November 23, 2011

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Dallas Jackson is the Senior Analyst for RivalsHigh. Email him your question, comment or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.

Thanksgiving Day means family, friends a feast and NFL football.

Thanksgiving weekend means some great high school football.

Many states in the South, Heartland and out West will hold top playoff matchups.

Here is a look at some of the best offerings. Trust us, football fans will be thankful for the chance to see them.

Weekend Watch
No. 6 Camden Co. v No. 80 Colquitt Co.
When: Friday Nov. 25, TBA.
Last meeting: Dec. 4, 2010 - Camden County won, 19-10.
Rankings: Camden County (12-0), No. 1 in Georgia
Colquitt County (10-2), No. 9 in Georgia


Why it's big: Calling it as we see it, this is the first test that Camden County has seen since the beginning of September, when it traveled to Ohio and beat a down Glenville team. Since then, it has been a run of expected wins and blowout results. Colquitt County plays in one of the best Regions in the country and has been tested multiple times. The winner of this advances to the Georgia semifinals and the Georgia Dome.


Camden County wins if: Its offense is ready for the challenge. This Colquitt defense will be the best that it is has seen all season so the Wing-T will need to be ready to go at full steam. The Wildcats can do more than just pound the football with the quarterback. Hitting a few passes early will open the up opportunities throughout the game.


Colquitt County wins if: Its offense is ready for the challenge. The team has been tested multiple times and each time it has been the offense that betrayed the team - a surprise as that was expected to be the strength of the team. The loss to Warner Robins was an expected regular-season loss as Colquitt has regularly dropped focus and lost a game. The defeat to Valdosta was hard to understand. Last week, the offense scored enough against a very strong North Gwinnett defense and held the team to only one score. A similar performance is needed.


Prediction: Both Jeff Herron and Rush Propst have openly talked about national rankings so each knows the importance of this game not only in their pursuit of a state title but national recognition. Each preaches physical play on defense, but their offensive philosophies are drastically different. While the schedules are polar opposites, each will be the others best game to date. This could be a slugfest.
- Camden County 31, Colquit County 13

Weekend Watch
No. 26 Olive Branch v No. 76 Central
When: Friday Nov. 25, 7:00 p..m.
Last meeting: August 19, 2011 - Olive Branch won, 28-24
Rankings: Olive Branch (13-0), No. 1 in Mississippi
Madison Central (12-2), No. 2 in Mississippi


Why it's big: A semifinal battle between two teams that have already met and played down the last drive of the game is a great way to get down to the best in Mississippi. Olive Branch worked a fantastic two-minute drill to beat Madison Central early in the year as part of the Jaguars' 0-2 start. Since the calendar changed to September, Madison Central has switched to a punishing rushing attack and has charged up the state rankings in the process.


Olive Branch wins if: Quarterback Todd Mays wills the team to a victory. So much of the offense runs through his arms and legs; his decision-making will be paramount for a title run. Olive Branch has the more talented team so if it can make the adjustments on defense to slow down the run, the offense can make a move to the doorstep of a state title.


Madison Central wins if: It outcoaches Olive Branch. The two teams have been graded out to a pretty even position and it could come down to a few key in-game decisions. If Bobby Hall is able to make the right call on a couple of third (or fourth) downs, that could swing the momentum to that of his team. Both of these teams are fueled by the emotions of the game. Stealing that early will be big.


Prediction: Unlike many states, this is not a defacto title game. This is nice for Mississippi, which has not had its best perception season in recent memory. These two teams have both been tested throughout the season and not much of the game film from Week 0 will be beneficial for either team. Madison Central has had two seasons in one and the losses early made it better to make the run late. Olive Branch has to have confidence if the game comes down to the wire as it has made numerous big drives to win game.
- Olive Branch 27, Madison Central 24

-- For more on Mississippi football, visit MagnoliaPreps.com

Weekend Watch
No. 31 Maryville v No. 58 Riverdale
When: Friday Nov. 25, TBA.
Last meeting: Oct. 27, 2009 - Maryville won, 42-30.
Rankings: Maryville (13-0), No. 1 in Tennessee
Riverdale (13-0), No. 2 in Tennessee


Why it's big: Tennessee nailed it this season with its bracketing. The best teams in the best classes have all made it to this point in the season and that is exactly what everyone wanted to happen. The two teams seemed destined to make it this far - if not the state final - and begin to settle the debate of where the best football in Tennessee is played. Riverdale has been on somewhat of a downturn the last couple of seasons but has picked up its play in a big way this season avenging all losses from last year as well as beating Louisville St. Xavier to start the year.


