Can Trinity stop No. 3 Allen?
Trinity (12-1) is the last team to defeat Allen, but that was 41 games ago, in the 2011 playoffs. To be fair to Trinity, that’s also the last time the teams met. The teams have met five times, with Allen winning the first three meetings and Trinity winning the last two.
They play again Saturday in Denton in a 6A quarterfinal. After Trinity ousted the Eagles from the playoffs in 2010 and 2011, the Eagles have won two state titles in a row. There’s little question what the Trojans hope to do on Saturday – use a power running game to keep Allen’s offense off the field. The Trojans have rushed for an average of 351.5 yards a game. Trinity quarterback Tyler Natee, a converted fullback, has run for 1,290 yards and 10 touchdowns and tailback Ja’Ron Wilson has run for 1,616 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Allen (13-0) comes in with a more balanced attack, averaging 277.4 yards passing a game and 236.5 rushing yards. The Eagles’ attack has struggled a bit the last few weeks because its passing game has slowed. Even with three subpar games in a row, Eagles quarterback Kyler Murray has thrown for 3,563 yards and 40 touchdowns and run for 1,291 yards and 25 touchdowns.
How big a distraction is the UNLV job going to be to Bishop Gorman?
No. 1 Bishop Gorman is looking to win its sixth consecutive state title since Tony Sanchez became the Gaels’ head coach in 1999. They play Reed (Sparks) in Reno in the state Division I championship on Saturday in Reno. The Gaels haven’t been tested since they defeated St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.) on Sept. 26, but this week, reports have been swirling that Sanchez will be offered the job at UNLV. Sanchez is downplaying talk of the UNLV job, hoping to keep his team focused on the state championship.
“When I walked into practice this week, the coaches know immediately by the way I’ve been at practice that I don’t plan on being distracted,” Sanchez said. “I told the players, ‘There’s a lot of talk and speculation. Does any of that matter to what we’re doing right now?’ They have a great vibe and a great week of practice.”
If Sanchez does land the UNLV job as expected, he will only be the third high school coach to go directly form high school to being the head coach of a Division I football team, joining Gerry Faust (from Cincinnati’s Moeller High to Notre Dame and Todd Dodge from Southlake Carroll to North Texas).
Has Mainland closed the gap with Miami Central?
Last season, Miami Central defeated Mainland (Daytona Beach) 28-15 to reach the state 6A championship. This season, both of these teams come into the the 6A state semifinal ranked with Central’s Rockets No. 7 and Mainland No. 23. Mainland will be looking to slow wideout Da’Vante Phillips, who had two second-quarter touchdown catches in last season’s win. The Rockets (12-1) will have their hands full with Mainland quarterback Denzel Houston, who has thrown for 2,783 yards and 34 touchdowns with 11 interceptions and run for 575 yards and nine touchdowns. The Rockets’ defense has done a good job of grounding quarterbacks and has 71 sacks this season.
There’s a lot riding on Bothell-Chiawana
For all the success No. 22 Bothell, Wash., has had this season, the Cougars (13-0) are still looking for their first state championship. It won’t be easy as Bothell’s opponent Saturday for the state 4A title game in Tacoma is Chiawana (Pasco), the defending 4A champion. Bothell quarterback Ross Bowers, who has committed to California, has thrown for 2,964 yards and 35 touchdowns.
The Riverhawks (12-1), on the other hand, are known for their power game. Bothell will try to slow down Austin Urlacher, who has rushed for a state-record 2,776 yards. Whichever team wins the game is likely to be invited to the Burger King State Champions Bowl Series in Boca Raton on Dec. 27.
Time to decide the best team in the Tidewater
All season long, No. 12 Ocean Lakes (Virginia Beach) and No. 38 Oscar Smith have been circling each other like wary prizefighters. Easily the two best teams in the Tidewater, they haven’t played since 2012, when Ocean Lakes eked out a 14-10 playoff win. The teams meet again Friday in a 6A South final in Virginia Beach.
Ocean Lakes is 13-0, and outscoring opponents 673-117. Oscar Smith is equally imposing, outscoring opponents 582-182 and its only blemish a loss to No. 4 Booker T. Washington (Miami) the first week of the season.