Five things to watch this week in the Super 25.
If Mater Dei falls again to St. John Bosco, who’s No. 1?
Top-ranked Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) plays No. 9 St. John Bosco (Bellflower) on Saturday for Southern Section Division I title in Norwalk, Calif.
While Mater Dei’s Monarchs are 13-0 and already own a regular-season 31-21 win over St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.), everyone remembers last year when St. John Bosco avenged a regular-season defeat to Mater Dei (Santa Ana) with a 42-28 win in the playoffs and went on to win the state Open Division title.
Both teams are playing well, but the wild card will be Bosco sophomore quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei, who was pressed into his first start in this season’s regular season game with Mater Dei. Uiagalelei has been impressive in recent weeks and his maturation could give the Braves an edge.
If Bosco does knock off the Monarchs, who’s the likely No. 1?
Would the Braves jump from No. 9 to No. 1 if they went on to win the state title? Not likely, since they already have two losses, the other being at St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale).
IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) is in a good position at No. 2 with a 9-0 record and its season over. Obviously, the Ascenders can’t lose. However, they also don’t have any games left to impress people with, but they could advance by proxy. Several of the teams IMG defeated are still alive in their state playoffs, so if Chandler, Ariz., Northwestern (Miami), Venice, Fla., and Hoover, Ala., continue to advance, that builds on the Ascenders’ impressive resume.
No. 3 Allen is also in the hunt. The Eagles are 12-0, but will have to win the Texas 6A title to end up with the top spot. No. 4 South Pointe (Rock Hill, S.C.) has been impressive running to a 14-0 mark and only needs to beat Hartsville this week for the 4A title.
No. 5 American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.) is still in the race for two reasons. The Patriots are 11-0 and need win only two games to win its state 5A title. American Heritage is also the only team in the top five who is eligible for the GEICO State Champions Bowl Series, which could give the Patriots another game against a state champion to impress with.
Preseason rankings count for something
There’s a lot of guesswork in preseason football rankings, but 13 of the teams we had in our preseason rankings are still ranked, led by our preseason No. 1 team, Mater Dei. There’s a chance that could be 14 teams. Hoover, Ala., and Hewitt-Trussville (Trussville, Ala.) were both ranked in the preseason and one of them will likely move back into the rankings as they play each other next week in the state 7A championship.
Pearl path to title goes through hostile territory
No. 18 Pearl, Miss., is 15-0, but it will essentially have a road game this week in the state 6A championship. The Pirates play Starkville (13-2) Friday at Mississippi State’s Davis Wade Stadium, which is just outside the city limits of Starkville. Pearl lost to Clinton in last year’s 6A title game while Starkville won the 6A title in 2015.
Martinsburg looks to end season with title
No team in the Super 25 has been as dominant as No. 21 Martinsburg, W.Va., which plays Spring Valley (Huntington) on Saturday for the AAA title in Wheeling. The Bulldogs are 13-0 and have outscored opponents by an average score of 56-9. Only one team even got close to Martinsburg this season: Sherando (Stephens City, Va.), which lost 31-28 to the Bulldogs on Oct. 6 but is playing in its state 4A semifinals this week.
Martinsburg defeated Spring Valley for the title last season and has one of the best offensive players in the state in quarterback Tyler Bagent (39 touchdown passes, almost all of them in the first half) and the top defensive player in West Virginia commit Tavis Lee, a senior linebacker.
Katy making up for lost time
The Tigers (10-0) didn’t play their first game this season until Sept. 16 because of the floods that ravaged the Houston area in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. At one point, National Guard troops were headquartered at Katy High, sleeping in the school’s corridors.
Not surprisingly, the Tigers started the season slowly, with a 24-21 defeat of the Woodlands, but since then, Katy’s defense has allowed two touchdowns in a game only once.
On Friday, the Tigers play Atascocita (Humble) in a 6A Division I Region III semifinal at NRG Stadium in Houston. If the Tigers can win the state title this season, it will be their ninth. They are currently tied with Carroll (Southlake) and Celina with the most in the state with eight championships and both of those teams are alive in the playoffs as well.