SoCal showdown: No. 1 Mater Dei’s vs. No. 15 St. John Bosco: Forget about the rankings, whoever succeeds in Friday night’s game will have a playoff edge.
“Whoever doesn’t get the No. 1 seed, they’re on Corona Centennial’s side,” Mater Dei coach Bruce Rollinson said. “You can control your own destiny with a victory.”
There are plenty of games within the game. Mater Dei has eight receivers who have caught touchdowns, but St. John Bosco has two big-time defensive backs in Jaiden Woodbey, an Ohio State commit, and Stephan Blaylock, a UCLA commit.
“What makes this interesting is their (defensive) back end versus my receiving corps, their defensive line against my offensive line,” Rollinson said.
Another key will be how effective sophomore Bosco quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei will be. Re-al Mitchell, the Braves’ starter, is out with an injury.
“How does the sophomore handle the enormity of the game?” Rollinson said. “I’ve always believed sophomores don’t even realize the enormity of the game. I’m a Re-al fan. He has been a problem for us the last few years. I don’t know what the actual story is. I hope he gets better. We know what we’re getting — a big sophomore who can run a bit and certainly has the arm strength to stretch our defense.”
This will be Bosco’s third game this season against a Super 25 team. The Braves opened the season with a 9-3 overtime loss at St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale) and also won at St. John’s (Washington, D.C.) 21-17.
Blaylock said several weeks ago that his team’s schedule will help it:
Archer provides ample test for No. 7 Grayson: Both teams come in at 6-0 and the winner pretty much sews up the Region 8-AAAAAAA tile. Grayson’s Rams have been dominant since opening the season with tough victories over Hoover, Ala., and at McEachern (Powder Springs). The Tigers haven’t been as dominant, but have improved. They will have to try to contain Rams quarterback D.J. Irons, who has thrown for 912 yards and 10 touchdowns and rushed for 300 yards and running back Ronald Thompkins, who has run for 414 yards. Archer’s defense has been led by DB Jalyn Phillips (26 tackles) while LB Herbert Winborne leads the Rams’ defense with 31 tackles and LB Owen Pappoe, considerd the No. 3 player in the 2019 class, according to ESPN.
Baltimore brotherhood. No. 18 St. Frances Academy takes on Gilman: Two years ago, pretty much the entire current St. Frances Academy coaching staff was at Gilman. In that short period of time, the Panthers (6-0) have become the powerhouse of the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Conference A Division, usurping the spot Gilman held for a long time. That probably won’t change this week as SFA’s defense, led by defensive end Eyabi Anoma, is allowing 2.5 points a game and Gilman is 2-4.
No. 4 American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.) plays at unbeaten Cardinal Gibbons (Fort Lauderdale) in Broward battle: The No. 4 Patriots knocked Cardinal Gibbons out of the playoffs last season, but the Chiefs (5-0) could test American Heritage (4-0). The game could be close because both teams have stellar defenses. Gibbons is allowing 3.0 points a game while the Patriots are allowing but 6.0 a game against better competition.
Sparkman (Harvest, Ala.) could give No. 21 Hewitt-Trussville trouble: Hewitt-Trussville (6-0) has been averaging 52 points a game, but Sparkman (5-1) plays solid defense and if not for a few missed opportunities against Bob Jones (Madison), would be 6-0.