It’s a big week for the Super 25 football teams, with No. 22 Aquinas Institute (Rochester, N.Y.) and No. 23 Loyola Academy (Wilmette, Ill.) playing for state titles and five teams playing in state semifinals. Here are five things to watch for this week in the Super 25:
- Can Penn State commit Jake Zembiec bring Aquinas its second title in three seasons?
Zembiec led Aquinas Institute (Rochester, N.Y.) to the 2013 Class AA title and this season has thrown two or more touchdowns in all but two games this season to lead the Little Irish to a 12-0 record. For the season, he’s completed 164 of 244 passes for 2,545 yards and 33 touchdowns. On Sunday, Aquinas will play Saratoga Springs (11-0) in the Carrier Dome in Syracuse. Look for Saratoga Springs to use bruising rusher Dakota Harvey (1,437 yards, 23 touchdowns) to open up the game for quarterback Brian Williams (1,298 yards, 17 touchdowns passing, eight touchdowns rushing).
- Can Loyola hold on for a state 8A title?
The Ramblers are 13-0, but after winning by an average of 35 points in their first 11 games, their last two have been close. They defeated Homewood-Flossmoor (Flossmoor) 34-28 in an 8A quarterfinal and then topped Palatine 24-22 last week in the semifinals. Loyola’s opponent Saturday in DeKalb is Marist (Chicago), which was only 5-4 in the regular season but has won four close playoff games. Loyola’s last state title in football was 22 years ago and Marist is looking for its first.
- Two California teams get a good test before their likely showdown
No. 3 St. John Bosco (Bellflower) and No. 7 Centennial (Corona) are 12-0 and have not had many tough games this season. St. John Bosco, led by quarterback Quentin Davis and running back Sean McGrew, has beaten all its opponents by more than 19 points. Its closes game was a 42-21 victory against Mater Dei (Santa Ana) on Oct. 16. Centennial has had two relatively close games, each time with Lutheran (Orange). During the regular season, the Huskies, led by Arizona commit running back J.J. Taylor, defeated Lutheran by 21 points and last weekend in the playoffs, by 22 points. While St. John Bosco is favored against Bishop Amat (La Puente) this week and Centennial is likely to win over Mater Dei, there is at least a possibility the dream matchup next weekend between St. John Bosco and Centennial will not happen.
- Can Allen keep the streak going?
Allen (12-0) has won three consecutive Texas 6A-I titles and 55 games in a row, but Martin (Arlington) provides a tough test Friday. After a slow start to the season — with two close early losses — Martin has come on, led by a tough defense. Allen’s Eagles escaped DeSoto 41-40 last week and needed 50 second-half points to defeat Martin 69-54 last year in the playoffs. Can the Eagles use the close win over DeSoto as an inspiration, or is it a sign they’re vulnerable? We’ll find out Friday.
- Can Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) hold onto No. 1?
The Gaels are 13-0, have won six consecutive state championships and have been in the top spot in the Super 25 rankings since early last season. That hold is precarious, however. Bishop Gorman struggled to defeat Arbor View (Las Vegas) 28-10 last week and while two of the teams the Gaels have defeated (Don Bosco Prep of Ramsey, N.J. and Bellevue, Wash.) could still win state titles elsewhere, other teams are catching up on their strength of schedule with tough playoff wins. Saturday, Bishop Gorman travels to Sparks to play 13-0 Reed in a state semifinal, a team the Gaels defeated 70-28 in last season’s state championship.