When: Saturday Oct. 22, 1:30 p.m.
Last Meeting: Oct. 22, 2010 - Everett won, 37-27
Rankings: Everett (6-0), No. 1 in New England
BC High (4-2), No. 8 in New England
Why it's big: Much like its game last week against Xaverian Brothers, Everett does not have the strength of schedule to hold it in the RivalsHigh 100 without solid performances in its games with its better competition. This looked like it was to be a showdown of the state's top two teams when the schedule was announced, but BC High has not kept up its end of the bargain. Boston College lost its two out-of-state games this year and so there is a regional basis for the results.
Best matchup: Everett offense against the BC High offense. Most do not think of New England and explosive offense, but both of these teams like to move the ball and get the offense in gear. Everett is averaging over 40 points per game while BC High is sitting right at 34 points per contest. This could be a high-scoring game and a fun one to watch as well.
Boston College wins if: It can produce multiple, long-scoring drives. This team, like Everett, has the potential to be a quick-strike team. It also has shown the ability to be a three-and-out team. If BC High has more three-and-out drives than three first-down drives, that will be a bad sign. Giving the ball over to Everett quickly is a recipe for a loss. While it doesn't need to run a four-minute offense every drive, it will need to play more conservative than normal.
Everett wins if: Jonathan Dibiaso has a good game throwing the ball. The Crimson Tide will try to spread out BC High and allow the college prospect a chance to move the ball through the air. The odds are that Dibiaso will have his way with the secondary of BC High as he has been on point nearly all season (and last season). If the game is on his arm, that is a good thing for Everett.
Prediction: Many of the games between these two teams are close and competitive so expecting either team to run and hide from the other may be a stretch. Everett has proven that it is the better team entering the game, but BC High could have some more battle-tested snaps from its game against its two New Jersey foes while Everett has not been tested very often. The flip side of that argument is that Everett is that much better that it won't be tested. The Crimson Tide is the better team and it will get the win. - Everett 36, BC High 16.
When: Friday Oct. 21, 7:30 p.m.
Last Meeting: Sept. 30, 2010 - Ensworth won, 21-14.
Rankings: Brentwood Academy (7-1), No. 2 in Tennessee
Ensworth (7-1), No. 5 in Tennessee
Why it's big: These are two of the top teams in the Division II bracket in Tennessee - and the schools are separated by a few miles. While it isn't the top rivalry game for either school, it is a budding rivalry as the two have been the favorites for the state title recently. As with most private schools in the area, these two share common opponents with similar results except for a much different result against Chattanooga Baylor, which rolled Enwsorth but was stymied by Brentwood Academy.
Best matchup: The coaching battle in this game between Ensworth's Ricky Bowers and Brentwood's Ralph Potter. Bowers is grounded in fundamentals, running the ball and keeping the play in front of you on defense. He will occasionally go off-script and pop a big play in the special teams or with the passing game. Potter has switched his team to a primarily spread offense that likes to throw the ball. If the team gets a lead, it will be a coaching decision to take the air out of the ball or not that could decide this game.
Ensworth wins if: It makes fewer mistakes than Brentwood Academy. This series has tilted and turned on turnovers more often than not - and that should be the case in this game. Ensworth has been a team that has had a very good record when it is positive in the turnover department because it will stay on the ground and not give the ball back. If it can disguise its defense and force Brentwood into an early interception or two, it will win.
Brentwood Academy wins if: Its defense plays as stout against the run as it did versus Baylor. Most everything that Ensworth wants to do offensively will start with a handoff. If it is running into a wall of defenders at the line of scrimmage it will force the Tigers to the air. Brentwood can win this game by playing simple. Its defense is strong up front and talented in the secondary it does not need anyone to do anything outside of what the coaches ask them to do.
Prediction: This should be a close contest and any team could come out the victor. In the past couple of seasons, off the bus, this looked like Ensworth would win. This season Brentwood can match its opponent with athletes and size so this will likely come down to fundamentals and coaching. Look for Brentwood to continue to grow into one of the best teams in the state behind its young but talented team. - Brentwood 20, Ensworth 17.
When: Saturday Oct. 22, 2 p.m.
Last Meeting: October 23, 2010 - St. Edward won, 31-7.
Rankings: Moeller (7-1), No. 2 in Ohio
St. Edward (6-2), No. 4 in Ohio
Why it's big: This game was circled as a potential national game of the week as recently as three weeks ago. Since then St. Edward was crushed by Don Bosco and lost to St. Xavier. Moeller, meanwhile, was knocked off by Indianapolis Cathedral. The defeats took some luster off this game. Now, it is a battle for redemption as both teams need to get their ships sailing in the right direction. St. Edward may be playing with its backs against the wall more so than Moeller, as it needs a win to clinch a playoff spot. If it doesn't happen this week, it is not certain to happen next week against its biggest rival, St. Ignatius.
Best matchup: St. Edward passing game versus Moeller secondary. This is only the best matchup because it is the glaring weakness of both teams; one of them will have to give its team an upper hand. St. Edward has had troubles moving the ball through the air all season. And it still hasn't replaced Kevin Burke, its undersized but emotional leader from last season. Moeller's secondary was the main reason it lost to Indianapolis Cathedral last week as it misplayed two long passes - one went for a touchdown right before halftime, the other allowed Cathedral time to line up for a field goal on the last play of the game. While it may be easier to spotlight the strengths of the teams, it is the weaknesses that will determine the winner.
