Saturday, September 01, 2007

Saturday tidbits and my St. X-DeMatha prediction

A few minutes to fire off a few thoughts before a football lover's weekend continues to unfold.

  • How about Bellevue (Wash.) getting beat last night, 6-0, by Skyline. The Wolverines, ranked No. 7 in the National Prep Poll's West Coast region, had not been shut out since the 1997 season.
  • I guess I was right on the money dropping Gaffney out of the Top 25 before it lost. The Indians, were ranked No. 4 in the East Coast, had their 23-game winning streak snapped in a 21-14 loss to Greenville.
  • West Coast No. 4 St. Bonaventure scored 15 minutes in the three-plus minutes to escape Santa Margarita's upset bid, 15-14. On paper, Bonnie has Top 25 talent, including probably the top RB in the country, Darrell Scott. But I think things just have not clicked like they should have the last two seasons. We'll see if this close-call will change that, one way or another. Keep in mind, Santa Margarita is a very good team. But not close to being in the Top 25.
OK, I promised everyone a St. Xavier-DeMatha prediction today. Even thought its kind of hard to do, not knowing the status of St. X RB Darius Ashley's injured ankle.

UPDATE: The Cincinnati Enquirer's Tom Groeschen is now reporting that Darius Ashley is doubtful for Sunday's game.

X coach Steve Specht told PrepNation's Adam Kurkjian earlier this week that Ashley will be a near game-time decision. Specht will not hesitate to sit his two-time all-Ohio performer for Sunday's game if Ashley is not 100 percent healthy completely rather than risk making his condition worse.

Cincinnati Enquirer preps reporter Tom Groeschen reported the same thing Friday afternoon.

Groeschen, incidently, was the only Enquirer preps guy to pick against the Bombers in the paper's weekly picks feature. Hmmm. I wonder if he knows something we don't.

Which leads us to my prediction.

Well, obviously I'm sticking with the team I have ranked No. 1 in the country. With or without Ashley, St. X will play its game. They will hit hard on defense, control the ball with the running game (hello Patrick Berning and Lucas Romero) on offense.

DeMatha is extremely well coached. They probably have more Division IA prospects than any team in the country not named Miami Northwestern. They also have more size up front than the Bombers, plus more speed on the outside (hello Mr. Playmaker, Kenny Tate).

It doesn't really sound good for St. X, does it?

But St. X will be playing at home, essentially, at the University of Cincinnati's Nippert Stadium. It's the place where the Bombers nearly upset last season's National Prep Poll champion, Lakeland (Fla.).

St. X also has one regular season game, two full scrimmages and a whole month of practice under its belt.

DeMatha started drills a week later than X, has not played a real game, and had one of its two schedule scrimmages (against Friendly) essentially wiped out by a thunderstorm.

In other words, St. X has had plenty of time to work out the early season kinks. Quite likely, DeMatha will be a little bit mistake-prone. It's no knock on the Stags -- every team is like that in their first game.

So, Ashley or no Ashley, I like St. Xavier to defend its home Queen City turf and hold off a really talented DeMatha club by a score something like 26-20.

Now, before you ask me ... if St. X wins this game does it all but ensure the Bombers will finish the year ranked No. 1?

No. It doesn't.

First of all, the Bombers would have to win another 13 games to close the year undefeated and with the Division I state championship. (If they do so, with their schedule, I think they'll probably earn the No. 1 ranking.)

Secondly, there would still be two teams very much in the picture: No. 2 Southlake Carroll and No. 4 Miami Northwestern. They play in Dallas on September 15 on ESPNU.

Think of these two ESPN-televised matchups between the top 4 teams in the country as the closest thing we will ever have to a national high school playoff.

Whoever is the most impressive in these games -- and the rest of the season -- will be national champion.

That is all. Off to watch football. Go Hawkeyes!

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