Can No. 5 Colquitt County run the gauntlet?
To get back to the state championship game, Colquitt County (Moultrie, Ga.) will likely need to win Region 1-AAAAAA again. That effort begins Friday at Lowndes (Valdosta), the first of five games against Region 1-AAAAAA teams who are a combined 23-2.
“The next five games in a six-week stretch are bloody,” Colquitt County coach Rush Propst said. “If you’re fortunate to be ahead in the second half of those games, you’ll have to sacrifice statistics and impressing polls and conserve your players and protect against injury. I’m not sure that will happen, knowing the hunger and the will of those teams. You’re dodging bullets and getting the very best every week.”
Propst says this year’s Packers squad ranks with any he has coached.
“We have 40 seniors,” he said. “We have depth, probably the best I’ve had since I was at Hoover (Ala.) in 05 and 06. It starts at the quarterback spot. Chase Parrish is a high-character kid who reminds me of (former Hoover quarterback) Jarod Bryant, who played for the Naval Academy. Chase was 19-for-24 in the state championship game and made some crucial throws. We’re better on the offensive line. At receiver, we have Keil Pollard, a four-star guy with a three-star rating and three guys who could start on half of the other schools we play. We’re also faster than we were last year on defense and our secondary is better.”
But the Packers (5-0) aren’t the only team in the region that improved. Lowndes (4-1) knocked off previously unbeaten Newton (Covington) 56-7 last week
“Everybody in our region has their QB back except for Tift County (Tifton),” Propst said. “At Lowndes, I think their interior trench players are better. They have gotten out of the Wing T and think they’re better coached, doing some innovative things. I think they’ll be even better next year. It will be huge for us to control the tempo in the first quarter.”
Can No. 19 St. Joseph Regional slow No. 11 IMG Academy?
Led by quarterback Shea Patterson, who has thrown for 979 yards and 11 touchdowns, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) has averaged 48.3 points a game this season and has scored more points, successively, in each of its four wins, including a 59-47 defeat of then-No. 18 Bergen Catholic (Oradell, N.J.) two weeks ago. If anyone can slow the Ascenders, it might be St. Joseph Regional (Montvale, N.J.), which travels to Bradenton for a game Friday night. The 4-0 Green Knights have held three good teams: Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey); DePaul Catholic (Wayne); and Eastern Christian (Elkton, Md.); to a touchdown or less. The only opponent to score more was No. 24 St. Edward (Lakewood, Ohio) and in that game, a 22-20 win for the Green Knights, St. Edward didn’t score a touchdown from scrimmage until the fourth quarter.
Can the Cadets surprise again?
Last week St. John’s (Washington, D.C.) handed Good Counsel (Olney, Md.) its first regular-season loss to a Washington Catholic Athletic Conference team since 2013. The 3-1 Cadets have another tough WCAC test Saturday as they play host to No. 7 DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.), which is 4-0. Even before the season started, DeMatha coach Elijah Brooks said he thought St. John’s would be improved. Now the Cadets have his players’ attention as well.
“St. Johns is always filled with talent,” Brooks said. “They are extremely physical on both sides of the ball upfront. They lead the way with DE/TE Terrell Hall and they just have other guys who are explosive playmakers. Good Counsel is a fantastic team and for St. John’s to knock them out in triple overtime really shows the parity in the league. We’ve beaten St. John’s the past 22 years. You need for them to win a big game to keep our guys on their toes. It forces everybody to pay attention.”
Can Cocoa knock off another giant?
Since Cocoa, Fla., then a 2A team, knocked off the defending Texas 5A-I champion Abilene in 2010, the Tigers have developed a reputation as a giant-killer. While Cocoa, now in Class 4A, has had its opportunities in recent years against Super 25 teams, it hasn’t defeated a Super 25 team since it topped then-No. 18 Bergen Catholic (Oradell, N.J.) in 2012. This season, in its lone effort against a ranked team, Cocoa (4-1) lost 49-7 to IMG Academy (Bradenton). The Tigers travel to No. 24 St. Edward (Lakewood, Ohio) on Saturday. It could be a trap game for the Eagles as they play host to No. 23 Mainland (Daytona Beach) next week.
Is Olive Branch-South Panola really a rivalry?
When No. 25 South Panola (Batesville, Miss.) plays host to Olive Branch on Friday, it will be part of the Great American Rivalry Series. The question is, can it truly be considered a rivalry since the Tigers own a 29-10 series edge and have won the teams’ past three meetings by a combined 114-42 score? South Panola (5-0) has won 20 games in a row and the Tigers are playing better since quarterback Tyler Pogue returned from a knee injury. The only losses for the Conquistadors (3-2) have come to two good Tennessee teams: Memphis University and Brentwood Academy.