Maryville wins if: Quarterback Patton Robinette is on point. The Riverdale defense will be the best he has seen this season and the pressure will be up a notch. The North Carolina-commit has been steady as a locomotive this season and coach George Quarles figures to know what to expect from his signal-caller.


Riverdale wins if: Its defense rises to the occasion. It has been a common theme through the postseason; the defense will need to step up and play. This year, Riverdale has played the much better schedule so it will not be shocked to see whatever Maryville had to throw at it. But executing in this situation is something that no one on the roster has experience doing.


Prediction: Another toss-up game looks to be in the works as both teams are playing at a very high level on both sides of the ball. Sometimes too much is made about the schedule that a team played when it gets to this point in the season, so the simple fact that Maryville has been here and done it weighs in more than the impressive season that Riverdale has had. That said, if the Warriors pull out the victory - or even storm to a decided win - it will come as no shock. If this game is played 10 times it may be 6-4 at the best.
- Maryville 26, Riverdale 20

-- For more on Tennessee football, visit TNVarsity.com

Weekend Watch
No. 43 Union v No. 96 Jenks
When: Friday Nov. 25, 7:30 p.m..
Last meeting: Sept. 9, 2011 - Union won 41-19.
Rankings: Union (11-1), No. 1 in Oklahoma Jenks (10-2), No. 3 in Oklahoma


Why it's big: The biggest game in Oklahoma generally happens twice a year and this year is no different. Jenks and Union have combined to win every Class 6A title since the inception of the class nearly 20 years ago so the winner of this game figures to have history on its side in the state final. Each enters the game with a loss, which is unusual, but injuries played a part in both teams seasons. Now healthy, this should be a great game.


Jenks wins if: Running back Alex Ross goes nuts. After missing much of the season with injuries, Ross came back last week and ran for 258 yards and three touchdowns in the quarterfinal round. The Trojans will not need a similar performance. If it does get one, that probably would give a good indication of which team advanced.


Union wins if: It can make Jenks pass the ball. The strength of the Union defense is in its secondary. If the front of the Union defense can shut down the run game - or the offense can jump out early and force Jenks' hand - it would be a great thing as turnovers could easily be created from that point. It also will need a big game from freshman runningback Terrell Buchanan. Kendall Holmes is suspended and Javon Bowler is out with injury leaving the freshman to start this one.


Prediction: The two have split several seasons of games, but Union seems to have turned the corner on its rival as it has owned the state the last four years. This year would be another class of kids from Jenks to not win a state title and that is simply stunning. With Ross in the lineup, and Holmes and Bowler out, this should be closer than the earlier season meeting, but it is still Union's state and it will now be asked to start leaving the state to prove its national merits.
- Union 30, Jenks 20.

-- For more on Oklahoma football, visit OKVarsity.com

Weekend Watch
No. 70 Christian Bro. v South
When: Friday Nov. 25, 7:30 p.m..
Last meeting: Sept. 9, 2011 - Union won 41-19.
Rankings: Christian Brothers (13-0), No. 1 in Missouri
Blue Springs South (11-2), No. 4 in Missouri


Why it's big: It's the state final at the highest level between the perceived best team in the state and one of the hottest teams throughout the playoffs. It should be quite a battle at the Edward Jones Dome. For Christian Brothers, it is a chance to win a state title and cement it place in a final RivalsHigh 100 ranking. If there is a Blue Springs South upset, it could mark a season without a team from Missouri among the best in the country.


