no stranger to the title game. This season marks the 19th time that the Quips will play for the WPIAL championship. RB Maurice Carter will be counted on to stretch the Tigers defense. The standout is coming off a three-touchdown performance in last week's 27-14 win over Shady Side.

 

 

 

District 4 Championship

Mount Carmel Tornadoes (12-0) vs. Montoursville Warriors (10-2), Nov. 21: Mt. Carmel is one step closer to a perfect season and will aim for the District 4 title this weekend, but perennial state power Montoursville will have a lot to say about that. Carmel's attack will likely feature quarterback Marcus Wasilewski and senior Matt Moroz. Moroz is on the heels of a three-touchdown performance in the semifinals. On the other side, Montoursville also brings in some momentum after steamrolling Athens, 42-7, last week. The Warriors will look to bring home their third district title in four years behind running backs Cody Haupt and Josh Cillo carrying the load on offense.

 

 

 

 

Class AAA

 

 

 

Berwick Area Bulldogs (10-2) vs. Wilson Warriors (12-0), Nov. 21: Opposing teams have known all season that Berwick features a stellar defensive unit capable of shutting down top teams. The Bulldogs drove the point home last weekend by coming away with a 3-0 victory in the District 2 championship. The Bulldogs will need a similar effort against undefeated Wilson this weekend in order to continue their season. Look for Brandon Welch and Ed Hoffman to be flying around the field. Meanwhile, Wilson notched its fourth shutout of the season in convincing style last week in a 34-0 win over Bangor. Warriors quarterback Tyler Smith will try to amplify the offense along with running backs A.J. Parker and Ray Mosby. Expect a close game between two heavyweights.

 

 

 

WPIAL Class AAA Final

Thomas Jefferson Jaguars (11-1) vs. Blackhawk Cougars (11-1), Nov. 22: Other than an out of state loss to Ohio juggernaut Glenville to start the season, the Jaguars have been downright lethal. The team's closest game came against Hopewell on Nov. 7, which was still a 35-16 trouncing. But the Jags should be wary this weekend in the WPIAL title game against Blackhawk (89.25 State Power Rating) at Heinz Field. Running back Brian Baldrige is by far the most potent weapon for the Jaguars and a must-contain player for Blackhawk. Baldrige ran for a career-high 382 yards and three scores last week to lead his team back to the title game. Meanwhile, Blackhawk will aim to counter with its big-play offense and physical defense. Quarterback Zack Hayward will look to continue his red-hot play as of late. The signal-caller threw for 236 yards and three scores last week. All the while, the Cougars haven't allowed more than 10 points since Oct. 10. Something will have to give this weekend.

 

 

 

 

Class AAAA

 

 

 

District 11 Championship

Liberty Hurricanes (11-1) vs Freedom Patriots (10-2), Nov. 22: Two crosstown rivals meet once again, this time for a district championship. Emotions won't be any higher during this game, a true grudge match between two of the state's most talented teams. The Hurricanes are in the midst of an 11-game winning streak after dispatching Emmaus last week, 26-20. Look for Hurricanes quarterback Anthony Gonzalez to be the main catalyst for his side, both through the air and on the ground. Tailback Brandon Brader should provide Liberty with a second option against a daunting Freedom defense. The Patriots want nothing more than a victory over their arch-nemesis after falling to Liberty, 20-14, on Nov. 1. Running back Eduardo Mateo will attempt to drain the clock for his team and tire the Hurricanes defense early. Expect Ryan Tress to work some play action into the game to keep Liberty on its toes.

 

 

 

WPIAL Class AAAA Final

Gateway Gators (12-0) vs. Bethel Park (12-0), Nov. 22: While many prognosticators have penciled in Gateway to be WPIAL champs since August, an excellent Bethel Park team has emerged as a championship contender as well. Both teams are separated by just 1.21 points in the state power ratings, so expect this game to go down to the wire. Gateway is hoping to grab the title after falling to Pittsburgh Central Catholic last year in an overtime thriller. Gateway's formidable offensive attack features Brian Williams, Rob Kalkstein, Corey Brown and Dorian Bell, and it will take a giant performance to contain them. Meanwhile, Bethel Park plans on riding the coattails of standouts Erik Olson (QB) and Lyle Marsh (RB), who orchestrated a come-from-behind victory last week against McKeesport to land a spot in the finals at Heinz Field.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Catch Adam's regional breakdowns each week right here at FootballPower. You can reach him at adam.warner@activenetwork.com.

 

 

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By Ryan Rohde

SportsPower Correspondent

 

Florida -- First Round

 

Class 6A

Miami Northwestern Bulls (10-2, No. 2 - District 13) vs. Columbus Explorers (9-0, No. 1 - District 14): This is the most intriguing matchup of the first round. Due to district standings and locality, two of Florida’s best meet in the first round. Northwestern’s quest for three straight championships begins with a giant hurdle against No. 1 Columbus. The Bulls offense has big-play ability and a steady ground game. Running backs Daquan Hargrett and Tyresse Jones have combined for over 1,000 yards and 24 touchdowns. Columbus swept through the regular season in dominant fashion. The defense allows only seven points per game on average, including three shutouts. The Columbus offense is just as formidable. RB Jakhari Gore averages eight yards per carry and QB Garrett Colao has thrown for 1,455 yards and 18 touchdowns. The winner of this game has a good shot at making it to the title game.

 

Apopka Blue Darters (8-2, No. 2 - District 4) vs. Timber Creek Wolves (8-2, No. 1 - District 3): Despite not winning District 4, Apopka is one of the most talented teams in 6A. Star QB Jeremy Gallon has been plagued by injuries this year, but backup Caleb Nelson has filled in nicely. Timber Creek, meanwhile, heads into the playoffs on a seven game winning streak and is playing its best football of the season. RB Rahfee Maclee has been carrying the offensive load this season with 1,500 yards and 16 touchdowns. Timber Creek can prove to 6A that they are a dangerous squad with a win on Friday.

