This matchup of POWERADE FAB 50 behemoths is finally upon us and neither side can wait for kickoff. I'm David Auguste and I cover St. Edward for ESPNHS Ohio. For a big game like this, Brandon Parker and I figured we’d take over each other’s blogs and give the fans some things to look out for in tomorrow's game. I’m sure Brandon’s loyal readers have been kept apprised of Don Bosco's play via this blog so I figured I’d give you the lowdown on the Ironmen’s next opponent. If you want to see more on Don Bosco, Brandon has you covered with his game preview that is running in the Ohio blog and here's the FAB 50 primer for this Game of the Week. Here’s what you Jersey cats need to know about the St. Edward Eagles.
And make sure to hit us up with your game predictions in the comments section.
St. Edward Eagles (Lakewood, Ohio)
Record: 6-0, Defending Division I state champs
Coach: Rick Finotti
POWERADE FAB 50 Ranking: No. 6
Impact players: Kyle Kalis Sr./OL (No. 137), Tyler Orlosky Sr./OL, Sam Grant Sr./TE, Greg Kuhar Sr./DL, Darryl Render Sr./DL, Dwayne Aaron Jr./RB
Five things you need to know about St. Edward
1. Get ready for trench warfare
Football games are won in the trenches, and dominating up front just happens to be the specialty of these Midwestern boys. The Eagles’ O-line is ripe with BCS commits led by the tandem of Kyle Kalis and Tyler Orlosky. Kalis is a hulking tackle at 6-foot-5 and 305 pounds and is headed to Michigan after de-committing from Ohio State. Orlosky, a 6-foot-4, 295 pound guard works in unison with Kalis along the line and has pledged to West Virginia. TE Sam Grant plays a pivotal role in the teams’ blocking schemes and will use his 6-foot-5 frame to make plays over the middle. He will continue his career in the ACC at Boston College.
2. Getting defensive
The defensive front is also stout and is headlined by Pittsburgh recruit Darryl Render and Northwestern commit Greg Kuhar. The Eagles defense has allowed 67 points in their six wins and has yet to allow a 20-point performance. The secondary is littered with playmakers, mainly Eastern Michigan-bound DB Kirkland Bryant. The unit is adept at gang tackling and held an explosive Ursuline attack to just 84 offensive yards and seven points last week.
Render on what has made the defense so successful: “We have everyone handle their responsibility, be physical, make tackles and just play smart. There’s no individual on this team. We all play for each other.”
3. Run, run then run some more
There were some questions early in the season about who would tote the rock in the backfield after Ed graduated a pair of 1,000-yard backs from last year’s undefeated team. Dwayne Aaron has eased those concerns. The junior workhorse is coming off a 38-carry, 158-yard effort against Ursuline last week, and he’s the kind of high-energy back who gets stronger with each successive handoff. Get ready for a heavy dose of the run game as Aaron and backup Kenny Butler's contributions in the run game will be critical in keeping Bosco off the field and keeping the chains moving during the Eagles’ trademark lengthy drives.
4. Jekyll and Hyde
One big question looming over this contest for the Eagles is which offense will show up. Despite averaging 33.3 points a contest, St. Ed has been erratic on offense this fall. Last week, the Eagles were stagnant and struggled to put away 1-5 Ursuline (Note: inclement weather also played a role). Finotti hopes to see the unit that produced back-to-back 30-point efforts against Ohio heavyweights Cardinal Mooney and Elder earlier in the fall. Consistency will also be needed from junior QB Ryan Fallon, who has made strides as a passer but hasn’t faced a pass rush like Bosco’s.
5. St. Ed against the World
St. Edward is no stranger to playing out-of-state or elite competition over the past two seasons. Finotti’s troops have already beaten teams from Florida and Pennsylvania this year and own victories over previously ranked POWERADE FAB 50 team Elder. Beating Don Bosco will be a tough task, but don’t expect anyone wearing green and gold to be awe struck by the No. 1 team in the nation.
Game outlook: There’s no questioning St. Ed’s supremacy of Ohio, but this game will offer the ultimate litmus test for the Eagles’ national title prospects. With No. 2 St. Thomas Aquinas falling on Thursday night, a win for the Eagles could lead to the top spot in the POWERADE FAB 50. The key to St. Ed pulling off the upset will be its ability to extend drives on third down and tire out Bosco’s defenders. That will allow the mammoth offensive line to impose its will in the fourth quarter.
My prediction: The Eagles will prove to be too strong for the Ironmen, 17-14.
David Auguste is an associate editor for ESPNHS and ESPNHIGHSCHOOL.com. Follow him on Twitter @ESPNHSAuguste or email him at David.Auguste@espn.com.