Predictions by News Journal high school sports reporter Brad Myers and Mount Pleasant student/analytics guru Matt Kalin.
No. 5 Concord vs. No. 4 Salesianum
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
WHERE: Baynard Stadium, Wilmington.
COACH: Greg Mitchell.
KEY WINS: Caravel 30-19, Appoquinimink 30-0.
KEY LOSSES: Salesianum 27-0, William Penn 14-7, Middletown 20-9.
KEY PLAYERS: RB Grahm Roberts (843 yards, 12 TDs in 6½ games), RB Kyle Batch (529 yards, 9 TDs, 3 kickoff return TDs), QB Dillon Coughenour (13-28 passing, 208 yards, 6 TDs in 5 games), LB Avery Roberts (113 tackles, 16 for loss, 5 sacks), DT RiQuan Mack (33 tackles, 10 for loss, 8 sacks).
COACH: Bill DiNardo.
KEY WINS: Caravel 36-12, Concord 27-0, St. Mark’s 31-0.
KEY LOSSES: Smyrna 60-26, Middletown 42-24, William Penn 21-14.
KEY PLAYERS: QB Zach Gwynn (49-111 passing, 690 yards, 7 TDs), RB Nick Merlino (756 yards, 6 TDs), RB-LB Josh Patrick (502 yards, 6 TDs, 52 tackles), WR-DB Michael Drake (10 catches, 201 yards, 2 kickoff return TDs, 5 interceptions), LB William Stradley (65 tackles, 5 sacks, 2 interceptions), K Cooper Urban (4-5 FG, 35-38 PATs).
ANALYSIS: Rematch of an Oct. 15 game on the same field, won by Sallies 27-0. It truly was closer than the score indicated, as Concord only trailed 7-0 late in the third quarter. Raiders star RB Grahm “Bam” Roberts had only 8 yards on six carries before suffering a high ankle sprain late in the first half. He missed the next three games, but returned last week against Middletown. QB Dillon Coughenour is back, too, and Concord must have more offensive success to have a chance in this one. No one has played a tougher schedule than Salesianum, whose losses have come to the top three seeds in the Division I playoffs.
BRAD MYERS PICK: Salesianum 20-14. MATT KALIN PICK: Salesianum 35-24.
No. 6 Sussex Central at No. 3 William Penn
WHEN: 1 p.m. Saturday.
WHERE: Bill Cole Stadium, New Castle.
SUSSEX CENTRAL (7-3)
COACH: John Wells.
KEY WINS: Laurel 35-0, Queen Anne’s County (Md.) 29-14.
KEY LOSSES: Cape Henlopen 16-14, Smyrna 22-14.
KEY PLAYERS: No information provided.
WILLIAM PENN (9-1)
COACH: Marvin Dooley.
KEY WINS: St. Georges 27-24, Concord 14-7, Salesianum 21-14.
KEY LOSS: Middletown 25-0.
KEY PLAYERS: RB Joe Greenwood (1,044 yards, 10 TDs), RB-DB Isaiah Gaynor (323 yards, 3 TDs, 63 tackles, 14 for loss), QB Jahsan Gildersleeve (16-39 passing, 248 yards, 1 TD), WR Terin Cochran (4 catches, 125 yards, 1 TD, 3 punt return TDs), LB Charles Hope (100 tackles).
ANALYSIS: An old-school matchup of grind-it-out running teams and stellar defenses. The Golden Knights’ most impressive game may have been the loss to Smyrna, since no one else came closer than 20 points against the Eagles. Sussex Central led 14-0 in fourth quarter before Smyrna scored three times in the last 7½ minutes. William Penn’s defense has stood tall in some tough matchups, including a goal-line stand against Concord in the final minute. Expect lots of hitting, and not a lot of scoring.
BRAD MYERS PICK: William Penn 17-14. MATT KALIN PICK: William Penn 28-17.
No. 8 Howard at No. 1 Woodbridge
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
WHERE: Woodbridge Stadium, Greenwood.
COACH: Dan Ritter.
KEY WINS: Hodgson 18-13, Mount Pleasant 42-27.
KEY LOSSES: St. Georges 30-6, Smyrna 56-36, Glasgow 18-14.