 

Lake Brantley Patriots (7-3, No. 2 - District 2) vs. Spruce Creek Hawks (8-3, No. 1 - District 1): Just two seasons ago, Lake Brantley was playing in the 6A title game and making history by becoming the first Seminole County team to accomplish that feat. The Patriots now can make history by being the first to win a title, and the journey starts Friday night. RB Antonio Miles is one of the most underrated backs in the state. He has 1,500 yards on the ground to go with 15 touchdowns. Miles has rushed for over 4,500 yards in his outstanding career. Spruce Creek has posted some big wins throughout the year, including a 21-point victory over Seminole. Look for the Hawks' strong defense to focus in on Miles and take Lake Brantley out of their comfort zone.

 

Class 5A

Niceville Eagles (8-1, No. 2 - District 1) vs. Fletcher Senators (10-0, No. 1 - District 2): Two of class 5A’s best meet in the first round. Fletcher is one of six undefeated teams in 5A thanks to an offense that is one of the most potent in the state. WR Lamar Scruggs and RB’s Deschion Baskerville and Parris Lee -- all Div. I recruits -- lead an offense that averages 37 points per game. Niceville's only loss came to No. 1 Pine Forest by three points and has since posted a nice win over Dr. Phillips. QB Rick Whitten is a dual threat and RB Roy Finch has given the eagles a steady ground game. WR Kody Williams also enables Niceville to stretch the field. Look for this one to be a high scoring affair.

 

Largo Packers (9-1, No. 1 - District 10) vs. Countryside Cougars (7-3, No. 2 - District 9): Largo looks to take one more step in the playoffs after reaching the semifinals and eventually bowing out to state champion St. Thomas Aquinas last year. Ryan Eppes has played well at QB and Marcel Durham has been strong on the ground. Countryside failed to make the playoffs last year and look to make some noise. QB Jimbo Chmelik has 1,400 yards through the air and 16 touchdowns and RB Dawrence Roberts has amassed over 1,000 on the ground. Country looks to make a statement to the rest of 5A.

 

Wharton Wildcats (8-2, No. 1 - District 5) vs. Alonso Ravens (7-3, No. 2 - District 6): Wharton will play on Friday with heavy hearts. Defensive coordinator Earl Goodman passed away on Nov. 8 of an apparent heart attack.  "Basically, we're just trying not to think about it, because the more we think about it, the sadder we will get. We try to move on with our play, try to carry his legacy on throughout the game," said senior safety Jairus Jones, a four-year starter under Goodman in a recent TampaBay.com article. This extra motivation could springboard Wharton to a nice playoff run.

 

Class 4A

Lincoln Trojans (7-3, No. 1 - District 3) vs. Lee Generals (7-3, No. 2 - District 4): Lincoln is never short on talent and this year is no different. They have a very fast defense led by DB’s DeAndre Byrd and Jawanza Starling, two Div. I recruits. Lee also features a very stout defense. The unit is anchored by its linebacking core. Tavarius Stringfield, Troy Bacon and Will Holloman head a group that has held seven opponents to 13 points or less. Both of these defenses will step up on Friday night in what shouuld be a low-scoring battle.

 

Eastside Rams (9-1, No. 1 - District 6) vs. Nease Panthers (6-3, No. 2 - District 5): Nease fell in last season's state title game to powerhouse Armwood. The Panthers' strong defense has held six opponents to 14 points or less with defensive linemen John Gallagher and Frank Souza anchoring the group. Nease has been streaky this season, opening with three straight wins and then suffering three straight midseason losses before finishing on a three-game winning streak. Eastside has been impressive all season with its only loss coming to Godby in week 2. The offense has been very potent and averages 35 points per game. Eastside can make a strong run in these playoffs and it starts Friday against a traditional Florida power.

 

Plant Panthers (9-1, No. 1 - District 10) vs. Lakewood Spartans (7-3, No. 2 - District 9): Plant’s star QB Aaron Murray has been out with a broken leg since mid-October, but that hasn't stopped the Panthers from racking up wins. Backup quarterback Phillip Ely has been outstanding since the loss of Murray, throwing for 1,181 yards and 13 touchdowns. The Panthers defense is second to none, holding opponents to fewer than 10 points per game, including shutdown performances against the likes of Armwood and Chamberlain. Lakewood needs to bring their “A” game and rely on QB Jacquez Jenkins. Jenkins is a talented QB who can beat you with his arm or his legs. Plant looks to continue its success and prove that they are not just a one-man team.

 

Dwyer Panthers (9-1, No. 1 - District 14) vs. Okeechobee Brahmans (8-2, No. 2 - District 13): Dwyer fell just short of upsetting champion Booker T. Washington in last season’s playoffs, losing by one. The Panthers have been strong all year and have only lost to powerhouse Glades Central on Oct. 4. RB Donald Russell has been the catalyst of the Panthers offense while Bradley Wallace has been steady at QB. Okeechobee lost to Dwyer in first round last season and looks to exact revenge. RB Lonnie Pryor has been one of the best backs in South Florida this season. Revenge factor might be what the Brahmans need to topple Dwyer on Friday night.

