Now that you’re familiar with the high school football landscape, it’s time to dig into the fun stuff – the games themselves.
In addition to this Saturday’s game between No. 12 Norcross (Ga.) High and No. 4 Miami (Fla.) Booker T. Washington, here are 12 other games to keep your eyes on this season. A couple of these games garner national attention; most will fall off the radar. But if you love high school football, these are the games that show the true essence of competition and rivalry.
Gaffney (S.C.) High at Rock Hill (S.C.) Northwestern – Aug. 23
They’re ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the state, respectively, by Athlon Sports. But according to RivalsHigh, Northwestern gets the edge, ranked No. 31 in the nation over No. 33 Gaffney. Needless to say, it’s a battle of two very evenly matched teams – both of which have state title aspirations – and a heck of a way to kick off the season. Gaffney senior quarterback Shaq Davidson is a four-year starter and projected to transition to wide receiver in college.
Moultrie (Ga.) Colquitt County at Hoover (Ala.) High – Aug. 30
Both teams are ranked in the Top 10 in their respective states; Hoover is also No. 16 nationally, while Colquitt is No. 63. But the intrigue here lies in a coach. Current Colquitt coach Rush Propst (pictured at right) was the man who helped make Hoover a national power. (You may remember him from the MTV show Two-A-Days, which chronicled the 2005 Hoover football season.)
Maryville (Tenn.) High at Alcoa (Tenn.) High – Aug. 30
Maryville is a Class 6A powerhouse; Alcoa is a state title contender each year in Class 3A. The two schools are separated by just five miles, and the smaller school has held its own in recent years, splitting the series 2-2. Maryville won 42-24 last season in one of the more lopsided finals in series history.
Miami (Fla.) Central vs. Miami (Fla.) Booker T. Washington – Sept. 6
Assuming that Washington is able to get past a very formidable – and nationally ranked – Norcross this weekend, this will be a showdown between two of the top five teams in the nation. Last season, Central edged Washington in a tight game, 37-26. The game will be played at Sun Life Stadium.
Bellevue (Wash.) High vs. Sammamish (Wash.) Skyline – Sept. 7
If the name Bellevue rings a bell, it’s probably because this is the school that knocked off Euless (Texas) Trinity last season. Bellevue runs a very entertaining and effective Wing-T offense, making it a tough team to prepare for. Last season, Skyline was led by quarterback Max Browne, who’s now on the roster at USC. Despite the limited name-power in this one, it’s still a matchup between two of the top five teams in the state.
Jenks (Okla.) High vs. Tulsa (Okla.) Union – Sept. 13
It’s one of the most heated rivalries in the Heartland. The annual matchup between the two schools typically lends itself to a very close game and the regular season meeting proved no different, as Union won in a nail biter, 14-7. But that all changed in the playoffs, when Jenks turned the table and dominated en route to a 41-10 win in a state semifinal. Jenks went on to win the Class 6A state title, while Union was left with a 10-3 season. Revenge on the minds of Union in this one, perhaps? [image source]
New Orleans (La.) Edna Karr vs. River Ridge (La.) John Curtis – Sept. 26
It’s an early season matchup between two powerhouses. Edna Karr is ranked No. 3 in the nation, led by prized recruit Devante “Speedy” Noil, who’s a quarterback and wide receiver but can flat out run. John Curtis is the defending national champion and is squarely in the mix for another national title, ranked No. 6. It’s a huge matchup that will have a significant impact on the national title picture.
Louisville (Ky.) St. Xavier vs. Louisville (Ky.) Trinity – Oct. 4
October 4 brings a trio of stellar games, beginning with this rivalry at Papa John’s Stadium. Trinity is two years removed from a national title, but this year takes second billing to the favored St. Xavier. Adding fuel to the fire in this one? St. Xavier was knocked out of the state playoffs last season in the third round by Trinity, 15-14.
Olive Branch (Miss.) High at Batesville (Miss.) South Panola – Oct. 4
South Panola is the defending Class 6A state champion and enters the season ranked No. 75 in the RivalsHigh100. Olive Branch was 11-2 last year and also enters the season ranked nationally – but barely – at No. 97. This game should determine the division champion. [image source]
Chandler (Ariz.) Hamilton at Chandler (Ariz.) High – Oct. 4
The third game on October 4 is one of the best rivalries and games in Arizona all season. These two schools are on the same road, separated by just less than 4 miles. To say it’s a heated rivalry is an understatement. Hamilton is the defending Division I state champion and enters this season with lofty expectations, ranked No. 13 in the nation by RivalsHigh and No. 8 by Athlon Sports.
Oradell (N.J.) Bergen Catholic vs. Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco Prep – Nov. 1
They’re two schools that are consistently in the national picture, and they simply don’t like each other very much. The matchup between the Crusaders and the Ironmen is one of the best of the year in New Jersey. As usual, Bosco has a ridiculous gauntlet of a schedule, facing off against preseason No. 85 Philadelphia (Pa.) St. Joseph’s Prep in the opening game, then traveling to No. 67 Mission Viejo (Calif.) High before hosting No. 1 Miami (Fla.) Central. Meanwhile, Bergen Catholic will travel to No. 6 River Ridge (La.) John Curtis and later play host to No. 18 Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman.
Cleveland (Ohio) St. Ignatius at Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward – Nov. 2
Speaking of teams that don’t like each other very much, these two northeast Ohio rivals go at it in the final week of the regular season. St. Edward is the top-billed team in the state entering the season, ranked in the Top 15 nationally, and has state title aspirations. St. Ignatius is also nationally ranked, sitting at No. 34. Considering that it’s early November near Lake Erie, expect the flurries to be flying in a fantastic atmosphere.
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