The day before Thanksgiving. It's like Christmas eve for your stomach, with dreams of turkey, stuffing, mac and cheese and sweet potato pie dancing in your head right up until the moment you sit down at the table.
But for you, Missouri football fans, it's also time for us to take a glimpse at the intriguing slate of championship football games set to take place this weekend. All the hard work, hitting and offensive firepower has built up to this, 12 teams vying for state supremacy at Edward Jones Stadium.
Class 6: CBC vs. Blue Springs South (7:30 p.m. Friday)
After meeting at this same high-stakes juncture five years ago, these two get to do it again in 2011. Last time, Blue Springs South took the crown, but this time CBC, ranked No. 31 in the POWERADE FAB 50, enters as the favorite after running the table up until this point. The Cadets have morphed into an incredibly balanced team this season behind QB Dalton Demos (2,434 yards, 31 TDs) and a defense that's given up 10.8 points since surrendering 49 in a season-opening win against Fort Zumwalt West.
The Blue Springs South defense has also been solid and poses the greatest challenge to the Cadets this season. The Jaguars shut down a powerful Rockhurst team in the quarterfinals and have given up a touchdown or less in three of their last four wins. Plus, when the Jaguars D isn't on the field, the rushing attack of RB Steven Sullivan (1,303 yards, 17 scores) and QB Connor Harris (738 yards, nine TDs) eats up the clock. Whichever offense can control the clock and has the least amount of turnovers will win this game.
My pick: CBC 28, Blue Springs South 20
Class 5: Staley vs. Kirkwood (6:30 p.m. Saturday)
Imagine being Staley, fresh off a 76-70, quadruple-overtime win against Lee's Summit West to avenge last year's semifinal loss and produce arguably one of the state's greatest games ever...and that wasn't even the biggest game of your season. But quarterback Trent Hosick says that shouldn't be a problem.
"We're already back down to the earth," says Hosick, who scored seven times last week. "The goal this year wasn't to beat Lee's Summit West, even though we knew they were very good and would probably have to beat them sometime, but that was just another step in achieving the ultimate goal. So it's not hard for us to get ready for this game against a very, very good Kirkwood team."
Offensive weapons will be on high in this one. Staley boasts Hosick along with standout tailback Morgan Steward while Kirkwood possesses one of the state's top wideouts in Mike McHugh (20 TDs) and has scored 40-plus points in 11 of its 12 games. Staley will look to eat up clock behind its talented rushers, especially considering the Pioneers' solid secondary. One team will emerge with its first loss of the year while another hoist its first-ever title.
My pick: Staley 35, Kirkwood 31
Class 4: Webb City vs. MICDS (4:15 p.m. Friday)
Scoring has never been a problem this season for MICDS. The Rams are averaging nearly 42 points per game behind gritty running back Michael Scherer, who has racked up 1,542 yards and 27 scores this year.
Winning has rarely been a problem for Webb City this season...and long before now. The defending champ Cardinals have won three state titles since 2006 and triumphed in their last 81 regular season games. Defense has been the Cardinals staple this year, as the unit has posted four shutouts, including one against Hillcrest and its All-American wideout Dorial Green-Beckham in the quarterfinals.
The Rams will be closely studying film of last week's Webb City, as the Cardinals had to overcome a 21-point deficit to win. It'll be interesting to see which unit bends (or breaks) between the MICDS offense and Webb City defense.
My pick: Webb City 34, MICDS 28
Class 3: Burroughs vs. Logan-Rogersville (3:15 p.m. Saturday)
Burroughs pulled off a major upset last week against Osage behind RB Ezekiel Elliott (40 TDs) but stopping a Logan-Rogersville offense that had 400 yards against defending champ Richmond last week will be no easy task.
My pick: Logan-Rogersville 28, Burroughs 17
Class 2: Lamar vs. Lafayette County (1 p.m. Friday)
Lafayette County has the moment after winning its last 13 games and knocking off two-time defending champ Penney in the quarterfinals but Lamar has had its way for most of the postseason.
My pick: Lafayette County 24, Lamar 18
Class 1: Valle Catholic vs. South Shelby (Saturday at noon)
A week before districts, South Shelby was 3-4. But after seven straight wins, the Cardinals find themselves in the state championship as perhaps the biggest underdog. Valle Catholic has won 10 titles and outscored its last eight opponents 334-54.
My pick: Valle Catholic 31, South Shelby 21
Brandon Parker covers Missouri for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHIGHSCHOOL.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.