 

Class 3A

Lake Wales Highlanders (10-1, No. 2 - District 10) vs. Cocoa Tigers (9-1, No. 1 - District 9): Two of Class 3A's most talented teams square off in the first round. Lake Wales came four points shy of a perfect regular season after losing to Ridge on Oct. 24, 35-31. RB James Norwood has been strong all season while his team's stingy defense is allowing just 14 points per game. Cocoa looks to make another step in the playoffs after losing in the semifinals. The squad's offense is explosive and has posted 49 points or more four times this season. The eyes of class 3A will be on this game because it could go down to the wire.

 

Godby Cougars (8-2, No. 1 - District 2) vs. Pensacola Tigers (8-2, No. 2 - District 1): This is a rematch of last season's first round game where Godby won 28-21. The Cougars have a potent passing game with QB A.J. Graham at the helm. Graham has put up 2,500 yards in the air with Willie Downs and Kessey Graham providing the big play threat on the outside. Pensacola has revenge on its mind. The Tigers are on a roll and have won five straight to close out the season. Both sides have plenty of talent; this is going to be another tight one.

 

Jackson Tigers (10-0, No. 1 - District 3) vs. Menendez Falcons (8-2, No. 2 - District 4): Defense will be the storyline in this game. Jackson swept through the regular season after failing to make the playoffs last year. The defense has been second to none. Led by DB Derrick Owens, this unit has not allowed more than eight points in any game while posting two shutouts. Menendez is making its first postseason appearance in school history. RB Dustin Bryant has been a workhorse and the Falcons hope to make a statement in their first playoff game.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Georgia

 

 

 

Second Round

 

 

 

Class AAAAA

Camden County Wildcats (11-0, No. 1 - Region 3) vs. Northside-Warner Robins Eagles (10-1, No. 2 - Region 1): You can’t ask for a better second round game than this one. This will be the first time since '90 that two top five teams will meet in the second round of the AAAAA playoffs. Camden County was a semifinalist one year ago and has proved they are ready for the next step. The Wildcats have won their games by an average score of 49-7, including 60-plus point performances in four games along with four shutouts. Northside has dominated AAAA for the past few seasons and this is their crack at a AAAAA title. LB Eric Fields is one of the state's best and Abry Jones anchors a defensive line that has allowed only 20 points once this season, and that was to top-ranked Lowndes. Spectators in attendance will be in for a real treat because this one has the appearance of a college game more than high school.

 

 

 

Grayson Rams (11-0, No. 1 - Region 8) vs. East Paulding Raiders (9-2, No. 3 - Region 5): East Paulding comes in after an emotional triple overtime win over Milton, 43-41. East Paulding was a AAAA squad last season and have already made a big splash in AAAAA with last week's win. Jahron Brown has been a staple in the backfield while his team's defense has been solid. Grayson has been very impressive all season as well. The defense has allowed double digits points against just three opponents, including last week's 31-7 win against Collins Hill. The offense has been equally strong with Tyler Horne and Ean Pemberton providing an elite QB-RB tandem.

 

Peachtree Ridge Lions (9-2, No. 1 - Region 7) vs. Harrison Hoyas (9-2, No. 2 - Region 5): Both teams come in off of impressive playoff wins last weekend. Peachtree Ridge has won nine straight since opening the season with back-to-back losses, including a 13-3 defeat against Harrison in week one. The defense has been a mainstay this season providing three shutouts. Harrison looks to take the next step after getting bounced out in this round last year. RB Robbie Godhigh has given the Hoyas a consistent running game and the defense stepped up huge last week. This game has the makings of a hard fought battle to the end.

 

North Gwinnet Bulldogs (9-2, No. 2 - Region 7) vs. Lassiter Trojans (9-2, No. 4 - Region 6): Lassiter upset region 5 champ Etowah in round one and will look for another one this week. The Trojans were 3-7 last season and have made the first step to building a powerful program with the win last week. North Gwinnett lost in the state championship last season and is back for more. The Bulldogs' only losses came to Byrnes (SC) and Peachtree Ridge. The defense has been a force and has held opponents under double digits in all but five games. This game has some nice underlying stories with the new playoff team trying to take down the mainstay that's hungry for the title.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alabama

 

 

 

State Quarterfinals

Class 6A

Mountain Brook Spartans (11-1) vs. Hoover Bucs (11-1): A rematch of one of the best games of the regular season. Hoover won the first battle 28-21, on Oct. 10th. Hoover beat an upstart Minor squad last week to reach the quarterfinals. The defense imposed its force on Minor, holding star RB Desmond Ivory to just 69 yards on 20 carries. Also backup QB Dylan Breeding stepped in nicely for starter Simon Probst after he suffered a big hit and was sidelined during the third quarter. For the second year in a row, Mountain Brook ended Tuscaloosa County’s bid at a perfect season. QB Judd Golsan and WR J.D. Marsh returned last week and inspired the entire Spartan team. They expect more of the same as the Spartans try to avenge their only loss of the season.

 

Auburn Tigers (11-0) vs. Prattville Lions (10-1): Prattville seeks its second straight 6A title and has been in championship form all season. The Lions defense might be the best in the state and have six shutouts to their credit. La’angelo Albright and Alex Page lead the great linebacking core and safety Zach Brownell heads a very fast secondary. Although they haven't been as dominant as Prattville, Auburn has won all its games nonetheless. This Tiger team is an explosive group and has a big opportunity to take down the state's No. 1 squad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mississippi

 

 

 

State Quarterfinals  

Class 5A

South Panola Tigers (12-0, No. 1 - Region 1) vs. Northwest Rankin Cougars (10-2, No. 2 - Region 2): Northwest Rankin has been underestimated all season. The squad opened some eyes last week by defeating a highly talented Tupelo team. The Cougars won a thrilling 19-16 overtime game in the mud and now face the Tigers and their infamous streak. South Panola has been smashing teams all year, including a 20-8 win last weekend. Tigers RB Nicholas Parker has emerged as the top runner in the state while the defense has shut down opposing offenses. NW Rankin is going to need a little more of last week's magic to upset South Panola.