KEY PLAYERS: QB Tyhir Harley (76-157 passing, 943 yards, 9 TDs, 426 yards rushing, 5 TDs), RB Stephen Forbi (363 yards, 8 TDs), RB Keith Chung (280 yards, 5 TDs), TE-DE Shawn Bowman (35 catches, 362 yards, 4 TDs, 46 tackles, 12 for loss, 5 sacks), WR Korey Kent (22 catches, 322 yards, 4 TDs).
COACH: Ed Manlove.
KEY WINS: Wilmington Friends 35-7, Milford 39-8, Laurel 10-7.
KEY LOSSES: None.
KEY PLAYERS: QB Troy Haynes (38-62 passing, 716 yards, 11 TDs), RB Terrique Riddick (1,147 yards, 16 TDs), FB Jamon Kane (835 yards, 6 TDs), RB Richard Massey (367 yards, 5 TDs), WR-DB Antwain Holden (12 catches, 202 yards, 4 TDs, 36 tackles, 3 return TDs), WR Mike Brewer (13 catches, 318 yards, 4 TDs), DL Blaize Rayford (48 tackles, 14 for loss), DE Leah Styles (63 tackles, 20 for loss, 13½ sacks), DE Shymere Vessels (68 tackles, 23 for loss, 10 sacks).
ANALYSIS: Howard started slowly last season, got into the playoffs with a 7-3 record and No. 5 seed, then went all the way. The Wildcats are on a similar path this season, improving steadily and winning six of their last eight games, with the losses coming to D-I No. 2 seed Smyrna and D-II No. 2 seed Glasgow. But Howard faces a formidable task in Woodbridge, which has been ranked No. 1 in Division II by The News Journal all season. The Blue Raiders have multiple offense weapons, a balanced attack and a defense that has five shutouts and has allowed only 41 points all season.
BRAD MYERS PICK: Woodbridge 22-8. MATT KALIN PICK: Woodbridge 28-10.
No. 7 Caravel at No. 2 Glasgow
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
WHERE: Glasgow Stadium, Glasgow.
COACH: John Reed.
KEY WINS: Delmar 45-28, St. Mark’s 7-0, Cape Henlopen 14-7.
KEY LOSSES: Concord 30-19, Elkton (Md.) 28-20, Salesianum 36-12.
KEY PLAYERS: RB Josiah Larkins (1,003 yards, 10 TDs), FB Jake Laznik (360 yards), RB-S Juwain Granger (380 yards, 4 TDs, 5 interceptions), QB Wyatt Nelson (870 yards passing, 10 TDs), LB Matt Bowe (111 tackles, 18 for loss, 4 sacks), SS Nick Jones (58 tackles, 7 for loss), DE Magnus Wamble (56 tackles, 15 for loss).
COACH: Shannon Riley.
KEY WINS: Hodgson 26-14, Howard 18-14, St. Georges 22-7.
KEY LOSSES: None.
KEY PLAYERS: QB Isaiah Wilson V, WR-QB Michael Credle, RB Tavion Jones-Hill, RB-S Tyrique Woodland, WR Martise Younger, LB Tymere Wilson.
ANALYSIS: Don’t let the records and seedings fool you – Caravel may be the best team in Division II. The Buccaneers’ losses came to D-I playoff teams Concord and Salesianum and Elkton, which is 10-1 and in the Maryland Class 2A quarterfinals on Friday. Caravel has won six straight, including a 14-7 victory at Cape Henlopen that knocked the Vikings out of D-I playoff contention. On Wednesday, Buccaneers coach John Reed said QB Alex Barker is close to returning after missing the last eight games, but won’t play this week. Caravel still has plenty of weapons and a stout defense, both of which will be critical against a Glasgow team that has put together a dream season. The Dragons have scored in bunches all year, then showed their defensive prowess in a huge victory over St. Georges for the Blue Hen Flight B title last week. It’s hard to pick against an undefeated team, but this one could go either way.
BRAD MYERS PICK: Glasgow 13-10. MATT KALIN PICK: Glasgow 21-17.
No. 6 Delaware Military Academy at No. 3 St. Georges
WHEN: 11 a.m. Saturday.
WHERE: St. Georges Stadium, Middletown.
