Thursday, September 15, 2005

More thoughts and predictions

Blog #3 from this reporter takes you on a quick sweep across the nation as we head into Week 5 of the prep football season ...

Out East, I can't wait to see No. 8 St. Joseph's Prep (Philadelphia) beat yet another ranked team by the score of 28-14. After all, coach Gil Brooks' Hawks beat Neshaminy and Cleveland St. Ignatius -- each ranked No. 9 in the nation at the time -- by that very score. This week, Prep will get a crack at a tough and physical Gilman (Baltimore) coached by Biff Poggi. But let me tell you this, it won't be easy again for Prep. "This is exactly the kind of team I like to coach," Poggi told me last spring. The Greyhounds are fresh of a 22-19 win over rival DeMatha, a game that demonstrated Gilman's ability to play great defense and control the football with an efficient, pounding rushing attack. Gilman's bell cow is 6-1, 205-pound running back/linebacker Sean Price. "Collisions are his thing," Poggi said. SJ Prep has already risen to the occassion to defeat two teams I felt would be too physical for them -- let's see if they can do it again. At this point, I have no reason to believe they cannot. NPP correspondent Norman Gross covered the SJP-St. Ignatius game for us last week, and he was more than impressed with the Hawks' advanced level of execution. That's what wins ball games at the high school level, folks. Prediction: SJ Prep 27, Gilman 13.

In the South, ESPNU will televise the matchup between No. 13 Jenks (Okla.) and No. 10 Springdale (Ark.) on Friday night. I simply love this matchup -- the seven-time and national poll regular Jenks challenging the home turf of national-poll newcomer Springdale with its recent abundance of Division I prospects (led by QB Mitch Mustain). Before I break down the game, let me say this about ESPNU and ESPN in general. I am thrilled they are bringing top HS games to our televisions each week, but I wish they had someone other than a recruiting expert on hand to break down the game. I realize that fan interest in recruiting carries the mail in getting games like this on TV in the first place, but I personally find the analysis from ESPN in the studio and the booth clumsy at best. Nobody seems to have done any real homework on the teams we're about to watch other than breaking down the individual players who are being pursued by top college coaches. That said, again, I appreciate the games being on TV. Now, for my clumsy analysis on this one: Jenks couldn't be feeling better after its come-from-behind 48-44 win over archrival (and then No. 6) Tulsa Union. The momentum and big-game experience factors seem to favor Jenks ... But, Springdale has big-game experience too. The Bulldogs have beaten a heavily touted Evangel Christian (Shreveport, La.) program the last two seasons, and they beat Jenks a couple of years ago. Jenks coach Allan Trimble loves the athleticism and experience of his interior linemen, but his linebackers and secondary corps were a bit of a question mark entering the season. That could spell trouble against a Springdale team that thrives on Mustain directing the short and intermediate passing game. Springdale has proven it can handle the pressure of a big game versus an out-of-state power. Mix in a homefield and all factors point to Springdale holding court and moving into the national Top 10. Prediction: Springdale 37, Jenks 20.

Out West, the BIG game is No. 17 Bellevue (Wash.) hosting No. 3 Long Beach Poly (Calif.) -- actually, Bellevue isn' t technically hosting the game. It will be played at Qwest Stadium. As I wrote earlier this week, I like Poly to win the game by about 10-14 points because the Jackrabbits have too much depth and too much overall team speed -- two things De La Salle did not possess in great amounts when Bellevue ended "The Streak" a year ago. That said, I LOVE the program built in suburban Seattle by Bellevue coach Butch Goncharoff. They run the Wing-T with the best of them at Bellevue, but have added a passing wrinkle to the offense this fall. Senior Brad Bissell is the Wolverines' designated thrower (2 TDs in Bellevue's opening win over Mount Rainier), but last year's starter junior Eric Block can throw it too. However, I don't think Poly's speedy d-backs and athletic linebackers and edge players are quakeing in their Nikes. After all, the 'Rabbits have faced prolific passing teams like Mission Viejo, Los Alamitos and the spread attack of Corona Centennial in recent games. Look for Poly to play big on the big stage. The ghosts of opportunities lost versus DLS and Mission Viejo in recent years won't haunt Poly this time around. Prediction: Poly 38, Bellevue 24.

More thoughts ...

  • I'll be out of town watching football this weekend, so the site won't be updated much until Sunday. Thanks in advance for your patience.
  • Can fall -- and more importantly, fall weather -- get here fast enough?
  • Is anyone else tired of watching cable TV news reporters standing outside during a hurricane wearing the obligatory rain jacket and doing the obligatory "hurricane stagger?" We get the idea -- lots of wind, lots of rain. Things getting wet, waves crashing, debris flying around. Now, go inside.
  • I still absolutely hate artificial turf. Even though the newer stuff "looks" more like grass, it still ain't grass. Therefore, I dislike it greatly. Football is meant to get you dirty, not rug-burned. And don't tell me it's not a true test if the field conditions play a factor in the outcome of the game. Both teams play on the same turf, don't they? Seems to fair to me.
  • I also hate white football shoes. Don't know why, just do. I wish all teams wore black -- especially those with black in their color schemes. Black socks? Even better. Who's with me here?
  • I actually found myself borderline giddy when I saw gas for $2.49 per gallon this afternoon. How sad. I hope the oil companies choke on their record profits while most Americans struggle to make ends meet. Don't get me wrong, I am a capitalist American pig, but price gouging is not supply and demand. It's just gouging.

That's all for now. Big weekend ahead. Better go pack my bags and finish watching TCU-Utah. Both teams are wearing black shoes, and the game's being played on natural grass!

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