 

Madison Central Jaguars (11-1, No. 1 - Region 2) vs. Olive Branch Conquistadors (9-2, No. 2 - Region 1): Both teams are considered as two of the most talented in the state. Olive Branch beat a solid Clinton team last weak. QB Clint Wilson has been steady at QB and his team's defense is playing well at the right time. Madison Central features an explosive offense and can score at a moments notice. All the while, the team;s defense has been sturdy when needed. The winner of this game gets a possible matchup against South Panola in the semifinals.

 

 

 

 

 

Catch Ryan's regional breakdowns every Thursday right here at FootballPower. You can reach him at ryan.rohde@activenetwork.com. 

 

 

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By Brett Manney

SportsPower Correspondent

 

There are major implications across the region as the high school football season winds down for many states. Hawaii and California are just starting their state playoff tournaments, while many other states are already deep into the state tournament or even the championship. Every game now is win or go home and for many teenagers, the dream will be celebrated joyfully or crushed right before their eyes.

 

Idaho

 

Eagle Mustangs (11-0) vs. Highland Rams (9-2): The Milk Bowl in Idaho will be a battle between two loaded teams that are evenly matched up in this championship game. The undefeated Eagle squad looked unstoppable running the ball last week behind RB Drew McConnell. The speedy back rushed for 205 yards on just 16 carries with four touchdowns. The Mustangs piled up 474 total rushing yards, which was a season high. Highland can run the ball effectively as well behind dynamic QB Taysom Hill, a Stanford recruit. In last week's win he accounted for 373 yards of total offense, which included all of his team's touchdowns (two rushing and three passing). A ground affair is expected in Idaho to determine the 5A champion.

 

 

 

Wisconsin

 

Arrowhead Warhawks (13-0) vs. Homestead Highlanders (13-0): The state championship in Wisconsin features two teams familiar to success. The Warhawks are eyeing their second straight state championship and are making history with their third consecutive title championship game appearance. The Warhawks rely on the run and have using it effectively all season. Last week, three different players tallied more than 90 yards rushing. QB Tom Parish is the leader and had 174 yards rushing on just 12 carries. Homestead, which won the state championship in '06, is looking for revenge after losing to Arrowhead last year. WR Mike Collins had a career day last week with six catches for 149 yards while scoring all five Highlander touchdowns, including a 99-yard kickoff return.  The Division 1 state championship comes down to two old friends fighting once again for the elusive title.

 

 

 

Washington

 

Bothell Cougars (8-3) vs. Issaquah Eagles (9-2): This rematch game will likely not have the same outcome as the last meeting when these two teams met with Issaquah prevailing 24-13 in September. Both teams feature star running backs to help set up their passing games. Cougars RB Patrick Ottorbech averages 130 yards rushing a game with 20 touchdowns to his credit. The Cougars will be looking to avenge their loss over two months ago. RB Grant Gellatly is the stud for the Eagles offense and hopes to set the pace this weekend.  The winner of this 4A quarterfinal is one step closer towards reaching their dream goal.

 

Auburn Trojans (11-0) vs. Skyline Spartans (11-0): Two undefeated squads meet up in a quarterfinal matchup to advance to the state semifinal. The almighty Skyline is considered one of the nation’s best teams and for obvious reasons. They have two stars on the offensive side with QB Jake Heaps and WR Gino Simone, a Washington State recruit. The squad's dominant defense has only allowed 39 points in eleven games and gives every opposing coach nightmares. Meanwhile, the Trojans have a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in Jeff Gouveia and Chris Young to pace their running attack. In addition to his offensive skills, Gouveia is the team's leading tackler as well.

 

Ferndale Golden Eagles (11-0) vs. Union Titans (11-0): The 3A game to watch this week will certainly be entertaining.  The Golden Eagles have been dominant as of late thanks to a stout defense. Armed with fast and aggressive tacklers, the Golden Eagles only allowed three points last week. Meanwhile, RB Blake Russell runs the show for the Titans. Last week, the bruiser rushed for 154 yards and three scores against Timberland. Look for a lot of intensity in a game that will most likely carry a "ground and pound" mentality football in Washington.

 

 

 

Utah

 

Bingham Miners (11-2) vs. Alta Hawks (12-1): The biggest stage in the state of Utah is the class 5A state championship this weekend. Two football powerhouses collide in a rematch after Alta defeated Bingham way back in August, 27-19. Bingham is the hottest team in the state after starting the season 0-2. QB Jake Soffe is a great leader who has thrown for over 2,000 yards with 25 touchdowns and only four interceptions. The Hawks look to repeat as state champions and have not lost to an in-state team all season. QB Ammon Olsen is an effective signal-caller who likes to spread the ball around. He averages 225 yards passing a game and loves to throw the ball to his favorite receiver Parker Webster, who leds the team with 50 receptions and 929 yards. A colossal matchup of titans will be witnessed by thousands in this highly-anticipated matchup.

 

Cottonwood Colts (13-0) vs. Timpview Thunderbirds (12-0): Cottonwood comes in as a heavy favorite to capture the 4A state title, but they will have its hands full with a powerful Timpview squad. The Colts like the run the ball behind giant OL John Martinez, who is one of the nation's most sought-after lineman. Timpview’s undefeated record is no fluke. Week one was the only time they have scored less than 28 points and they have been on fire ever since. Led by a strong offensive line and an athletic secondary, the Thunderbirds look to peak this weekend. The University of Utah is the place to be when these undefeated squads battle for the championship.

