If you liked the movie, this one’s real
One of the big scenes in the 2014 movie, “When the Game Stands Tall” is the game between Long Beach Poly and the Spartans. Though Hollywood placed the game during the 2004 season when De La Salle’s 151-game winning streak ended, the last time the teams met was in 2002, when current De La Salle coach Justin Alumbaugh was a 22-year-old assistant coach at De La Salle and current Poly coach Antonio Pierce was a second-year linebacker with the Washington Redskins.
The California football powers meet again Friday night, with Poly’s Jackrabbits traveling to De La Salle, the No. 13 team in the Super 25 high school football rankings.
“I remember the 2001 game down there and 2002 game at Cal Berkeley,” Alumbaugh said. “The 2001 game was the one where (De La Salle’s) Maurice Jones-Drew scored the four touchdowns. It was one of the most physical games I had ever witnessed. I remember how hard our guys played to overcome one of the best teams we had played against. This is the first year in a while that we had a really open schedule so we could play them. Normally, when we play teams from Southern California, we’re in frequent contact with the Catholic schools. Obviously, it’s a pretty fun game.”
This year, both teams come into the game at 5-1, with five consecutive wins after losing their opening game of the season on the road to an out-of-state opponent. Poly lost 13-12 at Centennial (Peoria, Ariz.) while the Spartans fell 26-21 at No. 12 Trinity (Euless, Texas). De La Salle has two running backs, Antoine Custer and Andrew Hernandez, who are averaging more than 100 yards a game. Poly is platooning two Division-I caliber quarterbacks in Malik Henry and Nolan McDonald, who have combined for 14 touchdown passes.
“Defensively, we have to try to contain their athleticism,” Alumbaugh said. “Offensively, we are going to have to try to control the line of scrimmage and protect the ball.”
MORE: Unbeaten Gonzaga takes on No. 5 DeMatha Catholic
No. 2 St. John Bosco takes on unbeaten Mater Dei
St. John Bosco has been simply dominant this season with a 53-point average margin of victory. If any team in the Trinity League has a chance against the Braves, however, it is Mater Dei (Santa Ana), which plays St. John Bosco on Friday. The teams are both 6-0 and the Monarchs are capable of scoring with the Braves.
PODCAST: Preview of Mater Dei vs. St. John Bosco
The game pits two of the best running backs in Southern California. Mater Dei’s Brandon LaMarche has scored 14 touchdowns and is averaging 144 yards a game. St. John Bosco’s Sean McGrew, a Washington commit, has scored 14 touchdowns and is averaging 114.8 yards a carry. Both teams can also pass, with Bosco senior quarterback Quentin Davis and Monarchs freshman quarterback J.T. Daniels each throwing 18 touchdown passes with only one interception.
MORE: Super 25 Score Predictor
No. 12 Trinity vs. Southlake Carroll will be unpredictable
Expect this game, played Friday at Pennington Field in Bedford, Texas, to be close. Despite both teams having high-powered offenses, Carroll (Southlake) won last year’s game 10-6. The year before, Trinity (Euless) took a 42-38 playoff victory. Southlake Carroll (5-1) likes to throw and quarterback Mason Holmes has completed 63% of his passes and thrown for 18 touchdowns, including 11 to Zach Farrar. Trinity (7-0) likes to pound opponents into submission, averaging 412.9 yards a game on the ground, led by running back Ja’Ron Wilson, who has rushed for 1,063 yards and 11 touchdowns.
SCHEDULE: Super 25 rundown for weekend
Can Ypsilanti knock off another unbeaten team?
Last week, Ypsilanti, Mich., handed Chelsea its first loss as quarterback Jahz Watts threw for 339 yards and two touchdowns. Friday, the Grizzlies travel to No. 20 Saline, which is 7-0 and finished as the Division I state runner-up last season. Rockford was the only team to come within 13 points of Saline this season and that was in the first game. Since then, the Hornets have outscored opponents 210-41, including three shutout wins.
How does No. 24 St. Thomas Aquinas respond to adversity?
The Raiders (5-1) might have lost their chance for a Super 25 title with their 6-3 loss last week to Deerfield Beach, but another state title is still a possibility. No. 24 St. Thomas Aquinas will likely take out some frustrations on Fort Lauderdale, the Raiders’ Homecoming opponent Friday. The Flying L’s are 2-5 and averaging only 11.2 points a game.