No. 2 IMG heads west to take on East: This is a dangerous game for IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) as the Ascenders (5-0) will battle a good team Friday that runs an unusual offense, two time zones away, at altitude, in very un-Florida temperatures.
“Their front six on defense and five offensive linemen are as impressive as any high school team in the country,” IMG coach Kevin Wright said.
East (Salt Lake City) started the season in the Super 25 high school football rankings but fell out when everything that could go wrong did in a 48-17 Week Two loss to No. 16 Bingham (South Jordan).
Still, the Leopards (8-1), who run the triple option Wing-T, have put up 42.2 points a game. That won’t likely happen against IMG, which has one of the top defenses in the country and has had an extra week to prepare.
“Preparing for a triple option is extremely difficult,” Wright said. “I was trying to think if we’ve even seen a snap under center this year in six games and I don’t know that we have. They’re playing their 10th game of the season. I ran this offense at Warren Central (Indianapolis) and I remember listening to (Georgia Tech) coach Paul Johnson say their motto was, ‘You had better beat us before the frost is on the pumpkin’ because we’re going to run it over and over. The temperature in Salt Lake may be in the 30s, so the frost is on the pumpkin. I hope that’s not a bad sign.”
No. 1 Mater Dei plays JSerra in a battle of Trinity League unbeatens: This is a tricky situation for Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.). The No. 1 Monarchs (7-0) are coming off an emotional 31-20 defeat of No. 15 St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.) and 7-0 JSerra (San Juan Capistrano) has its best team in years. Look for a high-scoring game. Mater Dei quarterback J.T. Daniels has completed 120 of 165 passes for 1,955 yards and 27 touchdowns this season and the Lions’ Matt Robinson has completed 95 of 163 passes for 1,494 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Big rivalry game in Philly: No.7 St. Joseph’s Prep (Philadelphia), the defending 6A state champion, is 6-0 and faces 6-1 La Salle (Wyndmoor, Pa.), considered the No. 2 team in the city. Prep’s Hawks hold an 8-1 edge in the series since 2013, but the Explorers’ defense hasn’t allowed more than one touchdown in a game the past four weeks. The teams meet Friday at St. Joe’s.
Big rivalry game in D.C. on Saturday: Can you call it a rivalry if one team always wins? That’s the question for No. 20 St. John’s College (Washington, D.C.), which hasn’t defeated DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.) since 1994. St. John’s Cadets are 4-2 against one of the best schedules in the country while DeMatha (4-3), which started out in the Super 25, is reeling after losing to Good Counsel (Olney, Md.) last week, its second loss in as many weeks. St. John’s, which beat Good Counsel 31-9 two weeks ago, has been steadily improving the past two seasons under coach Joe Casamento and this is a chance to show how far the Cadets have come.
DeMatha’s long winning streak in the series may not concern St. John’s that much. As Cadets quarterback Kevin Doyle (83-of-138 passing for 1,597 yards and 14 touchdowns passing) pointed out, none of the current St. John’s players were alive the last time the Cadets beat DeMatha.
“We are definitely looking forward to a big win,” texted Doyle, who has committed to Michigan.
Two big games in Ohio: No. 22 St. Edward (Lakewood, Ohio) and No. 24 St. Xavier (Cincinnati) have difficult tests on Saturday. St. Edward (8-0) plays host to Archbishop Moeller (Cincinnati), a team it needed a last-second field goal to defeat 24-21 last season. Moeller’s Crusaders (4-4) are trying to avoid having back-to-back losing seasons for the first time in the school’s history. St. Xavier (8-0) travels to St. Ignatius (Cleveland), which is stinging from its first loss last week — 41-20 to Moeller. The Wildcats (7-1) lost 27-20 in the state championship to St. Xavier last season.