 

 

 

Nevada   

 

Palo Verde Panthers (12-0) vs. Bishop Gorman Gaels (12-1): Palo Verde is looking to prevent Bishop Gorman from repeating as state champion in this Nevada quarterfinal machup. The Gaels have not lost to a Nevada opponent in over two years. Top RB Kawika Antolin can break off tackles and has great speed to turn the corners. The Panthers still remember last year's loss to the Gaels in the state semifinal when the Gaels scored with less than a minute to play. Palo Verde features two outstanding running backs in Chaz Thomas and Tyrone Blake, who have combined for over 2,200 yards rushing. This is the must-see game when the lights go on in Nevada.

 

Las Vegas Wildcats (11-1) vs. Del Sol Dragons (10-2): The Sunrise regional final game will have major implications for the state championship. A strong offensive line is the key to success for the Dragons. Last week, RB Derek Eamon rushed for 412 yards and accumulated five touchdowns for the second time in as many weeks. Wildcats sparkplug RB Reggie Bullock has over 1,400 yards rushing this season and is the main option for the offense.  QB Emir Lopez has a strong arm as he has 2,346 yards passing and an explosive WR in Aaron Franklin. This game features many talented players with great individual stats, but only one team will win this crucial game.

 

 

 

Oregon

 

Hermiston Wildcats (7-3) vs. Glencoe Bulldogs (9-3): The battle is on in Oregon in this Class 5A quarterfinal matchup. The Bulldogs are making just their second appearance in the state quarterfinals and hope they will advance after Friday night. Intermountain conference offensive MVP Faafiula Ena looks to make history for the Wildcats and carry his team to a win despite a defense that has been suspect at times. Glencoe is coming off a three-point win last week and hope to play better this time around. Inconsistency has plagued the Crimson Tide at times and they will need to improve or else their season is over. 

 

Sheldon Irish (7-4) vs. Lake Oswego Lakers (10-0): Sheldon should pose as an interesting matchup for undefeated Lake Oswego in this quarterfinal clash. The Irish are the defending 6A state champs and look to repeat their success from a year ago. QB Jordan Johnson is the main focal point of the offense and can throw the ball and run just as well. He is an athletic QB who makes plays with his feet. Lake Oswego relies on their standout signal-caller as well. Jack Lomax, an Oregon State recruit, has thrown for over 2,800 yards with 39 touchdowns and headlines the Lakers squad. They are looking for vengeance after Sheldon handed them their only loss last year in the state tournament and crushing their title dreams. Lomax has plenty of weapons as wideouts Nick Rulli, Micah Hatfield and Will Storey all have over 600 yards receiving with nine touchdowns or more. A battle of epic proportions will surely be the case in Oregon this weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colorado

 

State Semifinals

Poudre Impalas (10-2) vs. Mullen Mustangs (10-2): Only one of these 5A teams will be handed its third loss of the season which is what neither team wants because the ride will be over. The Impalas rely heavily on RB Josh Marton, who has rushed for 1,783 yards with 23 touchdowns this season. He sets the tone for the offense and runs well between the tackles.  The Impalas defense has been impressive all season as well. The 17 points they surrounded against Douglas County was the most they have given up all season. The Mustangs can put up points in a hurry, but their defense is suspect at times. Quite simply, for the Mustangs to advance, they will need their defense to play the best game of the season or else they will be sent home packing.

 

Cherry Creek Bruins (10-2) vs. Columbine Rebels (11-1): In the other state semifinal matchup, expect a lot of running and tough football with the winner advancing to the 5A state championship. The Bruins have been successful this year with their running attack. QB Kain Colter has filled in admirably for TJ Shantz, and is doing a little but of everything now for the Bruins. On the defensive side of the ball, Luke Flanagan has been lights out and features superior tackling ability. The Rebels rely on the run with many players getting involved. The general is QB Danny Spond, who is the leading rusher and passer for the Rebels. On defense, Nathan Wiggins is their ball hawk in the secondary.

 

Pine Creek Eagles (12-0) vs. Greeley West Spartans (11-1): The state semifinal in 4A will have a lot of fireworks when the two teams collide this weekend. Last week, the Spartans received another tremendous effort from their stellar defense, which returned three interceptions for touchdowns. Known for their great front seven on defense, the Spartan secondary has elevated their game in recent weeks. Pine Creek does not have one blunder on its record and for obvious reasons. This 4A juggernaut has a stellar QB in Josh Chance and one of the state's best offensive lines. Two very talented defenses will be center stage in this must-see 4A matchup.

 

 

 

Nebraska

 

Millard South Patriots (9-3) vs. Millard West Wildcats (12-0): The state championship game for Class A features two heated rivals in a game which could not have been scripted any better.  When these two teams met on Sept. 12, Millard barely prevailed with a 15-12 victory. The Wildcats have one of the best linebacking units in the state and have not scored fewer than 29 points in two months. Meanwhile, the Patriots have regained their winning ways since losing three games early in the season. They rely on multiple players to make plays with their excellent team speed. Expect thousands to witness a classic game this weekend at the University of Nebraska with the winner hoisting four months of hard work.

 

 

 

Hawaii

 

Kealakehe Waveriders (9-2) vs. Farrington Governors (8-3): The quarterfinal matchup will decide who advances one step closer to the state championship. The Waveriders lost two of their first three games but have rebounded ever since. Their star is QB Jordan Ursua, who is explosive and makes defenders miss routinely in the open field. The Governors need to find consistency on defense to shut down their opponent's potent offense. This first round matchup will be played with high intensity because seasons are on the line. 