Christian Brothers wins if: Its offense keeps up the pace. This season, the team has averaged nearly 45 points per game. And while it has taken to the air on a regular basis, it can mix in the run as well. Dalton Demos is a solid pro-style quarterback who can zip the ball as well as read defenses; his success likely will spell the team's success or failure.


Blue Springs South wins if: Its defense can better disguise its packages and force turnovers. Weather will not be an issue as the game is indoors and the speed also favors Christian Brothers in this contest. Blue Springs South will need to out scheme its opposition in order to steal the game.


Prediction: This is not the best Blue Springs South team in the last five season, but it may be one of the best Christian Brothers teams ever so the disparity is clear. Christian Brothers has, like most teams in this position, improved as the season went on. But Blue Springs South is as hot as any team. Which of the two makes the first mistake could be big. If Christian Brothers is able to get a two-score lead it doesn't look like a team that would relinquish it.
- Christian Brothers 31, Blue Springs South 26.

-- For more on Missouri football, visit MoSports.com

Weekend Watch
Santa Margarita v Long Beach Poly
When: Friday Nov. 25, 7:30 p.m..
Last meeting: Nov. 16, 2007 - Poly won, 39-7.
Rankings: Poly (10-1), No. 10 in Southern California
Santa Margarita (9-2), No. 9 in Southern California


Why it's big: One of the few meaningful second-round games in the California playoffs falls in the PAC5, with two teams that have spent time either inside the RivalsHigh100 or on the cusp of national rankings. Both are fighting for a chance to likely face off with Mission Viejo in the semifinal round and each have something to prove with some subpar performances on the resume.
Poly wins if: Its defense keeps Santa Margarita in the teens or better. The Jackrabbit offense has not played well against strong defenses so it may have a hard time getting into the 20s itself. Santa Margarita has had cases of self-inflicted wounds so Poly will need to be flying to the ball in this game.
Santa Margarita wins if: It plays as it did against Servite and not as it did against Mater Dei. Early in the season there was a groundswell of people who thought that Santa Margarita was going to emerge as the best team in SoCal and then the team lost to a disappointing Mater Dei team on the road. It fought back with wins against Orange Lutheran and a one-point loss to Servite, which went down to a two-point conversion. It would appear that this game is its to lose.
Prediction: Poly may have the best defense going right now in SoCal, but is has an offense that has had a hard time with consistency or playing to its strengths. The Jackrabbits are the more talented team and it is rather well coached, but sometimes it outthinks itself and makes it harder than it needs to be. This is a toss-up game and could come down to a couple of key plays. Poly has had a bit of a horseshoe on its side when it beat Grant and Narbonne earlier this season but was unfortunate against Mission Viejo and that is a game it would like a chance to avenge. But Santa Margarita has its eyes set higher and a rematch with Servite.
- Santa Margarita 20, Poly 16

-- For more on California football, visit CaliforniaPreps.com

Weekend Watch
Total Predictions (2011: 102-38)
No. 6 Camden County def. No. 80 Colquitt County, 31-13.
No. 24 Mallard Creek def. No. 94 Page, 36-27.
No.26 Olive Branch def. No. 76 Madison Central, 27-24.
No. 31 Maryville def. No. 58 Riverdale, 26-20.
No. 37 Whitmer def. No. 73 St. Ignatius, 20-9.
No. 41 Loyola def. No. 100 Bollingbrook, 26-17.
No. 43 Union def. No. 96 Jenks, 30-20.
No. 51 Upper St. Clair def. No. 50 North Allegheny, 19-16.
No. 65 St. Xavier def. No. 79 Pickerington Central, 24-18.
No. 70 Chirstian Brothers def. Blue Springs South, 31-26.
No. 83 Wayzata def. Eden Prairie, 16-3.
Catholic Central def. Cass Tech, 12-6 (overtime)
Lowell def. Brother Rice, 27-16.
Santa Margarita def. Long Beach Poly, 20-16.
Submit your picks: Play the Pick'Em contest
Game of the Week record: 9-5
2011 Record for other games picked: 93-33




 

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