DELAWARE MILITARY ACADEMY (8-2)
COACH: Michael Ryan.
KEY WINS: Tower Hill 35-19, St. Mark’s 45-35, Laurel 23-14.
KEY LOSSES: Milford 24-0, Conrad 12-7.
KEY PLAYERS: RB Todd Turner (673 yards, 9 TDs), RB Corahn Alleyne (451 yards, 8 TDs, 20 catches, 301 yards, 3 TDs), QB Jacob Hudson (62-107 passing, 847 yards, 9 TDs, 523 yards rushing, 8 TDs), LB Brennan Hazewski (94 tackles), LB Nick Renaud (64 tackles), LB Marcus Brooks (62 tackles).
ST. GEORGES (8-2)
COACH: J.D. Maull.
KEY WINS: Howard 30-6, Hodgson 12-7, St. Mark’s 33-20.
KEY LOSSES: William Penn 27-24, Glasgow 22-7.
KEY PLAYERS: QB Robert Shorts (54-123 passing, 1,150 yards, 12 TDs), RB Brian Benson (795 yards, 16 TDs), RB Jalen Smith (411 yards, 4 TDs), RB Damani Wells (142 yards rushing, 2 TDs, 11 catches, 216 yards, 2 TDs), TE Doug Phillips (15 catches, 374 yards, 5 TDs), DL Brian Rush (40 tackles, 17 for loss), LB Jason Stewart (58 tackles, 6 for loss), LB Jordan Cheaton (37 tackles, 18 for loss), DL Jhemir Stanley (54 tackles, 10 for loss).
ANALYSIS: Interesting matchup of teams coming off losses in their regular-season finales – DMA to Conrad, St. Georges to Glasgow. Only one can get back on track, and the edge goes to the Hawks with their always strong running game and improved passing attack. But the Seahawks, led by three-year starting QB Jacob Hudson, certainly won’t go down easily.
BRAD MYERS PICK: St. Georges 27-14. MATT KALIN PICK: St. Georges 24-10.
No. 5 Wilmington Friends at No. 4 Milford
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
WHERE: Briggs Stadium, Milford.
WILMINGTON FRIENDS (9-1)
COACH: Bob Tattersall.
KEY WINS: St. Elizabeth 21-14, Tatnall 18-14, Tower Hill 35-0.
KEY LOSS: Woodbridge 35-7.
KEY PLAYERS: FB-LB Andrew Jaworski, RB-LB Henry Gise, QB Justin Beneck, DL Daniel Adebi, DL Matthew Denney.
COACH: Shaun Strickland.
KEY WINS: Delaware Military Academy 24-0, Conrad 42-13, Delmar 35-18.
KEY LOSS: Woodbridge 39-8.
KEY PLAYERS: QB William Kimmel (63-126 passing, 1,373 yards, 15 TDs, 307 yards rushing, 5 TDs), RB David Bowman (814 yards, 13 TDs in 6 games), FB-LB Dominyc Hovington (408 yards, 8 TDs, 101 tackles, 6 for loss), WR Brion Murray (27 catches, 654 yards, 8 TDs), WR Marcus Correa (18 catches, 425 yards, 4 TDs), LB Ryan Jones (108 tackles, 8 for loss), DL Garron Little (50 tackles, 10 for loss).
ANALYSIS: Two one-loss teams with something in common – a loss to top-seeded Woodbridge. Friends is coached by the state’s all-time wins leader in Tattersall (301). Strickland took over a Milford team that went 1-9 two years ago, then improved to 6-4 last year and now 9-1. Both are solid on offense and stingy on defense, so it’s hard to make a call here. But the Buccaneers’ big-play receivers may make the difference.
BRAD MYERS PICK: Milford 27-21. MATT KALIN PICK: Wilmington Friends 24-21.
BRAD MYERS LAST WEEK: 18-4. OVERALL: 189-38 (.833)
MATT KALIN LAST WEEK: 16-6. OVERALL: 183-44 (.806)
Listen to Brad Myers on the Henlopen High School Football Fix with Mike Bradley at 8:20 a.m. Friday on WGMD-FM (92.7) or www.wgmd.com. Contact Brad at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter: @BradMyersTNJ