St. Edward wins if: It comes outs and fights for a win. The team won the Ohio Division I title last year and figured to compete for a repeat this season. It has struggled to get out of the gates in most every game (except against Tampa Jefferson) and will need to play this game with a sense of urgency or it may be facing an early win-or-go-home situation next week. That kind of pressure is not what this team needs.
Moeller wins if: It plays its game. Moeller has evolved into the favorite in this game as it has been more consistent this season with its play. The team will not overwhelm you with the run or pass and its defense is not the stuff of legend, but it is a well-balanced team with weapons and talent on every level. If it can hit a few big plays to its receivers and then come back and run the ball inside, it will keep the St. Ed defense off balanced. The ability to mix it up on offense will lead to the victory.
Prediction: This may not be a pretty game to watch, as each has shown offensive limitations. But the first quarter could be a brawl worth seeing as each team has to come out with a sense of urgency. Whichever team can take that momentum and push toward the second half will likely have a lead and a mental advantage over the other. Moeller looks like the one with more fight right now, which makes this game all the more worrisome as it will have to travel from Cincinnati to Cleveland and a hostile environment to fuel St. Ed. - Moeller 24, St. Edward 20.
When: Friday Oct. 21, 7:30 p.m.
Last Meeting: October 22, 2010 - Steele won, 25-24.
Rankings: Steele (7-0), No. 7 in Texas
Judson (6-1), No. 26 in Texas
Why it's big: These are two of the best teams in San Antonio and each has a goal of a state title. Steele is a much different team than the one that road Malcolm Brown to a one-point win at home over Judson last fall. And Judson is not the same team that walked off that field with a loss. While Steele remains the ranked team nationally, there is really not much separating the two as many of Steele's wins have been uninspiring. Judson, meanwhile, was nationally ranked until a moderate upset loss at the hands of San Antonio Wagner knocked the team out of the rankings. The upper level of Texas teams are down this year, but the second level is growing more depth. This could prove that.
Best matchup: Steele offense versus Judson defense. If there is a way to look unimpressive in averaging nearly 40 points per game, Steele has figured it out. The team has not been held below 30 points all year, but it has not felt like team that was ready to the big time. Judson is only allowing 11 points per game and has kept four opponents in single-digits - the 33 points it allowed to Churchill skews the stats a little more. The Rockets are solid on defense and can put the clamps on Steele.
Judson wins if: It can keep this game low scoring. The opponents that Judson has piled up its wins against are not all that inspiring. The combined record is 19-31, and it fell to a 4-2 Madison team. It's hard to know what to make of the offense or defense - even this late into the season - and that is tough. Judson has struggled to score points even against this level of competition so it doesn't appear prepared to go point-for-point against Steele.
Steele wins if: Its offense is for real. Like Judson, it is hard to know what to make of Steele. It is undefeated but the combined record of its opponents is 19-30. But it has been scoring points at an easier pace and that figures to come into play. The game is on the road so it will need to be active early and ready to quiet a rowdy crowd. This is not quite a separation game as the two will still be serious threats to come out of San Antonio in the playoffs. But for Steele to stay nationally ranked, it will need to show well.
Prediction: It is hard to predict a game when there are so many unknowns about each team. Winning a state title last year gives Steele the mental advantage as the kids know how to play and win a big game in a tough environment. Judson was once the power player in San Antonio and would love to propel itself back into the lead position, but this year does not seem to be that year. - Steele 30, Judson 23.
When: Friday Oct. 21, 7:30 p.m.
Last Meeting: October 22, 2010 - Del Oro won, 24-21.
Rankings: Del Oro (6-1), No. 5 in California
Granite Bay (6-1), No. 16 in California
Why it's big: A pair of Top 10 NorCal teams wind down the season in a game that is usually one of the best in the area. The pair seem to be playing in a strength-versus-weakness game and this could have all the making of a great game. Granite Bay is getting better as the season moves through and Del Oro has played a tough schedule, winning with a lot of moxy last week against a quality Nevada Union squad. This is a second straight legitimate test for the team.
Best matchup: Del Oro pass defense against the Granite Bay aerial attack. Del Oro struggled but survived last week against Nevada Union. This week, it will face one of the best quarterback it will see in the regular season. If Granite Bay is able to move the ball with regularity against Del Oro it could pull an upset.
Del Oro wins if: It can remain a balanced offensive team. Bobby Heatherington has settled into a nice passing compliment at the quarterback position, the team will still rely on the rush attack of Nick O'Sullivan and Brandon Moore to do the heavy lifting. The ability to move the ball in both methods certainly helps. If it can have a 60-40 run attack, that will keep Granite Bay honest. If it falls behind and ends the game at 60-40 passing, it will likely result in a loss.
Granite Bay wins if: It can get a lead early. The defense for this squad has been playing better and better in the second half of games so if it goes in at the break close or ahead, it could be able to nail down the lead and head home with an upset victory. After a loss to Vacaville early in the season, Granite Bay looks more like the team most expected it to be. Even as the No. 9 team in NorCal, it is one to look out for as the playoffs approach.
Prediction: The rankings in California have been problematic this year with so many teams falling to one another on all levels. Del Oro had its best win last week against Nevada Union and also has a good loss to a top SoCal team, Westlake. This game is at home, which also favors the ranked team, but there is just something about this matchup that screams upset and that is where the pick lies. Granite Bay will be able to make enough plays to win this game and knock Del Oro back down to earth. - Granite Bay 28, Del Oro 24.
Other Predictions (2011: 64-17)
Game of the Week: Daphne def. McGill-Toolen, 36-24