Now that we’re getting deep in the playoffs, there’s no shortage of difficult games for the Super 25 teams. Five things worth watching:
No. 10 Centennial (Corona, Calif.) at Chaminade (West Hills) on Friday: Scoreboard operators are standing by, perhaps a little nervously. Centennial (10-1) is averaging 53 points a game and the Eagles (8-3) are putting up slightly more than 41 points a game and earlier this season scored 55 points in a loss. Last season, the Huskies defeated Chaminade 70-29 in the playoffs.
“They have some fast aggressive kids and they’re well coached,” Chaminade coach Ed Croson said. “We have to maintain possession and see if we if we can get them to punt a few times.”
Because both teams run a hurry-up offense, their defenses are used to facing it.
“They can run their offense as fast as they want,” Croson said. “We go fast every day in practice. The thing that is hard for us, because we only have 600 boys in the whole school, is to simulate the size of their guys.”
No. 5 McGill-Toolen (Mobile, Ala.) vs. Central (Phenix City) on Friday: When they were on the same staff for five seasons at Prattville, current McGill-Toolen coach Caleb Ross and Central coach Jamey DuBose won three state titles. DuBose was Prattville’s offensive coordinator, but when head coach Bill Clark left, DuBose became the head coach and Ross was his offensive coordinator. One of them will have to lose this week, though, as they’re playing in the state 7A semifinals for the second consecutive year. McGill-Toolen beat Central 26-21 last season in the semis en route to its state championship.
“In coaching, you get to go against the guy you worked for and win or lose, you look back and reflect,” Ross said. “It’s definitely a reality check. I’ve learned a lot from him. A lot of the stuff they do is similar to what we do. But I know I’ve evolved and so has he and so much of it comes down to who your personnel is. Last year, we had a little more of a running quarterback. This year, we have a guy who can throw it better.”
That guy is Auburn baseball commit Bubba Thompson, who has thrown for 33 touchdowns this season, including a last-moment 85-yard touchdown pass last week to propel the Yellow Jackets (11-0) past Enterprise, 27-23. Central (10-1) will likely rely on its speed to pressure McGill-Toolen’s quarterback.
“They are fast at every position from both sides of the ball,” Ross said. “They close the distance so fast on defense. You have to beat them with good technique on the line and in our routes. We have to be good up front because they can bring pressure. They have defensive backs who can run with all four of our guys.”
Phenix City will also have quarterback Zion Webb, a Jacksonville State commit who did not play in last year’s game with McGill-Toolen because of a knee injury. He has run for 11 touchdowns and passed for 16.
No. 4 DeSoto vs. Carroll (Southlake) on Friday: The last time these teams met, in the 2012 playoffs, DeSoto came from 18 points down in for a 49-45 victory. The Eagles stopped Southlake Carroll quarterback Kenny Hill on consecutive running plays at the 1-yard line in the final seconds. This time around, DeSoto is 11-0 and the Dragons 10-1 with 10 consecutive wins. The Eagles are averaging 48 points a game and Carroll is putting up 37.3 points a game and its defense has forced seven turnovers in the past three games. The Dragons are led offensively by running back Audricke Gaines, who has rushed for 20 touchdowns and by quarterback Mason Holmes, who has passed for 15 touchdowns and run for two. DeSoto junior running back Kelan Walker has rushed for 12 touchdowns and senior quarterback Shawn Robinson has passed for 19 touchdowns and run for 10.
No. 18 John Curtis Christian (River Ridge, La.) vs. Archbishop Rummel (Metairie), Friday in Metairie: The Patriots beat Rummel 31-17 during the regular season as Brandon Davis had two interceptions for John Curtis. The Raiders (7-3) knocked the Patriots out of state semifinals last season. The Patriots are 9-0 and junior running back Marquese Albert ran for 141 yards and two touchdowns three weeks ago when John Curtis defeated Rummel.
No. 21 Jenks, Okla., vs. Union (Tulsa), 6A state semifinal, Friday at Owasso: At some point in the playoffs, it comes down to Jenks and Union. For the past 20 years, one or the other has won the state’s biggest classification. While Jenks defeated Union 35-28 in the regular season and has won seven of the teams’ past eight meetings, this is usually a close game. Jenks (11-0) has been led by running back Jordon Curtis, an Arkansas commit and by senior running back Reuben Thomas. Union (9-2) will look for another big game from Shamari Brooks, who rushed for 272 and a touchdown in the regular-season game with Jenks. The Trojans may have a little extra motivation as head coach Allan Trimble is coaching this season after being diagnosed with ALS.