 

Baldwin Bears (8-1) vs. Leilehua Mighty Mules (9-2): Both of these squads have been impressive so far, but only one team will see its season continue after Friday’s game. The Bears' only loss was to California power Mission Viejo and since then have won seven games in a row. The Bears need to improve their defense because they have allowed fewer than 12 points only once this season. The Mules are defending state champions and have lost their two games by a combined eight points. All-state QB Andrew Manley has a rocket arm and is averaging 250 yards per game passing. This game will come down to the wire with the loser spending more free time at the beach.

 

 

 

Arizona

 

State Quarterfinals

Desert Ridge Jaguars (8-3) vs. Centennial Coyotes (11-0): Desert Ridge will have its hands full against the best team in the state of Arizona. These two teams met in their respective season openers in which the Coyotes prevailed 34-7. Centennial has been dominant, allowing just 5.5 points per game and averaging 43.2 points per game offensively. Leading the way is RB John Hughes, who averages 122 yards rushing a game. The Jaguars rely on their aerial attack to defeat opponents with QB Kevin Pantastico, who has thrown for 2,700 yards and 30 touchdowns.  Yet the Jaguars' best player on the field is WR/RB Chris Heldore, who is the leading rusher and receiver with 24 combined touchdowns. Desert Ridge looks to stun the world this Friday in 5A Division II action.

 

Chandler Wolves (8-3) vs. Hamilton Huskies (10-1): The most anticipated matchup of the 5A Division 1 state tournament so far pits two league rivals and quality Arizona programs in a fight for survival. These two teams met back on Nov. 7 with Hamilton winning 41-26. The most points the Huskies have given up all season were the 26 they surrended to Chandler, so this one could be a shootout. WR Andrew Terrell is a dual threat and arguably the best athlete on the field at both wide receiver and running back. The Wolves defense is prone to giving up points lately as they have surrended 25 points or more during their last three games. QB Kyle Yount will be counted on to control his offense and improve on his 22 touchdown passes. Tensions will surely be hot when the kickoff lights the Arizona sky.

 

 

 

California

 

Loyola Cubs (6-4) vs. Mission Viejo Diablos (9-1): Two of the premier teams in California face each other in first round of the playoffs. Loyola has been a disappointment this year and barely got into the playoffs with a win last week against Crespi. The Loyola offense is centered around explosive RB Anthony Barr, who averages 182 yards per game rushing on top of 19 total touchdowns. The Diablos like to find their big playmaker WR Kevin Chandler, who averages 130 yards receiving a game and has 13 touchdowns. The Diablos have the better record, but look for the Cubs to play the way they are capable of and this will be an entertaining game. 

 

Lutheran Lancers (8-2) vs. Fountain Valley Barons (7-3): Both squads are fighting to play another week in the highly competitive Southern Section of California. The Lancers are coming off two impressive wins over Mater Dei and Santa Margarita. QB Bobby Wheatly runs the show for the Lancers, who have a balanced pass and run attack. They will face a tough defense from the Barons, a squad that allows just 13.9 points per game. The Barons look to wear defenses down behind bruiser RB Kyle Middlebrooks, who averages 159 yards per game with 15 touchdowns to his credit. A lot is at stake and now it is either win or go home for two very good football teams.

 

 

 

 

Look for Brett's regional previews each week right here at FootballPower.tv. You can reach him at brett.manney@activenetwork.com.

 

 

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By Jimmy Oliver

SportsPower Correspondent

 

Division VI, Region 24 Finals

Ada Bulldogs (12-0) vs. St. Johns Blue Jays (10-2): St. John’s has done a tremendous job after a 2-8 campaign last year.  Ada has been nothing short of dominant this season.  This sets up to be a matchup of one team on the rise and another looking to get back to the finals. The Blue Jays are trying to prove they belong with the big boys this year and the only way that happens is with a win over Ada. 

 

Division I, Region 4 Finals

Colerain Cardinals (11-1) vs. Elder Panthers (11-1): Talk about a huge game featuring national powers.  This is going to be one of those contests that people talk about next year as one of the best games all season.  Elder’s only loss was to top ten power Aquinas, while Colerain lost a tight one to Middletown in the middle of the season. With these schools sitting at No. 1 and No. 2 in the FP rankings, it doesn’t get much better than this.

 

Division IV, Region 14 Finals   

Coldwater Cavaliers (12-0) vs. Archbishop Alter Knights (12-0): So far this year, both teams have run the table, but something must give this weekend.  Both teams are evenly matched in terms of points for and against as Coldwater put up 41 points of offense and just 6 popints against per game. Meanwhile,  Alter averages 44 points per game and just 7 on defense.   Is anyone going to score in this game?

 

Division II, Region 8 Finals

Winton Woods Warriors (11-1) vs. Anderson Redskins (10-2): A rematch from a September game that saw the Warriors beat Anderson 23-13 behind a strong running game from both Jeremiah Goins and Dominique Brown. Both standouts had over 100 yards on the day.  Meanwhile, this time around, the ‘Skins are looking to step up their run defense and force the Warriors to throw more.

 

Division III, Region 12 Finals

Logan Elm Braves (11-0) vs. Eastmoor Academy Warriors (11-1): This matchup should be quite an interesting contest between two teams with close records.  The Warriors of Eastmoor have dominated in each of their 11 wins this year.  In contrast, the Braves have had massive wins, but also some close games as well, so it appears going in that the undefeated Braves are the more tested team.  This time of year, playing a stronger schedule during the regular season often makes a difference in the postseason.

 

Division III, Region 9 Finals

Walsh Jesuit Warriors (9-2) vs. Aurora Greenmen (10-2): Walsh is capable of making big plays on both sides of the ball at any given time. All the while, Aurora's spread offense should give Walsh all it can handle.  Keep in mind, this is a rematch from the 2006 Regional Semifinals which saw Aurora come out on top. Perhaps that plays into the motivation for Walsh.

