Carroll (5-1) at Homestead (5-1)
Prediction: Homestead wins 45-35
This is now the fifth time that the Chargers and Spartans have come into this rivalry game with both teams at two losses or less since they joined the SAC in 2015. The previous four meetings have all resulted in wins for Homestead. In fact, Homestead is currently on a 6-game winning streak against the Chargers, when you factor in sectionals. For how evenly matched these teams have been in their recent history, this is a bit outlandish. Homestead has even won each of the last 5 games by double-digits. So not only have the Spartans dominated the series, they’ve dominated on the scoreboard. But Charger fans will be quick to point out that this isn’t your typical Carroll team. They’ve avoided the unexpected slip up to Luers or Northrop, they’ve made the most of every possession, and they have a top 10 statistical quarterback in the nation! (Though 21 states have still yet to kick off at the time of this article). Only Dwenger has been able to hold QB Jeff Becker (1,785 yds, 62% comp, 22 TD) and WR Mason Englert (39 rec, 951 yds, 14 TD) in check this season. Plus, this is 2020 so everything has to change right? If this game was being played 3 weeks prior, I may have been convinced. But since then, we’ve seen Homestead’s offense suddenly come alive. After the Dwenger game, Evan Ormsby has been one of the top quarterbacks in the conference, throwing for 594 yards, a 34 for 46 clip, and 10 touchdowns. Back-to-back 5 touchdown games by Ormsby is something that Homestead’s last 3 standout quarterbacks, Drew Keszei, Jiya Wright, and Luke Goode, have never done. None of them even threw two 5 TD games at any point in the same season! This resurgent Homestead offense, along with a tireless defense led by LB Luke Palmer with 57 tackles and 10 TFL, sets up very well for the Spartans who held fellow passing specialist QB Duce Taylor to under 200 yards through the air. Both of these teams will look to pass the ball a lot and put up plenty of points. That’s what we’ll predict in this one, in an all too familiar setting for Carroll. However, if they’re expecting to exercise their demons and break the streak against Homestead, this is the team, and more importantly the offense, to do it with.
Northrop (3-3) at Snider (3-3)
Prediction: Snider wins 21-13
Speaking of long winning streaks, Snider holds a 22-game winning streak over the Bruins in this series, dating back to Northrop’s sectional win over the Panthers in 1999. Though Spuller Stadium is on Northrop’s campus it has belonged to Snider for over two decades now. When might the Bruins be able to end the 22-game skid? How about this year. Much like the Chargers, this is the time and the team to do it with. RB Damarius Cowen has rushed for over 200 yards in every Northrop win this season and is averaging 6.4 yards per carry. As he goes the team seems to go and it presents a challenge for the Panthers. However, last week Snider showed that they can stop the run by holding Wayne RB Chris Thomas to 69 yards and the team to just 162 total. If there’s a strength of this Snider team, it’s the front 7 with Reece Thomas on the defensive line and Isaiah Maxwell with Domanick Moon at linebacker. The trifecta recorded 27 tackles in last week’s win as well as 5 tackles for loss. If they can keep Cowen from breaking off longer runs, they shouldn’t have a problem stopping Northrop’s offense. While Snider themselves has been pretty one-dimensional, it could be Tyrese Brown, or any number of these running backs, leading the Panthers to another win, in a close, physical football game.
Bishop Dwenger (5-1) at Bishop Luers (2-4)
Prediction: Dwenger wins 35-14
Had the Knights won last week, there would be talk that Dwenger might be running into Luers at the wrong time. Alas, their loss to Northrop erases most of that narrative, but doesn’t take anything away from the passion and fight that will be on display in this year’s edition of the Battle of the Bishops. Junior QB Carson Clark has seemed to figure things out and has thrown for 1,249 yards, 9 TD, and has completed 55% of his passes, though he does have 9 interceptions. Sir Hale has been steady at running back as well and is averaging 7.1 yards a carry with 4 TD. The problem comes on defense. Luers hasn’t been able to keep offenses from scoring over 30 points in every game this year and though they have 5 players with over 35 tackles this year, they still have yet to show that they can be a dependable unit. Against QB Brenden Lytle, with 1,056 yards, a 65% completion percentage, and 9 touchdowns, this is a mismatch as Lytle has been known to pick apart defenses underneath and threw his only 300+ yard game last year against the Knights. If he can turn it up again this year, Lytle and the Saints should come out on top for the fifth straight year against their bitter rival.
South Side (1-5) at North Side (2-4)
Prediction: North Side wins 23-19
This game always finds a way to stay close, with the best example coming in last season’s meeting in which North Side rattled off 10 points in the fourth quarter, including a 56-yard Duce Taylor touchdown pass to Jordan Turner to send Legends off with the win. Now in 2020, North seems to have a clear advantage over South. Taylor has taken a huge leap from last year to now lead the state in passing yards, with 1,815, and in touchdowns, with 23. RB Jasuan Lambert has also been able to make up for the loss of RB Alex Holliday-Robinson by totaling 645 yards and 5 touchdowns, while averaging 6.8 yards on the ground. The offense has been nothing short of exceptional this year, ranking second in points scored in the SAC, trailing only the Chargers who have an incredible year in their own right. Unfortunately, the Legends rank dead last in points allowed on defense. Because of this, nearly every game North Side has played in has been a shootout, and they’ve only managed to win 2 of them. The good news is this week they face the worst offense team in the conference. South Side has only tallied 56 points this year, meaning something’s got to give in this game. While the Legends are certainly the better team this year, this is one of those games where you throw the records out the window. This is a highly emotional, highly passionate game and one that is always fun and very unpredictable.
Wayne (1-5) at Concordia (3-3)
Prediction: Concordia wins 27-26
This is the only game in this “rivalry week” that isn’t considered a rivalry. Sure these two teams have met on the gridiron on an annual basis for a long time, but unless first-year head coach Sherwood Haydock plans on changing things this year, there’s really no “bad blood” to be had between these two schools. However, both do come in with terrific running backs. Wayne has a plethora of rushers that they’ve used, but their most productive has been senior Shawn Collins who’s managed to get 767 yards and 11 touchdowns this year. Concordia’s ground attack is more fixated on one man, Amir Drew, who’s run for 685 yards and 5 touchdowns. The Cadets defense is also the only unit yet to allow 100 points this year. Though Dwenger was able to score in bunches last week, Concordia has still only surrendered 78 points all year. That could be a key in this game, but it feels like Wayne will get fired up for this one. After letting Snider off the hook last week, the Generals will do enough to stay in the game and at least put a scare into the Cadets. Concordia survives by a single point.