One more win and No. 2 IMG will be an unofficial district champion
IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) doesn’t play for district or state titles, but Friday, the Ascenders (4-0) take on Miami Northwestern (3-0), its third District 6A-16 foe. IMG already defeated two other 6A-16 opponents, topping Carol City in a preseason game and last week, rallying in the second half for a 24-15 defeat of Miami Central.
“You would be hard-pressed to find a better district in the country,” IMG coach Kevin Wright said. “Those teams are awfully good. Miami Central played Bishop Gorman and us back-to-back. Who does that? That shows the mentality of the teams in that district.”
IMG (3-0) played last week after a long break because of Hurricane Irma. The Ascenders benched starting quarterback Artur Sitkowski midway through the effort in favor of Zack Annexstad.
“The biggest concern is we have to get on track on offense,” Wright said. “I felt like we get better each week and then you have a 20-day layoff and sometimes, that’s harder for an offense.”
IMG’s defense, on the other hand, has been stellar. Against three Super 25 opponents, it hasn’t allowed more than two touchdowns in any game. Junior defensive end Nolan Smith leads the team with 22 total tackles and the Ascenders also have two of the top senior defensive linemen in the country in Xavier Thomas and Taron Vincent.
“You want to make sure that you put yourself in a situation to win and our defense and special teams have been really good for the past three games,” Wright said. “That allows us to be a little more conservative on offense, but I don’t know if that’s something we’re trying to do. We’re seeing a lot more eight-man boxes. We have to win the individual matchups and we have to block.”
Northwestern’s defense, led by an outstanding secondary, has also been stellar, allowing only 4.6 points a game. The Bulls’ offense has been led by speedy junior quarterback Tutu Atwell, a Louisville commit who ran for 120 yards and both touchdowns in his team’s 14-7 defeat of Booker T. Washington (Miami) last week.
“They are very explosive,” Wright said. “I think their quarterback is as fast as anybody I’ve seen on film. They are as talented defensively as any team we will play all year. It’s a huge challenge.”
No. 20 Trinity vs. St. Xavier, a rivalry renewed: Louisville could use something to cheer about this week and the No. 20 Trinity vs. St. Xavier game at Papa Johns Cardinal Stadium fits the bill. While Trinity has won the past two regular-season meetings, both teams are unbeaten (Trinity is 6-0, St. Xavier is 5-0) coming into the game for the first time since 2008, when the series set a record with a crowd of 38,872.
Texas commit Rondale Moore has 61 catches for 820 yards and seven touchdowns to lead the Shamrocks. St. X’s top receiver is Will Crum, who has seven catches for 185 yards and a touchdown. The Saints will have to get by without leading rushing Brett Metzmeier (60 carries for 363 and five touchdowns), who is out with a knee injury. They have a solid replacement in junior Anthony Moretti, who has rushed 35 times for 307 yards and six touchdowns.
Big game this week in Tulsa: No. 25 Union (Tulsa) is 4-0 and plays host Friday to Owasso, which is also 4-0. Owasso is led by safety Josh Proctor, who has committed to Ohio State and safety Wayne Jones, who has committed to Kansas State. Union has two Oklahoma commits in tackle Jordan Kelley and safety Patrick Fields and wide receiver C.J. Moore, who is headed to Oklahoma State.
Owasso is coached by former University of Tulsa coach and Union coach Bill Blankenship. Union is coached by Kirk Fridrich, who was an assistant at Union under Blankenship. This will be Blankenship’s first game at Union-Tuttle stadium since he coached the Redskins to the state title in 2005.
No. 14 Ben Davis faces last season’s state champ: Ben Davis (Indianapolis) has steamrolled the competition, but Friday the Giants (6-0) play host to Carmel, which won the state 6A title last season and defeated Ben Davis 40-36 last season. The Greyhounds (4-2) have struggled at times on offense, but their defense could keep them in the game as they’ve allowed opponents to 10 points or less in four games. The all-time series is tied at 21.
No. 17 Bingham faces tough region foe: The No. 17-ranked Miners from South Jordan, Utah, get a big 6A-4 Region test from Lone Peak (Highland) The No. 17 Miners (6-0) have been dominant this season, especially on defense, where they have three wins where they’ve allowed a touchdown or less. Lone Peak (5-1) is capable of scoring in bunches and has scored 40 points or more in each game since the Knights’ lone loss in Week Two to Dixie (St. George). Lone Peak quarterback Brock Jones has thrown 17 touchdown passes, including six to Cody Collins. The Knights also have two solid backs in Masen Wake and Kobe Freeman.