 

Division V, Region 17 Finals

Ursuline Fighting Irish (11-0) vs. Kirtland Hornets (12-0): Yet another battle of the undefeated.  This game is going to come down to whoever can stop the run.  True, this isn't an original concept, but both teams are rely heavily on a rushing attack. On the other side of the ball, both the Irish and Hornets are tough against the run.  With that said, don't be surprised if the final score reads 3-0.

 

Division V, Region 18 Finals

Liberty-Benton Eagles (12-0) vs. Patrick Henry Patriots (11-0): Liberty-Benton is coming off of a huge win over Archbold (42-10) and Patrick Henry pitched a shutout against Wynford (21-0).  These are two teams that are playing well at the right time. Eagles quaterback Aaron Craft had a monster day last week with a total of 303 yards and rushed for four touchdowns.  Meanwhile, Patriots quaterback Luke George had a total of 460 yards of total offense. Good luck to both defenses.

 

 

Division IV, Region 13 Finals

Steubenville Big Red (12-0) vs. Perry Pirates (11-1): Take the speed of the Pirate offense and mix in the stingyness of the Big Red defense and you have one great game,  The team that dominates the line of scrimmage on defense will win this game. The size of the Big Red up front may be too much for Perry to handle.

 

Division III, Region 11

Licking Valley Panthers (11-1) vs. Dover Tornadoes (11-1): Both teams are 11-1. Both teams lost their first games of the season. And both teams have run off 11 straight wins in convincing fashion.  Licking Valley is averaging 39 points per game while Dover is scoring 46 points per contest.  That first loss of the season put both teams on the right track. The team that can avoid turnovers and control the clock will most likely come away as victors in this one. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To contact correspondent Jimmy Oliver, send him an e-mail at jimmy.oliver@activenetwork.com. 

 

 

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By Adam C. Warner

SportsPower Senior Editor

 

 

 

Pennsylvania plays host to some of the nation's most competitive playoff games this weekend as some teams are already in the regional semifinals. All of the traditional powers do battle this weekend, including Jeannette and Garnet Valley in the Keystone State, and St. Peter's Prep in New Jersey.

 

 

Pennsylvania

 

WPIAL Semifinals

 

Aliquippa Quips (9-2, State PR: 78.02, Class Rank: 12) vs. Shady Side Indians (11-0, State PR: 88.89, Rank: 5): Shady Side is coming off a 28-14 quarterfinal win over Center Area thanks to 178 combined rushing yards and three scores from Roman Sandoval and Brian Nickel, but Aliquippa enters with plenty of momentum after steamrolling previously unbeaten and favored Greensburg Central Catholic, 32-14. The Quips are riding a seven-game winning streak into the contest and will look to take down their second straight undefeated team en route to the Class AA WPIAL Finals at Heinz Field. Meanwhile, Shady Side is unbeaten for a reason, and a big factor has been the team’s dominant defense, which has posted seven shutouts this season in just 11 games.

 

Beaver Falls Tigers (11-0, State PR: 93.10, Rank: 2) vs. Jeannette Jayhawks (10-1, State PR: 86.32, Rank: 6): Two Keystone State Class AA juggernauts go head-to-head in what shapes up to be a sensational semifinal matchup. The Tigers are seeking revenge after being trounced by the Jayhawks in last season’s WPIAL Final, 61-12. Beaver Falls has fared well this season against winning teams, going 5-0 vs. foes with a State PR of 62 and above. On the other side, Jeannette poses as a daunting challenge with its big three attack of running back Jordan Hall, Moziah Harris at wideout and Cameron Baradziej at quarterback. Expect this one to go down to the wire.

 

Clairton Bears (11-0, State PR: 85.60, Rank: 4) vs. Rochester Rams (10-1, State PR: 75.51, Rank: 9): The Clairton Bears have been nothing short of unstoppable this season, scoring at least 37 each game while posting six shutouts along the way. The Bears have allowed just 30 points the entire season. With that said, it appears they should have no problem with Rochester this weekend, but Clairton hasn’t met an opponent this strong before. Rochester enters after riding a second-half explosion of offense to a 35-14 win over W. Beaver in the WPIAL quarterfinals. Running back Trey Johnson has been a one-man wrecking machine for the Rams this year. Look for him to play a key role in this game.

 

McKeesport Tigers (9-2, State PR: 85.42, Rank: 14) vs. Bethel Park Black Hawks (10-0, State PR: 94.34, Rank: 5): Buoyed by their flexbone offense and a crushing defense, the Tigers have made it back to the WPIAL semifinals by defeating defending PIAA AAAA champ Pittsburgh Central Catholic, a perennial contender that knocked them out the past two years. Running back Nico Price – who had 193 rush yards and three scores last week -- is the go-to player for the Tigers. But Bethel Park has been perfect this season despite a gauntlet of a schedule, which includes wins over Penn Hills and North Hills. QB Erik Olson and tailback Lyle Marsh head an elite cast for the Black Hawks and should be major players this weekend.

 

Highlands Golden Rams (11-0, State PR: 91.28, Rank: 2) vs. Blackhawk Cougars (10-1, State PR: 87.72, Rank: 5): The Golden Rams squeaked into the AAA semifinals following a 35-34 OT win over Montour last week, which was decided on a failed two-point conversion attempt. Highlands has proven to be excellent in close games this year, going 5-0 overall in contests decided by eight points or less. That bodes well for the team’s matchup with Blackhawk, which should be a tight battle. Meanwhile, aside from a hiccup vs. West Allegheny on Oct. 3, the Cougars have been a formidable team since the get-go. With quarterback Zack Hayward at the helm, in addition to athletic back Bryan Stefanik, Blackhawk can win behind a balanced offense and hard-nosed defense.

