Previews for 3 high school football mega-matchups this weekend

Previews for 3 high school football mega-matchups this weekend

Football

Previews for 3 high school football mega-matchups this weekend

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As the end of the regular season nears, some of the best teams in the country are facing off in games that could decide their conference and playoff seeding moving forward.

In California, two top-10 Super 25 teams will face off when No. 1 Mater Dei plays No. 7 Servite on Saturday. In the southeast, undefeated Alabama powerhouses No. 4 Thompson and Hoover will try to give the other a loss for the first time this season. In the DMV, No. 23 St. John’s will play against DeMatha.

They are three games worth paying attention to not just for high school football fans, but for those deep into college football recruiting. Highly recruited prospects will be all over the field.

Here’s a brief rundown of each game.

No. 1 Mater Dei vs. No. 7 Servite

Servite has taken care of business in big ways this season. Undefeated through eight games, the Friars have outscored opponents 399-90, an average score of about 50-11. They have not scored fewer than 42 points in a game, and have allowed seven points or fewer in four games, twice as many times as they allowed 20 points or more.

These next two weeks are what the Friars have been preparing for all season. On Saturday: a date with the No. 1 Mater Dei Monarchs.

Mater Dei beat St. John Bosco on Oct. 1 to gain control of the Trinity League. If any team will challenge them from here, it will be Servite.

Three-star quarterback Noah Fifita, an Arizona commit, has been excellent this season, completing 67% of his passes while throwing for 29 touchdowns to four interceptions and averaging about 280 passing yards per game. He has scored six more touchdowns on the ground.

15 of his touchdown passes have gone to Oregon commit Tetairoa McMillan, ranked by 247Sports as the No. 54 player in the class. He averages more than 100 receiving yards per game.

Then there’s Keyan Burnett, a four-star tight end who is committed to Arizona along with his quarterback. Burnett has six touchdown receptions and averages more than 50 yards per game.

The road to the Trinity League championship runs through Mater Dei. Servite is on the precipice, but it needs to take down the Monarchs and then turn its attention to St. John Bosco for the final game of the regular season.

It’s a powerhouse matchup that could ultimately help decide who is the best team in California.

Saturday, Oct. 23 at Mater Dei at 8 p.m. local time.

No. 4 Thompson vs. Hoover

Since 2017, the rivalry between these schools has been heightened. After Hoover dominated the better part of two decades, Thompson took them down in 2017, and the schools from there were even — with Thompson actually leading the way in recent years.

In 2017, Thompson won the regular-season matchup but Hoover got revenge in the semifinals. The next year was flipped; Hoover won in the regular season but the Warriors finally won in the semifinals.

Thompson has now won five matchups in a row, including two semifinals wins, the most recent of which was a 52-14 shellacking.

The Warriors are near the top of the Super 25. Hoover, with a 9-0 record, is knocking on the door of entering the rankings. The Buccanneers have outscored opponents 349-108 over their nine games and were absolutely unstoppable the last two weeks, outscoring opponents by a combined 101-17.

Thompson is stacked with five- and four-star talent, but a battle to watch will be between three-star quarterbacks Bennett Meredith and Conner Harrell. How will Meredith respond to the Thompson defense?

Friday, Oct. 22 at Hoover at 7 p.m. local time.

No. 23 St. John's vs. DeMatha

St. John’s and DeMatha is one of the more fun matchups year-in and year-out. The two consistently meet in the playoffs, consistently have close games, and consistently have strong defense when it matters.

In 2016, DeMatha won 14-13 in the regular season and then 34-29 to win the championship. The next year, St. John’s got revenge with a regular-season win and then a 17-14 victory in the playoffs, a game in which neither team scored in the fourth quarter.

In 2018, St. John’s won 13-7 and neither team scored in the second half.

St. John’s won a November 2019 matchup 24-20 in which neither team scored in the fourth quarter, and then followed with another playoff win.

The two didn’t meet again until March 2021, a game in which DeMatha had two points in the first half but outscored St. John’s 15-0 in the second half to win 17-7.

This isn’t a game of nationally-ranked teams, but it’s among the most important games of the week.

Through the five games of stats listed on MaxPreps, St. John’s quarterback Wyatt Hagan has completed 68% of his passes and thrown 12 touchdowns with no interceptions, while running back Jamar Curtis had 512 rushing yards and five scores. The Cadets’ defense is filled with three and four-star players.

DeMatha has high-level prospects in 2022 and 2023 as well, with senior KJ Winston listed as a four-star safety Jason Moore listed as the top in-state junior.

The Stags are looking to make up for their only loss on the season, a September game against Imhotep Charter, while the Cadets have perhaps their toughest matchup so far this year.

It’s a game worth paying attention to.

Friday, Oct. 22 at DeMatha at 7 p.m. local time.

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