 

 

 

 

PIAA Playoffs

 

District 11

Liberty Hurricanes (10-1, State PR: 93.03, Rank: 6) vs. Emmaus Hornets (10-1, State PR: 89.23, Rank: 10): After falling to North Penn to commence the season, the Hurricanes have won ten straight games behind a ball-controlling offense and stellar defense. The streak includes several wins over state powers Parkland, Northampton and Bethlehem Freedom. However, Emmaus should be Liberty’s biggest test yet. Leading the cast is quarterback Matt Johnson, running back C.J. Billera and a defense that has posted five shutouts this season. These teams are extremely even, so expect this PIAA playoff game to be the same.

 

Schuylkill Haven Hurricanes (11-0, State PR: 89.57, Rank: 1) vs. Williams Valley Vikings (11-0, State PR: 84.82, Rank: 4): The Hurricanes will showcase their prolific offense this weekend in the Class A District 11 championship against a capable Williams Valley squad that also enters undefeated. Schuylkill Haven has averaged 49 points per game this year, but will be hard-pressed to continue the trend against the Vikings. Williams Valley has won each game by 12 points or more, so it will be interesting to see how the squad handles a game which may very well go down to the wire.

 

District 1

Garnet Valley Jaguars (11-0, State PR: 92.48, Rank: 7) vs. Pennsbury Falcons (9-2, State PR: 76.50, Rank: 24): After a trip to the PIAA finals last season, Garnet Valley is looking to make a return visit, but first they will have to get past a dynamic Pennsbury team. Behind playmakers Jared Bonacquisti, Tim Keyser, Marcellus Inrving and Chris Palaio, the Jags implement a multi-back system on offense and have used it to great success this year in controlling the clock and keeping defenses on the field. The Falcons will likely be facing its toughest opponent all year and will need to put forth their best effort. Pennsbury is only 1-2 this season against teams with a rating of 70 and above. Fullback Rich Applegate will need to be effective moving the chains if he wants his team to have a chance vs. the No. 2 seed.

 

Bayard Rustin Golden Knights (10-1, State PR: 79.82, Rank: 15) vs. Pottsgrove Falcons (10-1, State PR: 80.98, Rank: 12): The Golden Knights find themselves in the Class AAA District 1 semifinals thanks in part to a tough defense that hasn’t allowed more than 14 points in a game all season. Last week’s 27-14 win over Strath Haven was the team’s first-ever postseason victory. Rustin will certainly run often with dynamic back Rondell White, who scampered for 193 yards and four touchdowns a week ago.  On the other side, the Falcons are also riding the coattails of a nine-game winning streak, but will now face their first team with a state power rating of 70 or higher. Sophomore quarterback Terrell Chestnut leads the way as a two-way threat.

 

District 6

Portage Area Mustangs (11-0, State PR: 76.28, Rank: 7) vs. Purchase Line Red Dragons (10-0, State PR: 74.67, Rank: 12): Behind a rushing attack that has averaged 351 yards per game, the Mustangs aim to continue the trend this weekend in the District 6 Class A semifinals. Mike Sinosky, Tommy Burgan and company will look to run, run and run some more thanks to an elite offensive line. Meanwhile, Purchase Line features a high-powered rushing attack of its own that has amassed 3,277 yards, as Damian Fry, Joe Doland and Bobby Freno will take the bulk of carries. This battle of unbeatens could be epic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Jersey

Ridgewood Maroons (6-2, State PR: 72.00, Rank: 20) vs. Bloomfield Bengals (5-3, State PR: 58.00, Rank: 44): Two athletic football teams meet on the gridiron this weekend in the quarterfinals of the North 1, Group 4 playoffs. Despite losses to Montclair and Don Bosco Prep midway through the year, the No. 2 Maroons are back on track and will be seeking a long playoff run and Chuck Johnson’s squad should be prepared. Bloomfield has been inconsistent at times, but has the ability to pull off the win over the higher seed Maroons this weekend. These two teams are very even and will look to mix things up offensively.

 

Non Public Group IV

 

Red Bank Catholic Caseys (8-0, State PR: 87.48, Rank: 3) vs. St. Peters Prep Marauders (6-2, State PR: 76.69, Rank: 16): A pair of perennial powers meet head-to-head this weekend in Northern New Jersey. As the No. 3 seed, Red Bank has yet to be tested this year through eight games, but that will likely change against St. Peter’s, a state finalist last season. After suffering back-to-back losses to two of the nation’s best teams in St. Joseph and Good Counsel (Md.) to open the season, the Marauders have reeled off six straight wins in dominating fashion. Last weekend’s 21-7 win over Hoboken proved that St. Peter’s has the ability to come away with a victory vs. Red Bank this weekend. Who will prevail?

 

 

 

 

 

 

New York

Class AA Playoffs

Regional Quarterfinals

 

New Rochelle Huguenots (9-1, State PR: 72.34, Rank: 16) vs. LaSalle Cadets (8-2, State PR: 71.28, Rank: 20): The top two seeds do battle in the Empire State this weekend in the Class AA quarterfinals. The Cadets have struggled against competition with a power rating of 70 and above and the Huguenots at 72.34 will be no exception. Perhaps last month’s 41-39 win over Saratoga Springs (PR of 71.21) will be a sign of things to come. Meanwhile, New Rochelle has won nine games in a row after falling to Carmel in overtime to commence the season. But the Huguenots trounced Carmel 34-0 last week to advance once step closer to a state title, an indication that this team is peaking at the right time. Expect a knock-down-drag-out battle this weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

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